On 25 March 2024, Mr Justice Saini gave judgment rejecting a claim for Judicial Review brought by a prisoner seeking to challenge his escape risk classification. David Manknell KC acted successfully for the Ministry of Justice.

The prisoner had been given a life sentence in 2006 for conspiracy to direct a double murder, in what the sentencing Judge had described as a revenge attack with a high level of planning and premeditation. He is a Category A prisoner, and held as High Escape Risk, rather than Standard Escape Risk.

The Clamant took legal action against the Ministry of Justice, claiming that a decision in February 2023 to not downgrade his escape risk classification (ERC) was unfair and unlawful. He challenged both the substance of the decision, and the procedure that had been adopted. Mr Justice Saini noted that it was the first case in which the court has had to consider the entitlement, if any, of a prisoner to an oral hearing in advance of an ERC decision.

The Judge rejected the Claimant’s criticisms of the approach taken to intelligence information, and also found that it had been appropriate for the decision maker to take their own view as to whether the Claimant was the head of an organised crime group, notwithstanding that he was not managed as such under the Serious Organised Crime Policy Framework, or by his current prison. The decision to maintain the High Escape Risk category was held to be rational.

The Judge also rejected the challenge to the fairness of the procedure by which the decision had been reached, holding in particular that the decision not to have an oral hearing was lawful, and would have served no useful purpose.

The Judgment is available here.

Further information about the case can be found in the national press, including BBC News and The Independent.