Muslim inmate loses Gartree Prison drug test claim

A Muslim prisoner who refused to undergo a drugs test during a religious fast has failed in a High Court legal challenge.

Tony Eguakhide, serving a life sentence at Gartree Prison in Leicestershire, said he was unable to provide a urine sample without taking on fluids.

He argued it was unreasonable and unlawful to test him during the religious festival of Yaum Ashurah.

Eguakhide applied for a judicial review but this was rejected.

Mr Justice Bean ruled that to allow his challenge "would be to undermine the random nature of the drug-testing programme".

Other Muslim festivals

The judge said even though Yaum Ashurah took place over the relatively short period of three days it could provide "a window for illegal drug-taking".

Eguakhide, who received his life sentence for robbery in 2004, refused to attend Gartree's mandatory drug-testing suite to provide a sample of urine on 24 November 2012.

He was found guilty in disciplinary proceedings of failing to obey a lawful order made under prison rules.

Eguakhide was ordered to be confined to his cell for five days and to lose privileges.

He appealed unsuccessfully in the prison system against the finding of guilt, which could affect his current bid for parole, and then sought judicial review after being granted legal aid.

He also argued it was unreasonable and unlawful to test him during other Muslim festivals like Ramadan, without proper consideration being given to a test taking place outside the fasting period.

The judge said his position would have been different if Eguakhide had tried and physically failed to provide a specimen because he was fasting.

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