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18 January 2024

Former top judge condemns prison system during The University of Law podcast

This month, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, former top judge, condemned the prison system as ‘inhumane’ during the latest episode of The University of Law podcast series, ‘The Judges: Power, Politics & the People.’

The former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales said: “A system which doesn’t [rehabilitate] and locks people up like animals in cages for 23 hours out of 24 is basically inhumane.”

He went on to say that if he was Prime Minister, he would ‘sweep out’ older prisoners from the prisons, although he acknowledges it would be ‘politically unacceptable.’ He also revealed that when he chaired the inquiry into BSE or mad cow disease (1997-2000) he came close to having a breakdown. It was ‘without hesitation’ the most stressful time in his career as a judge.

Lord Philips said: “It was a period of my life when I was really stressed. I couldn’t sleep. I actually went to a hypnotist to try and see if he could hypnotise me to sleep at night, without any success. It was very, very stressful.”

You can watch the full episode on YouTube or listen to the podcast on The University of Law channel, which is streaming on all major services, including Spotify and Apple.  

Lord Phillips


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