'Free Clowes now' plea

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The Independent Online
A solicitor acting for Peter Clowes, the jailed financier serving 10 years for theft and fraud, appealed yesterday for his client to be freed early to spare the taxpayer further expense, writes Nic Cicutti.

Milton Firman, a solicitor at Latimer Lee, the Manchester law firm, said that Clowes' legally-aided battle to overturn a Parole Board decision not to release him was set to cost at least pounds 50,000.

Even if the Parole Board's decision is upheld by the High Court later this year, Clowes was still likely to be freed in the next year or so, Mr Firman claimed. "At a time when people are talking about the rising costs of legal aid it seems madness for the system to hand out cases like this on a plate," he said.

"The question that should be asked is whether it is in the public interest to keep someone a prisoner who is not a danger to the public, who has a loving wife and two small children and a job to go to if he is freed."

Mr Firman's comments follow a decision by the Court of Appeal earlier this week to allow an appeal by Clowes against the Parole Board decision.

Clowes was sentenced in February 1992. His pounds 1m defence costs were paid for by the taxpayer. He has served four years making him eligible for parole but his application for early release was refused because the board felt he had not come to terms with his offences.