Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 15:26 UK

Cash paid over prison segregation

Prison wire
The men said their human rights had been breached in solitary confinement

Two murderers and an armed robber have agreed to accept cash from the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) to settle a human rights case brought over segregation.

The men will be paid £2,100 after settling their long-running action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

They claimed to have been "disgusted" by conditions they had to endure during solitary confinement.

SPS said the decision to settle had been taken on "economic grounds" and it did not accept it had acted unlawfully.

Murderers Andrew Somerville and Ricardo Blanco and armed robber Sammy Ralston are among a number of convicted criminals who will receive cash.

They had been held in special segregation units and effectively kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.

They raised an action for judicial review at the Court of Session in 2002 alleging that their treatment and conditions of detention were incompatible with their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

SPS is not accepting that their periods of detention were unlawful. The offer to settle is purely on economic grounds
SPS statement

After the case was fought all the way to the House of Lords it called again at the Court of Session on Thursday before Lady Smith, who was due to consider further procedure.

But counsel for the men, Chris Pirie, told the judge that the petitions for judicial review brought by the trio, and a fourth man, David Henderson, had now settled.

He said that the Scottish ministers had lodged tenders and instructions had been received to accept the offers, which would bring the action to an end.

Mr Pirie told the judge that in light of the development he would invite her "to make no order for further procedure".

Action 'derided'

Following the court announcement the men's solicitor, Tony Kelly, said: "When these court actions commenced the purpose was to improve the way that they, the individual petitioners, were treated and to improve the situation for all prisoners who may be subjected to the practices which were challenged.

"The Scottish Prison Service, shortly after the commencement of these actions, altered considerably their practises, procedures and process for the use of segregation.

"That improvement represented a vindication of the position adopted before the court by the petitioners which was initially poorly received and even derided."

In a statement, the SPS said it had agreed to settle the action to avoid further costs.

Slopping out sign
Thousands of prisoners have received 'slopping out' compensation

It said: "These cases represent historic claims from prisoners alleging that their periods of detention in segregation were unlawful. Some of these cases date back to segregation periods over seven years ago.

"SPS sought to settle these claims out of court and avoid significant further legal expense.

"SPS is not accepting that their periods of detention were unlawful. The offer to settle is purely on economic grounds."

About 20 segregation cases were raised in the aftermath of actions from prisoners over the practice of "slopping out".

To date, about 3,700 prisoners have received £11m after a judge ruled their human rights had been breached by a lack of toilet facilities in prisons.

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