Avalanche! Daily Mail on new year dishonour list for dodgy prisoner human rights article

31 December 2012 by

Daily Mail 31.12.12Despite the Leveson Report, the Daily Mail’s brief flirtation with the Human Rights Act has not even lasted a month. This article by Home Affairs Correspondent Jack Doyle (Twitter: @jackwdoyle) is a weird one, even by the Mail’s standards. Here is the headline:

£500,000 a week in legal aid for prisoners’ human rights claims: YOU pay for them to seek easier life or early release

Clear, right? We are apparently spending £26m per year on prisoners’ human rights claims. And here is the first line:

Taxpayers are handing nearly £500,000 a week in legal aid to prisoners to help them make human rights claims.

That’s sounds like a lot of money to spend on prisoners’ human rights claims! But wait, there’s more…

The basis of the article is a freedom of information request about the amount of legal aid provided to prisoners in each of the last four years. In the last four years “convicts have been given more than £93million to help them demand early release from jail, compensation or softer treatment behind bars.” So maybe not all for human rights claims? Let’s read further:

A breakdown of the costs shows ‘free-standing advice and assistance’ for inmates cost nearly £53.6million over four years. Assistance at disciplinary hearings cost more than £12.6million and lawyers at Parole Board hearings cost more than £27million.

So, of the total £ 93,482,475 (which as the article says, is £449,435, not £500,000 per week), £39.6m (42% of the total) is spent on assistance at disciplinary and Parole Board hearings. Which is £188,762 of the £449,435 per week.

What of the remaining £260,673? That is for ‘free standing advice and assistance’. That could mean many things, including issues involving human rights. But it doesn’t mean human rights. It seems that the figures obtained by the Daily Mail don’t actually specify what proportion of the prisoners’ legal aid is spent on human rights claims.

So does that support the headline “£500,000 a week in legal aid for prisoners’ human rights claims“? Not even close. Maybe too much is being spent on prisoners’ human rights claims. Maybe not. This article has taken us precisely no further in answering that question.

Jack Doyle and the Daily Mail, on to the new year’s dishonours list and on the legal naughty step too for misrepresenting the figures and, again, blaming human rights law for something it hasn’t done. Or, as John Stewart might say, for causing an avalanche on a bulls$%t mountain.

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  1. […] read the UKHRB write-up. Did you guess rightly […]

  2. Andrew says:

    There is loathsome rubbish in the Daily Hate Mail. And ursines do something smelly where there are lots of trees around.

  3. ObiterJ says:

    A risible article in the DM. Continue to tell the truth in 2013 as in the last few years. Here’s wishing everyone at 1COR / UKHRB a really happy New Year 2013.

  4. The Daily Mail is an x files case in itself. The truth is out there.

    1. Adam Wagner says:

      The truth was actually in the article!

      1. In fairness to Jack Doyle then, it may not be his fault. The headlines are usually written by others.

        1. Adam Wagner says:

          I would agree but this line is in the text of the article:

          Taxpayers are handing nearly £500,000 a week in legal aid to prisoners to help them make human rights claims.

    2. Andrew says:

      Yes, but when it comes to the DM, the truth is not in there!

      It has good Sudokus – there you are, it has its uses. But the best use for that paper is one to which I will not put it as long as I can afford the purpose-made product from Tescos which comes in several pastel colours with a cardboard tube in the middle.

  5. Milton Firman says:

    Each newspaper has its own agenda. To expect truth and transparency from the press or from politicians is to delude ourselves. What we need to aspire to is our own truth and transparency in the administration of justice – where many lessons similarly need to be learned.

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