By Elham Asaad Buaras
186 Muslim prisoners are suing the Government after being served halal food contaminated with pork, claiming their human rights were breached.
Test on halal sausage rolls, shepherd’s pies, steak and kidney pies and pasties served in three separate prisons were found to have contained traces of pork DNA.
In a statement to The Muslim News Justice Minister, Jeremy Wright, who earlier this year described the incident was “absolutely unacceptable” confirmed: “The Ministry of Justice has received a number of civil litigation claims following the discovery of contaminated halal food in March this year. Each claim will be considered on its merits and robustly defended where appropriate.”
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) suspended a firm supplying meat to prisons in March, while the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the local authority involved was investigating.
If the legal cases are successful, they could pave the way for similar claims. There are 11,248 Muslims in prisons in England and Wales, 13.1 per cent of the jail population.
The legal cases are being brought by the prisoners under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which affords the right to the freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
The contaminated meat products were discovered during investigations conducted during the horsemeat scandal earlier this year.
Halal sausage rolls served in HMP Sheppey Cluster, also known as Elmley prison in Kent, were found to contain up to five per cent pork. The test results only emerged recently. Steak and kidney pies served in the same prison were also found to have contained 60-100 per cent pig meat.
Pork was also served in shepherd’s pie in HM Young Offender Institution Thorn Cross in Cheshire, while halal “beef and onion” pasties in HMP Verne on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, were also contaminated with pork.