Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Straw to talk after killer escape

Jane Andrews

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has agreed to meet the family of the man murdered by former royal aide Jane Andrews who escaped from an open prison in Kent.

Murder victim Thomas Cressman's brother Rick said Mr Straw "should hang his head in shame" after the escape, which he blamed on prison incompetence.

Andrews was found at the Premier Inn, in Hollingbourne, in the early hours in a room with three people known to her.

Police said she had been sleeping rough and had been in the hotel a short time.

A spokeswoman would not confirm whether the people she was with were members of her family.

However they were not thought to have played a role in her escape and were interviewed, but not arrested, by investigating officers.

Why was she in an open prison after just eight and a half years? What are we playing at?
Rick Cressman

Police said Andrews, 42, of Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire, had been medically checked and her care and future detention had now been handed back to the Prison Service.

The Duchess of York's former dresser, jailed for life in 2001 for fatally beating and stabbing Mr Cressman, escaped from East Sutton Park open prison in Maidstone on Sunday night.

After her escape the Cressman family described the decision to move her to an open prison just eight years into her minimum 12-year- sentence as "inappropriate and offensive".

The Prison Service, which has launched an investigation into how she managed to escape, said on Wednesday that Andrews would now be put in a closed jail.

Premier Inn, Hollingbourne
Jane Andrews was found in a room at the hotel with three other people

She also faces the possibility of extra time in prison.

Mr Cressman's brother, Rick Cressman, 58, welcomed the move to put Andrews in a closed jail where she could not "cause chaos".

"That's where she belonged in the first place," he said.

He said he wanted to meet Mr Straw because of the "deeper questions and issues" which were raised by Andrews' escape.

He said: "For instance, why was she in an open prison after just eight and a half years? What are we playing at?"

"I think Mr Straw has an issue there and I think there are issues surrounding the sheer competence and control of people in open prisons.

"Too much trust is being shown to people who, quite frankly, shouldn't have it in the first place and have not earned it.

"Jack Straw should be hanging his head in shame. It's absolutely appalling."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: "I can confirm that Mr Straw has agreed to a meeting with Mr Cressman."

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