Convicted killer John Hirst celebrated David Cameron’s decision to give prisoners the vote by sparking up a spliff and sipping bubbly in a YouTube video.
Former lag Hirst, who served 15 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter for killing his landlady with an axe in 1979, and a further 10 years for violence inside, said the decision was a victory for all prisoners including “murderers, rapists, paedophiles”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In this system where you’ve got a democracy, that people can put pressure and lobby in Parliament for changes in the law and improved conditions, but you can’t do that if you haven’t got the vote.
“All prisoners can do is riot, if they’ve got a complaint, so you’ve got to give them this legitimate channel to bring their issue in.”
He brought a case to the High Court in 2001 challenging the ban on prisoners voting under the Representation of the People Act 1983, but his claim was dismissed by Lord Justice Kennedy.
Hirst then pursued the case to the European Court of Human Rights which ruled in 2005 that the ban breached the right to free elections under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Prime Minister David Cameron was said to be “exasperated and furious” that there was no way of maintaining the 140-year-old blanket ban on inmates voting.
Deputy PM Nick Clegg, whose party was the only one to support the move, pulled out of a Commons statement yesterday and sent Tory deputy Mark Harper instead.
Labour’s Tom Watson accused Mr Clegg of being “on the run” from Coalition partners including Charles Walker who said voters across the country will be saying “no, no, no”.
Legal experts say even the country’s most reviled and dangerous inmates will now get the vote – including child-killers Ian Huntley, Rose West and Roy Whiting. It could see candidates potentially visiting inmates in prison to canvass.
Watch John Hirst celebrate here.