Prisoners should have the right to appear in person before a Parole Board in cases where the fairness of their detention is in question, the Supreme Court has ruled.
The unanimous decision by Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke and Lord Reed, is likely to mean many prisoners who have served their sentence but are kept behind bars for reasons of “public protection” can appear in person to plead the case for their release.
Three prisoners had brought appeals concerning the circumstances in which the Parole Board is required to hold an oral hearing. The ruling chastised the Parole Board for breaching its common law duty of fairness. The Supreme Court said it “unanimously allows the appeals and declares that the Board breached its common law duty of procedural fairness to the appellants, and article 5(4) of the European Convention, by failing to offer them oral hearings.”
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “This important judgment makes clear the right of prisoners to an oral hearing… on the grounds of fairness and justice. Most post-tariff prisoners should now have their cases reviewed. This will require a significant increase in resources for the Parole Board… already facing a growing backlog of cases as a result of the rapid growth in indeterminate sentenced prisoners.”