UK’s oldest political prisoner nears death

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Ronnie Easterbrook update

We’ve received the following from our friends at Brighton ABC, who have campaigned for Ronnie for many years:

We’ve recently asked people to write letters on behalf of Ronnie Easterbrook who is 78 years old and on hunger strike. For more details about his case read here and here.

Ronnie’s situation has not improved, in his last letter to us he said, “Just finished another visit with my two daughters and John. That is the last one I shall have. I look at them and one can feel the energy and life force vibrating through them, whereas I could barely sit up in the chair I’m so drained”.

old-man-prisonWe are asking again for people to write letters, your efforts on his behalf will at least let the prison authorities know that he’s not completely alone and unsupported, and that there are people on the outside who recognise the injustice of his situation. Ronnie, whilst trying everything in his power to get his case back into court, has been treated as an “awkward” and “difficult” prisoner . However his actual risk to the community outside has been absolutely negligible for many, many years. As a consequence, instead of at least trying to prepare him for release, they’ve shunted an ageing and sick man around the high-security prison system for many years, frequently holding him in conditions that would be detrimental to the mental and physical health of even the strongest and most youthful of prisoners.

A recent letter to us from the Director General’s Briefing & Casework Unit at the Ministry of Justice said: “There is no rule or policy which automatically prevents a life sentence prisoner who maintains his innocence from progressing through the prison system, or from being released. However, the Parole Board has to be satisfied that it is safe to release an individual on licence having examined the offender’s risk factors. Age is one factor that may be considered when assessing an offender’s risk of re-conviction and the risk of serious harm to the public. It is not the only factor as age alone does not prevent an individual from committing an offence.”

The letter clearly indicates that Ronnie’s release could be allowed tomorrow, based as such a decision is on the perceived level of risk to the public. Even if Ronnie has refused to apply for parole, since he has served a sentence well over his tariff, the parole board should still have been reviewing his case on a regular basis. So the paper work should be readily available and should not constitute a hindrance to the swift expedition of any parole-led release. Considering Ronnie’s age and state of health then at the very least an immediate transfer to an open jail would be wholly appropriate and humane, and it’s actually scandalous that he remains in maximum-security conditions still. Please keep writing letters on his behalf because it’s important that those responsible for his treatment are confronted with their cruelty and inhumanity, and reminded that the man being treated so inhumanly by them never actually killed, raped or seriously hurt anyone.

What you can do:
Send a postcard or letter of support to Ronnie, this will also let the prison authorities know he is not isolated and people are aware of his situation. Write to:
Ronnie Easterbrook (B58459),
HMP Gartree, Gallow Field Road, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 7RP

Write to the Governor at HMP Gartree, Susan Howard, expressing your concern over Ronnie’s condition:
Susan Howard, Governor,
HMP Gartree, Gallow Field Road, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 7RP
Tel: 01858 426 600 // Fax: 01858 426 601

Also to the local MP for Market Harborough:
Edward Garnier QC MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

Write to the people below to say Ronnie has now spent enough time in prison. He is currently held in a category B prison, as it seems that there is no possibility of him getting a retrial, at the age of 78 he should be moved to an open prison on humanitarian grounds and started on the parole process:

The Parole Board for England and Wales
Grenadier House, 99-105 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2DX
Phone: 0845 251 2220 // Fax: 0845 251 2221

Rt Hon David Hanson MP
Ministry of Justice, 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9AJ
Telephone: +44 (0)20 3334 3555 //Fax: +44 (0)20 3334 4455

Lord Corbett, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Group
House of Lords, London SW1 0PW
Tel: 020 7219 3420

Send a letter to Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, urging her to initiate a review of his case:
Jacqui Smith, MP, Secretary of State for the Home Office,
3rd Floor, Peel Buildings, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
Fax: 020 8760 3132

Your support will be appreciated.