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Friday, September 24, 2010



By Paul Gilbride, Scottish Political Reporter, Daily Express

PRISONERS who claim that their human rights were violated are costing Scottish taxpayers £300,000 a year.

Figures released yesterday show 190 inmates have shared in a windfall of £297,500 since the SNP came to power, mainly for slopping-out cases.

As well as the compensation cash, the hard-working public has also paid the criminals’ legal aid bill of £376,014.
Defending the legal challenges has also cost the public purse £249,600.

The figures are over and above the £11.2million taxpayers paid to inmates between 1999 and May 2007.

Most are from slopping-out claims by prisoners who use European human rights laws to argue they suffered degrading and inhumane punishment by being forced to use a bucket as a toilet at night while sharing cells.

A legal loophole was plugged last year to put a one-year time limit on new claims. Tens of thousands of pounds have also been paid out in compensation for ­personal injury or for unlawful detention.

There was anger last year when three criminals won a human rights case over segregation.

Murderers Andrew Somerville and Ricardo Blanco and robber Sammy Ralston received £2,100 each over claims prison guards hurt their feelings by locking them up alone.

The figures emerged from Scottish Government answers to written questions from Labour peer and MSP George Foulkes.

Scottish Prison Service chief executive John Ewing said more than 2,000 prisoners have raised proceedings in the Sheriff Court or Court of Session since May 2007. So far 190 have been settled.

Lothians MSP Lord Foulkes yesterday suggested that, even though it would be hard to accept, it would be cheaper not to fight the cases but settle instead.

He said: “People living in worse conditions than many prisoners will be outraged by these payouts. But, since we are signed up to the European Human Rights Act, it might be better for tax-payers if we just accept it.
“Compensation claims were cheaper than costs for legal aid.”

Scottish Tory justice spokesman John Lamont said: “The taxpayer is now being seen as a cash cow by some of the most undeserving people.”

At the weekend it emerged that UK ministers are considering granting prisoners the right to vote in time for next year’s Holyrood elections in order to comply with a European Court of Human Rights ruling.

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