Murderer’s ‘absurd’ claim wasted legal aid

Posted: 23rd May 2014

PrisonAmidst hard times for the legal aid budget, the High Court has questioned why public funding was extended for a murderer to pursue an ‘absurd’ argument that he was unlawfully denied the right to vote whilst serving his life sentence.

The man was convicted in 2000 of strangling a young woman whose body he stuffed into a sewer. The Dutch national was swiftly deported to his native Holland after his release in 2012, but that did not deter him from claiming that, as a European citizen, he should have been permitted to vote in local elections and elections to the Parliament of the European Union during his incarceration.

In the light of a Supreme Court decision, which effectively barred life prisoners from voting in elections, the Court found that proceedings that the man had launched against the Lord President of the Council were ‘bound to fail’. He had been treated in exactly the same way as a British prisoner would have been and his claims of inequality were ‘unarguable and totally without merit’.

Since his deportation, the man’s case had in any event become ‘wholly academic’ and Mr Justice Collins commented, “I would only express my concern that legal aid was extended once the decision of the Supreme Court was known. It should have been obvious, particularly as the claimant was no longer in the country, that the claim had become unarguable."