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Two Life Prisoners Lose Challenge Against Prohibition of Making Inter-Prison Calls

The petitioners were convicted of murder in 2010 and were sentenced to life imprisonment at separate institutions. They were in a relationship and this relationship continued to their imprisonment. 

In 2014, a petition was refused which challenged the decision to refuse them inter prison visits. During the course of the proceedings the petitioners were granted inter prison calls. Due to an oversight the calls were not withdraw until August 2018. 

In September 2018 the petitioners requested the calls to commence. This was rejected by the Scottish Prison Service on the basis that the relationship between them was potentially dangerous and there was a risk the calls could be used to commit other offences. The petition was heard in court in February 2019. The Lord Ordinary determined that the time limit had expired and that there were no grounds for an extension. 

The petitioners argued that it was a violation of their rights under Article 8. Alternatively, the Lord Ordinary had failed to exercise his right to allow the petition to proceed out of time. 

Lady Dorrian delivered the opinion of the court and stated: “The Lord Ordinary addressed the circumstances of the case, the fact that the petitioners have known about the decision from 17 August 2018; that they took steps to challenge it from very shortly thereafter; and the absence of any reason for delay. He might also have noted that no point of general public importance arises, it being specifically advanced on behalf of the petitioners that the case relates only to the two petitioners and that no wider application appears.”

She continued: “Moreover, he would have been entitled to bear in mind that similar article 8 arguments, based on the alleged relationship between the petitioners, were advanced but roundly, indeed robustly, rejected by the Lord Ordinary in the proceedings relating to the similar issue of inter-prison visits between the petitioners. In short, none of the factors advanced by the petitioners persuades us that the Lord Ordinary erred in refusing to exercise his discretion.”

On this basis the reclaiming motion was refused.  


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