Page last updated at 21:05 GMT, Monday, 22 March 2010

Surrey prisoner seeks tobacco ban damages

A Surrey prisoner who is addicted to smoking is seeking damages after he was denied tobacco for seven days for swearing at a prison officer.

Lawyers representing Jack Richard Foster claim he was subjected to "cruel and unusual punishment" by staff at HMP High Down in Banstead.

They told the High Court he should have been given nicotine patches or gum to satisfy his cravings during the ban.

Mr Justice Collins adjourned the case so more information could be gathered.

The court was told Foster suffered a seven-day loss of tobacco and earnings, as well as 14 days' loss of canteen privileges, in February 2008 when he was a 19-year-old young offender at the jail.

'Violation of rights'

Philip Rule, acting for Foster, said there were more appropriate ways of disciplining him without violating his fundamental rights.

He said his "mental vulnerabilities" were well known and "nicotine replacement therapy" should have been offered because of the potential adverse effect the ban may have had on his behaviour.

Mr Rule said it amounted to a violation of his rights under the 1998 Human Rights Act and a "cruel and unusual punishment" in breach of a statutory duty imposed by the 1688 Bill of Rights.

The court was told Foster intended to claim damages under the European Convention on Human Rights if his case succeeds.

Mr Justice Collins said: "I can see that for the future, from your client's point of view, this problem could come up again - if he is still smoking, as I imagine he is."

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