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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 January, 2005, 13:16 GMT
Cot death mother's payout battle
Angela Cannings pictured during her appeal
Ms Cannings was given a life sentence in 2002
A mother wrongly jailed for the murder of two of her children said she will continue her fight for compensation.

Angela Cannings spent 18 months in jail but her conviction was quashed in December 2003 when key medical evidence against her was discredited.

However, the Home Office has refused to pay damages to the 41-year-old from Salisbury in Wiltshire.

Mrs Cannings, who says her children were victims of cot death, said the decision was "unbelievable".

Her conviction relied on evidence from controversial paediatrician Professor Roy Meadow.

If one case yelled and demanded compensation, it is Angela Cannings
John Batt

But his testimony was discredited at appeal, leading to the acquittal of Mrs Cannings and a re-evaluation of hundreds of other convictions relying on similar expert evidence.

Mrs Cannings, who now lives with her husband Terry and their daughter in Saltash, Cornwall, told the BBC she felt someone should be held responsible for her plight.

"The fact is the money will help towards building a future for our family because what we have lost over four or five years, we are never going to get that back," she said.

"It's not about money, it's about how someone has to be held responsible for what happened to my family.

Independent witness

"I do feel with my case and with reference to other cases that after everything we have been through - the trauma and the devastation and we are still living that - someone has to be held responsible.

"I have to say that physically and mentally I am shattered, but because of what it has been done to my family I will continue to fight."

BBC Home Affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford says the status of Prof Meadow as an independent witness allows the government to refuse compensation.

Although Prof Meadow was a prosecution witness, he was not employed directly by the government.

But John Batt, a lawyer who represented Sally Clark, another mother wrongly convicted of murdering her child, was critical of the Home Office's decision.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "If one case yelled and demanded compensation, it is Angela Cannings."

'Police force'

A Home Office spokeswoman said she could not comment on a specific case.

She stated: "Although we can't discuss particular cases, individuals whose conviction has been quashed on appeal are legally eligible for compensation only if the appeal hearing has resulted from a Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) referral or otherwise occurs outside the normal appeal process and is successful because new facts have come to light.

The decision to refuse an application for compensation is not intended to detract in any way from the applicant's acquittal
Home Office spokeswoman

"There is also a discretionary scheme for use in exceptional circumstances for people who do not legally qualify for compensation for example where a member of a police force or of some other public authority is manifestly deficient, or where facts emerge that completely exonerate the accused.

"The decision to refuse an application for compensation is not intended to detract in any way from the applicant's acquittal."

In April 2002, Mrs Cannings was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of her baby sons - seven-week-old Jason in 1991, and 18-week-old Matthew in 1999.

She was freed by the Court of Appeal in December 2003: her case was never before the CCRC.

Angela Cannings on her fight for compensation



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