Wednesday September 19,2012
By Martyn Brown
EU judges were slammed yesterday following a ruling permitting dangerous prisoners to get £16m compensation due to human rights.
As many as 3,500 inmates who have served longer than their original jail tariff without having access to rehabilitation courses could be in line for massive payouts.
Ministers may also be forced to change the grounds on which those serving indeterminate sentences can be released following the defeat in the European Court of Human Rights, giving violent criminals fresh hope of being set free.
New Justice Secretary Chris Grayling vowed to fight. He told MPs: “It is something we intend to appeal.”
Mr Grayling said the Government would use its commission on a bill of rights to look at creating a new human rights framework, free from interference from the ECHR which bans arbitrary detention under the European Convention on Human Rights.
ECHR judges agreed with three Britons who brought a test case – Brett James, Nicholas Wells and Jeffrey Lee – that there were “delays” in accessing prison courses caused by “a lack of resources”.
They were awarded almost £14,000 in damages and close to £30,000 in costs.
Ministers may also have to make more rehabilitation courses available to those still serving indeterminate sentences for the protection of the public (IPPs) which the Ministry of Justice announced last year it was scrapping.
Conservative backbencher Douglas Carswell hit out at the court decision while taking a sideswipe at former Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke.
He said: “This is another reason why we need to withdraw from this court’s jurisdiction.
“This is a dream outcome for lefty, liberal do-goodies because they have set out to try to put rehabilitation at the heart of the judicial system.
This is not what most of the country wants to see.”
Mr Grayling insisted he has “no plans” to slash the jail population and the only changes he wanted was the repatriation of more foreign prisoners.
His remarks are at odds with a pledge made by Mr Clarke two years ago to reduce the number of prisoners by 3,000.
The shift in policy will dismay Lib Dems in the Coalition, who came to see Mr Clarke as their “sixth Cabinet member”.
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