David Hare: Books ban in prison ‘most barbaric thing done by most barbaric government’

16:31 28 March 2014

Playwright David Hare.

Playwright David Hare.


Playwright David Hare has described the government’s justice secretary Chris Grayling as “barbaric” for banning books from being sent into prisons.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling. Picture: PA Wire/Anthony Devlin.Justice secretary Chris Grayling. Picture: PA Wire/Anthony Devlin.

The 66-year-old Hampstead resident was one of a number of high-profile arts figures taking part in a protest against the new government rules outside Pentonville Prison in Islington this afternoon.

He told the Ham&High: “I think this is the most barbaric thing that the most barbaric government has done.

“I suspect they did it accidentally. I don’t think Grayling knows what he’s doing, I think he’s well out of his depth in the job. I’m sure he’s looking for a graceful way to climb down.

“He may put his ego in the way of the humanity of tens of thousands of people that need books.”

Today’s protest, organised by penal reform charity the Howard League for Penal Reform, began with a poetry reading from Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

There were also readings from Dartmouth Park novelist Tracy Chevalier, West Hampstead author Kathy Lette and actress Vanessa Redgrave, a former student at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, in Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage.

The Ministry of Justice regulation, part of the Incentives and Earned Privileges scheme, bans family members from sending prisoners small items, including books and underwear, and came into force last November.


Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

A heritage campaigner has told of his devastation after he watched raiders ransack a disused pub that he fought to preserve.

A historic red phone box in Highgate Village could soon be a tiny office space, complete with printing, scanning, copying and wifi

Camden parents were forced to pay a total of £20,000 in school fines in the last year, new figures have revealed.

This year’s Hampstead Christmas Festival has been called off, the Ham&High can reveal.

Yesterday, 19:00

The vicar believes the flags were taken down on both occasions as part of a targeted ‘homophobic attack’ on his church’s open and inclusive values

Yesterday, 17:39

Women have been warned to be vigilant when using the Black Path in West Hampstead after a lone female was sexually attacked in broad daylight on Saturday afternoon.

Yesterday, 17:14

An angry churchgoer has written to the Bishop of London suggesting that a Hampstead vicar downsizes his home to raise funds for a dilapidated church.

Yesterday, 14:44

Officers have thanked the public as they were concerned about the man who disappeared while receiving treatment at the Hampstead hospital

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news


Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now