Mr. Dennis Warren

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th June 1976.

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Photo of Mr Tom Litterick Mr Tom Litterick , Birmingham, Selly Oak 12:00 am, 24th June 1976

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much of the remission of sentence lost by Mr. Dennis Warren in the course of his dispute with the prison authorities over the wearing of prison regulation footwear has since been restored to him.

Photo of Ms Audrey Wise Ms Audrey Wise , Coventry South West

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects Dennis Warren to be released from prison.

Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Haringey Tottenham

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has yet received the latest special review of the Parole Board in regard to Mr. Des Warren; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

Mr. Warren, who has had one special parole review and is not eligible for a further routine review, is due for release on 3rd September this year. This prospective release date takes into account the restoration of 21 days' remission lost in July 1975. Mr. Warren was originally punished for refusing to wear prison shoes, but in the light of later medical advice this award was withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Tom Litterick Mr Tom Litterick , Birmingham, Selly Oak

I am grateful for that reply. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that Mr. Warren asked for a medical examination when his dispute with the prison authorities about the wearing of prison shoes first developed? Why was there such a lengthy delay in finally granting this man a medical examination for which he asked? Will my right hon. Friend tell the House what progress the Department has made in investigating a complaint by the prisoner against Prison Officer Pendal, who has made certain mendacious and damaging allegations against him and which this prison officer has since repeated on being transferred to Leicester Prison, to which Mr. Warren was also transferred?

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

There was some delay in the medical investigation. I shall look into the matter and write to my hon. Friend. The matter was fully investigated by the Prison Department, and Mr. Warren had 28 days' remission restored. Unfortunately, this did not make as big a difference as it might have done because he had been charged with 33 offences against discipline, 31 of which were found proved, with a resulting 17 awards of forfeiture of remission. That is why the one case was only a relatively small part of the matter. However, it shows that the Prison Department handled the matter with detachment. It restored the remission in that case. As far as the allegation against a particular prison officer is concerned, I have investigated it thoroughly and have written to my hon. Friend and several other hon. Members.

Photo of Ms Audrey Wise Ms Audrey Wise , Coventry South West

Will my right hon. Friend accept that it is now crystal clear that he has successfully ignored the wishes of the trade union and labour movements in this matter and that we are, therefore, asking not for anything he might regard as a concession but only that Des Warren should not be treated worse than the average prisoner? Is my right hon. Friend aware that by the time he is released Des Warren will have served a considerably longer than average proportion of his sentence? Can he explain why, if Mr. Warren's accusations against members of the prison staff have been proved untrue, they did not result in the normal consequences for him?

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

It appeared that my hon. Friend was anxious to bring further charges against Mr. Warren in the latter part of her question. I am anxious, and I should have thought that people who have followed this rather long saga would be anxious, to see a continuation of Mr. Warren's recent good behaviour, which, if there is no further trouble, will lead to his release on 3rd September. It will be possible for him to apply to the governor and/or the board of visitors for restoration of more remission in early August. I have not endeavoured to ignore anybody's views. They have been sufficiently strongly expressed that the option to ignore them has not been open to me. I have been consistently concerned to uphold the rule of law and to ensure that Mr. Warren should be treated no less, but no more, favourably than a normal prisoner. If my hon. Friend asks why he has lost more remission than the normal prisoner, the answer lies in the 31 charges which have been proved against him.

Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Haringey Tottenham

None of us wishes to prolong this saga, but is not some further explanation necessary? Has not Mr. Warren now served 780 days in prison, which represents 71 per cent. of his original sentence, and on the basis of past averages is not this an unprecedented situation? Is it not the case that Mr. Warren was given a deterrent sentence of three years' imprisonment on a charge which would not now exist if the Law Commission's views were accepted? Is it not the case that a charge of conspiracy to intimidate would no longer be applicable, and should not my right hon. Friend now make a statement on the situation?

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

The Law Commission's report, upon which the Government propose to ask Parliament to legislate, makes clear that even if its recommendations had been implemented Mr. Warren would still have been liable to the same sentence because of the additional charges brought against him. It is not relevant to compare the total sentence served by Mr. Warren with the average served by other prisoners unless one takes into account the number of offences with which Mr. Warren has been charged. That number is far above average and has as much chance of being unprecedented as does the proportion of his sentence served by Mr. Warren. Mr. Warren's pattern of behaviour has changed substantially. I hope that this will continue, and I believe that it would be in the best interests of those who are very concerned about this case if they did not continue to believe that they could get Mr. Warren out of prison by political pressure.