16th – 31st July 2015
Aren’t words great! I’m sure you have read poetry, heard some song lyrics or been the recipient of a pithy comment which resonated with you. For years I used to sing songs without absorbing the lyrics. It used to be all about the music and the melody. It’s only recently that I’ve started to picture something in my life which a song, a verse or just a line has some deeper meaning. As soon as I did this it was something of an epiphany. It gave me an emotional connection to the words as I am singing them. Here’s the second verse from Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’:
“Your faith was strong but you needed proof,
You saw her bathing on the roof:
The beauty and the moonlight overthrew you.
She tied you to a kitchen chair,
She broke you throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the ‘Hallelujah.’
It’s the third and the last line which resonates the most with me. Such luminescent beauty…
1A). my appeal:
“Firstly, thank you for highlighting the 2 sections you have taken issue with. I was beginning to think that the Security Department were not in possession of any highlighters, given your previous reticence to identify these sections.
Allow me to set out my position from the start in clear and unambiguous language. I requested that you “identify which part/s of PSI 40/2011 has been breached”. You have failed to do so. In case you are having difficulty locating the relevant section, I have attached part 11.3 for your reference. Neither of the 2 sections of my blog, which you have identified, breach any of the provisions set out in PSI 49/2011. This renders your decision to stop my blog being published as unlawful.
Your original position that my blog contained something which you had deemed ’derogatory’ to the Security Department. However, in reply to the first stage of this complaint… (Security Analyst) stated that the first section they had highlighted “could be viewed [my emphasis] as
defamatory” and the second section they highlighted “could be deemed [my emphasis] as defamatory”.
Firstly, “could be viewed” and “could be deemed” is very wishy-washy language and have no place in any lawful decision if it has been legitimately made. Secondly, you have altered your original reasons for interfering with my legal right to publish this blog from “derogatory” to ”defamatory”, which is somewhat different in a legal sense. Thirdly, you have no legal authority to decide on issues of alleged defamation. Whilst I do not intend to fully explain defamation law to you, it is defined as:
‘The publishing of a defamatory statement [neither of these 2 sections contain any
Defamatory statement] which refers to the claimant [there is no claimant] and which
Has no lawful justification [British and European law is against you on this point]’
Anyway, any allegations of defamation can only be determined, in terms of libel as this is what you are implying, by a jury in a court of law.
Returning to the PSI (49/2011), which should Bo informing your decision, I have retyped the 2 sections… as highlighted:
“These negative and inaccurate entries could just be a matter of incompetence or (in
The case of HMP Frankland issues) be driven by more pernicious motives. It’s very
Easy for a dishonest member of staff with a grudge to make false allegations against
a prisoner, be automatically believed because of their position of trust, and be
protected from any legitimate challenge by redacting their allegation. It’s like trying
to fight thin air.”
“I wrote about this issue in my November 2014 blog. M y intention was too judicially
Review (JR) the decision of HMP Frankland’s security manager (the boyfriend of
the education manager – see my previous blogs on this), and therefore the Secretary
Of State for Justice, for refusing to return the 2 journals.”
There is nothing contained within either of these sections which is:
i. “intended to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient or any other person”;
ii. There are no “messages which are indecent or grossly offensive”;
Iii. or “information which is is known or believed to be false”;
iv. and there is no “material which is indecent and obscene”.
However, these sections do” form part of a serious comment about […] the penal system”, which is permissible under the provisions of PSI 49/2011. In fact, my legal right to make serious comment on matters of legitimate public interest, such as systemic issues which affect prisoners, is enshrined in British and European law.
My solicitor recently wrote to your prison regarding several of the issues I have been blogging about. In her letter she used the words “victimised”, “poor decisions”, and “ludicrous decisions”. Your continued interference with my blog further endorses our position as it “could be viewed” as an attempt to cover up staff incompetence and/or misconduct.
In specific regard to ‘Section 2’, it is interesting that… states that a claim which is not supported by evidence “could be deemed as defamatory”. By that rationale your Security Department have been defaming me since mid-2013.
In point of fact, I have a current Judicial Review application filed with the Court. The main plank of my case is ‘procedural impropriety’ and ‘abuse of power’ due to the Security Manager’s personal relationship with the Education Manager. The Secretary of State for Justice has already overruled the Security Manager’s original decision not to return my journals to my possession. Clearly, the Security Manager’s personal relationship with the Education Manager has been the deciding factor in the Secretary of State’s decision.
Further, I have already published the fact of this relationship in a previous blog. Your current decision to stop these facts from being disclosed to the public is inconsistent with your previous decisions to allow publication. The ‘cat’, so to speak, is [already] out of the bag’.
Based on the language used in your reply to the first stage of this complaint and your misinterpretation of PSI 49/2011, and your legal position, I sense that you have not discussed this matter with your Policy Lead … He can be contacted by email …
In summary, your decision is ultra vires, and also raises questions of irrationality and proportionality. As such, I am requesting that you allow me to mail out my blog unedited and in full without any other interference.
“… It is evident that the responses provided to date, associated reasoning and explanation of the same, have been less than satisfactory for which I again apologise.
In referring to certain aspects of your letters as being “derogatory” and potentially “defamatory”, the respondents have failed to provide a properly reasoned basis, in accordance with the defined restrictions on the content of correspondence, for their decision to refuse to send it out.
That being said, on further consideration it is clear that their stance was fundamentally driven by their interpretation of certain aspects of your writings as containing information which they considered were “know or believed to be false” in accordance with para 11.3(a) (iii) of PSI49/2011 i.e. allegations that staff have been dishonest in relation to certain aspects of how they have managed your time in custody.
Equally, it has become evident that they have endeavoured to have appropriate regard to the regulations covering access to ‘Social Media’ and have some difficulty in understanding what falls within the definition of this medium.
On reviewing the sections in question it is evident that you have largely very carefully avoided making direct allegations to this effect, rather suggesting that such conduct could be possible.
Consequently, with regards ‘Section 1’ (as defined within your attachment to the Comp 1A) starting “These negative and inaccurate entries could just be a matter …” I am satisfied that this doesn’t breach the restrictions on the content of correspondence and as such can be sent out.
However, with regards ‘Section 2’ (as defined within your attachment to the Comp 1A, my enquiries have indicated that your to a relationship between 2 specified staff members is false. Whilst reference to said purported relationship has been made in previous letters which have been allowed to be sent out (and have been consequently published in your blog) it is now clear this was an error: they should have been stopped. Consequently, whilst I appreciate your argument that the ‘cat is out of the bag’ it would be erroneous for us to repeat such an error in allowing, what we now know to be false information, to be included in outgoing correspondence.
Accordingly, any allusion to such a relationship and the suggestion, veiled or otherwise, that it may have impacted upon decisions made in respect of your continued custody will not be permitted within any outgoing correspondence.
As previously stated, please accept my apologies, both on behalf of the establishment and personally, for the time it has taken to bring this matter to a resolution. You can be reassured that Censoring staff will be issued with further guidance as to the interpretation and implementation of the regulations governing the content of correspondence.”
Interesting … this was the response from the head of Corruption Prevention and Counter Terrorism. Let’s start with 2 positives. Firstly, it is a very thoughtful and detailed response. Secondly, there are admissions and apologies regarding the previous inadequate responses and delay in resolving these matters.
However (of course, there is a ‘however’), there is no detail as to what his “enquiries” consisted of. Could it be that all he did was to contact 1 of the 2 members of staff with which there was a “reference to a relationship?” This is the Head of Corruption Prevention, so you may consider that he would apply due diligence to his ‘enquiries’. I am deeply troubled by his response as my information of this “relationship” was initially through several prisoners but later validated by more than one unrelated member of staff. Therefore, if the Head of Corruption Prevention has not properly and appropriately investigated these matters it would not reflect well on his position. I will be submitting an application to him requesting more detail of his ‘enquiries’, including who is the source of his information which contradicts the many sources of my information.
Category A Reports (Security)
So, my second application:
“… Regarding me having contact with serving prisoners: this is woefully out of date. I have not written to any prisoner for well over a year (maybe 18 months) and this was only in connection with a legal matter.
Regarding the claim that I had submitted a complaint form which contained “inappropriate comments and malicious accusations towards staff” this is untrue and I would like to challenge the truthfulness of this SIR. Please advise what I need to do to get this entry deleted from my file, i.e. what evidence do you require?”
“… I have checked your correspondence file + although you do have other prisoners listed in your file, you have not written to them during the reporting period as you state, therefore I will amend your Cat. A report…
With regards to your second issue – unfortunately once an intelligence report has been submitted it cannot be deleted and will therefore remain on your file and in the Cat A report.
Well, it is positive that they are going to amend their Cat A report but this may be too little too late.
However, the interesting part of the reply is the claim that an intelligence report cannot be deleted. The Data Protection Act 1998 provides that inaccurate data or an expression of opinion based on inaccurate data can be rectified, blocked, erased or destroyed (S.40). This raises the question: is this another attempt to mislead me or just another member of staff who is ignorant of the law?
Revealingly, they did not even ask what evidence I could provide to prove that the SIR was inaccurate. This rather implies that they are not remotely bothered whether their intelligence reports negligently inaccurate or maliciously false. Why would they care? Next step, complaint.
Back in my 1st – 14th February 2015 blog, I wrote about my heart attack and the subsequent investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman into the delay in allowing me access to emergency treatment. Two of the justifications given by the Dispatch Manager were the claims that he had been briefed that I was “listed as a known manipulator” and/or “a danger to females.” This was news to me.
After getting nowhere with Security after 3 applications, I submitted a complaint asking them to confirm if they have me listed as a “known manipulator” and/or “a danger to females” and, if so, what information/evidence they base their opinion on.
“…if you request information of this nature you will need to submit a DPA request…”
That was it. I find the predictability of Security simultaneously amusing and tiresome. Not only is this not a Data Protection Act issue, if I’m not listed as the above, what’s the problem in stating that is the case? However, if I am listed as such and it is a legitimate opinion based on sound information and/or evidence why not confirm that is the case? Here’s one possibility: it isn’t a legitimate opinion and there is no information and/or evidence to support that ‘opinion’. Therefore, ‘in case of legal challenge: smash glass to cover up.
Incidentally, my last 2 DPA requests resulted in several A4 sides of my Security file being almost completely redacted. They’re suggesting that I pay £10 (nearly a weeks wages) for blacked out pages and still no answers. Secrets and lies with no accountability.”Why does prison not work?” Look no further…
My appeal has been submitted.
I’ve put together a proposal for a multi-media arts project. It’s based around the Rock Opera I wrote over 2004 – 2006. The idea is to involve several departments and workshops. It would require costumes, stage props and furniture, artwork and design, and many other ideas. We would then be able to enter it into the multi-media arts project category in the Koestler competition. I’m pretty confident that, if we do it justice, we would win first place.
Of course, being in a high-security prison, there would be many hurdles to overcome. It will be interesting to see how far I get with this and who will be supportive of this project. Watch this space.
Be happy, be safe, and see you next time.
Graham Coutts, 2nd August 2015