Pandora: Bronson's artistic sideline blocked

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The Independent Online

Stand by for fireworks. A striking row has broken out within the prison service over the right of Charles Bronson, so-called "most violent man in Britain", to send paintings to friends.

Bronson has become a keen artist since his imprisonment in 1974 and, thanks to his notoriety, the works are thought to be of considerable value to collectors. He has even donated one – a cartoon of Prince Charles – to be sold at a charity auction.

Not long ago, however, wardens at HMP Woodhill began to suspect that Bronson may be pocketing some of the cash from the sale of his paintings. "There was a correlation between the people to whom he sent the works and those who sent him money," explains a Ministry of Justice spokesman. Of course, prisoners are prohibited from profiting from their criminal status. So, were the allegations correct, Bronson would be acting illegally. The Prison Service promptly banned him from sending out any work, provoking his solicitor, Harriet Mather, to pen an angry letter to the service's in-house newspaper, Inside Time.

"It was very distressing," explains Mather. "It's his way of corresponding. He has been doing it for many, many years."

Since the stand-off, we're told some headway has been made in resolving the situation by allowing Bronson to send out art to some of his correspondents – although how long the truce will last remains to be seen.

"That's a new development, says Mather. "I haven't even had the chance to see Charles about it."

Rescue me! Cracknell hitches a lift

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Ross's colleagues in mourning

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Jagger Jnr looks to the film industry

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Rees-Mogg gets letters in a twist

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