‘We’re still waiting, lord chancellor’

Hopes for a negotiation over the ban on prisoners receiving books looked less and less likely today, as campaigners started to lose patience with Chris Grayling.

The justice secretary received a letter asking for a face-to-face meeting  yesterday but has so far failed to reply.

The letter was signed by leading authors, including Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan and Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time author Mark Haddon.

"Only this morning former Children's Laureate – and my nine-year-old daughter's favourite author – Jacqueline Wilson spoke out in favour of the campaign on BBC Breakfast," Andrew Neilson, director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, told Politics.co.uk.

"With public support growing, we urge the Ministry of Justice to relax this ban on loved ones sending books and other essentials to prisoners.

"Give prison governors back their discretion to allow such parcels through and the Howard League and English PEN would be the first to congratulate the lord chancellor on a common sense decision that will benefit both prisoners and society as a whole."

Grayling has shown little sign of backing down on his ban on prisoners receiving parcels, with the MoJ carrying out a robust media response to the campaign, including sending journalists photos of contraband being hidden in gifts sent to inmates.

Those efforts were undermined when prison officer representatives said they had never had any complaints about security screening parcels sent in to inmates.