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Further success in prisoner disability discrimination case

Further success in prisoner disability discrimination case forces Senior Official at Ministry of Justice to take action

HMP Whatton

15 August 2008

At the latest hearing of a long-running judicial review challenge of the Secretary of State for Justice in respect of the Prison Service’s failure to adequately assess and address the disability needs of our client, currently an inmate at HMP Whatton, the Court ordered that a senior official at the Ministry of Justice take personal responsibility for finding a suitable cell for our client. We represent Mr X in a judicial review challenge of the Secretary of State for Justice, in relation to the Prison Service’s continuing failure to allocate Mr X to a cell, adapted to meet his disability needs, or to provide him with a motorised wheelchair.

Mr X suffers from long-standing and serious health problems. He has suffered two strokes which have caused a weakness and loss of sensation down the right hand side of his body, has primary progressive multiple sclerosis, severe sight impairment, angina, chronic pain problems, asthma, epilepsy, gastro-intestinal problems, memory and concentration problems and depression.

Shortly before a previous hearing on 24th January 2008, the Secretary of State for Justice finally agreed to move Mr X to a disabled cell and provide him with a motorised wheelchair. They also agreed to amend the Ministry of Justice and Prison Service policies for dealing with disabled prisoners. An Order setting out these steps was agreed by the parties and approved by the Court.

Sadly, despite agreeing to take these steps, the Prison Service failed to move Mr X to a disabled cell or provide him with a motorised wheelchair. In light of this it was necessary return to Court on 30th July 2008 for a further hearing of the matter.

In the days before the hearing, the Prison Service finally provided Mr X with a motorised wheelchair.

However, Mr X remained in a standard prison cell that failed to meet his disability needs. The cell was small to allow Mr X to manoeuvre around in his manual wheelchair. He was unable to use the toilet or wash basin which were not adapted for disabled use. One particularly distressing aspect was that he was required to use a commode rather than the toilet and then empty the contents into the same sink he was required to wash and clean himself and his dishes and cutlery.

At the hearing the Judge, clearly exasperated by the lack of action by the Prison Service, stated that he considered that the cell was defective and ordered that the Secretary of State allocate the matter to “an appropriate Senior Official at the Ministry of Justice” who would take the necessary steps to find our client a “specially adapted disabled cell” (the requirements of which were also set out in the Order). The case was adjourned until October to allow for this to be done.

The Secretary of State for Justice was ordered to pay all of Mr X’s legal costs incurred in bringing the challenge.

During the course of the case, Mr X was in receipt of public funding ("legal aid"). Mr X is grateful for the vital support of the Legal Services Commission in this matter.

For more information please contact Sean Humber or Benjamin Burrows on 020 7650 1200.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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