Jenni Richards QC, Victoria Butler-Cole and Annabel Lee are representing a prisoner, Ms Barbara Gordon-Jones, in a test case challenging the lawfulness of the Government’s policy to ban books being sent to prisoners in England and Wales. The book ban is part of the Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme which prohibits prisoners from receiving parcels from outside. The prohibition includes books and other every day items. The legal challenge is being brought by way of judicial review on public law grounds including rationality, human rights and discrimination.
Many high profile authors, such as the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, as well as the Howard League for Penal Reform have publicly attacked the policy, arguing that banning books from prisons has a negative effect both on the prisoners’ quality of life and chance of rehabilitation. Ministers have also been accused of refusing to engage with those who are condemning the policy.
The case is being heard in the High Court by Mr Justice Collins.