Prisoner loses 'slopping out' bid


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The Independent Online

A convicted paedophile lost a High Court damages action today over the practice of "slopping out" in prisons.

Roger Gleaves, 77, claimed that having to use a bucket as a toilet in his cell while serving time at Albany prison on the Isle of Wight was a breach of his human rights.

He asked a judge for a damages award of £2,600, but the action was dismissed by Mr Justice Hickinbottom in London.

The Ministry of Justice contested actions brought by Gleaves and another ex-Albany inmate, 30-year-old Desmond Grant, which, if successful, could have forced the Government to spend millions on upgrading old jails.

Grant's case was also rejected by the judge.

Gleaves, who is due to be released from prison in seven months, was present in court for the ruling.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom refused permission to appeal against his ruling, but a direct approach can still be made to the Court of Appeal in a bid to take the case further.

Slopping out was officially abolished in the UK in 1996, but a watchdog warned last year that 2,000 cells across 10 prisons still had no in-cell sanitation, and the practice of using a bucket at night continued.

Gleaves, who was given a 15-year sentence at the Old Bailey in 1998 for the rape of two 14-year-old boys, told the judge during the hearing of his case that slopping out was "demeaning and utterly despicable".

James Eadie QC, for the Ministry, said the sole issue was whether the conditions in which the two prisoners were held were degrading.

The standard was a high one and a conclusion that conditions could be better, or even that they were unsatisfactory, was not enough to meet the legal threshold, which almost always involved physical injury or mental anguish.

Both Gleaves and Grant claimed that their rights under Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights were violated by the prison conditions in which they were detained.

Article 3 provides that no one "shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" and Article 8 covers the right to a private and family life.

The judge ruled that the conditions in HMP Albany "did not breach the claimants' rights under Article 3 or Article 8 of the Convention".