Campaigners celebrate after ban on books is ruled unlawful

A High Court ruling, overturning a ban on sending books to prisoners, has been hailed as a victory for common sense.

Award-winning authors including Philip Pullman, Mark Haddon and Salman Rushdie had spoken out against the “mean and vindictive ban” and urged the courts to quash the policy.

The campaign group Liberty had also condemned the measures, describing them as ill-conceived and cruel.

Earlier this year, the group had arranged for a gift-wrapped box of books to be delivered to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling – an audacious stunt designed to draw attention to the controversial decision.

Last week, Mr Justice Collins said that the rules should be amended, arguing it would be strange to regard books as a privilege.

“I see no good reason, in the light of the importance of books for prisoners, to restrict beyond what is required by volumetric control…and reasonable measures relating to frequency of parcels and security considerations.”

The policy was first announced earlier this year and was part of a wider scheme to limit what prisoners could receive in parcels.

From the outset there was an outpouring of anger, with civil liberties campaigners concerned that inmates could be denied access to titles which may play an important part in their rehabilitation.

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy co-ordinated the campaign against the policy, gathering support from literary heavyweights including Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan and Mary Beard.

Welcoming the court’s decision, Ms Duffy said: “This is a wise, just and irrefutably correct ruling.

“We all look forward to hearing to which prison library Mr Grayling will be sending books for Christmas.”

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