R (Thompson) v SSHD [2003] EWHC 538 (Admin)

Home Office policy of always making restriction direction except in specified circumstances was lawful and applied lawfully in the claimant's case; no legitimate expectation arose from a civil servant's erroneous statement of the law.


When making a transfer direction, the Home Office stated:

Our normal policy is always to make a restriction direction unless it is proposed to transfer the prisoner to hospital within days of his release date and the nature of the offence suggests that restrictions are unnecessary for the protection of the public from serious harm over that short period.

The present case concerns a challenge to the policy of the Secretary of State and to its application in the present case. There is a subsidiary challenge raising the question of whether proper reasons were given for applying the policy to T. Finally, there is an issue as to whether the Secretary of State had frustrated a legitimate expectation, based on an erroneous Home Office letter which went uncorrected for some months.


The policy, reasonably and justifiably, ensures that a sentence is not completely overridden by a supervening medical consideration.

The reason was adequate in that it was that the claimant did not fall outside the policy.

In the present case it is not possible to found a legitimate expectation on the mistaken statement of an official, in circumstances where the reality is that a statutory provision operates on a lawfully imposed sentence.

The application for JR was dismissed.