Open letter from Larkin Publications to Richard Vince, Deputy Director of Custody High Security

Dear Mr Vince,

As you will be aware from your time as a governor at HMP Woodhill and HMP Manchester, we are the publishers of the bi-monthly newspaper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) Our publication is available on subscription at varying rates and is supplied free to serving prisoners.

Over the years we have experienced intermittent interference with our right to distribute our publication to prisoners, particularly within the high security estate, which is where the majority of our prison readers are located. In 2005 this became particularly problematic; however, following threatened legal action in relation to HMP Belmarsh in particular and the prison system in general, it was unequivocally accepted by the Prison Service that prisoners have a right to receive the newspaper, which is legally published and distributed, and that interference with this would breach their rights under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Since then, we have experienced relatively few problems. However recently, the situation has once again become untenable.

• Full Sutton prison summarily banned the July/August issue (#234) of FRFI, apparently having taken exception to a specific article; however there has been no response to our mail or prisoners’ complaints requesting details of which article this was. (Incidentally, unlike both issues 233 and 235, the banned item contains no reference to Full Sutton.)

• Frankland prison has prevented our subscribers receiving the last two issues of the paper, by using bureaucratic procedures. After 30 years of sending FRFI directly to prisoners, we have suddenly been told that prisoners can only receive the paper via the library. However, prisoners attempting to comply with this have then been told by the library to write direct to the publisher.

• Manchester prison has returned a recent copy of the paper, forwarded to a subscriber who had just been moved to there from Frankland, with a note attached saying: ‘We have returned this as he is not allowed it. Sorry for any inconvenience.’

Not only is such interference indeed extremely inconvenient, it is also unlawful, and we ask that you immediately contact all the prisons concerned to clarify that the newspaper should not be withheld, returned or interfered with either directly or by bureaucratic means which amount to censorship by the backdoor, and that you confirm to us by return that this has been done. We have no desire to become involved in preparing legal proceedings on this matter; however, as you know from previous correspondence over the years, we will not hesitate to do this should it become necessary.

Yours sincerely

Larkin Publications

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 236 December 2013/January 2014

 

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