Jail hunger striker moved to hospital

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A PRISON hunger striker protesting his innocence of murder was moved to a hospital last night after giving police a new statement about the killing with which he is charged.

Derek Griffiths, 46, saw two North Wales officers in his cell at Walton prison, Liverpool, yesterday, the 53rd day since he stopped eating.

The police agreed to investigate Mr Griffiths' claims and he consented to specialist care at Walton hospital.

The Griffiths family have arranged for last rites to be given, although Mr Griffiths dismissed a priest who visited him in his cell yesterday.

Visitors say he is unable to walk and his family and legal advisers have been told that he has incurred liver and kidney damage from which he is unlikely to recover fully, even if he ends his fast.

Mr Griffiths was arrested on 9 November, the day after the body of Ken McAllister, 42, a neighbour in Colwyn Bay, was found with severe head injuries. He was remanded to Walton jail on 16 November, charged with murder, but has insisted since his arrest that he was not involved in the killing.

Mr Griffiths was increasingly anxious before the killing that he was at risk from members of the large Northern Irish community in Colwyn Bay. He had attended as the inquest in Gibraltar of IRA members killed by the SAS. 'David was there as an observer. He was training as a lawyer,' a friend said last night. 'He is not pro-IRA, but I think it fair to say that he was sceptical of the official explanation of why those people were shot.'

Mr Griffiths previously ran a hotel which provided accommodation paid for by the Department of Social Security for Irish people. He became suspicious of preferential treatment they allegedly received in housing allocation at the expense of Welsh people.

Sources say his views angered the predominantly loyalist Irish people with whom he came into contact.