Two men who spent years behind bars before their convictions were overturned have lost a case at the European Court of Human Rights over their rejected compensation claims.

Sam Hallam, who was convicted of murder, and Victor Nealon, who was found guilty of attempted rape, had previously taken legal action in the High Court over the Justice Secretary’s refusal to award them payouts.

Their compensation bids were rejected on the grounds that a “new or newly discovered fact would not establish beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a miscarriage of justice.”

After losing their challenges in the UK courts, including the Supreme Court in 2019, they took their case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg, claiming that the basis of the refusal to pay damages violated the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Sam Hallam's conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2012
Sam Hallam’s conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2012 (Mike Hornby/PA)

However, lawyers for the UK government said the decision maker was “obligated to decide compensation in accordance with criteria that focused only on the specific effect of a new or newly discovered fact, rather than making a general assessment of guilt or innocence ”.

In their decision dismissing the couple’s challenge, the panel of judges in Strasbourg ruled: “It cannot be said that the Minister of Justice’s denial of damages attributed criminal culpability to the applicant by reflecting the view that he whether she was guilty of the criminal. standard for the commission of the offence, which suggests that the criminal proceedings should have been determined differently.

“To find negatively that it cannot be shown to a very high level of evidence that an applicant has not committed a criminal offense – by reference to a new or newly discovered fact or otherwise – does not amount to a positive finding. establish that he or she committed the criminal offense.”

Mr Hallam, from east London, was jailed for more than seven years after being sentenced to life in prison as a teenager following his conviction at the Old Bailey in 2005 for the murder of a trainee chef.

Mr Nealon, originally from Dublin, was given a life sentence after his trial at Hereford Crown Court and served 17 years in prison – 10 more than the minimum term of seven years after he continued to claim he was innocent.

They were both released after appeal judges ruled that new evidence made their convictions unsafe.

Mr Hallam’s conviction was overturned in 2012.

Former postman Nealon, who was convicted in 1997 of the attempted rape of a woman in Redditch, Worcestershire, won his appeal in December 2013.