HC Deb 19 April 1995 vol 258 cc200-1W
Mr. George Howarth

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) who made the decision to grant John Martin Scripps temporary home leave from Mount prison in October 1994; and which Ministers were involved in approving the decision to grant him temporary home leave; [17960]

(2) what inquiries or investigations have been set up into the decision in October 1994 to grant temporary home leave to John Martin Scripps; [17957]

(3) if he will give details of all previous occasions on which John Martin Scripps, who absconded from Mount prison in October 1994 while on temporary home leave, failed to return from such leave; [17958]

(4) if he will outline what factors were taken into account in determining the suitability of John Martin Scripps for temporary home leave from Mount prison in October 1994. [17959]

Mr. Michael Forsyth

Responsibility for these matters has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. George Howarth, dated 19 April 1995: The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Questions about the decision to grant John Martin Scripps temporary home leave. On 2 October 1982 Mr. Scripps was sentenced to three years imprisonment for burglary. Whilst serving that sentence he was granted home leave from Spring Hill prison and failed to return on 5 June 1984. He was unlawfully at large until 15 March 1985 during which time he committed further offences for which he was sentenced to two years imprisonment concurrent to the sentence he was serving. Mr. Scripps completed this sentence on 25 November 1986. On 22 January 1988 Mr. Scripps was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on charges of importing drugs. After serving the initial part of his sentence in Wandsworth and Swaleside prisons he was re-categorised from Category B to Category C and transferred on 24 January 1989 to Highpoint prison. On 1 June 1990 he was granted home leave and failed to return. Mr. Scripps was arrested at Heathrow airport in November 1990 and charged with two offences of smuggling drugs. He was convicted and sentenced to six years imprisonment, consecutive to the seven years he was already serving. In September 1993 Mr. Scripps applied for home leave and this was considered under the criteria set out in Circular Instruction No. 43/1992, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. The application was refused but in December 1993 he re-applied and this was granted for home leave to be taken in February 1994. He returned on time and he was granted a further home leave in April 1994 from which he returned on time. On 24 August 1994 Mr. Scripps applied to take further home, leave in October and this was approved by the appropriate governor grade. These applications are not required to be put to Ministers and none was involved in making these decisions about Mr. Scripps. The area manager has set up an investigation into the decisions to grant Mr. Scripps home leave and, in particular, to establish what factors were taken into account in determining Mr. Scripps' suitability. I shall write to you again once this information is available. On 4 April, the Home Secretary tabled amendments to the Prison Rules introducing tighter control on the temporary release of prisoners and, under these, Mr. Scripps would not have been eligible for release on temporary licence during his current sentence.