Iain Dale makes what I consider to be an error here.
This may be very unchristian of me (which I suppose is unsurprising for a self-confessed Agnostic) but I was none too impressed when I read in the Evening Standard that Colin Stagg had been awarded £706,000 for his wrongful arrest and prosecution over the murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common in 1992.
My first thought was: I wonder what kind of compensation Rachel\’s son Alex and her partner Andre got. Does anyone know?
Criminal compensation is a very difficult area, and most comparisons are probably completely unreasonable, but when a woman gets £12,000 for being raped, can a payout of £706,000 for wrongful prosecution really be justified? Stagg described the award as "like winning the lottery" – a singularly insensitive thing to say in the circumstances.
He\’s comparing two entirely different things. Criminal compensation for injuries is what happens when the State tries to compensate for the actions of an individual. It might indeed be too low (or too high, just right, whatever) but that\’s an entirely different thing from compensation paid by the State for injuries perpetrated by the State.
In the first situation the State is not responsible, while still trying to make amends. In the second the State is responsible for ameliorating it\’s own fuck up.
Think of it this way: if we as an individual have hurt someone, our duty to them, our duty to apologise, to try to make whole, is really rather different from our duty to aid those who have been hurt by others.