HL Deb 11 July 2002 vol 637 c102WA
Lord Jones

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend to publish the report of the independent investigation into the circumstances of Paul Wright's death at Leeds prison on 7 November 1996, ordered by Mr Justice Jackson on 27 June 2001. [HL5247]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

We welcome this report. which is today being placed in the Library together with our response to the five findings and 20 recommendations made in the report. The Prison Service has previously accepted partial liability for the death of Paul Wright because failure to provide proper medical treatment was a contributory factor to his death, and in October 2000 apologised to the farnitly, followed by an out-of-court settlement in December 2000. This independent investigation provides a very thorough review of the circumstances surrounding the death of Paul Wright and associated issues. Two of the findings reflect conflicts of evidence that are unlikely ever to be resolved.

This was a unique investigation in circumstances unlikely to be repeated, largely because of changes made since 1996, including: provision of healthcare services in prison has been changed through a partnership between the Prison Service and the NHS at local, regional and national level; procedures for recruitment and supervision of prison medical officers have been improved, with training and qualification requirements tightened; and all self-inflicted deaths in prisons are now routinely investigated and investigation reports disclosed to families. In addition, a clinical review of the treatment provided to a prisoner dying in custody from natural causes routinely now takes place. Procedures for investigating all deaths in prison custody are currently under review. In parallel, a wider Home Office and government review of investigations and inquiries is taking place against a background of emerging jurisprudence from both the domestic and European courts. This investigation has provided some valuable insights which will help inform this debate, specifically in relation to the introduction of independence in future investigations.

We hope that the changes which have been made show that we are trying to learn from what has happened as a result of our failure to look after Paul Wright in the way that we should have done.