England

Soham killer Huntley to sue over throat slash attack

Ian Huntley
Image caption Huntley's throat was slashed in March in an attack by an inmate

Soham murderer Ian Huntley is to sue the Prison Service after he was attacked by an inmate.

The Grimsby-born former school caretaker's throat was slashed in March at Frankland Prison in County Durham.

Huntley, 36, who murdered 10-year-olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002, will claim the service has failed in its duty of care towards him.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the compensation claim would be "vigorously defended".

Earlier this year the then Justice Secretary Jack Straw said the government had "absolutely no intention" of paying compensation to Huntley over the attack.

At Commons question time it emerged he could be awarded up to £20,000 if a claim for negligence is successful.

In September 2005 Huntley was scalded with boiling water at Wakefield Prison.

He had been in the health care wing of the West Yorkshire jail at the time of the attack.

In 2008 Huntley was moved to HMP Frankland, a Category A high security men's prison.

While at Frankland he was attacked and slashed across the throat by a prisoner who was said to have been armed with a razor blade.

Suicide attempts

It is believed that Huntley has tried to commit suicide three times since his conviction in December 2003.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman confirmed the legal action by Huntley who is understood to be claiming £20,000 for injuries suffered and a sum - put at £60,000 in one report - for failure to uphold the duty of care.

"Ian Huntley is bringing a claim against the Ministry of Justice following an assault by another prisoner," the spokesman said.

Juliet Lyon, of the Prison Reform Trust, said it was a difficult issue for the government to handle, as Huntley had committed such a heinous crime, but there was a principle that prisons needed to be safe places.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The issue of safety and security is absolutely a bedrock one.

"It's a difficult place now for the Ministry of Justice because they have to hold that line. If a court sentences someone to custody they're not sentencing them to be attacked.

"We have to expect that our prison service is going to be a safe, secure place. What happens thereafter if that breaks down, if the staff aren't able to hold that line, it's then up to the individual to pursue any means that they're able to."

Huntley was a caretaker in the Cambridgeshire village of Soham when he enticed Holly and Jessica into his home.

The girls were killed and their remains hidden.

He was convicted with his then girlfriend Maxine Carr who had worked as a teaching assistant at the school.

She was found guilty of perverting the course of justice but has since been released and given a new identity.

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