A RETIRED fire chief waiting nearly two years for compensation after being wrongly imprisoned on a false rape charge has been told by a minister he will face further delay.
David Bryant (69), who lives in Christchurch, was declared innocent on appeal and set free in early 2016 after the man who accused him was exposed as a liar.
Mr Bryant applied for compensation from the Miscarriage of Justice Application Service (MOJAS) in March 2018, and has been waiting ever since – despite being told then it would take just three months to resolve.
The decorated retained fire chief not only suffered the wrongful blackening of his name, but his wife Lynn died suddenly aged 54 shortly after his release.
As reported in the A&T last year, the compensation delay was described by Mr Bryant as “diabolical”. His MP, Sir Chris Chope, recently asked a question in parliament to try to highlight his case.
In a written question to justice secretary Robert Buckland, Sir Chris asked for confirmation of when the application had been made and when a decision would be delivered.
In reply, junior justice minister Wendy Morton said MOJAS was “carefully reviewing” Mr Bryant’s case and the ministry remained “hopeful” that a ruling could be reached within the next three months.
She pointed out that the process, in line with the Criminal Justice Act 1988, often involved securing documentation from the crown court, Court of Appeal or Crown Prosecution Service.
“Each application is necessarily fact-specific and enquiries need to be undertaken so that the secretary of state has all the required information before making a decision,” she said.
Mr Bryant was wrongly found guilty of buggery at the town’s fire station in the mid-1970s by a majority jury at Bournemouth Crown Court. He was sentenced to six years in jail, which was later increased to eight-and-half by the Court of Appeal.
But the case fell apart when it was revealed that his accuser, Danny Day, had admitted previously to medics he had an “extensive history” of lying.
Dorset Police – which Mr Bryant says has failed to apologise – came under fire from a High Court judge in 2018 for the way it investigated Mr Day’s allegation.
Mr Bryant, who had a 40-year unblemished career with Dorset Fire and Rescue, told the A&T in December: “I’m just really beginning to wish I had never started it to be honest. It’s keeping me hanging on and on and you cannot move on from anything.
“What’s that old saying about the wheels of justice turning slowly? Well, I never imagined they would move this slowly.”