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Prison responds to Kershaw claims

Prison authorities have responded to outspoken comments by the BBC presenter Andy Kershaw about conditions in the Isle of Man's jail.

Mr Kershaw described the Victorian prison as a disgrace, and said his cell was infested with vermin and fleas.

He was released from a three month jail term on Friday, after serving 44 days.

Now the Home affairs Minister Martyn Quayle and the Acting Prison Governor Colin Ring are rebutting his claims.

Howard Caine reports (text, below, from attached audio file):

A no holds barred account of Mr Kershaw's 44 days in the Isle of Man prison appeared in the Mail on Sunday.

Mr Quayle says colourful claims of squalid conditions make good newspaper headlines.

In this case they are exaggerated, although he stresses the prison management are well aware the Victoria Road jail is reaching the end of its useful life.

In another article in a UK national paper this morning Mr Kershaw claims poor food and lack of sunlight left him with scurvy.

As to claims of mice and fleas being rife, Colin Ring says pest control has dealt with sightings of field mice in the jail, which he says is normal for the time of year.

The presenter says he suffered howling winds through a broken window in the cell and that is being replaced today.

But his claims of widespread dug taking among inmates is wide of the mark according to Mr Ring, who says twelve random tests on prisoners have been carried out this year and only one proved positive.

(Picture: The Isle of Man's soon to be replaced jail, in Victoria Road, Douglas).

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