Discover more from The Mill
GMP helped to jail an innocent man. But the chief constable won't answer questions
Plus: A damning report into a Salford spinal surgeon, Andy Burnham on a Man United takeover bid and the Altrincham schoolboy who conquered gaming
Dear Millers — welcome to this week’s briefing. This morning, we beat our monthly record for new paid subscribers, with a full 200 of you joining in July. We aim to bring on 100 new paying subscribers a month, so doubling that is a huge achievement. Thank you from everyone in the office to our new members. And, if you’re still umming and ah-ing over whether to take out a paid subscription, one very dodgy numerology site says that 201 is a lucky number…
Over the weekend, we published our policy reporter Daniel Timms’ magnum opus: interrogating the billion pound Manchester question: who has benefitted from the city’s breakneck growth? It got a great response on Twitter — “This article by @djstimms in @ManchesterMill is so good I wish I'd written it” — and in the comments: “this is the sort of article that led me to becoming a paying subscriber a few months ago”.
It has sparked debate far and wide. “Brilliant article, I think most people would agree that the regeneration has been broadly good for the city,” said one Redditor on this bumper thread. Whereas another said: “Student pop doesn't seem to be considered in any of this. There's sections of new build city centre that are solely for the purpose of students, preferably rich overseas ones…”.
Members also got stuck into the comments, where Daniel is currently defending his conclusions manfully. You can read the whole piece and join in the debate here.
Now, onward: Today, we’re looking at the failings of Greater Manchester Police in the case of Andrew Malkinson, who has just had his conviction of rape overturned after 20 years, 17 of which he spent in jail, making Malkinson one of the longest-serving victims of a miscarriage of justice. Central to his now-overturned conviction were “deplorable disclosure failures” by GMP, something Andy Burnham plans to meet with Malkinson to discuss. As he tells The Mill: “I plan to meet with Andrew to discuss all of the issues he wants to raise in respect to Greater Manchester Police and it’s important that we look into his allegations about how police handled evidence. My door is open to Andrew to come in for a full discussion about all of those issues whenever he feels ready.”
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🌦️ This week’s weather
Our local weatherman Martin Miles says there’s no big change as we move into August, but we could see better weather next week. For now, Wednesday will be the wettest day, and there may be weather warnings in place.
Tuesday 🌦️ Bright spells and occasional showers. Many places will become dry during the afternoon. Max 18C.
Wednesday 🌧️ Breezy with moderate to heavy rain. Max 17C.
Thursday 🌦️ Warm sunny spells but with an increasing risk of heavy showers. Max 18C.
Friday 🌦️ Mostly cloudy, breezy and cool. Showers will feed in from the northwest. Max 17C.
Weekend 🌦️ Remaining cool and unsettled.
You can find the latest forecast at Manchester Weather on Facebook — daily forecasts are published at 6.15am.
The big story: ‘Deplorable disclosure failures’ — GMP and the Andrew Malkinson case
Top line: Last Wednesday, Andrew Malkinson — who spent 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit — had his rape conviction overturned, thanks to new DNA evidence. Malkinson is one of the longest-serving victims of a miscarriage of justice, and his case has highlighted failings within not just the UK’s justice system, but also within Greater Manchester Police (GMP). Andy Burnham has told The Mill he plans to meet with Malkinson to discuss these failings when he is ready.
Context: GMP arrested Malkinson — from Grimsby — in August 2003 for the rape of a 33-year-old woman in Salford, where he was working as a security guard at the time. There was no DNA evidence linking him to the crime, and he bore little resemblance to the e-fit of the attacker. As a result the conviction relied on witness testimony.
Malkinson was picked out at an identity parade by the victim. She said she was “100% certain” he was her attacker.
He was convicted in 2004 and only released in 2020. At his appeal hearing last week, the court heard how GMP failed to disclose the criminal records of key witnesses. One, Michael Seward, was a “long-term heroin addict” who came forward as a witness after being arrested for another crime. Failing to disclose this allowed GMP to present him as a credible witness.
GMP also didn’t share a photograph that backed up the victim’s memory of leaving a deep scratch on her attacker’s face.
Malkinson had no scars or marks on his face when police met him. But at the trial the judge suggested that the the victim may have misremembered.
Malkinson’s lawyer, Edward Henry KC, said the “original trial resulted in an unsafe conviction because of deplorable disclosure failures which must lie at the door of Greater Manchester police”.
APPEAL, the organisation that supported Malkinson in proving his innocence, also filed a complaint against GMP last July. It concerned the disclosure failures and the decision by GMP to destroy items of the victim’s clothes.
Despite a court order prohibiting it, police destroyed the victim’s camisole and underwear. The small scraps of clothing that provided the DNA breakthrough that cleared Malkinson’s name had to be found later by his representatives.
Maintaining his innocence has meant Malkinson spent a decade longer in prison than he would have if he had admitted to the crime. His claims of innocence were repeatedly rejected. As he said outside court last week:
I came to the police station in 2003 and told the officers I was innocent. They didn’t believe me. I came to the crown court in Manchester in 2004 and told the jury I was innocent. They didn’t believe me. I came to this appeal court in 2006 and told them I was innocent. They didn’t believe me. I applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which is supposed to investigate miscarriages of justice, and told them I was innocent. They didn’t investigate and they didn’t believe me. Not once, but twice.
In 2021, an investigation by GMP’s professional standards branch into the force’s handling of Malkinson’s case was suspended by Chief Constable Stephen Watson. At the time, Watson was three months into the job and vowing to rebuild trust in the scandal-stricken force.
When we asked GMP last week for an interview with Watson and for a statement about why he suspended the investigation, a spokesperson told us:
Chief Constable Stephen Watson is not doing any press interviews about Andrew Malkinson. We are requesting media reference GMP’s apology statement published on Wednesday.
In that statement, Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Jackson said the force was “truly sorry” for what happened to Malkinson, and offered to meet him personally to apologise.
Andy Burnham, who is ultimately responsible for the governance of GMP, told The Mill:
Our sympathy is with Andrew, his family and friends for what he’s been through. Our thoughts are also with the victim of the crime who, 20 years on from the incident, is still denied justice. I plan to meet with Andrew to discuss all of the issues he wants to raise in respect to Greater Manchester Police and it’s important that we look into his allegations about how police handled evidence. My door is open to Andrew to come in for a full discussion about all of those issues whenever he feels ready.
Bottom line: GMP has in no way seen the last of this, and it is bizarre that the chief constable — who tends to be available to tell the media about his anti-woke policing style — is refusing to give an interview about his decision to end the internal probe and what his force has learned from this scandalous case. The Independent Office for Police Conduct is reviewing how the force handled Malkinson’s case. Speaking to BBC Newsnight last week, Malkinson said: “The Greater Manchester Police apology… it’s meaningless to me, absolutely meaningless.”
Your Mill briefing
A new report has found that a spinal surgeon at Salford Royal misplaced screws in his patients’ spines, caused excessive blood loss and used poor surgical practice when operating on them. The review into the conduct of John Bradley Williamson followed an independent report that found his incompetence contributed to the death of a young girl in 2007. Williamson was sacked by the Northern Care Alliance — the trust that operates Salford Royal and was once considered the country’s safest — in 2015. At the time, he was the chair of the hospital’s neuroscience division. The new report found evidence of Williamson’s “unacceptable and unprofessional conduct” with both staff and patients, adding that he was not always “open and honest with patients”. Know more about this story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
40 hours of CCTV footage showing a woman being stripped and left topless in a cell by Greater Manchester Police officers has been obtained by Sky News. Three hours of the footage is missing, and Zayna Iman, the woman in the footage, alleges she was drugged and sexually assaulted while held in custody. Her allegations are supported by medical evidence of sexual injuries. Former Chief Superintendent Martin Harding, who has seen the footage and the custody logs, said: "I believe she was raped. I believe she was raped by an officer and I believe the organisation is covering it up."
More rail issues as members of the Aslef drivers union won’t work any overtime this week, which is expected to cause disruption. The overtime ban will affect ever-terrible Avanti West Coast, who operate between Manchester and London and have been criticised in the past for relying on their staff to work on their days off. On Saturday, RMT members will also carry out a one-day strike.
ICYMI: Andy Burnham was a guest on the latest episode of the News Agents podcast last week. Asked how he felt about the prospect of Manchester United being owned by Qatari investors, he said: “I don’t think anyone feels completely comfortable about that, and I'm going to be really clear about that. But the Premier League has moved into a place where, is all the money clean in any Premier League club?”
A £50,000 reward is being offered for information about a shooting that took place in Moss Side last year. Two girls aged 13 and 16 were injured in the shooting on 29 July while attending a party.
And finally, in this week’s episode of our podcast, Joshi and Daniel discuss his brilliant story about Manchester’s growth and ask who is benefitting from the city’s economic boom. What can we learn from the data — and how did reporting on this story challenge the preconceptions Daniel had about the city? Click the player below.
Home of the week
This two bedroom apartment in Chorlton is on the market for £285,000. It has a private terrace, allocated parking and it’s a short walk from Beech Road and a lovely nature reserve.
Our favourite reads
Ian Livingstone founded Games Workshop, a manufacturer of mini war board games, with two friends from Altrincham Grammar School in 1975, back when he “had nowhere to live and nowhere to operate”. He slept in a friend’s van outside a tiny rented office and joined a nearby squash club to shave and shower, becoming “quite good at squash by default”. Now, the gaming industry is worth seven times more to the UK economy than fishing, and Livingstone’s company made nearly £400 million in revenue last year.
Manchester Collective: Neon album review — dreamy and alluring — The Financial Times
A four star review of contemporary classical ensemble Manchester Collective’s new album Neon, which documents how these musicians are maintaining and extending a genre of music initiated by the hyper-minimalist composers of the 1960s. “Manchester Collective has chosen the works well,” writes the critic Richard Fairman. “There is some beguiling new music here that should find friends.”
The service charges trap — The Lead
In 2012, then-24-year-old Jenny Greenway camped out overnight to secure a flat at Eden Square, a flagship development in Urmston close to a gorgeous coffee and wine bar, live music and plenty of shops. Has the promise lived up to the reality? This investigation by talented reporter Ella Glover finds leaseholders locked in a bitter struggle with their property management company, who they allege are charging thousands of pounds on top of their quarterly service charges for basic maintenance work, while the flats fall into increasing disrepair.
Our to do list
🎭 Cruise is a contemporary musical that centres on Michael, who is diagnosed with HIV in 1984 and told he has four years to live. Fast forward to 1988 and he’s planning his last hurrah. The show is described as having “vast charm, empathy and energy” and it’s on at HOME for two weeks. Tickets here.
💩 The Science and Industry Museum has a new interactive exhibition for kids and families that’s all about what happens to food when you eat. You’ll learn about bad bacteria, get to “guess the smells in the stink chamber” and get flushed down a giant toilet. Tickets here.
👚 Manchester Art Gallery has a free exhibition celebrating pioneering creativity and design called Unpicking Couture, featuring pieces from Christian Dior, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. Visit here.
🐐 Get up close with goats at the Grassroots Community Garden in Failsworth, where a local community group have organised a meet-and-greet session for kids to learn more about the animal’s behaviour, habitats and personalities. Tickets are just £5.
😆 Comedian Erika Ehler, best known for her “precise delivery” and “razor-sharp” humour, is performing at the Fitzgerald in Stevenson Square from 7.30pm. Tickets are pay-what-you-feel.
🐻 There’s a family-friendly exhibition at the Lowry taking you inside the process of writing and illustrating the much-loved children’s books The Gruffalo and The Snail and the Whale. It’s free to visit from 11am — 4pm.
Looking further ahead? Members get our unmissable weekend to do list in their inboxes every Thursday morning.