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Simon Creighton

Simon Creighton specialises in prison law, working particularly with life sentenced prisoners. He has a considerable case load of public law challenges and applications to the European Court of Human Rights.

Simon is a founding partner at Bhatt Murphy. He has practised in prison law since 1993 when he was appointed as the first solicitor to the Prisoners’ Advice Service. He was one of the first lawyers to work exclusively in this area and as well as conducting his own cases, through writing and education he has helped ensure that prison law is now seen as a distinct area of practice in its own right. He has acted in many of the key prison cases and has provided advice and input to other lawyers in their work. He also acts in cases involving data protection breaches and the right to privacy in the criminal justice system. He is regularly asked to comment in the media on issues affecting prisoners. He is the co-author of the two leading textbooks in this area, "Prisoners: Law & Practice" and "Parole Board hearings: Law & Practice", both published by LAG. Simon won the LALY award for Public Law in 2016.

Simon's notable cases include:

Noye v SSJ [2017]
A successful challenge to a ministerial decision to reject a recommendation that a prisoner should be moved to an open prison on the grounds that the decision impermissibly rejected factual findings made by the Board.

Re: Z [2017]: damages were obtained for a prisoner who was handcuffed in hospital while recovering from life-threatening injuries.

Intervention in Harkins v UK [2016]
acting for Reprieve in an intervention before the Grand Chamber concerning the lawfulness of an extradition to the United States when a whole life sentence is likely to be imposed on conviction.

Intervention in Hutchinson v UK [2016]
on behalf of the Prison Litigation Network concerning the extent to which the UK Government has complied with the procedural requirements for the review of whole life sentences.

Re: X [2015] was a case where a prisoner received damages when delays in calling an ambulance meant that she gave birth in her prison cell.

Howard League & Prisoners Advice Service v Lord Chancellor [2015] involves a challenge to the cuts to legal aid for prisoners where the Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal against the refusal of permission and will hear the full case in 2016.

R v H [2015] where a tariff imposed on a young woman serving a sentence of detention at Her Majesty's Pleasure was reduced by 12 months for exceptional progress.

Winter and BIRW [2014] where following the issue of proceedings, a settlement was agreed with a national newspaper group in a case alleging unlawful gathering of information, with no admission of liability by the defendant newspapers.

R v Thompson [2014] where a tariff imposed upon a young person detained at Her Majesty's pleasure was reduced by 2 years.

C v London Probation Trust [2014] was a successful claim for damages by a man who alleged that the probation service had failed to properly process information that put the reasons for his recall to custody while on licence in doubt.

Vinter v UK [2013] successfully challenged the lawfulness of irreducible whole life tariffs with the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights finding that the sentence breached Article 3.

Momcilo Krajisnik [2013] was a successful application for early release made to the President of the ICTY on behalf of the former Bosnian President.

McGetrick v Parole Board [2013] where the Court of Appeal held that the Parole Board has the inherent power to remove prejudicial material from prisoners' parole dossiers.

Vinter v UK [2012] in which the ECtHR upheld the power to impose whole life tariffs by a majority of 4-3.

R (BBC) v SSJ and Ahmad [2012] was a successful challenge to the refusal to allow the BBC to film an interview in prison with a detainee.

Sobers v SSJ [2011] a challenge in the Court of Appeal to the failure of the Secretary of State to provide a pace on an offending behaviour course to a life sentenced prisoner.

ACO v SSHD [2011] where damages were obtained for false imprisonment and breach of Article 5 for a man wrongly made subject to a control order.

R v Al-Daour [2011] a Court of Appeal sentencing appeal concerning the time spent in police custody under the Terrorism Act prior to charge and whether it can be deducted from any subsequent prison sentence.

McIntyre v Press Complaints Commission [2011] where judicial review proceedings resulted in the Daily Mail printing an apology in relation to an article published about a protestor on the student demonstrations.


Black v UK [2011]
substantial damages secured for a prisoner who was kept in custody by the Secretary of State when recommended for release by the Parole Board.

Re Watson [2010] where the tariff was set for a prisoner serving a life sentence returned from Laos following a conviction for drug smuggling at 6 months, the lowest mandatory lifer tariff ever set.

Wallace v Parole Board [2010] a challenge to the refusal to order an early parole review for a woman serving a life sentence with a baby in a prison in the mother and baby unit.

Mackay and McLuckie v SSJ [2010] in which the circumstances in which category A prisoners are entitled to oral hearings was further examined.

Wilson v SSJ [2010] a case which settled before trial where a prisoner sought to challenge the refusal of the prison authorities to allow a journalist from the Guardian to visit him in prison. The prisoner succeeded in having the relevant policy changed.

Coleman v SSJ [2009] a case that has decided that the Prison Rules do not authorise the destruction of property confiscated from a prisoner, even where the property is unauthorised in a prison.

Black v SSJ [2009] where the House of Lords overruled the Court of Appeal who had issued a declaration that the legislation allowing the Secretary of State to reject Parole Board recommendations for prisoners serving 15 years or over is in breach of Article 5 of the European Convention.

Lane v SSJ [2008] in which it was successfully argued that a decision to keep a prisoner who has been campaigning to overturn his conviction as a category A prisoner was inadequately reasoned.

Hill v SSJ [2007] in which the policy applied by the SSJ to the transfer of lifers to open conditions was held to be unlawful.

Stellato v Home Secretary [2007] in which the House of Lords confirmed that the Criminal Justice Act Act 2003 did not permit the Home Secretary to retrosepctively impose a more stringent licence regime on prisoners sentenced before the Act commenced.

Hammond v Home Secretary [2005]
where the House of Lords held that the Criminal Justice Act 2003 had to be re-read to ensure compliance with Article 6 in relation to lifers’ tariffs so as to allow for oral hearings.

Roberts v Parole Board [2005]
concerning the use of special advocates in the parole process.

Richards v Home Secretary [2004]
which established that ECtHR decisions have retrospective effect.

Uttley v Home Secretary
where the House of Lords held that Article 7 only prevents increases in maximum sentences, not sentences within the maximum available.

He has been the supervising partner on a number of landmark cases at Bhatt Murphy including:

Daly v Home Secretary [2002]
where the House of Lords set the appropriate test for Human Rights Act public law challenges.

V and T v MGN and others [2002]
which established the right to life long privacy from the press where personal safety is at risk.

Ezeh and Conners v UK
where it was held that Article 6 applies to prison disciplinary hearings where additional days can be added to prison sentences.

He has successfully represented prisoners in a large number of cases before the European Court of Human Rights including AT v UK, Waite v UK and Blackstock v UK.

He co-authors with Hamish Arnott the six-monthly updates on prison law for Legal Action, and contributes annual chapters on prisoners’ rights to the Prisons Handbook (MLP 2009) and has contributed to Liberty’s Guide To Your Rights. He has also co-authored Prisoners Law and Practice (LAG 2009) and Parole Board Hearings: Law and Practice (LAG 3rd Edition 2014), the only textbook dedicated to parole proceedings. He has also taught extensively in relation to areas within his practice.

Simon qualified as a solicitor in November 1991, having trained in East London. In 1993 he joined the Prisoners’ Advice Service as their first lawyer where he stayed until 1998. After a short period of time at BM Birnberg & Co, he was one of the founders of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors in 1998. In 2006 he was awarded the Higher Courts (Civil Proceedings) Qualification.
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LALY
Read Simon Creighton's Guardian Article on the need to change mandatory sentencing for murder here.
The third edition of 'Parole Board Hearings' by Simon Creighton & Hamish Arnott was published by LAG in January 2014. This and their other LAG publication, 'Prisoners: Law & Practice' can be obtained from LAG.
Simon wrote the submissions for Liberty to the Sentencing Advisory Panel on the appropriate sentences for murder.