My human right to study domestic violence, by wife killer in UK
18th September 2009
A prisoner who battered and stabbed his partner to death claims his chances of securing a masters degree are being blocked after the authorities refused to let him submit a paper on domestic violence and killings.
Stanley Matthews, 53, said the decision amounts to a violation of his human right to education and freedom of expression.
The governor of Swaleside Prison in Kent last year ruled it was 'entirely inappropriate' for someone such as him to be studying the subject.
He is serving life for the murder of 17-year-old Patricia Berriman at an isolated Cornish cottage in 2000.
He had been working on the Open University paper in prison for three months and was ready to submit it to his tutor, the High Court in London heard.
His barrister, Stephen Field, said the paper was 'purely hypothetical' and it was 'wholly unfounded, illogical and irrational' to make him tear it up.
He also claimed the ban had nothing to do with any risk Matthews may pose to society but was based on concerns about the reaction if his studies became public knowledge.
Matthews, who has since been transferred to Gartree Prison in Leicestershire, says his study of the social context and motivation of domestic violence perpetrators may prove valuable to the police in stopping criminals.
Ivan Hare, for the Justice Department, denied the blocked assignment was simply hypothetical.
In order to gain a masters degree, Matthews would have to carry out 'empirical research', including interviewing others who had killed or beaten women.
It was also felt his chosen subject suggested he was distancing himself from his own crime and could ultimately increase his risk to the public once he is released.
The judge is due to give his decision early next month.