An important claim challenging the legality of the “reconsideration” procedure introduced by the Secretary of State for Justice in the Parole Board Rules 2019, has significantly improved the position of prisoners who are detained following a Parole Board direction for their release.
Although the Court found that the reconsideration procedure was lawful, it confirmed that it is possible for a prisoner to apply to reduce the period for reconsideration in some cases.
This will be of real value to many prisoners in the future.
The Claimant, Mr Huxtable, was represented by Andrew Sperling of SL5 Legal and Jude Bunting of Doughty Street Chambers. In its judgment, the Court emphasised that the right to liberty was fundamental and rejected the Secretary of State’s suggestion that the period did not matter because it only affected a small number of prisoners for a comparatively short period of time.
Mr Justice Fraser said:
“The right to liberty is a fundamental and important one. It is enshrined now in the Human Rights Act, but was prized at common law for many centuries before that…The Defendant submitted that it was only in a small number of cases that delay would be caused, and any delay would be minimal...This is not the correct approach to adopt to such a fundamental right as liberty.”
Andrew Sperling of SL5 Legal/ Tuckers, acting for the Claimant, said:
“This is an important case. The Parole Board rule changes were a knee jerk response to the unfortunate circumstances of one high profile case. It should not have led to thousands of prisoners being detained after the Parole Board has directed that they should be released. We do not object to an appeal procedure, but we do have grave concerns about a system which suggests that every release decision of the Parole Board should be suspended on the off-chance that it might be challengeable.
We are delighted that this case has, at least, created a framework for prisoners to apply to reduce the reconsideration period. In any event, we hope that we will be granted permission to appeal and that this will eventually lead to a review process which is fair and does not unnecessarily deprive people of their liberty.”
A more detailed statement with the background to this case can be found here.
ENQUIRIES TO ANDREW SPERLING, SL5 LEGAL SperlingASL5@tuckersolicitors.com