Regina v Governor of Whitemoor Prison, Ex parte Main: QBD 1999

The court considered whether prison staff should be able to read letters between a prisoner and his legal advisers before proceedings were actually commenced.
Held: The policy represented the minimum intrusion into the rights of prisoners consistent with the need to maintain security, order and discipline in prisons. Kennedy LJ ‘In my judgment legal professional privilege does attach to correspondence with legal advisers which is stored by a prisoner in his cell, and accordingly such correspondence is to be protected from any unnecessary interference by prison staff. Even if the correspondence is only inspected to see that it is what it purports to be that is likely to impair the free flow of communication between a convicted or remand prisoner on the one hand and his legal adviser on the other, and therefore it constitutes an impairment of the privilege.’ Judge LJ ‘Prisoners whose cells are searched in their absence will find it difficult to believe that their correspondence has been searched but not read. The governor’s order will sometimes be disobeyed. Accordingly I am prepared to accept the potential ‘chilling effect’ of such searches.’


Kennedy LJ, Judge LJ


[1999] QB 349


England and Wales


See alsoRegina v Governor of HM Prison Whitemoor ex parte Main Admn 17-Feb-1997
. .

Cited by:

See AlsoRegina v Governor of HM Prison Whitemoor ex parte Main Admn 17-Feb-1997
. .
CitedRegina (Daly) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 23-May-2001
A prison policy requiring prisoners not to be present when their property was searched and their mail was examined was unlawful. The policy had been introduced after failures in search procedures where officers had been intimidated by the presence . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Prisons, Legal Professions

Updated: 16 May 2022; Ref: scu.190129