October 10, 1998 17:14


The British justice system is "using a sledgehammer to crack a nut" says guitarist...

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Ian Brown's bandmate AZIZ IBRAHIM has slammed the British justice system for "using a sledgehammer to crack a nut" after the former Stone Roses singer lost his appeal against a four month prison sentence for threatening behaviour on a plane.

Ibrahim told NME that the Brown was "being made an example of" because he was famous.

"Ian didn't swear, he just told the stewardess off as your ma would say it. He was just being cheeky, 'cos he's always been a bit cheeky. He certainly didn't jeopardise the flight. He was just upset at the way she dismissed him 'cos he didn't want any duty-free," he said.

Asked if he knew how Brown was coping in his new jail - at D-class Kirkham Prison, near Preston - Ibrahim said: "He's a tough cookie with a strong mind. I dunno how it'll affect him, but he's already been hard done by. Justice is blind. Ian's like a butterfly on a wheel. It's like getting a sledgehammer to crack a walnut."

A 1997 Board Of Prison Visitors report on Kirkham noted that it has received some bad press for being "like a holiday camp".

Commenting on the apparent availability of drink and drugs in the prison the report added, "Sadly, the wiles of prisoners continue to require the sharpness of staff in spotting and controlling problems old and new."

The Home Office guidelines on security classifications ranks Class D prisoners as the lowest security risk - inmates who can be trusted not to escape from open prisons. There are around 700 prisoners at Kirkham, a former World War II RAF training school. The prisoners are housed in 21 single-storey blocks built this decade; the hangars have been converted into workshops and a sports centre. All prisoners are allocated a job when they enter the prison; the choices include machine weaving, woodwork, laundry, kitchen work, farm work on the dairy or pig farms or gardening. Prisoners don't have to 'slop out' like they do in antiquated prisons; the billets (they don't call them cells) have toilets, tea-making facilities and a TV room.

Prisoners have free access around the prison until 9pm when they are locked down and they are allowed one visitor per week.

Meanwhile, Brown's UK tour, which was due to kick off in Belfast on November 12, will be rescheduled for February next year. Tickets for all shows will be valid for the rescheduled dates or refunds are available. The new appear on NME.COM as soon as they are announced.

Ian Brown: is he a victim or is he getting his just deserts? Tell ups what you think. Post a message on Angst!

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