The £4,500 payout to the serial killer who murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler after being assaulted in prison has been described as completely justified by a prisons expert.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said it is “hugely disappointed” by the judge’s decision to award compensation to Levi Bellfield.
Bellfield was attacked by a fellow prisoner with a makeshift weapon in 2009 at Wakefield Prison before he went on trial for the murder of 13-year-old Milly.
He is believed to have suffered minor injuries but launched legal action claiming that prison staff should have protected him, the Daily Mirror reported.
Lawyers on behalf of the MoJ fought against his case for three years but they were forced to admit full liability at Durham County Court on Wednesday, the newspaper added.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We are hugely disappointed that Levi Bellfield was awarded £4,500 by a judge following an assault by a prisoner in 2009 at HMP Wakefield.”
Labour MP Ian Austin, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, told the Daily Mirror : “This is a complete and utter disgrace. Every right-thinking person will agree this is distasteful and wrong.”
Former nightclub bouncer Bellfield is serving a double whole-life term having been convicted of the murder of Walton-on-Thames schoolgirl Milly while already serving a whole-life term for the murders of Amelie Delagrange and Marsha McDonnell and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy.
Milly was snatched from the street on her way home in March 2002.
Mark Leech editor of Converse, the national newspaper for prisoners, said the payout was completely justified.
Mr Leech said: “Morally of course it’s outrageous that someone like Bellfield should receive compensation for being attacked in prison – but we do not have courts of morals in this country, we have courts of law.
“A fundamental principle of our law is that if you have a legal duty to keep someone safe – as the Prison Service does in respect of prisoners entrusted by the courts to its care – and you fail in that legal duty in a way that causes foreseeable injury to another person then compensation is not only appropriate but also completely justified.
“Just because someone like Bellfield has been a culprit of crime in the past, doesn’t mean he cannot become a victim of crime in the future.
“The solution is not to criticise the compensation but criticise the Ministry of Justice for savage budget cuts which have seen the staffing in our prisons not simply cut to the bone, but driven someway beyond it.”