Judges give Grayling a special birthday present — another High Court defeat

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By Judge John Hack on

Justice Secretary gets slapped down again, this time over prisoner transfer reforms – but happy b-day, nonetheless, Chris


This is not an April Fools’ parody — although it might feel like a cruel joke to many lawyers.

Today is Chris Grayling’s birthday — and he had a jolly present from the High Court bench.

The boyish looking former television producer turned Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, clocked up 53 years on the day when he lost yet another court battle over further legal reforms.

This time the High Court branded as unlawful the Ministry of Justice’s recently imposed policy of excluding prisoners from being transferred from closed prisons to more lenient open conditions if they have a history of absconding.

According to the Press Association, two senior judges held that excluding transfers — save in exceptional circumstances – for those prisoners is inconsistent with the ministry’s own directions to the Parole Board.

Those long-standing directions state that “a phased release” from closed to open prison is necessary for most inmates serving indeterminate sentences “in order to test the prisoner’s readiness for release into the community”.

The ruling has triggered the usual Twitter uproar over Grayling’s suitability to retain such a high post in government, regardless of how old he is.

Asked blogger Jack of Kent:

But if experience is anything to go by, lawyer objections and outrage will make next to no impact on the first non-lawyer Lord Chancellor, who seems impervious to the opinions of those who did bother to qualify

All of which means the only hope his opponents have will be that come 8 May, Grayling’s Conservative Party will either be out of government following the general election, or he’ll be reshuffled.

Read the judgement if full below: