Barry George wins battle over compensation

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The Independent Online

Barry George, who was acquitted of the murder of television presenter Jill Dando after spending eight years behind bars, won the first round of a legal battle today over a decision that he is not entitled to compensation.

A High Court judge in London gave George, 50, the go-ahead to challenge the decision.

But George is faced with a wait until next year to see what happens next.

Mr Justice Collins, when granting permission for a judicial review, placed a "stay" on further action in the proceedings until after a decision is announced by the Supreme Court relating to a number of similar cases.

It emerged earlier this year that George, who was found not guilty of the Crimewatch star's murder after an Old Bailey retrial in 2008, was refused a reported claim of £1.4 million.

Miss Dando, 37, was shot once in the head outside her home in Fulham, south west London, on April 26 1999.

Neighbours said a man in a dark blue overcoat was hanging around before and after her killing.

George was convicted of her murder at the Old Bailey in 2001 but the conviction was quashed on appeal in November 2007.

For permission to be granted today, it only had to be shown that George has an "arguable case" to challenge the decision over compensation by the Justice Secretary.

The usual next step is for the case to be dealt with by the High Court, with each side giving full argument before a ruling is delivered on whether a disputed decision can stand or should be quashed.

Mr Justice Collins said today: "I think the appropriate course for me is to grant permission, but to direct that no steps are taken - that there should be a stay on any further action - until the decision of the Supreme Court is known."

The highest court in the land is due to hear three appeals in February concerning the meaning of the phrase "miscarriage of justice" in relation to compensation claims.

During the hearing Ian Glen QC, for George, submitted: "We say jury trial and acquittal is the best feasible demonstration of innocence."

He described George as ticking "all the boxes" for qualifying for compensation.

If George did not qualify "we rhetorically say, who does?", said Mr Glen.

Mr Justice Collins was told in written documentation before the court that George suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and epilepsy and has "significant learning difficulties".

He was also told: "On top of this he has post-traumatic stress disorder in consequence of the wrongful conviction and sentence.

"His rehabilitation will depend upon his financial circumstances. He is unlikely ever to obtain paid work."

If George is granted compensation he could receive up to £500,000.