A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Friday, June 29, 2007

Secret Evidence in HM Prisons

Harry Roberts was a notorious cop killer of the 1960's. I remember all the talk at the time, 1966 it was, and I was a teenager. A long time ago. The news was never quite so "in-depth" in those days. Roberts was not given the same long-term notoriety as Myra Hindley, probably because he didn't kill a child, or get involved in a "monster from hell" type crime. I do like the double standards of the tabloid press! It serves us well, doesn't it. Killing a policeman is bad, killing three was terrible, but the crime always seem to stay stuck in the 60's. Much as Harry Roberts' identity.

Currently Roberts is biding his time in a low security risk prison near Newton Abbot, in Devon. However, the powers-that-be have decided he should stay in jail well past his 40 year sentence time limit. According to the BBC he lost his last appeal for parole because of "secret evidence". Like what exactly. That he has done something to upset the governor? Either he is a threat to society or he is not. I would hazard a guess they think he is not a risk but that they think they face a risk if they let him out, from revenge attacks or something. That's what all the secret evidence is about.

It is not about "he served his time and dues to society" stuff, but about the Home Office (or the "Justice" Ministry now) making sure they don't get stuck in any legal mess due to unforeseen circumstances. Roberts has been given the right to seek a judicial review over his failed parole bid. More costs to the taxpayer and all because the "secret evidence" is so secret!

I have no clue as to whether Roberts is a reformed person or whether he has ever felt remorse for his actions. But a low-risk prisoner sweating it out in rural Devon should not be messed around by a government, whose own history is one of incompetence in penal matters. Secret evidence is the kind of stuff for swivel-eyed dictatorships. It is not a right and proper way in a country that wants to have a transparent system.

So if Gordon Brown wants change, let him advise Jacqui Smith, the new Home Secretary, to eliminate "secret evidence" from such cases and let us know, through due legal process, why Roberts can't have parole. It's not difficult, it's easy.

He's either a risk or he is not!


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