Home Office Admits Rights’ Breach

The Home Office has admitted it breached the human rights of a “vulnerable” inmate who died in a women’s prison. Sarah Campbell, 18, died of an overdose of anti-depressants at HMP Styal, in Cheshire, in January 2003. Her mother Pauline sued the Prison Service under the Human Rights Act and the Home Office settled out of court.

She claimed the Home Office admitted liability for her daughter’s death but the Home Office has denied this.

Mrs Campbell’s legal action was lodged under articles Two, Three and Eight of the 1998 Human Rights Act.

Article Two is the right to life, Article Three is the right to protection from torture and Article Eight is the right to family and private life.

Sarah Campbell was one of six women who died in Styal between August 2002 and 2003.

“A grieving mother should not have to fight the system in order to get justice and be faced with such a struggle while dealing with sudden bereavement,” said Mrs Campbell, who was backed by Inquest, a group which campaigns over deaths in custody.

“And I still haven’t had an apology for the way in which Sarah died, nor the appalling way I have been treated ever since.”

Mrs Campbell did not give details of the cash settlement but said it covered the expenses she had incurred fighting for justice for her daughter.

Deborah Coles, co-director of Inquest, said: “The six deaths at Styal were preventable tragedies for which the prison service is culpable in failing to act on serious deficiencies in the treatment and care of vulnerable women.

“The sad reality is that women are still being sent to prisons that cannot keep them safe and where segregation and isolation for suicidal women is commonplace.”

The teenager, who had a history of drug abuse, self harm and mental problems, had been convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to three years in jail.

An inquest jury in January returned a narrative verdict which said the prison was responsible for a “failure of duty of care”.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Mrs Campbell lodged a civil claim under Article Eight of the Human Rights which relates to family life.

“An out of court settlement has been made.”

The spokesman said the Home Office had not accepted liability for Sarah Campbell’s death.