Barry George cleared to fight compensation caseMonday, June 25th, 2012
Barry George, the man wrongly convicted of murdering former BBC television presenter Jill Dando has been allowed by a judge to fight for compensation for a miscarriage of justice.
Mr George spent eight years in prison for Jill Dando’s murder but was cleared following a retrial. His case will be one of five cases which will establish compensation boundaries for miscarriages of justice. The cases will be heard at the High Court.
The ruling follows a Supreme Court ruling in which nine judges declared three men who were wrongly convicted of murder had been denied compensation unfairly.
The judgement on the three cases followed debates on when compensation should be paid for miscarriages of justice, and redefined the legal interpretation.
Initially, Mr George’s compensation claim for lost earnings and wrongful imprisonment was rejected by the Ministry of Justice, who stated he was not legally entitled to claim compensation.
Mr Justice Irwin said the five test cases will “illustrate the boundaries of the law” and will be used to determine future compensation case outcomes.
The cases are likely to be heard in October.
In 1999 Jill Dando was shot dead on the doorstep of her Fulham home. In 2001 Mr George was convicted of her murder, but following the reliability of gunshot residue being called into question, he was acquitted in 2008.
Lord Phillips, Supreme Court president stated the “quashing” of a conviction does not presume innocence but a new fact had emerged which undermined the prosecution evidence to the point where a conviction could no longer be based on it.
The ruling, however, will allow innocent defendants to pursue compensation for miscarriages of justice even if they could not prove their innocence beyond reasonable doubt.
Nick Baird, acting for Mr George said: “Notwithstanding Mr George’s acquittal, and notwithstanding what was said in the (Supreme Court), the justice secretary has stuck by his original decision not to consider his application for compensation.”
Should Mr George be successful his compensation would be capped at £500,000.