Watch: Father Christmas visits the Ministry of Justice

Today, English PEN and the Howard League teamed up with Father Christmas for our latest demonstration against the restrictions on sending books to UK prisoners

Last week, the High Court declared that including books in the controversial ‘Incentives and Earned Privileges’ scheme was unlawful (a full analysis by the UK Human Rights blog can be read here).

Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Justice, has until 12 December to appeal the ruling.  At the demonstration we called on Mr Grayling to accept the judgment and ensure prisoners can recieve access to books in time for Christmas.

Hundreds of campaign supporters have sent books to the Howard League and to English PEN in response to the campaign.  Some of these were delivered – with help from Santa Claus – to the Ministry of Justice, marked for the attention of the Secretary of State.

You can watch a video of the event below.

Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN, said:

“I’m hopeful that this will be the last time we need to gather in protest at the restriction on sending books to prisoners.

“If Chris Grayling sees sense following the welcome ruling at the High Court last week, then friends and relatives should soon be able to send books to their loved ones

“This has been a short-sighted and self-defeating policy, depriving prisoners of what can be a lifeline and undermining the possibilities for rehabilitation. Public support for this campaign has been a remarkable demonstration of the widespread belief that access to literature is a necessity.”

English PEN team with banner
The festive English PEN team outside the Ministry of Justice

You can read more about the campaign on our Books For Prisoners Campaign page.

Immediately after the demonstration, Horrid Henry author and English PEN member Francesca Simon debated Philip Davies MP on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme, citing the ‘inhumanity’ of denying prisoners access to books.  Watch the episode on BBC iPlayer (until 8 Jan 2015).  Today, Francesca is our Advent Calendar author of the day, joining other authors in recommending the book that they would send to a prisoner.


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