How Bridport lawyer Emily Bolton overturned an ‘outrageous’ miscarriage of justice

How Bridport lawyer Emily Bolton overturned an ‘outrageous’ miscarriage of justice

Andy Malkinson 1

A man who spent more than 17 years in prison for a brutal rape he did not commit is finally free and healing – slowly – thanks to a Bridport lawyer and the peace and tranquillity of his adopted Dorset home.
In what the Justice Secretary described as ‘an atrocious miscarriage of justice’ Andy Malkinson, now 58, was jailed aged 38, following a trial based on deeply flawed evidence, including the testimony of a known liar and heroin addict.
Some 13 years after he was jailed his friend Karin Schuitemaker wrote to APPEAL – a non-profit team of lawyers and investigators then headed up by Bridport lawyer Emily Bolton.
Emily and investigator James Burley uncovered evidence that proved Andy’s convictions were unsafe on multiple grounds.
They forced Greater Manchester Police to reveal undisclosed evidence about the credibility of two people who had claimed to have seen Andy on the night of the attack. And they commissioned DNA testing that showed another man’s DNA on the victim’s clothing – and not Andy’s. It should have been a slam dunk. But instead it took a more than two-and-a-half years to exonerate Andy, as the system frustrated all attempts to clear his name.
Finally, in July 2023, 19 years after his arrest and two-and-a-half years after his release, judges overturned Andy’s wrongful conviction.

Andy Malkinson
Last month, the BBC aired The Wrong Man, a documentary that took years to make, about Andy’s fight for justice. The documentary shows him heading for the beach at West Bay to absorb the news his case is finally being sent back to the Court of Appeal.
APPEAL is a registered charity as well as a law practice, with a staff of 13. As you might expect, the team includes lawyers and investigators, but also ‘Survivors’ Advocates,’ who provide support to the people that APPEAL represents and their loved ones. Andy’s is far from an isolated case.
“This could happen to anyone,” Emily said. “And there is little anyone can do if they find themselves in this situation – I used to say ‘the British Justice system is broken’ but after ten years of scrapping with it on behalf of people like Andy I have realised that the system is actually designed to work like this, to cover up its mistakes.
“Andy described his trial as like being in a parallel universe, where only he knew the truth and everyone else was in another universe where he was guilty.”
Andy has yet to receive compensation – incredibly, he had first to fight a rule that meant his bed and board in prison would have been deducted from any settlement. And his quest for accountability has been delayed by the announcement of the General Election which has stalled the publication of a report into the handling of Andy’s case by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
All these delays have meant Andy – unable to work due to mental ill health caused by his long incarceration – has been forced to rely on £363.74 a month Universal Credit and occasional visits to a local foodbank.
Andy had spent the time between leaving school and his wrongful conviction travelling the world, eager to broaden his horizons and his knowledge. He made the most of the small opportunities offered in prison, taking an Open University degree while he tried and tried to be heard.
Emily said: “Andy is very bright and could easily have had a career in something to do with physics or astronomy.”
After his trial, Andy tried desperately to clear his name. But in prison, with no resources, he could not make any headway.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) – the body that is supposed to look into wrongful convictions, turned him down twice. It refused to commission further DNA testing and didn’t even look at the police files, despite the revelation that male DNA that excluded Andy was found in a crime specific area on the victim’s clothing, which should have raised immediate alarm bells in his case.
Emily said: “If the CCRC had investigated, it would have seen that the police withheld crucial evidence of Andy’s innocence at his trial.”
Andy could have been eligible for parole ten years earlier, were it not for his refusal to ‘confess’.
Greater Manchester Police have publicly apologised for their handling of Andy’s case, as have the CCRC. But all the apologies in the world won’t put the wrong right. Neither will it put food on Andy’s table or a roof over his head. Instead he’s had to fight for those things himself, with no resources apart from the committed team at APPEAL and, in particular, Emily.
The work of APPEAL attracts little grant funding. Emily said: “We really, really struggle to get funding. Legal Aid only covers less than 5% of our costs. So we rely on donations from the public and a small number of grants.
“In America where I used to work, defence investigation is built into the practice model. But here the system relies on the police to investigate on behalf of the defence as well as the prosecution.
“It’s really a conflict of interest, the fox is guarding the hen house. So APPEAL’s work marking the system’s homework is vital.”
APPEAL not only investigates miscarriages of justice and puts them right, they also help victims and their families traumatised by wrongful convictions, both with their mental health and with practical concerns – Emily’s friends found Andy a flat in Bridport, and he also lived with Emily’s family for a while, and her friendship and support has been crucial to his recovery.
Emily said: “There are many collateral consequences in wrongful convictions. When Andy came to live in Bridport he was living under a life licence. He couldn’t travel as he once did and it was very difficult for him to find accommodation. A really lovely local man offered him a flat, which became Andy’s first real home after prison. I remember Andy saying that just one one of the rooms in the flat was the size of two cells.”
Now the fight continues to win adequate compensation for nearly two decades lost. Given that the system has acknowledged its mistakes in his case very publicly, he hopes he will be successful. But the chances of success for others with less momentum behind them are vanishingly slim.
Andy wrote in The Guardian: “In the past eight years, fewer than 7% of miscarriage of justice victims who have applied for the statutory compensation scheme since this requirement was brought in have been successful. In other words, more than 93% are denied compensation.”
He added: “When I stood on the steps of the court of appeal last July, I thought I was finally out of the legal maze. It turns out I was just standing at the entrance to the next one.”
n To read more about the work of APPEAL, and to donate, go to
n The Wrong Man: 17 Years Behind Bars is on iPlayer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *