Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Saturday, 2 August 2008 11:06 UK

Q&A: Barry George and compensation

Barry George
Barry George could receive hundreds of thousands in compensation
Speculation is mounting about how much compensation Barry George could receive if he decides to make a claim to the Miscarriages of Justice Support Service.

He spent eight years behind bars after his wrongful conviction for the murder of Jill Dando.

He was released after being acquitted at his retrial on Friday.

Legal analyst Joshua Rozenberg told BBC Breakfast News what would be taken into account to decide on the level of compensation.

The Times newspaper says Barry George could get 1m. Is that correct?

Well I don't see anything in the Times story that justifies that headline of 1m.

There is to be a cap introduced in due course, not before October, which will limit it to 1m if you have served more than 10 years in prison, and limit it to 500,000 if you have served less than 10 years in prison, as Barry George did.

Not many of the awards of compensations have been made public

But it is worked out really according to loss of earnings, and Barry George wouldn't have earned a great deal if he had not gone to prison.

On the other hand the effect on him of going to prison, because of his mental difficulties, may be greater than somebody else would have suffered, and so that would be another factor to be taken into account.

It has to be assessed by an independent assessor who advises the lord chancellor.

Could media speculation and the need to make an example of this case be a factor in how much is awarded to Mr George?

I don't think that the assessor or the lord chancellor is going to be persuaded by this sort of publicity.

And indeed not many of the awards of compensations have been made public. They certainly don't need to be made public, so I don't think that is going to make a difference.

On the other hand, I suppose it seems a bit mean for the government to say 'we are not going to give you very much because you are not worth very much because you wouldn't have earned very much', and there would be pressure on them to take account of his suffering.

I suppose there may be pressure on them to take account of any money he gets by selling his story to the media which would be prepared to pay a great deal of money.

Is it important that the scientific evidence, the gun powder residue, was ruled out in the second trial?

Yes certainly, Bill Clegg QC for the defence persuaded the judge before the case came before the jury that you couldn't rely on this scientific evidence, this tiny speck of gun powder residue, simply because it didn't prove anything, so it wasn't used.

So the trial turned on identification evidence and obviously there wasn't very much identification evidence and clearly the jury thought it wasn't sufficient.

Is this embarrassing for the Metropolitan Police? Where does this leave the investigation?

They would say they've done everything they possibly could, they spent many hours, a great deal of effort - I mean this is the one case where I'm sure they didn't stint, because of Jill Dando's association with Crimewatch.

I'm sure they would say they did everything they possibly could. You have to accept that in the real world crimes are sometimes never solved, or at least not solved for many, many years.

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