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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Prisoner votes campaigner John Hirst hits out at Runcorn MP Graham Evans

Prisoner votes campaigner John Hirst hits out at Runcorn MP Graham Evans

Feb 24 2011 by Mark Smith, Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News

THE convicted axe killer turned rights campaigner who sparked the furore over prisoners’ votes has criticised Runcorn MP Graham Evans.

The Weekly News reported last week how Mr Evans was among 234 MPs to vote against lifting the blanket ban on giving prisoners a say in the electoral process, a ban which the European Court of Human Rights previously declared to be illegal.

He told the Weekly News he was ‘deeply disturbed’ by the moves of European judges to have the ban lifted.

And in a direct response to the article, John Hirst – the man who first took the Government to court over the issue of prisoners’ rights – blasted Mr Evans’s stance.

Speaking exclusively to the Weekly News he said: “I am deeply disturbed that Runcorn MP Graham Evans is in favour of supporting maintaining this illegal practice.

“Whatever happened to the party of law and order? It would now appear that the Tories have become the party of lawlessness and disorder!”

Mr Hirst was sentenced to 15 years in 1979 for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after he hacked his 69-year-old landlady to death.

He was released in 2004 after serving 10 years longer than his original sentence.

He added: “It is not for him (Mr Evans) to decide this issue because the UK has already argued this position, in my case, in March 2004 and on the appeal in 2005, and lost the argument in the highest court in Europe.

“So, by his going on about the past just shows how out of touch he is with reality. “Using his own logic of those who break the law should not vote, why did he then hypocritically exercise his vote in the Commons motion and debate?”

Mr Hirst also warned the taxpayer would foot the bill for Britain’s refusal to lift the ban as serving prisoners sought to take legal action.

He said: “If the Government had sought to save the taxpayers forking out compensation payments to prisoners, then this should have happened before the 2009 European election and 2010 General Election because the present bill stands at £135m.

“If those prisoners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and England in the AV (alternative vote) referendum do not get to vote in May this year then the bill will be £270m.”

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