Slopping out policy ‘violated prisoner’s right to privacy’

Four CourtsA prisoner forced to slop out as he had no in-cell lavatory facilities was denied his constitutional right to privacy, the High Court has ruled.

However, Mr Justice Michael White said he was not awarding damages to Gary Simpson because his witness testimony was partly untruthful and exaggerated.

Mr Justice White also refused to make a declaration that Mr Simpson was subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.

The prisoner claimed that he had been humiliated, degraded and had his human rights violated because he was expected to use a chamber pot in front of fellow prisoners and then slop out his shared cell.

The claim concerned his eight-month stay in the D1 wing of Mountjoy Prison in 2013, where he shared a single cell with another prisoner.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said it would carefully consider the court’s ruling, which some believe could encourage a raft of legal challenges over slopping out in Irish prisons.

Fíona Ní Chinnéide, acting executive director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), welcomed the High Court ruling.

Ms Ní Chinnéide told Irish Legal News: “IPRT welcomes the finding that the prisoner’s rights had been breached, and we look forward to considering the final written judgment in detail.

“It is important now that the State continues its progress towards eliminating the practice of slopping out completely across the prison estate, and that the Irish Prison Service meets its stated commitments to eliminating solitary confinement in prisons.”