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Saturday, September 12, 2009

MoJ in bid to silence Ben's Prison Blog

MoJ in bid to silence Ben's Prison Blog

News has emerged within the last half an hour from within HM Prison Shepton Mallet, that yesterday the prison Governor has stopped a letter written by the author of Ben's Prison Blog from going out of the prison and has instead been placed in the prisoner's stored property in Reception.

It is understood that the letter was addressed to Ben's missus, who visited Ben at the prison this afternoon. It is being reported that when Ben asked for a reason, he was told that "the content is interesting enough to be published on the internet" and on this ground it was stopped from leaving the prison.

It is further understood that the subject of the letter related to the widely publicised Prisoners Votes Case.

In a letter dated 7 September which Ben sent to me, along with a copy of Ben's appeal to Governor Nick Evans dated 6 September, he states:

"I just knew they couldn't let the blog go without making some effort at stopping it".

Ben's letter goes on: "The Head of Custody [Security] has spoken, relaying the wisdom that drips from the misshapen lips of whichever shaved simian occupies the post of 'Policy Lead for PSO 4411' at HQ".

"Here's the reasoning they claim prohibits me from blogging. You don't get any prizes for spotting the holes in the logic, it would be too easy. This is a battle of wits with an unarmed man".

"'PSO 4411 para 7.2 states that a prisoner may not ask, in writing or otherwise, another person to make on his behalf a communication which he would not be allowed to make direct, or which would contravene this Prison Service Order'. All good so far; now strengthen your legs to make a leap of logic that even the mutant offspring of Jessie Owens and Albert Einstein would balk at: 'Therefore, since prisoners are not allowed access to the internet, you may not ask someone else to post articles on your behalf'".

"There is so much wrong with this, beginning with the small matter that's it's the wrong Prison Service Order. PSO 4411 deals only with mail, a clue that was cunningly hidden in the title - 'Correspondence'".

"The relevant PSO is 4470, which deals with access to the media and publishing. If blogging isn't publishing, I don't know what is. I've included a copy of my very temperate and restrained appeal to this example of Prison Service fuckwittery for you to peruse".

"Luckily, I have already sent out loads of material for the blog so it should roll on regardless for a while. And if people chose to post stuff out of letters I send them, it's not my fault, is it...?".

In my view, the Governor has erred in law. That is, the starting point is the Human Rights Act 1998, Article 10 of the European Convention, and this case won in the High Court by JHL.

What we are talking about here is not just prisoners' rights to contact the media "on matters of legitimate public interest", but the freedom of speech implications for every blogger. It is hoped that the blogosphere will once again rally round like happened in the Usmanov case when the ISP shut down several blogs.

UPDATE: More here.

And, read and listen here.


Anonymous said...

Thanks John ,keep us all informed about Bens Blog..


Prison Widow Global said...

Whilst the MoJ are in a bid to silence Ben's excellent blog, I am wondering whether they will bid to silence the Jackanory screws who sell their childish stories to the tabloids? Yes, I am talking about greedy prison officers who thrive on the cash in hand perks from newspapers such as The News Of The World and The Sun.
Keep us all up to dated with Ben's Blog John!

jailhouselawyer said...

Hi Ironside, I've been rather busy as you might have guessed. As I am in London on Tuesday anyway, I am hoping to get into the High Court and seek an injunction against the MoJ.

Philipa: As I understand it, Ben has written a blog post for the Guardian Comment is Free for Monday. I am led to believe that it contains references to the staff and the tabloids.

Anonymous said...

IronSide. Good lord protector of England 1600's? Hmmm...
AnyWay JHL (sounds like a great way to fly) I fully support you and Ben, freedom of speech is so important. If we cannot hear the reality what is happening in prisons how can we be sure that human rights are being put first over the big business, ok they aren't and thats the problem and when it comes down to it thats why they don't want ben blogging. This is insane. If it helps I am happy to write a letter expressing my feelings on this. Also I collect letters and offer them to other people to sign and send on. A unified voice if you will.
I hope you will continue your good work. All the very best to you. Lola

Anonymous said...

Good morning John, I can see you are out and about. Freedom of speech is more important than ever.

Good luck only fear if you are not at home is Rocky and your new


Anonymous said...

Hi Lola ,have ear marked your blog...You never know when I might have something for