Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Price of Slitting Ian Huntley's Throat

Compensation to the families of Holly & Jessica: £11,000

Amount claimed by Ian Huntley in compensation for injuries in prison: £100,000

British justice? Priceless.

If Ian Huntley succeeds in his claim for £100,000 as compensation for the fact that someone slit his throat in prison, we shall know for a fact that our criminal justice system has reached its nadir. He accuses the Prison Service of failing in its duty of care towards him. Hmmmm. I wonder if he thought about his duty of care towards Holly & Jessica when they were in his house. Perhaps their parents should sue him for compensation.

I suspect many people would award a medal to the man who slit Huntley's throat. Did prison officers turn a blind eye? Perhaps. If so, who would blame them? You'd have thought Huntley would be grateful. After all, he has twice tried to top himself. All the throat slitter was doing was trying to finish what Huntley himself had started but failed. Harsh, but true.

The law should be changed to ensure that the Huntleys of this world cannot bring such cases to court and cost the taxpayer thousands.


Unknown said...

Silly kneejerk reaction, Iain.

It's a terrible idea to try to ban prisoners from suing the Prison Service. Legal action is the only way that they can enforce their rights.

You seem to believe that prisoners are not human beings with inalienable rights, that not their own actions can obliterate. I completely disagree

john in cheshire said...

Iain, I would like to see the restoration of capital punishment. In which case, Mr Huntly would not be a problem for anyone. But since we have the amoral imposition of non-lethal intervention against such wrong-doers, I have to say that Mr Huntly should be protected while he serves out his (i hope) life sentence. However, that does not mean he should be compensated for any harm that is done to him whilst incarcerated. I do think the prison service should be punished in some respecte for failing in their duties.
If, however, he does receive any financial reward from his legal action, I think that the parents of Holly and Jessica should be the recipients.
My belief is that while the current system of non-capital punishment pertains, then the custodians of that legislation; prison officers and police persons; must be held to account every time someone is killed or injured because of their acts of commision or omission. They can't have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

You make one good point and one bad one.

Bad first: The law cannot pick and choose who it prefers to protect. The Prison service have complete control over inmates and are therefore responsible in law if they negligently allow a prisoner to harm another inmate. Not many people would argue with that. If a friend of yours was in prison for a petty offence and was then murdered by an inmate whom the prison service should have reasonably have prevented from committing the crime then in the law of TORT, there is a case to answer, not in CRIMINAL law as you assert but civil law. Huntly is afforded the same protection as everyone else.

Good point: In the same law of TORT, the family of the murdered kids can sue Huntly. This is usually not worth doing as most prisoners are skint. If he wins his case, they should sue for everything he has, which will be £100,000.

This may seem all a bit messy, but the English legal system is considered by many to be the best in the world - and, finally, bear in mind that equality before the law is what separates us from the likes of Saudi Arabia and China.

Dick the Prick said...

Yeah, funny one this. Tend to disagree with you, though. Sure he's scum and probably should have done the decent and topped himself directly after his evil but...there is an element that he should be protected. It's not really the money; although do acknowledge that £11k given to H&J's parents is bloody offensive - why even bother at that rate, it's insulting. But the two things aren't related.

Sure, change the law; do it immediately but can't just change the rules because the guy's scum.

Ttony said...

Sorry, Iain, but you are completely wrong: the State owes a duty of care to everybody it puts into its control.

Are you saying that by going into prison you lose every single right you have? Or do you have a more nuanced view that says that the more serious the crime for which you have been punished, the more right other people have to have a go at you?

Sentimentalism is something dictators do, not democrats.

Vijay said...

Iain, this will probably be an unpopular opinion in these parts, but the law cannot and should not pick and choose to whom it's applied; equality under the law is a basic tenant of western democracy. It's what separates us from places like China, various Middle Eastern dictatorships or various African failed states, do you really mean to ask us to follow in their footsteps?

The unfortunate side effect of our liberty is that it's messy and ugly - this sometimes means that people like Huntley can sue the prison system. However, the same laws also means that know he has money, the family of his victims can also sue him - remember, he's using civil law, not criminal law and the only reason people don't sue perpetrators of crime more often is because they don't usually have enough money to make it worth it.

Gavin Gamble said...

Andy, Human Rights? Anyone who rapes, tortures, murders children or anyone for that matter loses their human rights the moment they do so. Same with terrorists etc etc.

To many human rights lawyers making sure the kiddy fiddlers get their own little wings away from the robbers and lifers, THEY DO NOT HAVE RIGHTS. bang them up with the gangster and the IRA and let them rip the little rat to pieces.

My Opinion of course.

Unsworth said...

If the law should be changed to prevent such actions then provisons must be made to ensure prisoner safety. Clearly in Huntley's case that has not been so. If prisoners are assaulted in jail do they have no rights whatsoever?

This is a very broad debate indeed. I'd just observe that if Huntley does receive money by winning such an action then it would be up to the families of the two girls to sue him for every last penny.

Tim Worstall said...

"British justice? Priceless."

Yes, quite, which is why we tax payers will both have to cough up and should righteously do so.

The State has Ian Huntley under its control. The State also insists that it has a monopoly of violence....not just in the wider society but more especially in prison.

Think for a you're some scumbag child murderer serving your time for the crime you committed. Are you allowed to make a toothbrush razor in order to defend yourself? No, you're not actually. The reason you're not is that the prison service claims both a monopoly over violence and also that while claiming that that it will protect you.

They didn't.

No, no, forget what he did to earn his a result of his sentence the State has said that he cannot defend himself, that the State will do so. The State failed to do so and is thus liable.

End of.

It's the one line of the post that is correct. That British justice is indeed priceless....which is exactly why we have to pay compensation to Huntley for not protecting him, why we should and do pay compensation to nonces who get raped in prison, why those convicted are not subject to random punishments within jail.

Precisely because British justice is something that works through the are tried in front of a jury and sentenced to what the law says you should be if you are found guilty.

There is no sentence "to be delivered into the hands of thugs", "to have your throat slit", "to be killed when someone can get to you".

If you think there ought to be then campaign to change the law. Until then precisely because we are indeed a nation ruled by the law Huntley actually deserves his compo.

And Iain, I'm actually shocked at your post. Sure, this sort of thing rallies the troops at a Tory selection meeting....but I thought you'd given up on that?

Playing to the mob doesn't become you. Bad boy.

cynicalHighlander said...

So some are more equal than others remember that when they come for you after they have cleared all those below you.

Anonymous said...

Charge for his keep from his winnings?

Anonymous said...

its highly unlikely that Huntley will get 100,000.

Ihe did, could Holly and Jessica's family them embark on a private suit for their compensation?

Norton Folgate said...

Do you really expect the Brokeback boys to do anything about it?

Dave may try and make the right noises about sorting the issue out but in the end cleggy won't let him.

Unknown said...

Very simple give him his compensation, but change the law so prisoners don't receive any compansation awards until they leave prison.

Oh and while they're still in prison victims and their relatives can sue against the monies that are held in stasis.

Outcome - Save a couple of million in legal aid and other expenses and give the possiblility of the families of a further £95k

Adrian said...

Of course the prison service has a duty of care to its inmates, Iain. Officers may not "turn a blind eye" to abuses, and when they fail to protect the inmates, of course the victim should receive compensation. Your argument makes no sense except on some visceral law-of-the-jungle level.

Anonymous said...

I have just read news that makes me want to slit my own throat.

Jaqui Smith has applied for the post of Deputy Chair to the BBC Governors. 77 grand for 2 days a week and hubby will be pleased to know she can claim for a SKY subscription.

If the BBC appoint Smith it should be closed down.

Kateyo said...

Well said.

Unknown said...

Sorry Iain, I agree with the others on this one.

If the justice system had sentenced him to have his throat slit I would wholeheartedly support them. But you cannot send anyone to prison to suffer mob-rule regardless of the crime.

The compensation is another matter. I can't see why anyone who should be locked up for life needs any money.

Unknown said...

Huntley has clearly forfeited his human rights by his actions.
If Huntley had been left to fend for himself in prison without being protected he would probably be dead by now.
This could act as a deterrent for other sex offenders and save innocent lives.

Anonymous said...

Surely the Prison Service owes prisoners in it's care a duty of care, regardless of their crimes? Of course any money that Huntley gains from this means he has cash that his victims families can sue for.

angry and despondent said...

I'm surprised Huntley's not suing the Prison Service for allowing him to try topping himself on three seperate occasions. He could then sue them for keeping him alive when he's made it clear it's his " 'uman right innit? " to kill himself.

This is the bloke who's tried to kill himself THREE times whilst inside. Now he's bellyaching because another psycho tried to give him his wish!

As a judge once said "This is not a court of justice, it is a court of law." which tells you everything you need to know about our legal system.

Windsor Tripehound said...

Isn't the bigger issue here the desperate state of the prison service?

It appears that it can neither protect "at risk" prisoners nor control drug use within prisons.

Paddy Briggs said...

It's bloody difficult but the truth is that the heinous nature of Huntley's crimes is irrelevent to the way he is treated as a Prisoner and a citizen. The State's obligations are:

(1) To apply the sentence as required by the court.

(2) To protect the prisoner and to allow him all the same rights as any other prisoner - unless the court prescribes otherwise.

Our Prison system shamefully fails to protect prisoners from sexual and other assualts. Read Archer or Aitken on the subject!

Anonymous said...

If he is making this a point of principle about a duty of care, then the amount is immaterial so award him £1.
Wasn't he a caretaker at the school where he tortured ,raped and killed two innocent children. he clearly didn't see the concept applied to him then did he.
The law needs looking at in terms of what it implies, no one should profit from breaking the law as he did.

Nick said...

Wow, this is the most idiotic and reactionary post I've read in a while.

If prison officers "turned a blind eye", I'd certainly blame them, Iain.

And because the guy tried to kill himself, it's now fair game to murder him by slitting his throat? Wow.

Brian said...

The Prison Service has a qualified duty of care to Huntly, just as the Police has a qualified duty to non-criminals. There is no legal duty to prevent absolutely all harm, merely to take reasonable steps, otherwise young men of certain ethnicities would be interned on public safety grounds until they grew out of their culturally-inspired mugging phase.
My utter contempt is directed at the solicitor prepared to take the twenty pieces of legal aid. Huntly could conduct his own case and still have the legal rights that should be denied prisoners under the ancient principle of outlawry. Why not protect murderers' yuman rites with the Animals Act?

Cazzy Jones said...

My own thoughts are here. I wonder if Huntley is simply acting in person and using Money Claims Online. In practice he'd never see a penny, but ease of access to MCO might be the problem at the heart. Clearly we need more information before anyone can draw proper conclusions.

Roger Thornhill said...


Another failure to understand the Rule of Law.

Tim Worstall covers many of the points I hold.

If Huntly won the case I am not happy with him getting any financial benefit from this, but my being happy or not is neither here nor there.

To think that the state can, basically, hold you as fair game with no comeback to itself is an appalling concept. Barbaric does not really cover it. Cage fighting meets hare coursing - one of the dystopian Arnie flicks, perhaps?

Thorpe said...

I agree with the logic of most of the posts here - as we have committed him to the care of the Prison Service, when they fail to discharge their responsibilities then he has recourse to compensation.

Emotionally, I'm disgusted at the thought of him receiving money.

I don't know whether Huntley's sentence is a whole life tariff - it should be in my view under the current law which allows for whole life tariffs. I remain in favour of the death penalty for certain categories of crime - murder of children would be included in my book.

If Huntley ever were to successfully top himself or some other con kill him, I'd feel glad and that natural justice had been delivered.

jailhouselawyer said...

I don't think any amount of compensation compensates for the loss of a loved one, particularly for the loss of Holly and Jessica. I think Libya paid out hell of a lot more to the families of those killed in the Lockerbie Bombing.

I don't know where the figure of £100,000 comes from (the Sun or Daily Mail?), but I suspect Huntley's claim will be closer to £10,000.

I am puzzled about your reference to the CJS, because this is a negligence claim, at private law, in the County Court.

Huntley did not owe the girls any duty of care, unless it is argued as the school caretaker he was negligent. Rather, as any citizen we owe it to each other not to harm anybody.

Tories seem to think that the law is just for them to quote at others. However, knee-jerkism is an unthinking action. It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that the law is a double-edged sword. It both punishes the wrongdoer and protects the vulnerable.

In this case, Mr Huntley is the vulnerable victim. And yet, once again I hear the shout "What about the victims?". None of the so-called victims rights groups speak up for him.

Bottom line, if this is a case where negligence can be proved then Mr Huntley is entitled to his compensation just like any other citizen.

The Purpleline said...

Iain- the simple answer is not to stop prisoners from being able to take the prison service to court, but to put in place a law that no prisoner can benefit from this process.

Therefore, I would put a new law on the statute book that all prisoners convicted and serving a sentence should have all their financial assets confiscated under the proceeds of crime bill. Make this law for life as well and any amount Huntley or anyone else receives is used to pay for their prison keep.

That way any award would be subject to the court and any monies would be used to repay the bill to society for their crime.

Net result a transfer of monies from Treasury to prison service which can be clawed back by the Treasury in lower budgets or used to provide prison officers with bonuses for good work on safety and ensuring criminals get rehabilitated. This bonus system should continue outside the prison as well, so if a convict re-offends the bonus is not paid. A 5-year time limit could be placed on any criminals going through the system and the entire pool is used to incentives all prison officers not chosen of lucky ones. This raises standards across the board.

Jim Baxter said...

'Handcuffed and in prison clothing, he had to wait on the platform at Clapham Junction from 2.00 to 2.30 on a rainy afternoon. A crowd formed, first laughing then jeering at him. One man recognised that this was Oscar Wilde and spat at him'.

Richard Ellmann.

No comparison between Wilde's case and child-murderer Huntley's? No, none. None intended. The comparison is in what happens when the crowd get to be the judges of how prisoners should be treated.

Botogol said...

the prison service has a responsibility to keep every inmate safe.

Lady Finchley said...

Andy, you'd be talking out of the other side of your mouth if it was your daughter/niece etc. As it is you are talking out of your ass as are the other hand wringers. He lost his human rights the day he murdered those two innocent girls. End of.

Dan said...

Even scum deserve protection from harm and he should not have had his throat cut, but he equally should not benefit from his crime so any and all assets should be confiscated and used for compensation either directly to his victims or to a fund which provides support other victims.

The nonsese of £100,000 compensation based on what, someone with dependant children is in hospital and loses earnings gets high level compensation, the scum Huntley moves from one wing of a prison to annother wing of a prison so what.

Fine the prison service for negligence may be right but compensation for him, needs to be based on harm caused.

OscarIndia said...


This is really out of character. It's a nasty, ugly post.
What Huntley has done, or the kind of person he is, has no bearing whatsoever on his right as a prisoner not to have his throat cut in jail.
If your post is right, then those people serving time for non-payment of council tax don't deserve to be victims of attempted murder in prison, but Huntley does - so what about everyone in between? Should there be a morality panel set up to decide who gets protection and who doesn't?
You are comparing the morality of the state to the morality of a child-killer, which is silly.
We are judged as a society by how we do the difficult things, not the easy things. Ian Huntley is contemptable, or even "evil" if one is religious, but suggesting we should turn a blind eye whilst he is butchered in jail is suggesting we abandon our morality in the face of his.

Cynic said...

This shows the farcical situation Labour has created. The Human Rights Act normally requires balance but there is an absolute duty of the state to protect Article 2 rights (right to life).

So there is a duty to protect Huntley's life. But given his own actions he is a potential target for every wannabe in gaol who wants to make a name for themselves as the hardest con or to sell their story to the media of how they were so outraged that they cut him up.
They only way to deal with that is to lock Huntley away from the other prisoners. But if you do that you infringe his rights again.

The court may eventually sort this out. In the meantime Huntley will have had fun buggering the system about, legal aid will pay and lawyers will get very rich 'protecting his rights'.

The only way to stop this is to make it mandatory for all murder sentence prisoners to have in place as part of their sentence an order requiring them to pay a minimum £1m compensation to their victims.

Matt said...

Next logical step, sue the Police if you are a victim of a crime, sue your Doctor if you fall ill etc., etc. The Prison Authorities cannot guarantee the safety of anyone unless every inmate is confined in solitary and even then, harm could be done.

Whatever happens, however, the lawyers will get rich on our tax money.

Matt said...

What next - sue the Police if you are the victim of a crime, sue your Doctor if you fall ill etc., etc.

The prison authorities cannot guarantee the safety of inmates unless they are all in solitary and even then harm could be done. All they can take is reasonable care.

Whatever happens, the lawyers will benefit greatly from our tax money.

Steve H said...

Is this ugly little contribution your new approach to winning a parliamentary candidacy one day, Iain? Pandering to the knuckledraggers at the Daily Mail? If so, we all look forward with interest to your next selection of blogposts: "Why I think there are too many poofs on the telly" and "Dirty Bloody Gypsies!!!"

Anonymous said...

Justice is justice, Iain. And there's no way to change the law so that only the most unpleasant convicts are denied justice. What, for the sake of argument, about someone in prison for vigilantiism? They might have the sympathy of the public, but no human rights while serving their time.

Steve H said...

***What next - sue the Police if you are the victim of a crime, sue your Doctor if you fall ill etc., etc.***

Matt, a more accurate analogy would be suing the police if you get assaulted in custody or suing your doctor if you contract MRSA while he's operating on you.

BOG said...

Huntley deserved to be hung, and I believe if the death penalty had been retained he would have thought twice about murdering the girls.

They should leave a phial of cyanide in his cell and one night he would take it and good riddance.

You seem to believe that prisoners are not human beings with inalienable rights, that not their own actions can obliterate. I completely disagree

Huntley ceased to be human the day he murdered two innocent girls.