BBC documentary to follow story of Grimsby man Andrew Malkinson who was wrongly jailed for 17 years

Andrew Malkinson, who served 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, after being cleared by the Court of Appeal
-Credit: (Image: PA)


The story of a Grimsby man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 17 years for a crime he didn't commit is set to be the subject of a new BBC documentary.

BBC Factual has unveiled The Wrong Man: 17 Years Behind Bars, a deeply personal account of an innocent man let down by the criminal justice system at every turn. This hour-long documentary for BBC Two and iPlayer will delve into the life of Andrew Malkinson and the devastating impact of his wrongful imprisonment.

On the morning of August 2, 2003, Andrew Malkinson's day began with a knock on his door from the police.

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They were there to arrest him for the violent assault and rape of a young woman. Despite his insistence of innocence, the police were convinced he matched the victim's description of her attacker.

Believing that the misunderstanding would be resolved once he reached the police station, Andrew participated in a video lineup.

However, the victim identified him as her attacker in the lineup, leading to Andrew being charged with attempted murder and rape. Just over six months later, a jury found him guilty of rape and sentenced him to life in prison.

His life sentence commenced on the sex offenders wing in HMP Frankland on March 30, 2004.

Emma Loach, BBC lead commissioning editor for documentaries, said: "This film describes one of the most terrible miscarriages of justice of our time. This was not only a devastating failure of the judicial system for Andrew, it has also neglected to bring justice for the victim of what was an appalling crime. The film goes behind the headlines and shows Andrew's bravery and tenacity as he fights for his freedom and the terrible repercussions he is still facing today."

Directors Fran Robertson and Jemma Gander said: "We first met Andy on the day he was released from prison in 2020, when he was still considered a guilty man. We knew that he had already spent 17-and-a-half years behind bars, fighting for the truth to come out and hoping that one day he would be able to tell the full story of his wrongful conviction and of the failures of the criminal justice system. We're grateful that he allowed us to follow his journey to the Court of Appeal and that he has trusted us to help tell his story."

Grimsby man Andrew Malkinson outside the Court of Appeal in London after his conviction for rape was quashed
Grimsby man Andrew Malkinson outside the Court of Appeal in London after his conviction for rape was quashed -Credit:PA

The documentary provides access to Andrew, his family, and his legal team, detailing the remarkable tale of his battle to clear his name. Spanning from his initial arrest to his eventual exoneration at the Court of Appeal two decades later, the film captures this harrowing experience.

Over the course of three years, directors Jemma Gander and Fran Robertson document Andrew's steps from his release from prison, following him and his legal team as they challenge the criminal justice system to reverse his conviction.

Andrew comes forward to tell his personal experience, detailing the detrimental impact of his time spent in prison. His mother, Trish, and his sibling Sarah discuss how it impacted them from what it felt like seeing front-page headlines labelling him as a 'monster' to how it influenced their relationship with him.

After being imprisoned for seven years, Andrew became eligible for parole, early release under supervision. To assess his risk to the public, the Parole Board requested that he attend offender behaviour programmes which he declined to do as it requires discussing the rape he insists he didn't commit.

Andrew Malkinson in 2003
Andrew Malkinson in 2003 -Credit:GMP

His mother revealed: "He said 'I'm never ever going to admit to something that I haven't done. I don't care if I stay in prison for the rest of my days.'".

As APPEAL lawyer Emily Bolton and investigator James Burley delve into Andrew's case, they unearth revelations about the witnesses that begin to portray shortcomings by Greater Manchester Police during its initial investigation.

Following more than 17 years, the Parole Board ultimately decides Andrew can be released. His mother and legal team greet him and for Andrew it's an immense moment to "go to the beach and feel the waves, the wind and the cold air".

It's a mixture of joy of finally tasting freedom but tainted by him still being labelled a sex offender, under close supervision by the probation service and police.

As Andrew steps into the Court of Appeal, nearly two decades after his arrest, his family and supporters can only hope that this time he will be able to clear his name. The judge announces his verdict: "Mr. Malkinson, having waited so many years, you leave the court a free man, no longer subject to the conditions of your life licence."

The Wrong Man: 17 Years Behind Bars, is produced by Two Step Films for BBC Two and iPlayer. It will be broadcast on BBC Two at 9pm on Thursday, June 6, and will be available to view on iPlayer shortly afterwards.