Speech of the Month, July 2023 - Andrew Malkinson
17 years of anger and injustice were powerfully detailed in Andrew Malkkinson's nine minute speech
Timing. A gift the greatest actors possess that’s impossible to learn. But being a master of timing doesn’t necessarily produce glittering results – there are so many other variables that can ruin the moment. Something that Kevin Spacey must have been blisteringly aware of when he strode out of Southwark Crown Court, having been found innocent of sexual abuse charges, to make his post-trial statement. Only the world’s media wasn’t too interested because, simultaneously, a man called Andrew Malkinson left the Court of Appeal having had his rape conviction - which he’d served 17 years in prison for - quashed. Guess who the media wanted to hear from?
You’ve probably heard clips of the speech Malkinson made outside the Court of Appeal on TV. The phrase, “I was kidnapped by the state!” was shown in clips on news bulletins widely but no news programme showed the speech in its nine-minute entirety, which is a shame because it was a very good speech. Take a look now.
Here’s why it worked…
The unusual use of anaphora in the opening
Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the start of a clause. It sounds fancy and high-brow but you’ve come into contact with it a thousand times. From the repetition of “We Shall” in the close of Churchill’s ‘We will beat them on the beaches’ speech to “I’m tired of” in Eminem’s ‘If I had,’ anaphora arches over all areas of cultural life.
Usually, when speech making, anaphora is used at the close of a speech. It helps to drive emotion. Interestingly, Malkinson used it to open his speech; consistently opening clauses with “I came to” and closing them with “they didn’t believe me.” Using it this way, he brings alive the gruelling repetition and frustration that he faced for years.
The original False Fantasy Universe point
No doubt we’ve all entertained nightmares – usually while awake – where we imagine being locked up for a crime we didn’t commit. Within 30 seconds the mind runs a horrific riot, and then we stop ourselves and force ourselves to focus on what we should eat for dinner. But one horror that I’d never considered before was, as Malkinson put it, “being forced to play a role in a false fantasy universe where you’re treated as though you are guilty” while, of course, knowing you’re not.
I’d never considered how difficult it must be for everyone around you to believe that you’re something that only you know you’re not. It would be like everyone around you thinking you’re deaf and signing at you and putting on subtitles when you can hear perfectly well. And no matter how many times you say, “I can hear what you’re saying,” you’re ignored and the fable continues. It would be lonely and scary and desperately frustrating. Something I’d never considered before.
The empathetic message to the rape victim
Malkinson’s speech ends on a surprising and moving note when he addresses the victim of the rape – who’s real attacker has not been arrested and probably never will be – and who picked Malkinson out in a line up. In addressing her directly and saying, “I am so sorry that you were attacked and brutalised that night by that man. I am not the man who attacked you. But what happened to me is not your fault. I’m so sorry if my fight for the truth has caused you extra trauma. I am so sorry that the system let you down” he displays breathtaking magnanimity and compassion.
I hadn’t thought until that moment about how the victim, seeing the coverage on the news, might have felt. Yet, because of Malkinson’s words, I suddenly understood the guilt and rage she was most definitely experiencing. He decided to absolve her of any guilt and joined with her in anger at the justice that neither of them has received.
On the subject of anger, Malkinson presents with contained anger, which makes his speech all the more powerful.
On the day after Malkinson gave this speech, he was interviewed by Justin Webb on the Today programme. During the interview he explained that when he does receive compensation, he will have to pay some of it back to the prison service for his ‘bed and board’ while in jail. The cruel incredulity of this information rocked the nation and on 7 August the Ministry of Justice announced that innocent prisoners would no longer have to pay for their stay in prison. Good on Andrew Malkinson for making his media opportunities count. And good luck to him for the future.
“Emma has been incredible with her guidance and support. She put me at ease and gave me encouragement to deliver a motivational speech. Throughout our work together any feedback she gave me was done in a kind but firm manner and this enabled me to build up a speech I can now deliver with confidence”