AN MP today called for police officers to be brought to justice if they are found to be at fault for Peter Fell's double murder conviction -- eight years after he started campaigning for his release.

Hyndburn MP Greg Pope demanded a top-level independent investigation as the man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years began his first day of freedom by calling for the real killer to be caught.

Today Home Secretary and Blackburn MP Jack Straw said he would consider the call "very carefully."

Hampshire Police have re-opened their investigation into the brutal killings of Anne Lee, 44, and Margaret Johnson, 66, on Aldershot Common in May 1982 after the former camera salesman and soldier from Great Harwood had his convictions quashed yesterday.

The Court of Appeal heard his original confession was unsafe and that colleagues had backed up his claims that he had been at work at the time of the killings.

Since the murders it has also been revealed that vulnerability had made him confess to things he hadn't done throughout his life.

He is now consulting with his solicitor about a possible claim for compensation from the Hampshire force after its investigation lead to his conviction at Winchester Crown Court in 1984.

Hyndburn MP Greg Pope, who has supported the fight for justice since visited Peter in his prison cell in the early 1990s, said: "I think there should be a high powered and independent investigation into the whole case and it should not be conducted by Hampshire Police, but by an outside force and be completely independent.

"Those responsible for the investigation should be brought to justice if they have done anything wrong and on the face of it the evidence is pretty damning. "A man has spent 18 years in jail since his original arrest for an horrific crime he did not commit and the perpetrator is still at large.

"This is a wholly unsatisfactory situation and something needs to be done."

Peter today said he always knew somebody else should have been standing in the dock at Winchester Crown Court when he was sentenced to life.

He added: "While I try to get on with my life, I hope the police in Hampshire try their hardest to catch the person or people responsible for those brutal deaths.

"I hope they catch them so it can all be sorted once and for all."

Det Supt Des Thomas, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: "Hampshire Police never gives up on a murder investigation. We will review this case in the light of the Appeal Court's decision and if any further evidence is forthcoming we will take the appropriate action.

"The families of both victims will be kept fully informed of all developments."

A spokesman for the force refused to comment on the issue of compensation as they said the Appeal Court had not yet given its reasons for the quashing of Peter Fell's conviction.

They added that the review of the case would include an examination of the conduct of the officers involved in the original murder inquiry and Peter Fell's interview and subsequent confession.

The officer who led the inquiry, Det Chief Supt Harry Pilbeam has since retired from the force as have the two other senior investigating officers, who both rose to senior ranks before the end of their careers. When MP Greg Pope raised his concerns about the conduct of the case he said he had interviewed the Assistant Chief Constable of Hampshire who he believed had been the investigating officer.

The Hampshire Police spokesman denied this.

But Mr Pope added: "I shall be looking into the procedures necessary for Mr Fell to claim his compensation and shall be doing all I can to assist him.

"I don't know how much compensation he will get, but I imagine it will be a pretty substantial amount. Of course he deserves that for spending 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit."

The three appeal court judges -- Lord Justice Walker, Mr Justice Garland and Mr Justice Sachs -- will announce in a few weeks the reasons for declaring Peter an innocent man, even though, in reality, they are is purely academic.

Peter said: "All that matters is that I have been proved innocent. I don't really want to dwell on the past, it is over now. I can get on with building my life now.

"I don't know where I will go, what I will do but I do want to meet up with the family who have supported me.

"The people like my brother Paul, who have been there for me, and all my supporters.