Minister blocks bid to release murderer

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JUSTICE Secretary Chris Grayling has blocked plans for the early release of a foreign criminal who stabbed a have-a-go hero to death outside a village pub in Yorkshire.

Mark Webster, 21, died instantly when he was knifed in the chest by Leroy Griffith while going to the aid of a woman he was threatening outside The Fleece in Addingham, near Ilkley, in the early hours of April 1, 2002.

Griffith was jailed for life for murder in December that year and told he must serve a minimum of 14 years, but last month the Parole Board recommended he be transferred to a Category D “open” prison as a precursor to periodic release in licence - a move Mr Webster’s family has been campaigning against.

The Ministry of Justice declined to say whether Mr Grayling’s intervention signalled a new get-tough approach on foreign criminals, but a source close to the process described it as “rare”.

Mr Webster, 57, said: “The Victim Support officer said ‘I’ve never heard of this happening before, ever’.

“I’m obviously thrilled to bits, for now, because we’ve got to go through it all again the next time he applies for parole.”

Mr Webster has been supported by Kris Hopkins, the Conservative MP for Keighley and Ilkley.

He said: “I’m delighted that Chris Grayling has been able to do that because sometimes you need to make really bold moves to protect people in our communities.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: “We do not comment on individual
cases.

“The allocation of prisoners to individual establishments is by law a matter for the Secretary of State.”

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