WHAT do you give someone whoÃ¢€™s been proved innocent after spending the best part of their life behind bars, wrongfully convicted of a crime they didnÃ¢€™t commit?
An apology, maybe? Counselling? Champagne? Compensation? Well, if youÃ¢€™re David Blunkett, the Labour Home Secretary, the choice is simple: you give them a big, fat bill for the cost of board and lodgings for the time they spent freeloading at Her MajestyÃ¢€™s Pleasure in British prisons.
On Tuesday, Blunkett will fight in the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the right to charge victims of miscarriages of justice more than Ã‚£3000 for every year they spent in jail while wrongly convicted. The logic is that the innocent man shouldnÃ¢€™t have been in prison eating free porridge and sleeping for nothing under regulation grey blankets.
BlunkettÃ¢€™s fight has been described as Ã¢€œoutrageousÃ¢€, Ã¢€œmorally repugnantÃ¢€ and the Ã¢€œsickest of sick jokesÃ¢€, but his spokesmen in the Home Office say itÃ¢€™s a completely Ã¢€œreasonable course of actionÃ¢€ as the innocent men and women would have spent the money anyway on food and lodgings if they werenÃ¢€™t in prison. The government deems the claw-back Ã¢€˜Saved Living ExpensesÃ¢€™.