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 British government payout in the wake of a compensation ruling by leading judges, his lawyer said.
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 the Ministry of Justice.
Britain’s Supreme Court has 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 Justice Secretary Ken Clarke to reconsider the compensation claim. “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.
Lord Hope 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 pocket of a coat worn by George.
Evidence on the “firearms discharge” particle and its significance were called into question following a review and Mr George’s conviction was quashed in 2007 and a re-trial ordered. George was re-tried and found not guilty in 2008.
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”.
In a majority ruling of five to four, justices ruled in favour of Raymond McCartney and Eamonn MacDermott, both from Northern Ireland, who were convicted in January 1979 of murder and membership of the IRA but had their convictions quashed in February 2007.
But the panel unanimously rejected a challenge by Andrew Adams, from Newcastle, who spent 14 years in jail before his murder conviction was ruled unsafe.
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