Jack Straw criticised for Biggs decision

By politics.co.uk staff

Justice secretary Jack Straw has faced wide-ranging criticism for his decision to deny great train robber Ronnie Biggs parole.

Mr Biggs is set to appeal against the decision, but Mr Straw faced attacks from, among others, the unlikely quarter of Tory MP Anne Widdecombe.

“The prisons are bursting at the seams,” she said.

“The courts are being urged to let burglars go free, but one doddery and very frail old man is being kept in prison. If you have got a prison place, use it to lock up someone who is genuinely a risk to the public.”

Mr Straw rejected a parole board recommendation that Mr Biggs be released because he was “wholly unrepentant”.

Michael Biggs, his son, said: “I’m very upset. He said in his autobiography he showed remorse.

“My father has always stated ‘I regret committing a crime, but I do not regret how I have spent my life because I’ve got a family and loving son’.

“We’re going to appeal the decision… we have to continue fighting,” he said.

But Mr Straw defended his decision, saying: “Mr Biggs took the personal decision to commit another offence and escape from prison, avoiding capture by travelling abroad for 35 years while outrageously courting the media.

“Biggs chose not to obey the law and respect the punishments given . The legal system in this country deserves more respect.”

The justice secretary added: “It was Mr Biggs’s own choice to offend and he now appears to want to avoid the consequences of his decision. He is wholly unrepentant and the Parole Board found his propensity to break trust a very significant factor. He has not undertaken risk-related work and does not regret his offending.”

Mr Biggs absconded and flew to Brazil for the next 35 years before returning of his own volition to the UK in 2001.