Letter to the Chair of the Committee from
Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for
Justice, dated 8 November 2009
36936/05, 2 JUNE 2009)
Thank you for your letter of 13 October in which
you inquire about the Government's response to the judgment in
Szuluk v United Kingdom. The Government intends to make
the changes to Rules and guidance necessary to implement the judgment.
I have responded in more detail to your three questions as set
1. What steps does the Government propose
to take to implement domestically the decision of the ECtHR in
2. Specifically, does the Government propose
to revise PSO 4411, Chapter 5, to make clear that correspondence
between a prisoner and a medical professional should be subject
to confidential handling arrangements, similar to those applicable
to legal advisors, Members of Parliament, or the then Healthcare
Commission? If so what way(s) does it propose to revise the PSO?
3. Does the Government consider that any amendments
to the Prison Rules,Prison Service Instructions or other Prison
Service Orders are necessary to ensure compliance with Article
8 in relation to correspondence between a prisoner and his or
her medical advisor? If so, what amendments does it propose to
In the light of the judgment in Szuluk,
the Government has put in hand work to amend Prison Rule 35A,
YOI Rule 11 and Prison Service Orders 4411 Prisoner Communications
and 3050 Continuity of Healthcare for Prisoners. The changes to
the Rules will make provision for correspondence between prisoners
and a treating medical practitioner (in cases where there is a
diagnosed life threatening illness) to be subject to confidential
handling arrangements, similar to those applicable to legal advisors
and Members of Parliament. Guidance in PSO 4411 and PSO 3050 will
support these Rule changes. We do not believe that any other Orders
will need to be amended to give effect to the judgment.
The changes to Prison Rule 35A and to YOI Rule
11 have been drafted and are currently the subject of final consultation
across the National Offender Management Service and Department
of Health (Offender Health). The Rule changes are subject to the
negative resolution procedure and we expect to be in a position
to lay them before the Christmas recess.
I attach a copy of the Government's submissions
to the Committee of Ministers as requested and will provide further
updates on progress as appropriate.
SZULUK V UNITED KINGDOM (APPLICATION NO 36936/05)
INFORMATION SUBMITTED BY THE UNITED KINGDOM GOVERNMENT
1. Just satisfaction:
arrangements to make the just satisfaction
payment are in hand; and I will forward information on
payment of just satisfaction in due course.
2. Other individual measures:
the Government intends to take the following
Revising Prison Service orders to comply
with the decision. Prison Service Orders are executive directions.
which dictate the policies and procedures that should be followed
within the prison. They are widely available on the Prison Service
website, www.hmprisonservice.gov.uk. Legal advisers and policy
teams are working to amend PSO 4411 Prisoner Communications Correspondence
and PSO 3050 Continuity of Healthcare for Prisoners. These documents
are being agreed and will be published in due course.
the judgment has been published in the
Times Law Report on 17 June 2009 (Application No 36936/05)
and in Butterworth's Medico-Legal Reports at 108 BMLR 190
(2009). The judgment is available on online legal databases including
www.echr.coe.int and English databases Lexisnexis. Lawtel and
the judgment has been disseminated to
Her Majesty's Prison Service, including all prison governors and
the relevant policy groups within Government.
5. Other general measures:
the Government considers no further general
measures are necessary because it has reviewed all relevant existing
regulations and guidance and is overseeing the amendment of the
Prison Services Orders to ensure they are fully compliant with
the Szuluk judgment.
6. The Government considers that all necessary
measures have been taken and the case should be closed.