Secretary of State for Justice delays release of terrorism prisoner

Richard Thomas and Daniel Clarke represented the applicant in X v SSJ [2020] EWHC 800 (Admin) in which the President of the QBD and Holroyde LJ upheld an order restricting X’s release made on the grounds there was a heightened terror threat from recently released prisoners and that whilst in custody X had links with the perpetrator of the attack in Streatham and may have been practising an extreme form of Islam. The SSJ’s application was been made not under the recently passed Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Act 2020 but under a little-known provision in section 102(5) of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 that published guidance made plain was intended to apply only where the prisoner serving a DTO had made exceptionally bad progress whilst in custody.

The SSJ accepted the application was made outside the circumstances envisaged in the guidance and relied on an ‘intelligence gist’, refusing to disclose the full extent of the information available. The Court rejected X’s arguments on judicial review that in the absence of a closed material procedure reliance on intelligence was not permissible and found that the exceptional circumstances justified a departure from the guidance.

Richard and Daniel were instrcted by Alex Whitmore at Sonn Macmillan Walker.