It took media exposure of the shameful case of 74 year–old Karl Andree, the Brit sentenced to 350 lashes, to get David Cameron’s Government to finally abandon its contract with Saudi Arabia’s notorious prisons.
Earlier today, I forced Michael Gove to answer questions in the House of Commons on why his Government was taking Saudi money to make their barbaric justice system more efficient.
By the time Gove sat down he had agreed to end the prison deal and Cameron was writing to protest at Mr Andree’s treatment.
British diplomats are working hard to urge that Mr Andree, who has three times been diagnosed with cancer, will not be flogged but questions remain to be answered.
Why did the government even think about helping out the Saudi prison service, where beheadings, crucifixion , amputation and other tortures are routine?
Last month Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to cancel the contract because of another case – that of 17 year-old Mohammed Al-Nimr sentenced to be beheaded for taking part in a peaceful protest – but Mr Corbyn is still waiting for a reply.
David Cameron should be standing up for British citizens and British values abroad, not kowtowing to regimes which use medieval punishments to terrorise and oppress their and our citizens.
You can read the full text of the debate here.
Andy Slaughter welcomes Saudi prison U-Turn.
Responding to the inspection, Labour’s Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter MP, said: “This report lifts the lid on just how bad the crisis in our prisons really is. The Chief Inspector found that Wandsworth is overcrowded, unsafe and dangerously under-staffed.
“It is running at close to 170% of its capacity and almost every service was found to be insufficient or failing. Inmates are sitting idle in their cells for up to 23 hours a day, without access to rehabilitation programs or work placements. Severe staff shortages are preventing the prison from functioning safely. Ministers need to wake up to how serious the situation is and urgently get a grip on the state of our prisons.’
In just five years of David Cameron, Ken Clark and Chris Grayling the Coalition have run the justice system into the ground. Prisons are overcrowded and understaffed meaning suicides and violence are up and work and training down. The reckless privatisation and fragmentation of the probation service could leave dangerous and violent offenders without proper supervision.
The Ministry of Justice have confirmed they will continue with plans for two-tier contracts for criminal legal aid and will go ahead with a second legal aid cut next summer.
"Dismal" year for HMP Wormwood Scrubs in Hammersmith after Tory cuts lead to staff "low morale"
By Andy Slaughter MP
Announced last week, the Conservative party’s proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act (HRA) and almost certainly leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) represent the latest attack on the post-1945 settlement that all main parties have remained signed up to until now.
It is as significant as their undermining of legal aid, the welfare state and the NHS, though for the first time it does not have the support of their Lib Dem coalition partners.
Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter responding to the latest High Court ruling against Lord Chancellor Chris Graying, said:
Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter commenting on the Chief Inspector’s report, said:
“Once again we have another shocking report that has blown the lid off the crisis in our prisons.
“This shows that Wormwood Scrubs is not a safe place to be in and does little to rehabilitate prisoners.
“Clearly this is not only bad for the inmates themselves but for the whole of society because they are put back on the streets without the means or attitude to reform or improve their lives."