Kevan Thakrar’s judicial review was held today in Manchester, challenging 14 specific points which Kevan claimed were breaching his human rights.
A videolink with Kevan at HMP Woodhill was half-heartedly attempted but failed. Another attempt at lunchtime also, unsurprisingly, failed.
It was clear from the start of the hearing that it was going to be a struggle. Claims of having his privilege mail opened, of delays in getting legal numbers added to his PIN, of restricted access to his lawyers, were met with quotes from the very guidelines being challenged.
It was presumed by the Court that prison officers who “accidentally” open privileged mail will record this in a log, that prison officers found to regularly open privileged mail will be written to – and if necessary “re-trained” in the procedures/guidelines. Then of course there’s the Prison Ombudsman to deal with complaints - so Judge Hickinbottom believed.
So every claim of abuse was responded to with quote after quote from the guidelines – plus of course there was always the fallback excuse of “operational demands on prison staff”, restrictions on public resources, “operational matters for the Governor” etc etc.
The pattern continued until the Judgement, which predictably concluded that the Guidance was not unlawful. So every challenge raised was lost as there was “no breach of policy”.
However, the Judge then asked for submissions regarding the 153 allegations made by Kev, who has been in segregation for 2 years.
Flo Klause, Kev’s barrister, said, “the next step is to consider the continuing action. The Judge found the policies lawful – but if they’re lawful, how is it possible that so many incidents are taking place, why are there so many complaints and why is there a campaign of harassment against Kevan?”
Kevan’s legal team now has to make a submission by the end of January 2013 which will be considered by the Secretary of State. That is when the real issues will be aired, i.e. the 153 incidents of abuse, mistreatment and abuse of privileges that Kev has suffered. They happened in just a one year period, although the incidents and allegations continue.
Throughout the hearing Kev’s Mum and Dad remained stoical in their own dignified way. His Dad said the “lawful” guidance may exist, but questioned who actually ensured it was adhered to - that question had not been answered or even addressed.
So the fight is not over for Kev and his family, far from it. This was just one hurdle to get over and we as his supporters must do all we can to make sure they win. It’s the least we can do.
Please send letters of support:
Kevan Thakrar A4907AE