Greens, Petitioner

CourtCourt of Session (Outer House)
JudgeLady Dorrian
Judgment Date12 May 2011
Neutral Citation[2011] CSOH 79
Docket NumberP3166/07, P93/07, P501/09

Neutral Citation: [2011] CSOH 79

Court and Reference: Court of Session, Outer House

Judge: Lady Dorrian

P3166/07, P93/07, P501/09

Petitions of Greens, Stranger and Wilson

Issue: Whether the absence of in-cell sanitation and the use of chemical toilets breached Arts 3 and/or 8 ECHR.

Digest: The Court found that there was no breach of Art 3 ECHR but that there was a breach of Art 8 arising out of the sanitary arrangements at a prison in Scotland. Her Ladyship introduced the issues as follows:


1. The petitioners in these 3 cases were all at various times prisoners in the prison of Peterhead. They have all presented petitions for judicial review complaining that the conditions of their incarceration subjected them to inhuman or degrading treatment and were an unjustified interference with their right to respect for their private lives, all contrary to Arts 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. They maintain that the actions of the governor and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) in detaining them in such conditions were unlawful by virtue of s6(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998 and ultra vires in terms of s57(2) of the Scotland Act 1998. They each seek declarator to that effect and damages as just satisfaction in terms of together with various ancillary orders. Although there were averments in each petition in support of a common law case, these were not insisted in. Greens and Wilson also crave in their petitions an order interdicting the respondents from returning them to Convention incompatible conditions of detention.

2. The primary complaint in each case relates to the sanitary arrangements in place at Peterhead in the single cells occupied by each of the petitioners during their periods of incarceration. Apart from one unit of cells with which these cases are not concerned, no integral sanitation exists at Peterhead and each cell was equipped with a chemical toilet known as a porta potti. The petitioners complain about all the circumstances of use of these items, the lack of hand washing facilities within the cells, and the lack of ventilation. Complaints are also made about the practice of ‘bombing” by which prisoners defecated into newspapers or other items, or urinated into jars, throwing the end product out of the window. One of the places where such material ended up was a flat roof adjacent to cells on the ground floor of A Hall, one of which was occupied for a time by the petitioner Wilson. Complaints are also made about the size of the cells and the degree of natural or electric light available.

3. In support of their contentions the petitioners quote extensively from reports of the Council of Europe Committee for Prevention of Torture (CPT), established to strengthen the protection of those deprived of their liberty against treatment of the kind prohibited by Art 3, annual reports of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland (HMCIPS), ministerial statements and consultation documents.

4. As to the effects on them, each prisoner avers that they felt frustrated, worthless and degraded by the conditions of their incarceration. They suffered a loss of self esteem and claim that their human dignity was diminished by the conditions of detention. They suffered feelings of disgust, humiliation and mental anguish all caused by these conditions which exposed them to distress and hardship of an intensity exceeding the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in a sentence of imprisonment.

5. These 3 cases are examples of a considerable number of similar cases — into 4 figures — raised and sisted in Scottish courts. They were selected by the parties as cases intended to be illustrative of the range of issues raised in the many pending cases. Both parties lodged a note of what they understood by the term ‘illustrative cases” which had been applied to these petitions from an early stage. The respondents note suggests that they were proceeding on the basis that these cases would be representative of the spectrum of the...

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3 cases
  • Grant v Ministry of Justice
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division
    • 19 December 2011
    ...Mulligan v Governor of Portlaoise Prison [2010] IEHC 269 (Republic of Ireland) and Greens, Stanger and Wilson v Scottish Ministers [2011] CSOH 79 (Scotland)). In each of those (some with far worse conditions than those at HMP Albany), no violation of Article 3 was found, except Napier. How......
  • M v State Hospitals Board for Scotland
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Session (Inner House)
    • 12 August 2014
    ...Ministers sub nom G v Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland [2013] UKSC 79; 2014 SC (UKSC) 84; 2014 SLT 247; 2014 SCLR 415 Greens, Petr [2011] CSOH 79; 2011 SLT 549 Hirst v UK (No 2)HRC (2006) 42 EHRR 41; 19 BHRC 546; (2005) 155 NLJ 1551; [2006] 1 Prison LR 220 Julius v Lord Bishop of OxfordE......
  • James McDowall Pursuer against G4S care and Justice Services (UK) Ltd Defender
    • United Kingdom
    • Sheriff Court
    • Invalid date

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