Site Meter

Friday, December 24, 2010

Eddie Gilfoyle: What a load of old bollocks from the Parole Board!

Eddie Gilfoyle: What a load of old bollocks from the Parole Board!

A spokesman for the parole board said he could not comment on individual cases but said a condition banning prisoners from talking to the media would be imposed to prevent further offending.

He said: "Any prisoner who is released is released if we reach a judgment that he is safe to release and that he is not going to go on to commit another offence. It is sometimes the case that one of the licence conditions is that the prisoner being released doesn't get involved with the media. If that is the case, the only reason for that condition would be to prevent further offending.

"For instance, it might be the case that if a high-profile prisoner talks to the media after he has been released, there would be issues concerning the feelings of the victims.

"There might be concerns about the reaction of the general public to someone who has been released from a life sentence."

Let's just say, for argument's sake, that Eddie Gilfoyle was rightly convicted of the murder of his wife. The Parole Board uses the Benson/Bradley test which goes to risk to life or limb as a measure for release or recall of a lifer. This means, for example, in the Cox case, it was unlawful for the Parole Board to order the recall of Mr Cox on the ground that he was found guilty of possession of cannabis and a dodgy tax disc. These minor criminal offences were not related to the index offence of murder, therefore he posed no risk to life or limb and his challenge by way of judicial review was successful and Mr Cox was re-released. By the same token, it is difficult to see in what way Mr Gilfoyle by speaking to the media endangers the public. So, it would appear that that is not the real reason for the imposition of this unlawful media gag.

Indeed, the Parole Board statement switches from the danger of reoffending to the status of Mr Gilfoyle being a high-profile prisoner. This brings with it the possibility of media attention. And, the possibility that relatives of his dead wife would see, hear and read media coverage hence the "there would be issues concerning the feelings of the victims". Do they have a right here which needs protecting? I very much doubt it. I recall when Channel 4 did a news special on the Prisoners Votes Case and interspersed throughout the news report was comments from my victim's daughter. I was told that this was done to create balance. However, the issue of prisoners votes was not about balancing the rights of victims against convicted prisoners human right to the vote. I thought that including my victim's daughter was unfair reporting. She came across as a angry, bitter and twisted woman. Nothing less than the death penalty or natural life would satisfy her blood lust. If anything, I should have been protected from her and not her from my media appearances. On the other hand, if a released lifer used the media to taunt the victims then an argument might be made for some kind of media restriction. However, I am not suggesting a blanket restriction such as has been imposed upon Mr Gilfoyle in this case.

Then the Parole Board switches track again and goes from seeking to protect the victim's relatives to "There might be concerns about the reaction of the general public to someone who has been released from a life sentence". In the Prisoners Votes Case the ECtHR stated that denying the human right to vote on the grounds that it might offend public opinion was not justified. By the same token, denying Mr Gilfoyle's human right to freedom of expression under Article 10 cannot be justified. I am glad that his legal representatives are appealing this outrageous abuse of power by the Parole Board and Ministry of Justice.

Update: Parole Board backs down on media gag after legal threat by lawyers.

No comments: