Charles Bronson cleared of assaulting Wakefield prison governor

Notorious prisoner Charles Bronson smiled and broke into a celebratory jig after a jury cleared him of trying to seriously harm a prison governor.

Appearing by videolink from HMP Frankland in Durham, he hailed the not guilty verdict and said: “British justice, best in the world. Thank you.”

Bronson, 66, had legally represented himself in the four-day trial at Leeds Crown Court as he cross-examined witnesses and gave evidence in his defence from the dock while flanked by prison officers.

He often brought laughter to the court room as he peppered his defence with frequent quips about witnesses, jurors and the prosecutor, and chanted the oath and kissed the Bible when he was sworn in to give evidence.

But the trial judge, Tom Bayliss QC, told jurors that Bronson, appearing under the name Charles Salvador, was not a lawyer and did not think he meant any disrespect.

He even complimented Bronson for his cross-examination of the alleged victim when asking “pretty pertinent questions”.

Bronson was said to have lunged at Mark Docherty as he entered a room for a welfare meeting at HMP Wakefield on January 25.

He landed on top of Mr Docherty and allegedly screamed “I will bite your f****** nose off and gouge out your eyes”, before prison officers intervened and restrained him.

Representing himself at Leeds Crown Court, Bronson said he intended to give Mr Docherty a “gentle bear hug” and whisper in his ear, but tripped, or was tripped by someone, and fell.

The defendant admitted he partly blamed the governor at Wakefield’s segregation unit after he was told photographs of his prison wedding to actress Paula Williamson two months earlier would no longer be allowed to leave the jail until his release.

He said the authorities had “humiliated a beautiful woman on the greatest day of her life”.

Bronson said he intended to whisper “where’s my wife’s photos?” in what he described as a “wake-up call” to Mr Docherty to not mess with his family.

The court had heard how Mr Docherty suffered swelling to the neck, scratches to the face and whiplash following the incident, but Branson dismissed the injuries as “minor” and said he was “embarrassed to even discuss them”.

Bronson had told jurors that for the first time in his life he was an “innocent man”.

He said: “Since when is it a crime to hug your fellow man? There is not enough man hugs in this insane world today.”

Bronson admitted he had been a “very nasty man” as he described to the jury how in his 44 years in prison he had held 11 hostages in nine different sieges – including governors, doctors, staff and, on one occasion, his solicitor.

He had caused damage to nine prison roofs at an estimated cost of £5 million, he said, but explained he had been making progress at the time of the flare-up at HMP Wakefield in the hope he may earn parole “somewhere down the line”.

He had even passed a violence reduction course on the prison’s segregation unit, he added.

The prosecution had outlined some of Bronson’s previous convictions to show he had a tendency to commit unprovoked acts of violence, including as recently as 2014 when he grabbed the governor of HMP Woodhill in a headlock and punched him after he stopped his mail.

But Bronson, who is serving a life sentence for robbery and kidnap, said that was all in the past.

Jurors found Bronson not guilty of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, after deliberating for just short of three hours.

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook said: “I know Charlie, this case was defective from the start, but the CPS obviously thought that his previous well-known violence convictions would see them over the line – that is not the way to objectively view evidence.

“Bringing cases like this, and particularly when there are acquittals, helps no-one.

“It costs the taxpayer money they do not need to spend, it ties up court time in cases that should never get off the ground in the first place and, most of all, it does nothing to bring those who genuinely and seriously assault Prison Officers to justice.”

HATTON GARDEN HEIST: Gang member loses challenge over £6.6m payback order

A member of the Hatton Garden jewellery raid gang has lost a challenge against an order that he must pay back more than £6.6 million.

Brian “the Guv’nor” Reader, now aged 79, of Dartford, Kent, failed to persuade three judges at the Court of Appeal in London on Tuesday that a confiscation order against him was wrongly imposed and should be quashed.

Reader, one of the ringleaders of the notorious multimillion-pound heist, was given a prison term of six years and three months in March 2016 for his role in the break-in.

He had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary.

The Hatton Garden gang carried out the meticulously planned crime over the Easter weekend in 2015.

They ransacked 73 boxes at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit after using a drill to bore a hole into the vault wall.

In January this year, Reader and the three other ringleaders were ordered to pay back various sums following a hearing at London’s Woolwich Crown Court.

A judge said they had jointly benefited from an estimated £13.69 million of cash, gold and gems stolen during the raid.

They were told that if they failed to comply with the confiscation orders they would face another seven years in jail.

Reader, who claims he did not receive anything from the proceeds of the burglary, was ordered to pay £6,644,951, including the sale of his £639,800 home and development land worth £533,000.

Lord Justice Singh, Mr Justice Goss and Judge Deborah Taylor, who heard that Reader is not in custody, rejected his application for leave to appeal against the order, ruling that he had no “arguable” grounds.

Mr Justice Goss, announcing the decision, said the judge who imposed the order had made “no error of law”, and was “justified in making a finding of joint benefit based on the available evidence”.

The four ringleaders were ordered to pay back a total of £27.5 million in January, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said afterwards that if one of the four paid an amount of nearly £6.5 million it would come off all their bills.

In August, Hatton Garden burglar Daniel Jones was handed more jail time after failing to pay back more than £6 million. He was sentenced to another six years and 287 days because he failed to pay off the confiscation order imposed in his case.

The appeal judges heard on Tuesday that Reader, the oldest member of the gang, was in “ill health”.

In September 2016 he failed to win a cut in his prison sentence. Court of Appeal judges were urged to show “mercy” and reduce the term following a “dramatic” deterioration in his health.

But the court ruled that his sentence was not “manifestly excessive”.

Serial killer admits to Dowler murder


Serial killer Levi Bellfield’s shock confession to the murder of Milly Dowler has prompted police to review probes into “a number” of other crimes.

Bellfield, who was given a whole-life prison sentence in June 2011 for killing the 13 year old, made the admission for the first time during an investigation into whether he had an accomplice, Surrey Police said.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed it was looking at new information relating to criminal investigations, but refused to give details.

A spokesman said: “The MPS is liaising with a number of other UK police forces in relation to information which has been passed on to us regarding a number of criminal investigations. That information remains subject to assessment and for that reason we will not be discussing the matter in further detail at this time.

“We are not prepared to discuss at this time the number of investigations or details of any case.”

Bellfield has been linked to several other crimes.

At the time of his conviction in June 2011, detectives said they believed Bellfield may have been responsible for around 20 attacks on women which were never solved.

These included the killing of Judith Gold, who was hit over the head in Hampstead, north London, in 1990, and Bellfield’s schoolfriend Patsy Morris, 14, who was strangled on Hounslow Heath, west London, in 1980.

Anna Maria Rennie identified Bellfield as the man who tried to force her into a car in Whitton, west of London, when she was just 17 in October 2001. But the jury at Bellfield’s 2008 trial for the murders of two other women could not agree and the charge was left on file.

Attempts for a retrial for attempted kidnap failed when Miss Rennie refused to attend court.

Bellfield was already in jail for the murders of Amelie Delagrange and Marsha McDonnell, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy, when he went on trial accused of killing Milly.

In 2008, he had been given a whole life term for murdering Ms McDonnell, 19, in 2003, and murdering Ms Delagrange, 22, and attempting to murder Ms Sheedy, 18, in 2004.

Milly was snatched from the street while on her way from school to her home in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in March 2002.

Her body was found in a wood in Yateley Heath, Hampshire – 25 miles from Walton-on-Thames.

Bellfield, 47, who now calls himself Yusuf Rahim, lived 50 yards from where Milly vanished but did not become a suspect until he was arrested by police in London for the other crimes in 2004.

He was found guilty of abducting and killing Milly following a trial at the Old Bailey before he lost a bid in February 2012 to challenge his conviction at the Court of Appeal in London.

Surrey Police said a man in his 40s arrested on Wednesday was released without charge, after finding there was no evidence to support the accomplice allegation.

Reggie Kray letters to be sold at auction


Reggie Kray
Reggie Kray

Letters written by infamous gangster Reggie Kray in which he describes a “sliding doors” moment in his life are to be sold at auction.

Kray, who with his twin brother, Ronnie, carved out an infamous East End crime empire through their gang the Firm in the 1950s and 60s, wrote the letters at HMP Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight while serving a life sentence for murder.

The collection of four letters were sent to Maureen Baker, a personal friend who he who he knew from the Tottenham Royal dance hall in the early 1950s.

The handwritten letters are mostly illegible but have nevertheless been given a guide price of around £500 for the auction at Henry Aldridge and Son in Devizes, Wiltshire, on Saturday.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: “The letters offer a fascinating snap shot into the mind of one Britain’s most notorious gangsters.

“One sentence in particular is fascinating, ‘I never did receive the letters in the guard house, if I had it may have changed the direction of both our lives, but it is no good to look back’.

“This letter represents a real sliding doors or ‘what if’ moment of history on how his life could have been so different if he had have received the letters he mentioned.”

The letters are being sold by a relative of Mrs Baker, who is now deceased.

The twins’ enduring notoriety has helped to create a thriving market in Kray-related memorabilia.

More than 160 previously unseen letters and photographs belonging to the pair were sold at auction for £20,780 in 2010.

Two years later, two landscapes, one by each brother, sold for a combined £1,200, almost twice the estimate.

Ronnie’s glasses and a decommissioned gun used by the twins have also been sold to collectors.

The twins were jailed for life in 1969 with a recommended sentence of 30 years; Reggie Kray for the murder of Jack “The Hat” McVitie and Ronnie for that of George Cornell.

Ronnie died aged 61 in 1995 at from a heart attack, having never been released.

Reggie spent time in several prisons before being released on compassionate grounds in August 2000. He died eight weeks later from cancer, aged 66.

Norwegian mass killer joins Oslo open University

Mass killer Anders Behring Breivik smiles during his trial in room 250 of Oslo's central court on June 21, 2012.  The trial of Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway last July, enters the final stretch with the prosecutors' call for him to be sent either to prison or to a psychiatric ward. Prosecutors Svein Holden and Inga Bejer Engh are to begin presenting their much-awaited closing arguments at 1000 GMT, at the end of which they will reveal whether they want the court to find Breivik responsible or not for his actions. AFP PHOTO / SCANPIX/ROALD BERIT        (Photo credit should read ROALD BERIT/AFP/GettyImages)


The University of Oslo says mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has been admitted to its political science programme, adding that the 36-year-old right-wing extremist would remain in his cell to study – and one UK prisons expert has welcomed his university admission.

Oslo Rector Ole Petter Ottersen said “all inmates in Norwegian prisons are entitled to higher education in Norway if they meet the admission requirements”.

Two years ago, Breivik’s application was rejected after the university said his qualifications were insufficient. It is unclear why the decision has been reversed.

The submission stirred a debate in Norway over whether someone convicted of such a horrific crime should be considered for higher education.

Breivik is serving a 21-year prison sentence, which can be extended when it expires, for killing 77 people in bomb and gun massacres in 2011.

Norway has a rehabilitation-focused justice system aimed at helping inmates prepare for life after they get out, which includes giving them the right to pursue higher education. Since his 2012 conviction, Breivik has been studying in jail.

“He then didn’t meet the admission requirements. Now his grades live up to what is expected,” university spokeswoman Marina Tofting said.

Breivik will begin the university programme in August. Prison regulations will prevent him from going to the Oslo campus, attending classes, accessing digital learning resources or having any contact with students or university staff, Mr Ottersen said.

“The communication between the university and Breivik will take place via a contact person in prison,” he said, adding penitentiary regulations “entail that he will follow the programme by means of independent study in his prison cell”.

Before the 2011 attacks, Breivik attended high schools in Norway and took an online course in small business management, but he had not completed secondary education, which he has been working on since his 2012 conviction.

“It is important to us that he remains in his cell,” Lisbeth Kristine Roeyneland of the victims’ support group told Norwegian news agency NTB.

“To us, it is irrelevant whether he sits there and reads fiction or whether he is studying a book of political science.”

Hours before the attacks, Breivik emailed a 1,500-page, anti-Muslim manifesto, citing counter-jihadist groups who have condemned his actions and dismissed him as a lunatic.

Breivik also claimed to be part of a secretive, non-existent network of Knights Templar.

He set off a car bomb explosion that ripped open buildings in the heart of Norway’s government quarter in Oslo, then went to a summer camp dressed as a police officer and gunned down youths as they ran and swam for their lives.

Mark Leech editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales said he saw nothing wrong with the mass killer’s admission.

Mr Leech said: “Quite apart from the fact that in Norway we are dealing with a different culture to that in the UK, one which no doubt would have had David Cameron feeling disingenuously physically sick again had it happened here, Anders was sent to prison as a punishment and not for a punishment.

“I see nothing wrong with his admission to a political science undergraduate programme, on the contrary his dissertations will provide a unique insight to the mind of a man it is crucial we understand if only to provide us with a greater understanding of how we can understand the motives of and identify such dangerous people in the future.”

Camera smuggled in to hospital to snap Ian Brady

Ian Brady
Ian Brady

A “disgruntled” man from Liverpool smuggled a camera into a high-security psychiatric hospital in a bid to sell photos of notorious serial killer Ian Brady to the News of the World for £50,000, a court has heard.

Alan Hagan, 48, is on trial at the Old Bailey over his dealings with News of the World (NotW) crime reporter Lucy Panton in 2008 while he worked at Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside.

He was allegedly paid £1,000 for a story headlined “Suicide Brady hid pills in his sock” in February of that year, just a month after he first made contact with Ms Panton.

The pair went on to hatch a subterfuge nicknamed “The Project” to smuggle in a camera to take pictures and video of the ageing Moors Murderer – the first since his mugshot was released in 1966.

The court heard Hagan, who wanted to take “revenge” on bosses for his treatment, discussed payment of £50,000 for the shots.

Hagan, of Galston Close, Liverpool, denies the charge of misconduct in a public office.

Even though he did manage to smuggle a camera into Ashworth Hospital, the resulting pictures were not good enough quality and they were not published, jurors were told.

Prosecutor Mark Trafford QC told jurors that Brady was a 77-year-old patient at Ashworth who had become notorious for committing the Moors Murders with Myra Hindley, who is now dead.

Between 1963 and 1965 they murdered children on the moors around Manchester.

They were tried in 1966 and were described as “two sadistic killers of the utmost depravity” when they were sentenced to life imprisonment.

The case has stayed in the public’s consciousness over the following years as attempts were made to find the graves of the children, the prosecutor said.

Mr Trafford told jurors: “Their crimes vividly live on. The public disgust and horror of what these two people did has never and will never, of course, go away and nor, you may think, should it.

“But this case is not about what they did and what we think of them, or think of Ian Brady and what he did.

“You may well feel he is not worthy of any protection of anything anywhere. You may well think that he is beyond contempt, and you would not be blamed for that.

“But, as even Winston Churchill himself said, one of the ways we judge our society is how we look after our prisoners.”

In April 2008, an attempt by Hagan to smuggle a camera into the hospital inside a belt failed, the court heard.

Then in August, Ms Panton emailed her boss about meeting her Brady contact in Liverpool, telling him: “Meet Friday, it looks like there will be an opportunity to get the project back on.”

By October, Hagan had a new piece of kit enabling him to take pictures and video inside the secure hospital. But they were not good enough quality for the newspaper, the jury was told.

Mr Trafford said Hagan first approached the NotW because he was “disgruntled” with his employer and believed he had been “badly treated” by management.

He said: “His revenge, and his road to seek large sums of money, was to seek to sell pictures to the media. He had the position and the opportunity.

“He had seen and worked near people whose faces, whose crimes and whose past were known to many members of the public.

“He knew that such an action was not just forbidden, as you can well imagine, but was something that, the Crown say, was quite obvious to anybody who worked in or around the secure hospital system, an act that went to the very heart of the system and helped undermine all efforts to run such a system.”

Kenneth Noye gets parole hearing

Kenneth Noye
Kenneth Noye

Double killer Kenneth Noye, from Kent, could be freed after getting a parole hearing, sparking anger from the parents of one of his young victims.

Noye, 67, was jailed for life in 2000 for the murder of electrician Stephen Cameron, 21, in a road rage attack.

The career criminal had earlier stabbed to death an undercover officer outside his mock Tudor mansion after the £26 million Brink’s Mat bullion heist but successfully pleaded self-defence.

Stephen’s father Ken branded his son’s killer “evil” and said he should die in jail.

Mr Cameron told The Sun: “He left my son dying in the gutter and fled to Spain. I don’t believe for a minute he has changed his ways, it’s a load of old rubbish. He’ll always be a dangerous man.

“Noye should never be allowed out of prison. He is an evil man and has never shown any remorse for what he did.”

Noye stabbed Stephen in the heart and liver with a nine inch knife as the electrician’s 17-year-old fiance screamed for help following a punch up on the M25 Swanley interchange in Kent in May 1996.

He fled to Spain, becoming Britain’s most wanted man and sparking a massive manhunt. He travelled on a false passport and went into hiding for several years, but was eventually tracked down to southern Spain and in 1998 was extradited back to the UK.

The gangster stood trial at the Old Bailey where a huge security operation was put in place amid concerns key witnesses and jurors could be intimidated.

He was found guilty and jailed for life, and was later given a minimum tariff of 16 years.

Noye had already become one of Britain’s most notorious criminals after he was involved in a notorious gold bullion heist at Heathrow Airport in 1983.

The gang stole 6,000 gold bars, diamonds and cash in what was dubbed the “crime of the century”.

Police launched an investigation, which soon focused on Noye’s mansion in Kent. It was in the grounds of this house that Noye stabbed to death undercover officer Detective Constable John Fordham in 1985.

He was cleared of murder after claiming he had killed the officer in self-defence, but was jailed for 14 years for handling stolen bullion.

Mark Leech editor of the national prisons newspaper Converse said the release of life sentence prisoners was a carefully managed process.

Mr Leech said: “Life sentence prisoners have the lowest reconviction rate of any group of former prisoners because their release is a carefully managed process spread across two or three years.

“Of course the families of victims want to see the killers of their loved ones die in jail, I would too, but you can’t base release decisions on that kind of understandable emotion, justice demands impartiality and Kenneth Noye has a right to expect that too.”

Former probation union chief Harry Fletcher told The Sun: “It is unusual for a lifer to be released after the first Parole Board hearing. But it paves the way for their freedom.”

A Parole Board spokeswoman said: “His case has been referred to us.”

Noye was jailed in 2000 and ordered to serve a minimum of 16 years. However, he could be freed by the Parole Board this April because his sentence took into account time he served on remand while standing trial.

The spokeswoman added: “The Parole Board can only direct the release of a life sentence prisoner if it is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for him to be detained in order to protect the public from serious harm and, if it is so satisfied, it is required to release the prisoner.

“Each case is assessed on its own individual merits.”

She said cases such as this were regularly referred to them for consideration once a prisoner has served the minimum term, which Noye now has.

Cop Killer Harry Roberts Released

Harry Roberts - right
Harry Roberts – right

Police killer Harry Roberts has been released from prison, despite calls from relatives of his victims, politicians and senior police for him to stay behind bars.

The 78-year-old, who was jailed for life for shooting dead three unarmed policemen in 1966, was released from Littlehey prison in Cambridgeshire on Monday night, The Sun reported.

Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation John Tully said on Twitter that he thought Roberts’s release was “sickening”.

Roberts spent 45 years in jail after murdering Detective Sergeant Christopher Head, 30, Detective Constable David Wombwell, 25, and Constable Geoffrey Fox, 41.

The revelation that he was to be let out of prison sparked anger last month.

Mandy Fox, the youngest daughter of Pc Fox, branded the decision a “disgrace” and said she was “sickened” that Roberts was being released.

Gillian Wombwell, the widow of Mr Wombwell, said: “Our sentence is for life and so should his be.”

The prospect of Roberts being set free also drew strong criticism from Met Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who said a life sentence should have been just that.

Home Secretary Theresa May and London mayor Boris Johnson added their voices to the chorus calling for Roberts to remain behind bars.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg last month defended the Parole Board which decided on the release, saying such a decision is not about “feelings” but “how the justice system works”.

He said: “If you want to run the system according to the latest emotion you feel, fine, but that would be a disaster.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “We do not comment on individuals.

“Offenders on life sentences are subject to strict controls for as long as their risk requires them. If they fail to comply with these conditions they can be immediately returned to prison.

“Offenders managed through multi-agency public protection arrangements (Mappa) are monitored and supervised by probation, police and other agencies.”

3 x Cop Killer Harry Roberts to be freed after 45 years

Harry Roberts - right
Harry Roberts – right

Notorious police killer Harry Roberts is to be released from prison after serving more than 45 years of a life sentence.

Roberts, now 78, was jailed for life for the murder of three policemen in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, in 1966. His 30-year minimum tariff expired 18 years ago.

The parole board is understood to have approved his release, and he will be subject to close monitoring by police and the probation service.

DS Christopher Head, 30, DC David Wombwell, 25, and PC Geoffrey Fox, 41, were shot dead without warning while questioning three suspects in a van on 12 August 1966.

Steve White, head of the Police Federation, told the Sun: “This decision by the parole board is a slap in the face for the families of the three police officers he brutally murdered.”

And ex-Metropolitan police commissioner Lord Stevens told the paper: “The impact of this terrible crime was horrendous. This is a case where life imprisonment should mean exactly that – life.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We do not comment on individuals. The release of life sentence prisoners is directed by the independent parole board once they are satisfied they can be safely managed in the community. Once released, they are subject to strict controls for as long as their risk requires them. If they fail to comply with these conditions they can be immediately returned to prison.

“Offenders managed through Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements are monitored and supervised by probation, police and other agencies.”

In May, justice minister Chris Grayling announced plans to change the law so police or prison officer killers would face whole-life prison terms.

The current minimum term is 30 years before a convict can be considered for parole and under the amendment to the criminal justice and courts bill, a whole life sentence would not be mandatory.

Speaking at the time, Grayling said: “Police officers play a vital role in keeping communities safe. As has been tragically demonstrated in recent years, this role is a dangerous one that can lead to officers paying the ultimate price while serving their community. It is essential that police and prison officers feel the full weight of the state is behind them as they fulfil their crucial duties.”

Mark Leech, editor of Converse, the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said that the decision was right in practice.

Mr Leech said: “I understand that many will point to the fact that this decision is wrong in principle, but for me it is exactly right in practice: the whole life tariff as we understand it today did not exist in 1966, this is a man who has served almost a quarter of a century, he may not have shown any humanity to his victims but that is not an excuse for us now not showing some degree of humanity to him.”

Bellfield payout: “completely justified”

Levi Belfield

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.”