Association of Prisoners
Contact: John Hirst FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tel: (01482) 341281 or 07766964583
BROWN TO PAY OUT £70M COMPENSATION TO PRISONERS
Prisoners including murderers, rapists and paedophiles to sue for loss of vote
The Association of Prisoners (AoP) is to sue the government, in a class action, if it fails to give all convicted prisoners the vote in time for the next general election. The move follows Lord Bach’s statement, in the House of Lords, that it is a matter for individual prisoners to pursue if they feel that they are being denied the vote. In Hirst v UK(No2), the Prisoners Votes Case, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that denying prisoners the vote breached their human rights under Article 3 of the First Protocol of the European Convention.
Lawyers acting for the prisoners seek to rely upon a US Supreme Court ruling which decided that the loss of the vote can result in an award of monetary damages by way of compensation. Taking into account the exchange rate for dollars into pounds sterling, each of the 70,000 prisoners is likely to be awarded £1,000 and the bill for the taxpayers will be a staggering £70,000,000!
Ben Gunn, General Secretary of the AoP and author of Ben’s Prison Blog, has said: “I deplore the government’s ineptitude. This government that has locked up more people than any in UK history has the temerity to claim moral authority, whilst acting in bad faith in defiance of implementing the Court’s judgment. Criminals will doubtless be glad to know that the rule of law is an optional extra. We will certainly be glad for the compo”.
Lord David Ramsbotham, at the Barred from Voting campaign meeting in Parliament last Monday, stated that he intends to raise the serious issue of Lord Bach making a misleading statement in Parliament. In the debate in the House of Lords on prisoners voting, Lord Pannick, in relation to whether the government intended delaying the issue until after the next general election, asked: “Can the Minister give the House an unequivocal assurance that that is no part and has been no part of the Government's motivation?”. Lord Bach replied: “Yes”. However, the outgoing Director General of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), Phil Wheatley, confirms, along with Martin Bentham, that Jack Straw was the Ministry of Justice source who told the Evening Standard that prisoners won’t be able to vote until after the general election.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. The Association of Prisoners was set up in direct opposition to the Prison Officer’s Association, under Article 11 of the European Convention incorporated in the Human Rights Act 1998. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1367035/Prisoners-in-move-to-set-up-trade-union.html
2. Ben Gunn is serving life for murder and is presently located at: HMP Shepton Mallet, Cornhill, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4 5LU Tel: 01749 823 300 Fax: 01749 823 301