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FORMER Army information officer Colin Wallace's conviction for

FORMER Army information officer Colin Wallace's conviction for manslaughter was quashed today by the Court of Appeal.

But after hearing the judgment, delivered by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, the Crown immediately asked for a retrial.

A decision on that request will be made at a future hearing.

Wallace spent six years in jail after being sentenced to 10 years for the manslaughter of antiques dealer Jonathan Lewis, who was found drowned in a river near his home in Arundel, West Sussex, in 1980.

Wallace (50), of Dalloway Road, Arundel, Sussex, claims he was the victim of a dirty tricks campaign by MI5. Two years ago he won £30,000 compensation from the Army for wrongful dismissal.

Home Office pathologist Dr Iain West had told Wallace's original trial that Lewis was knocked unconscious by a karate blow on the nose before being dumped in the River Arun and drowning.

But Professor Bernard Knight, another Home Office pathologist, told the Court of Appeal in July such a powerful blow would have damaged Lewis's nasal bones, and caused bleeding, swelling and bruising _ and there was no evidence of this.

It had been the Crown's case that Lewis had been knocked out by Wallace at his home, then dumped in the river.

Mr Wallace said outside court that he believed his friend, antiques dealer Jonathan Lewis, was killed by members of the criminal antiques trade in Brighton.

''The police have evidence of this but have suppressed it,'' he said.

He added: ''For the last 16 years, successive Home Office ministers have told MPs there is no reasons to doubt the original findings and now key parts of the evidence have been abandoned and other parts discredited by experts.''He called for a ''proper police explanation'' of who was responsible for the evidence which led to his 10-year jail sentence at Lewis Crown Court.