Shepton Mallet prisoner Ben Gunn’s blog has got the Ministry of (In)Justice all in a tizzy, and his blog is only 23 days old.
The blog is believed to be the first, or at least the only current blog, to be updated by a serving prisoner. Of course, he doesn’t personally post new articles to the blog, because as a prisoner he has no internet access. So he writes them by hand, and then gets friends to post the articles up on his blog for him.
The MoJ insist that Ben Gunn’s blog breaks the rules. He disagrees: “In 2008, the justice minister, Maria Eagle, told MP Sion Simon that prisoners could blog, subject to the rules of correspondence. Yet despite my complying with the law and ministerial pronouncements, the prison service is now reverting to its old habits – attempting to squash the vocal dissenter.“
Last week the Guardian’s Comment is Free section got interested and posted what at that point was likely to be Ben Gunn’s ‘the last post’, on 14 September. It wasn’t, and the Guardian ran another post from his blog on 19 September titled ‘Why should prisoners be denied the vote?’. If you look at Ben Gunn’s blog you will find more posts right up to today. So have the MoJ backed down? Well not completely, but it does seem they haven’t been able to intimidate the prisoner into silence. By all accounts he’s got himself some legal representation to challenge the MoJ. He also has a useful friend in John Hirst, ‘The Jailhouse Lawyer’, an ex-prisoner and like Gunn a thorn in the side of the MoJ as it tries to ride roughshod over any rights prisoners may have. Read Hirst’s comments on the situation last week here. Now Hirst’s blog today shows mixed messages from the authorities, with one idiot saying that Ben Gunn’s blog is allowed, and another saying completely the opposite. For updates watch this space, or rather keep an eye on the blogs of Gunn, the Jalhouse Lawyer, and of course the liberal utterings of the Guardian. If you believe in freedom, and support for Ben Gunn’s campaign, then put a supportive comment on his blog, and let the MoJ know what you think of them.
Note to right-wing hang em and flog em crackpots – yes we know Ben Gunn is a murderer, he admits it himself quite openly, that he committed an awful crime when he was 14 years old. He has now been inside for 30 years, on a sentence with an original 10 year tariff, largely because he has stood up for himself against the powers that be. He is what we call a ‘social prisoner’, who we support, not because we agree with all he has to say, but because we recognise that through his experiences he has come into conflict with the state in its many forms, and has been both radicalised and enlightened by his struggle. Best wishes Ben!