High Court Proceedings have been lodged by Madden and Finucane Solicitors in respect of the conditions of detention of over 40 prisoners detained in HMP Magilligan. The prisoners have suffered ill-health by reason of the Prison Services’ wrongful acts and omissions.

The prison conditions complained of include amongst others:

(i) Being allowed only limited time out of cells;
(ii) being held in a cell with inadequate washing and
sanitary facilities;
(iii) being refused adequate toilet facilities
(iv) being left in situation where they were required to
prepare and eat food in unclean and unhygienic cells
(v) being required to dispose of human waste by
“slopping out” where they would come into contact with spillages of waste of other prisoners

The proceedings originally commenced as Judicial Review Proceedings but were converted by the High Judge to a High Court action as he considered that there was too much evidence in the case for the case to be dealt with by affidavit evidence only. Twenty-three supporting statements had been filed by other prisoners at HMP Magilligan, who are suffering similarly, in support of the main plaintiff. Instructions have been taken from a similar number of other prisoners.

The case was mentioned before Mr Justice Girvan in the High Court yesterday 18th April 2005 and has been listed for mention again on 16th May 2005 when a date may be fixed for hearing of the case.

Peter Madden, of Madden & Finucane Solicitors stated:

“The allegations made being made by the prisoners in these proceedings represent an important challenge to the conditions of detention faced by them at HMP Magilligan. The proceedings arise from breaches of fundamental Human Rights. The conditions of detention have received adverse criticism from the Criminal Justice Inspector for Northern Ireland. Despite his recommendations the Prison Service continue to defend the conditions of detention. These conditions are clearly unacceptable in a modern society.”