Alex Chalk, the Justice Secretary, said he is “considering” backdating new rules that would prevent wrongfully convicted persons from having their prison living costs deducted from their compensation payments.
Following the indignation created by the miscarriage of justice case centred on Andrew Malkinson, the Government minister implemented the reform with immediate effect on Sunday.
Mr Malkinson, who spent 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, had his conviction overturned after DNA evidence linked another man to the crime was discovered.
The 57-year-old was immediately concerned that the guidelines would allow expenses to be deducted from whatever compensation amount he could be awarded to cover the costs of his jail term.
In response, Mr Chalk revised the 2006 instructions to exclude them from future payments made under the miscarriage of justice compensation scheme.
In an interview with the BBC on Tuesday, he hinted that he would go further by backdating the move after Mr Malkinson and Sir Bob Neill, the Tory MP who chairs the Commons Justice Committee, advocated for more radical reform.
He told BBC One’s Breakfast programme: “Certainly since 2006 there have been three cases where deductions have been made, and none in the last 10 years.
“Of those three cases, the reductions from their compensation award have been 3% and 6% so it’s important to get some perspective.
“There’s also issues around the public interest, about retrospectivity – normally there’s a rule that says you shouldn’t make rules retrospective but I’m considering this all in the round.”
In other news, the Justice Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he was “looking carefully” at returning bed and board charges for other people whose convictions had been overturned.
He said: “To hear of a miscarriage of justice, it makes your blood run cold. It’s an appalling thing to happen.
“I said, when I took on this role, my priorities were to convict the guilty but acquit the innocent and keep the public protected.
“I wanted to move quickly with the blessing of the Prime Minister to get rid of it – that’s what we did.”
People must apply for compensation within two years of being pardoned or having their convictions reversed to be eligible for a payment under the newly updated regulations.
The reversal must be based on a new fact that proves “beyond a reasonable doubt” that they did not commit the offence and that they are not liable for the non-disclosure of evidence.