Decision to prohibit prisoner talking to media is quashed

On 16 June, Mr Justice Andrew Baker handed down the decision in R (Alexander) v Secretary of State for Justice.  Andrew Baker J quashed the governor of HMP Coldingley’s decision to prohibit the prisoner from speaking to journalists who wanted to record an interview with him as part of a true crime podcast about his conviction.  The prisoner considered the podcast necessary to increase the chance of new evidence coming to light that might allow him to challenge the safety of his conviction.  The producers considered that the prisoner’s voice would be an essential element of any podcast.

Andrew Baker J held that the governor’s decision was irrational.  The prison governor had misdirected himself by requiring the prisoner to show that the matter was urgent.  He had also concluded there was a risk of distress to victims and/or outrage to public sensibilities when no such risk arose on the facts.  However, having quashed the decision, Andrew Baker J declined to make the decision afresh and remitted the decision to the governor.

Greg Callus appeared for the claimant, acting pro bono. A full 5RB case report can be found here.