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Jail mother loses compensation bid

A mother who has fought for compensation after she was wrongly jailed for killing her son has lost her case at the European Court of Human Rights.

Lorraine Allen, 43, was jailed for three years in 2000 after a jury found her guilty of the manslaughter of her four-month-old son, Patrick, but this conviction was quashed in 2005 after fresh expert evidence was put forward.

Ms Allen, from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, applied for compensation but this was refused by the Home Secretary because her claim, it was argued, did not meet the statutory criteria.

She took her claim to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg which ruled that the Government's compensation decision did not breach her right to the presumption of innocence.

The ruling is expected to have an impact on a number of other cases in which convictions have been overturned but compensation has not been paid.

Ms Allen was jailed in 2000 in a so-called "shaken-baby" case. She was called Lorraine Harris at the time and lived in Long Eaton, Derbyshire. A child born while she was serving that sentence was taken away from her and placed for adoption. But her conviction was quashed in 2005 after fresh medical expert evidence proved it to be unsafe.

After the home secretary refused her compensation claim, Ms Allen challenged that decision by judicial review but this was refused by the High Court in 2007 and the subsequent appeal was dismissed in 2008

She took her fight for compensation to the European Court of Human Rights, which heard her case in November and has now delivered its judgment. The judges found unanimously that there had been no violation of Article 6 (presumption of innocence) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court found that UK judges properly considered whether any miscarriage of justice had taken place and concluded that this had not been established beyond reasonable doubt. The court said: "The language used by the UK courts in their decisions to decide on compensation had not undermined Ms Allen's acquittal or treated her in a manner inconsistent with her innocence."

Justice Minister Damian Green said: "I am pleased that the European Court of Human Rights has agreed with the judgment of our domestic courts and agrees that compensation is not applicable in this particular case."


From Belfast Telegraph