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Last Updated: Monday, 28 February, 2005, 08:49 GMT
Tories target prison book profits
Any fees or royalties would be confiscated under the plan
Criminals would be prevented from profiting from books about their crimes under a Tory government, party leader Michael Howard says.

Fees or royalties would be treated as proceeds of crime and could be seized under the proposals.

"We don't think criminals should benefit from their crimes - society should draw a clear distinction between right and wrong," Mr Howard said.

The Labour party said it had already set up a review to consider the issue.


Under the Conservatives' plan, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 would be amended to enable the attorney general to apply to a court for proceeds from a book or article to be confiscated.

Any payments made to a criminal to help produce a book or newspaper article would also be covered by the plan.

Labour believes that the perpetrators of crime should not profit from their criminal activities
Labour spokesman

Mr Howard told BBC News that Ian Brady's profits from a book about his crimes was a good example of something that could be stopped under the new legislation.

He said the government had announced a review of issue but had done nothing.

"What I want to see is a presumption against criminals benefiting from their crimes in this way."

The new legislation would also cover live entertainment appearances by criminals.

There would be no time limit on applications for confiscation orders, so they would be able to be made at any time.

Mr Howard said the plans would remove the incentive for criminals to seek publicity about their crimes by writing about them.

A Labour party spokesman said: "Labour believes that the perpetrators of crime should not profit from their criminal activities."

Former criminal Eric Allison, who spent a number of spells in prison and is now the Guardian newspaper's prison correspondent, said the public would not be able to find out about important issues.

"I have done my time according to the law. At 62 years of age, I am now a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen.

"How dare Michael Howard propose that I lose my employment because of my past record?"

But Mr Howard said people who were only offering insight into prison life or related social issues would be allowed to continue.


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