Advertising in prison: the
Because the posting of this notice seemed highly dangerous, in that it might very well encourage prisoners to fabricate allegations in an attempt to join the action, I wrote a short piece about it for this website which appeared under the title ‘Christmas is coming’.
Recently Pannone and Partners, the solicitors’ firm who are handling the action, whose name and address featured in the notice, wrote to me at considerable length to complain that the article unfairly criticised their firm.
Since its main purpose was to criticise the conduct of the prison
governor – while acknowledging that he almost certainly acted as he did out of
the best of intentions – this complaint was a surprising one. But as Pannone and
Partners criticised me for failing to draw attention to the possible
justification for posting such a notice, I have rewritten the article in order
to do so. I have also removed one or two sentences which they chose to construe
as reflecting unfairly on their motives in seeking to publicise the group
However, the more carefully I examined the whole nature of group actions of this kind the more disturbed I became by the scale of what is now happening and by the very dangers to which the original version of the article drew attention. It seemed to me that these group actions warranted more consideration than I had in fact given them.
In this respect I should perhaps acknowledge here that one of the
principal shortcomings of my book, The Great Children's Home Panic,
is its failure to deal
adequately with the question of compensation.
By focusing too much on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) and
the availability of compensation through this route, I directed attention away
from where the real problems stem – namely from group actions (or ‘multi-party’
claims) conducted in the civil courts.
The journalist who has done most to repair this deficiency
is David Rose who, in his BBC Panorama film
In the name of the children,
and in the
gave a great deal of
attention to the manner in which the civil process was, as he put it, in danger
of contaminating the criminal justice system.
So far I have failed to address this problem in any detail. But, in the light of the letters received from Pannone and Partners, I have given the whole question a great deal more thought. As a result I have completely rewritten the piece in question and an article which was originally some 700 words long has now become a substantial essay, which is much more critical of the current legal system than the original article ever was. I have also included with it a number of links to websites which help to convey something of the scale of this whole problem.
Although it was clearly not the
intention of Pannone and Partners to provoke such a comprehensive reworking of
the article when they originally complained to me, I am, in a sense, grateful to them
for forcing me to give more attention to an aspect of trawling and of the
compensation culture which I had previously neglected.
© Richard Webster, 2002