The Supreme Court have handed down their judgement (here) in the case of three men who claimed compensation for being wrongly convicted.
By a narrow majority, the judges held that a miscarriage of justice occurs “when a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that the evidence against a defendant has been so undermined that no conviction could possibly be based upon it”.
The supreme court panel said: “A claimant for compensation will not need to prove that he was innocent of the crime but he will have to show that, on the basis of the facts as they are now known, he should not have been convicted or that conviction could not possibly be based on those facts.”
Not all miscarriages of justice will lead to compensation. “Procedural deficiencies that led to irregularities in the trial or errors in the investigation of offences will not suffice to establish entitlement to compensation,” the judges ruled.
Delivering the judgment, Lord Phillips, president of the Supreme Court, said: “It is not satisfactory to make the mere quashing of a conviction the trigger for payment of compensation.” Conversely, he noted, the new test: “will not guarantee that all those who are entitled to compensation are, in fact, innocent.”