Q: My boyfriend is in prison and he really is not having a nice time there. I saw him last week and broke down in tears afterwards because he was so upset. The other prisoners are all saying he has committed a crime that he has not done, but it is all because the wrong information was put out on the prisoners’ internal email system.
My boyfriend keeps telling everyone the information is wrong but no one will listen to him. Surely this is slander? There must be something that can be done to help him. Could he claim compensation for having his reputation damaged?
A: All serving prisoners have access to an internal complaints procedure and it sounds as if this is a route that your boyfriend might wish to consider taking. Tell him to make a complaint. He needs to ask the prison officers for a COMP1 form.
At this stage, however, whilst it is clearly very awkward and difficult for your boyfriend it is hard to say that he has got any basis for a standalone claim.
If he was considering taking action against the prison for harming his reputation, your boyfriend might find this difficult to establish due to the fact that he is a serving prisoner i.e. has been convicted of a criminal offence, whatever that may be.
In addition to this, if he does decide to pursue action and requires help, then he should be made aware that this sort of advice is not covered by legal aid. Therefore, unless he can pay for the advice he would need to consult an advice agency such as the Citizens Advice Bureau who may hold clinics in the prison.