Man unjustly jailed over Jill Dando murder to fight compensation test case

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Barry George, who spent eight years in prison after being wrongly convicted of the murder of the TV presenter Jill Dando, is to fight a test case for compensation.

Mr George, 52, who was cleared after a retrial in 2008, will be one of five lead cases to be heard at the High Court in London this autumn, a judge ruled yesterday.

The five will test the law on who is now entitled to payments in “miscarriages of justice” cases following a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in May last year.

Mr George’s claim for damages for lost earnings and wrongful imprisonment was rejected by the Ministry of Justice on the grounds that he was not legally entitled to compensation.

Gordon Bishop, appearing for Mr George, from Fulham, west London, told Mr Justice Irwin his client was “very happy” that his case should go forward as a lead case.

He was still waiting to hear whether he had been granted legal aid to fight his case.

Mr Bishop said if his application was refused, he would seek a “protected costs order” to cap the amount he would have to pay if he lost.

The judge said his aim was to hear the lead cases over three days in the second week of October.

They follow the Supreme Court’s redefinition of the legal meaning of what constitutes a “miscarriage of justice” after debating when compensation should be paid to people wrongly convicted of crime.

Mr Justice Irwin said the five High Court test cases would be used to “illustrate the law” as it now stood, with a view to facilitating the settlement of other compensation cases due to come to trial.

He said: “We are trying to illustrate the boundaries of the law.”

Later Nick Baird, solicitor for Mr George, said: “Notwithstanding Mr George’s acquittal, and notwithstanding what was said in the (Supreme Court), the Justice Secretary has stuck by his original decision not to consider his application for compensation.”

Mr Baird said that if Mr George eventually wins his claim the amount he can receive will be capped at £500,000. Miss Dando was shot dead outside her home in Fulham in April 1999.

After his conviction in 2001, Mr George was acquitted of killing the 37-year-old BBC presenter at the 2008 retrial.

The case was referred to by one of the panel of nine Supreme Court justices who gave the landmark miscarriage of justice ruling.