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The Administrative Court has handed down Judgment in a case concerning the rehabilitation of prisoners who are in total denial of their guilt.

The Claimant had been convicted of murder but maintained that he was innocent. He was unable to participate in the standard coursework which prisoners often take in order to address their risk to the public. He had been kept in Category A conditions for many years and had been refused a request to be recategorised on the basis of his good behaviour in custody. He raised three issues: (1) whether his denial had unlawfully been used as a ‘bar’, preventing him from making any progress; (2) whether his application for recategorisation should have been determined by way of an oral hearing; and (3) whether the Secretary of State was in breach of Article 5 ECHR as a result of not having given him sufficient opportunity to demonstrate that he could safely be recategorised.

The Administrative Court rejected all three claims, agreeing with the Secretary of State’s submissions that whilst a person’s denial should not be a conclusive bar to a decision affecting his liberty, it can legitimately be highly relevant to whether there has been a reduction in risk; and that there had been no breach either of the duty to act fairly, or the duty to provide a reasonable opportunity of risk-reduction.

David Pievsky acted for the Secretary of State.