The appeals followed an amendment to the law whereby an applicant for compensation must establish beyond reasonable doubt that he is innocent, a concept which the Court recognised is alien to our justice system. The appellants argued that this new test introduced by the coalition government offended the presumption of innocence guaranteed by Article 6(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Supreme Court rejected the appeals by a majority of 5-2, with more than one justice noting that Mr Nealon is likely to succeed in obtaining a declaration from the European Court of Human Rights that the test is incompatible with Article 6(2).
Mr Nealon will be continuing his quest for justice in Strasbourg, where he will argue that the justices who were in the minority (Lord Reed and Lord Kerr) were correct. In the meantime he has brought a malicious prosecution claim against the police who procured his wrongful conviction, with that case going to trial at the Birmingham Civil Justice Centre beginning 25 March 2019.
Mr Nealon’s solicitor, Mark Newby at QualitySolicitors Jordans, said today:
“It is devastating for Mr Nealon and an appalling reflection on the system that he should be denied compensation in circumstances where the state wrongly imprisoned him for so many years. He is still trying to pick up the pieces of his life and will now turn his full focus to the claim against West Mercia Police, whose officers carried out the investigation which led to his conviction in the first place."
Notes to editors:
Mr Nealon spent 17 years and 3 months in prison before his conviction was quashed in December 2013 after fresh evidence came to light showing that another man’s DNA was on the victim’s clothing, as reported by the BBC here.
Mr Nealon was released with £46 in pocket and left destitute, as reported by The Guardian here. He made a claim for compensation from the government, which was rejected because he could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that he is innocent. This followed a controversial change in the law brought in by the coalition government.
The background to the civil proceedings against West Mercia Police is reported by The Telegraph here.
The Supreme Court’s decision and a press summary can be found here.
The Supreme Court judgement can be viewed here.
Media enquiries should be directed to:
Victor Nealon was represented by Dinah Rose QC (Blackstone Chambers) and Matthew Stanbury (Garden Court North Chambers).