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

Playwright David Hare.

Playwright David Hare. - Credit: Archant

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. - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

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.”


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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.

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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.

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