Media gag on prisoners banned

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The Independent Online
The Court of Appeal yesterday backed the attempt by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to gag convicted prisoners from talking to the media. A test case means that while prisoners will still be able to write to journalists, they will be barred from face-to-face meetings except at the discretion of the authorities.

The decision is a major blow for those working on miscarriage of justice cases and undermines claims by ministers that they support more open government. Journalist Robert Woffinden, author of Miscarriages of Justice, who interviewed one of the prisoners involved in the test case, said: "I believe it is a very unfair restriction on prisoners and an absurd restriction on journalists."

A spokesman for the Prison Service said they were "very pleased" with the ruling, which returned the legal situation to its previous position.

In yesterday's case three appeal judges overturned the decision that the restrictions on convicted prisoners interfered with their freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights. Lord Justice Kennedy said: "The loss of that `right'