Lorraine Allen compensation battle heads to Europe
A mother who was wrongly imprisoned for killing her four-month-old son has taken her fight for compensation to the European Court of Human Rights.
Lorraine Allen, formerly Harris, from Derbyshire, was jailed in 2000 for the manslaughter of her son, Patrick, in December 1998.
The conviction was quashed in 2005 following fresh medical evidence but compensation was denied.
If she is successful, payouts could be due in several other cases.
Lorraine Allen's case brings to light an important issue at the heart of our criminal appeals system, and the compensation that can follow a quashed conviction.
The Court of Appeal will quash a conviction on the grounds that new evidence makes it unsafe. They do not make a formal declaration that the person should then be presumed innocent - although many people will assume that to be the case.
Following a quashed conviction there is no automatic right to compensation from the state. There is a statutory test under which compensation is paid to someone convicted of a criminal offence if that conviction is then reversed on the ground that a new or newly discovered fact shows beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a miscarriage of justice.
Lorraine Allen claims that test is directly contrary to her right under Article 6.2 of the European Convention on Human Rights to be presumed innocent and places a burden on her to prove her innocence.
In effect she is saying a person starts with a presumption of innocence. That goes on conviction, but should be restored if the conviction is quashed on the basis of fresh evidence - and not a mere legal technicality.
Ms Allen, 43, who now lives in North Yorkshire, was originally convicted after a jury was told her son had died from "shaken-baby syndrome", also known as Non Accidental Head Injury (NAHI).Presumed innocent
She served 16 months of a three-year sentence before the conviction was quashed at the Court of Appeal after fresh evidence from medical experts suggested the baby's injuries could have been caused in other ways.
Since then, Ms Allen has argued she was a victim of a miscarriage of justice and should be compensated by the government.
In 2008, High Court judges upheld the Home Office's decision that she did not meet the criteria for a payout.
The European Court of Human Rights hearing will examine the extent to which a quashed conviction can be said to mean someone is presumed innocent in UK law.
BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman said: "If Lorraine Allen wins, it could mean that other people whose convictions are quashed by the Court of Appeal because new evidence makes the conviction unsafe will get compensation, where today they would fail to meet the criteria."
Hearings at the European Court of Human Rights last about four hours. The judge then retires to consider the verdict, which can take several months to deliver.