Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

Deal to end slopping out payments

Slopping out sign in a prison
Scottish prisons have paid out 11m in compensation for slopping out

A deal has been struck between the UK and Scottish governments which will stop criminals receiving compensation for slopping out.

Thousands of prisoners have made backdated claims that their human rights were breached by being denied proper toilet facilities in jail.

Emergency laws are to be rushed through Westminster and Holyrood to introduce a one-year time bar by the end of June.

The restriction already exists in England and Wales.

In Scotland, slopping out cases for 3,700 prisoners have already cost 11m, after a judge ruled their human rights had been breached by slopping out their prison cell toilets.

A further 67m had been set aside for payouts, after the House of Lords ruled in 2007 that the 12-month time bar on backdated claims did not apply in Scotland.

It seems the proposed legislation doesn't seek to simply exclude cases by prisoners, but also in respect of anyone claiming a human rights breach
Tony Kelly

In a joint statement, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Jim Murphy, the Scottish Secretary, said the restriction would be extended to Wales and Northern Ireland and further strengthened by being enshrined in the Scotland Act.

"Our joint aim is to restore the situation to what it was before this anomaly became apparent and to protect the public interest in Scotland," the statement read.

But lawyer Tony Kelly accused the Scottish Government of being sore losers, and said other human rights claims could be caught up in the change.

'Broken relationship'

"It seems the proposed legislation for the Scottish Parliament doesn't seek to simply exclude cases brought in the future by prisoners and criminals, but also in respect of anyone claiming a human rights breach," he said.

"The draft legislation made no difference between prisoners who claimed a breach of their human rights and claims which perhaps would be viewed by the public as much more deserving, from people who are mentally ill or learning disabled.

"They will also be caught in this one-year time bar if they seek to sue Scottish ministers."

Conservative justice spokesman Bill Aitken claimed the issue had revealed the "stark extent of the broken relationship" between the Scottish and UK governments.

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