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ACCESS TO PRIVATE LEGAL ADVICE DURING THE PANDEMIC: CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE LORD CHANCELLOR

Understandably, the health and safety of prison staff and prisoners is the clear priority during the pandemic, but the lockdown restrictions are posing a real threat to prisoners’ access to justice. Access to private legal advice is extremely important. Where there is no access, injustice becomes more likely and this has a negative impact on society, as well as individuals. On Thursday 19th March, The Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG), The Law Society and The Association of Prison Lawyers (APL) wrote to Governors and Directors of prisons across the UK, as well as the Chief Executive of The Parole Board and the Head of the Public Protection Casework Section, to reiterate the importance of

Bittersweet success: Lisa achieves temporary release for her client through sheer persistence and de

My client is serving a determinate sentence in default of a confiscation order and had progressed to the open estate. He is considered low risk. Prior to the COVID restrictions he had been released on temporary license (ROTL) daily to attend work and support his family.Sadly his wife was diagnosed with cancer some months ago. The COVID-19 lockdown and the decision to stop prisoners having ROTL had a disastrous impact upon the family. His wife has been left juggling full-time care of two children while undergoing chemotherapy with no support. Initially we sought to make an application for release under the coronavirus temporary release scheme but were told that this was not possible as the s

HMPPS provides guidance to the loved ones of prisoners, but have the important questions been answer

HMPPS has published guidance attempting to answer some of the many pressing questions that the friends and family of prisoners have about the effect of COVID-19 on prison regimes. We think there are important gaps in the guidance and consider that the information could have been presented more clearly. However, we wanted to share it in the hope that it is useful. Coronavirus: Q&A for friends and family of prisoners

A Letter for The Secretary of State for Justice

The SL5 Legal team are extremely grateful to the prisons across the UK that continue to arrange private legal meetings for us with our clients, via video-links and telephone conferences. However, the approach is far from consistent and many prisons do not have access to the facilities required. This impedes prisoners’ access to justice. Further to the letter detailed in our post on 1st April, the letter below is again co-authored by SL5’s Managing Director Andrew Sperling on behalf of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group and Rikki Garg on behalf of The Association of Prison Lawyers. They invite Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC, politician and barrister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justi

Bond strikes again...

We would like to share an amazing success story with you. A highly valued member of the SL5 Legal team, solicitor Catherine Bond, has achieved an extraordinary result for her client: Following the client's release from his original life sentence, he was recalled for further offending and received another life sentence. He served many years over tariff and struggled considerably with open conditions, having been returned to closed conditions on five occasions. He has now been successful in his application for release from closed conditions. Catherine has represented the client for many years and fought hard for his release. She is overjoyed that he has finally regained his freedom, reflecting

The challenges discussed in 'Should I Draw You A Picture?' by Andrew Sperling are just as pe

Should I Draw You A Picture? April 18, 2016 | By Andrew Sperling Parole, learning disability, autism and fair hearings In To Kill A Mockingbird, a black man, Tom Robinson, is accused and convicted of raping a white woman. He is represented by a fearless and principled lawyer, Atticus Finch who, despite his best efforts, fails to save his client. Harper Lee’s masterpiece demonstrates how difficult it is to secure a fair hearing. The level of prejudice and ignorance in the society Lee portrays lead us to anticipate a guilty verdict. As readers, we get to be jurors too – the author does not tell us whether Robinson is guilty, but we draw our conclusions from the evidence and from Finch’s wel

Action being taken to prevent parole board hearing delays

Managing Director & Solicitor-Advocate at SL5 Legal, Andrew Sperling, sits on the Management Committee of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG). In this capacity, Mr Sperling co-authored a letter (link below) from the LAPG, The Law Society and The Association of Prison Lawyers. The letter concerns the arrangements required to ensure that parole board hearings can go ahead wherever possible during this period of social distancing. The letter was sent to Governors and Directors of prisons across the UK, as well as the Chief Executive of The Parole Board and the Head of the Public Protection Casework Section, on Thursday 19th March. We have had some promising responses which we intend to sum

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