Judge issues threat to subpoena Bottomley

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The Independent Online
A judge yesterday threatened to 'take steps' to bring Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, to the Old Bailey to explain why no hospital place was available for a mentally impaired prisoner.

Judge Bruce Laughland said: 'There is a man in need of secure care and it is outrageous that the resources are not available to provide what the public requires for their protection and for what he needs for treatment.'

Judge Laughland was dealing with Stephen Hart, 34, of Stepney, east London, who kept a boy of eight captive in a wardrobe for two days. He was convicted of abduction and false imprisonment.

Sentence was postponed for a fortnight and if by then no secure hospital unit was found, said the judge, he would 'take such steps in my power' to get Mrs Bottomley to attend court.

Judge Laughland said it was essential to find a psychiatric hospital place.

Hart has been held in Brixton prison since 7 February. The court was told that all secure hospital units under the North-East Regional Health Authority had been closed.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said last night that the judge had no powers to require Mrs Bottomley to attend court, but could question the regional health authority. 'We have drawn this case to the attention of the North Thames RHA.'