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Paddy Hill was one of the Birmingham Six. He spent 16 years behind bars, wrongfully convicted for the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings by the IRA.
When he was released he was given no training for freedom, no counselling and no psychological preparation - unlike the guilty prisoners in the cells around him. Instead he was charged 50,000 for living expenses by the Home Office.
To make matters worse, it took until three years ago for Hill to receive his compensation of 960,000. However, during the years since his release, while waiting for the pay-out, the government had given him advances of around 300,000. When his compensation came through, the 300,000 was taken back - along with interest at a whopping 23%.
Another man, Mike O'Brien, spent 10 years in jail wrongly convicted of killing a Cardiff newsagent. He was charged 37,500 by the Home Office for his time behind bars.
Vincent Hickey, one of the Bridgewater Four who was wrongly convicted for killing a paperboy, was charged 60,000 for the 17 years he spent in jail.
Robert Brown was just a 19-year-old from Glasgow when he was jailed for life for murdering a woman called Annie Walsh in Manchester in 1977. He served 25 years before he was finally freed in 2002, when the courts ruled him innocent of the crime. He is now facing a bill of around 80,000 for the living expenses he cost the state.
No doubt there are many other examples of this sick and vindictive policy. The logic, if that can be the right word, appears to be that the wrongfully imprisoned would be eating and drinking every day if they were free, so by being locked up in prison they are saving money. This rather ignores the obvious fact that if they weren't in prison they'd probably be working and earning money to buy their food and drink with.
It also ignores the fact that if they were free, what to eat and drink, and indeed whether to eat it and drink it, would have been their own decision. Who knows, they might have decided for some daft reason to starve themselves to death! The government and legal system, has taken away that freedom of choice and, effectively, forced them to eat whether they wanted to or not - and then wants to charge them for the privilege. The real hole in the Home Office argument is that they don't charge the guilty prisoners. Why? Would they not have been eating and drinking on the outside?
It seems to us that what lies at the bottom of this cruel travesty of justice is revenge. These people refused to admit their guilt, they wouldn't toe the line and do their porridge like good little citizens, they've forced the government to admit to a mistake - so let's get 'em!


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