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Thursday, November 04, 2010

John Hirst faces police investigation over YouTube video

John Hirst faces police investigation over YouTube video

John Hirst, the axe killer who paved the way for prisoners to get the vote in Britain, is facing a police investigation over a possible breach of licence after he filmed himself apparently smoking a cannabis joint.

After gloating about his human rights success in a series of BBC interviews, the killer taunted ministers by posting a clip on YouTube in which he celebrated with "champagne and a joint".

Speaking in a Radio 2 interview, he confirmed he had smoke cannabis in his home and said he had bought the drug from a local dealer.

It is understood that a complaint has been lodged with Humberside Police, although officers are yet to confirm a formal investigation has been launched.

David Cameron admitted at Prime Minister’s Questions that it made him “physically ill” to be forced to give prisoners the vote because of a judgment by the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst's case.

But he added the Government had no choice in the matter and refusing to act could cost the country £160million.

Meanwhile Hirst, who spent 25 years in jail after he hacked to death his landlady, was criticised for “vile” interviews he gave in which he celebrated how “murderers, rapists and paedophiles” will get the vote.

In one he laughed and thanked the presenter for providing a “graphic account” of how he had bludgeoned his victim, Bronia Burton, and then made himself a coffee as he waited for her to die.

But the possible police investigation concerns a video posted on YouTube in which the former prisoner waved around a glass of champagne and smoked a joint. Hirst was jailed for life after admitting manslaughter and so could be recalled for breaching his licence.

It is unclear who made a formal complaint about Hirst.

However Donal Blaney, a solicitor and Conservative blogger, said on micro-blogging site Twitter yesterday: “Good news: Humberside Police investigating possible breach of licence conditions by John Hirst after he admits buying/smoking pot on Radio 2”.

A spokesman for police said they were not yet aware of any complaints being made but they may still be making their way through the system.

The BBC faced criticism after Hirst was given airtime on some of its most high-profile current affairs programmes.

The convicted killer appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme and Radio 5 Live with Nicky Campbell on Tuesday, then on Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show and BBC1’s Daily Politics on Wednesday.

In the latter interview he laughed and thanked Andrew Neil, the presenter, for providing a “graphic account” of his crime, before mocking his hairstyle and repeating that the Government was on trial, not him.

Iain Dale, the prominent Tory blogger who also presents a radio show, wrote: “The sight of John Hirst on the Daily Politics smiling at the description of him killing his landlady fills me with revulsion.

“I am so glad I refused to have John Hirst on my LBC show last night. The man is a disgrace to human society and should still be in prison.”

On Twitter, one user described Hirst as “vile” and added: “He should not be on the BBC in this way.”

Edward Chivers, who describes himself on Twitter as BBC Daily Politics Producer, wrote: “Don't know if I should feel proud for having booked John Hirst for today's Daily Politics...”

In a separate case, the mother of a murdered girl has condemned the latest legal bid by her daughter’s killer to win the right to vote from prison.

June Gillbanks asked why the “human rights” of criminals such as her brother, Peter Chester, who raped and strangled seven year-old Donna Marie, received more attention than those of their victims.

She criticised the use of an estimated £100,000 in public money to fund Chester’s long-running campaign to overturn the blanket ban on prisoners casting ballots, and said she would write to the Prime Minister about it.

Mrs Gillbanks, from Blackpool, said: “I will be writing a very strong letter to David Cameron. I will ask him to look after people like me, the victims, instead of the criminals."

She added: "I would have wanted to have been in London for the court hearing but, again, I wasn't told about it until it was too late.

"I would have been there for my daughter but also for the other children who have been murdered.

"It is just not right, and it is not right taxpayers' money is used to deal with this.”

Her comments came after lawyers for Chester told the High Court that he should be allowed to vote because his crime did not “undermine democracy”.

A leading judge observed that the move would likely be seen as “repugnant” to law-abiding citizens.

However Lord Justice Laws said: “Some people would say that a person who commits a pre-meditated murder has so far turned his back on being a good citizen that to give him the vote would be repugnant to good citizens. That is a viable point of view.”

But the Government’s lawyers confirmed that new legislation will be drawn up to give some prisoners the vote, as the public debate continued over the controversial plan ordered by Europe.

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