Terror offender wins court fight over jail recall

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A man who was freed on parole following convictions for “Middle East terrorism” offences more than 30 years ago has won a High Court fight after complaining he was unfairly returned to jail in the run up to the London Olympics.

In a written judgment yesterday, Mr Justice Wilkie said the man – who was given four life sentences in the 1970s – should be immediately released after concluding a decision by former Justice Secretary Ken Clarke not to rescind his return to jail was “unreasonable”.

The judge heard the man, who was not named, was recalled to jail less than three weeks before the start of the 2012 games after attending a demonstration in the capital.

Mr Justice Wilkie did not identify the man or give details of his crimes in a written judgment handed down at the High Court in London.

But the judge said the man had been convicted of murder, attempted murder, causing an explosion with intent to endanger life and possession of firearms with intent to endanger life - and said the offences had been committed “in the context of Middle East terrorism”.

The man claimed he had been unfairly recalled to jail, four years after being freed on licence, at a High Court hearing in London earlier this month.

Mr Justice Wilkie said the man had been given four life terms with a recommendation he should not be considered for parole until he had served at least 20 years. He was released on licence in 2008.

Mr Justice Wilkie was told the man had attended a demonstration in Downing Street during the run-up to the Games – which started on July 27.

He was then recalled to jail after probation officials decided he had breached conditions of his release by “becoming involved in political events”.

“Upon reflection”, however, officials then changed their mind and decided the “risk” posed could be “managed in the community” and the then Justice Secretary Ken Clarke was asked to “rescind” the decision to recall the man to prison.

Mr Justice Wilkie concluded Mr Clarke’s initial decision to recall the man to jail was fair, but he said the decision not to rescind the recall order following the request from probation officials was unreasonable.

Mr Justice Wilkie said the man had made “progress” in the four years he had been free on licence and on reflection probation officials had decided that a return to jail would damage his “successful rehabilitation”.

He said officials had reconsidered and thought their “original view” wrong.

“(The) view was that recall would be disproportionate and that the risk could be managed in the community,” said the judge.

“The request to rescind had been properly made as a result of a proper review conducted by senior management.”

He added: “The very clear, and immediate, view expressed by probation was that their initial judgment was erroneous and that recall would cause great damage to the purposes of release on licence, namely the successful rehabilitation within the community of the offender.”

A High Court official said later that a judge sitting at an earlier High Court hearing had made an order preventing publication of the man’s identity.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Public protection is our top priority.

“Serious offenders on licence are subject to a strict set of controls and conditions and can be recalled to custody if they breach them. Sometimes they will receive a formal written warning for a breach, where they have not re-offended.

“When released from prison, all terrorist offenders on licence are managed through multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA), will be risk-assessed, monitored and supervised by the Probation Service, police and other agencies.

“Terrorist offenders subject to probation may also be required to comply with additional licence conditions to better manage any risk they pose.”