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Prisoners (Legal Advice)

Volume 977: debated on Thursday 31 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why a constituent of the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington, who is a prisoner at Her Majesty's prison, Wandsworth, has been refused access to his legal adviser; and what account he is taking of the decision of the European Court in the Golder case in 1975 to allow prisoners who want to take legal advice or to issue civil proceedings against the Home Office to see their legal advisers.

As my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State explained in reply to a question by the hon. Member on 24 January—[Vol. 977, c. 313–14]—where a prisoner wishes to consult a solicitor about a complaint against the Home Office or any of its staff in connection with his imprisonment, he is precluded from doing so until the complaint has been ventilated through the normal internal channels and he has received a definitive reply to it. The hon. Member's constituent has made such a complaint and this is currently under investigation. He will in due course be permitted to consult a solicitor about it. This policy takes account of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the Golder case.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will amend the prison rules to give full implementation to the decision of the European Court by conceding the right of prisoners to access to legal advisers and the right of correspondence.

One effect of the Prison (Amendment) Rules 1976 (SI 1976 No. 603) was to amend the Prison Rules (SI 1964 No. 388) in accordance with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the Golder case, which is the case I believe the hon. Member has in mind.