Inmates Set For ‘Cold Turkey’ Money

Prisoners are poised to win undisclosed pay-outs after suing the Home Office because they were forced to stop taking drugs in jail, it was revealed. Drugs charity DrugScope said the group of six inmates and former inmates who used heroin and other opiates were on the verge of settling out of court with the Prison Service.

The case – alleging the “cold turkey” withdrawal treatment they were forced to undergo amounted to assault – was scheduled to start at the High Court.

The size of the payouts under discussion has not been revealed. But the compensation levels are due to be finalised on Tuesday or Wednesday, legal sources said.

High Court judge Mr Justice Langstaff gave the go-ahead in May for a full hearing of the case. It focused on six test cases chosen from a total pool of 198 claimants. When finally resolved this week, all 198 may be handed compensation by the Prison Service – with sums potentially running into tens of thousands of pounds.

Mr Justice Langstaff said in May: “All claim that their treatment was handled inappropriately and so they suffered injuries and had difficulties with their withdrawal.”

Barrister for the claimants Richard Hermer told the court at the time: “Many of the prisoners were receiving methadone treatment before they entered prison and were upset at the short period of treatment using opiates they encountered in jail. Imposing the short, sharp detoxification is the issue.”

The prisoners were bringing the action based on trespass, because they say they did not consent to the treatment, and for alleged clinical negligence.

They also claimed human rights breaches under Articles 3 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which ban discrimination, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and Article 8, which enshrines the right to respect for private life.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “It would be inappropriate to comment because the litigation is still ongoing.”