George to make new payout claim over Dando accusation
Published 12/05/2011 | 05:00
The man who had his conviction for the murder of Jill Dando quashed after prosecution evidence was called into question is to make a new claim for a state payout in Britain in the wake of a compensation ruling by leading judges, his lawyer said last night.
Unemployed Barry George (51), of Fulham, west London, was cleared of killing the 37-year-old BBC presenter following a re-trial, but two years ago failed in an attempt to gain compensation from Britain's justice ministry.
The UK's supreme court yesterday redefined the legal meaning of what constituted a "miscarriage of justice" after debating when compensation should be paid to people wrongly convicted of crime.
A panel of nine justices sitting in London set a new miscarriage of justice "test" in rulings on appeals by three men who said they were wrongly refused compensation after their murder convictions were overturned.
Mr George's solicitor, Nicholas Baird, said he would be asking UK Justice Secretary Ken Clarke to reconsider the compensation claim in the light of the court's decisions.
"We are encouraged by the ruling," said Mr Baird. "We will be writing to Ken Clarke and asking him to reconsider Barry George's claim."
Ms Dando was shot dead outside her home in Fulham in April 1999 and one panel member, Lord Hope, raised the case in yesterday's ruling.
He said Mr George had been convicted of her murder in 2001 after prosecutors said a particle of "firearms discharge" matching particles found in the cartridge case of the bullet which killed Ms Dando, had been found in a coat worn by him.
Evidence about the "firearms discharge" particle and its significance were called into question following a review and Mr George's conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2007 and a re-trial ordered.
Mr George was re-tried and found not guilty in 2008 and the British Crown Prosecution Service said he "had the right to be regarded as innocent".
In the ruling, supreme court president Lord Phillips argued that the "mere quashing" of a conviction could not be a "trigger for compensation" and said a "miscarriage of justice" occurred when a new fact "so undermined" prosecution evidence that no conviction could "possibly be based upon it".
He said the new "test" would not guarantee that those entitled to compensation were "in fact innocent", but said it would ensure that when innocent defendants were convicted on discredited evidence, they were not "precluded" from compensation because they could not prove their innocence beyond reasonable doubt.