Friday, May 22, 2009

Law & Order : Justice Secretary MacAskill ‘should resign’ over prisoner escape

The recent escape of violent inmates from Scots jails has prompted calls for Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to resign, however as we all know he wont and the political parties at Holyrood are in not much shape to call for his resignation.

The Herald reports :

MacAskill faces call to resign over prison escape

ROBBIE DINWOODIE, Chief Scottish Political Correspondent
May 22 2009

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill yesterday faced demands to resign over the escape of a violent inmate from an open prison.

Opposition groups at Holyrood were considering the nuclear option of a no-confidence vote in Mr MacAskill after Brian Martin, 51, absconded on Monday from Castle Huntly open prison in Angus, where he was serving 10 years for firearms offences.

Labour demanded the minister make a statement to Parliament about the escape of a man whom Labour leader Iain Gray said was once the "the most dangerous man in Britain".

Both Labour and the Tories demanded an independent review of open prisons and the Tories were last night considering whether to table a no-confidence motion.

Mr MacAskill wrote to the head of the Scottish Prison Service, Mike Ewart, to ensure "any further lessons from this current case are applied".

Mr MacAskill is already under pressure for defying a parliamentary vote in favour of going ahead with the pilot of a US-style community court in the east end of Glasgow. He faced calls to quit last week from opponents, after he ignored the Holyrood vote and decided against implementing the scheme.

Both Labour and Conservatives said there has been talk of a no-confidence motion, but last night SNP chiefs warned that such a vote would be treated as an attack on the Government as a whole and could force an election.

First Minister Alex Salmond said his administration would "meet each challenge as it comes," but it is known he takes the view that his party would be the beneficiary if Opposition MSPs brought down his minority government. He is understood to believe that Labour in particular are well aware of that.

During First Minister's Questions yesterday, Mr Gray said the escape was the latest sign that the Justice Secretary was "just not up to the job."

Martin, who is known as The Hawk, transferred to Castle Huntly last month from Shotts prison and was sentenced three years ago.

He had convictions for violence and armed robbery, including some while out on licence from a previous 12-year prison term.

Mr Gray said: "When he walked out of the open prison on Monday, Brian Martin was just three years into a 10-year sentence for firing a gun during a fight in a house in Fife.

"His previous offences included a string of armed robberies and threatening police with a sawn-off shotgun.

This is a man once dubbed the most dangerous man in Britain.

"Will the First Minister agree Brian Martin should not have been in an open prison in the first place?"

Mr Salmond said regulations were tightened up by the Justice Secretary after the case of Robert Foye, jailed last year for raping a schoolgirl while on the run from Castle Huntly.

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