§ Miss Widdecombe
Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from A. J. Pearson to Mr. Tom Cox, dated 27 March 1996:601WThe Home Secretary has asked me to reply, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to your recent Question about the escape of John Kearney from prison officer custody.Mr. Kearney has served nine years of a life sentence. In August 1995, he successfully completed an escorted visit to his aged father who could not travel and whose health was failing. Mr. Kearney made a second request to visit his father. The governor, having taken into consideration Mr. Kearney's successful completion of an escorted visit, his continued good prison behaviour and his father's health, decided to allow another escorted visit.Mr. Kearney was handcuffed during the journey, but on the instructions of the governor, the handcuffs were removed on arrival. Mr. Kearney made good his escape by going out the front door and locking it, the officers were unable to follow. The escape was reported to the police and a thorough search of the area was conducted. Mr. Kearney is still at large. An investigation into the escape was ordered by the area manager responsible for Kingston.The investigation report into the escape is currently with the area manager responsible for Kingston who will decide what action needs to be taken.