The ongoing media fuss over Ronnie Biggs being in intensive care in Norwich is certainly filling some news gaps locally and nationally in what is usually referred to as the silly season, but it does serve to highlight that elements of our justice system do work.
Firstly, I have every sympathy with his family who must be going through a very difficult time at the moment. I can understand why they are arguing so strenuously for his release, but sadly i completely disagree with them.
Biggs family argue that as an elderly ill man he represents no risk of re offending and should be released on this basis. Presumably Saddam Hussein was in no position to re offend when removed from power in Iraq when he was deposed too ? This argument hold no water given Biggs circumstances. The reason he is in no position to reoffend is because in those years when he might have been able and active, he chose to live out of reach of british justice in Brazil, sticking two fingers up to the UK, rubbing out noses in his freedom when he should have been serving his punishment for his crime.
If Biggs had served his prison sentence if he had shown any kind of open remorse for his crimes rather than simply feeling sorry for himself, he would be free now.
As it is Biggs only chose to return to this country in order to receive free health care when his health had deteriorated. In many ways this makes his hiding from justice worse. He didn't want to respect our laws when hiding in Brazil, but wants to make full use of his rights to claim NHS care. He wants all the rights with none of the responsibilities.
So whilst I extend my sympathies and understanding to his family and his son, who has spoken up well on his fathers behalf, I have to agree with the judgement Jack Straw made a few months ago that Biggs should remain in prison serving the sentence he was given all those years ago.