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Monday, June 14, 2010

£60m con vote bill

£60m con vote bill


Published: Today

TAXPAYERS could face a £60million bill as prisoners appeal against Britain's refusal to let them vote.

Sixty cons are currently battling to force the Government to give them a say at the ballot box.

But experts warn thousands of others could follow suit and file claims for compensation.

One barrister estimated each claimant could receive as much as £750 - and there are 85,000 people in UK prisons. Lord David Pannick, QC, an expert in European law, forecast: "The bill, which taxpayers will be meeting, may be a large one."

Euro judges ruled in 2005 that votes behind bars should be permitted but the Government refuses to implement it.

The European Court has confirmed 60 prisoners are appealing - and if everyone in UK jails won £750 compensation the bill would top £60million. Mark Wallace, of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Giving criminals the right to vote is bad enough, but it would be a disgrace if they got money."

But a lag in one of the UK's biggest jails told The Sun: "You can't get hold of an Argos catalogue in here because everyone's already choosing how to spend their cash."

Comment: In my view, £60m is a conservative estimate. It is more likely to be £1,000 per prisoner x 75,000 = £75m. As for only 60 prisoners claiming damages, that is just with one law firm, Leigh Day and Co. I know that Elkan Abrahamson of Jackson and Canter LLP (Liverpool) have recently taken on "several hundred clients" seeking to claim damages for loss of their vote.

Related link: Charon QC has a brief to pick with the government! Law Review: The Future for The Bar, prisons and prisoner rights

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