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Tory MP: Ferry political prisoner

Until now, Kawczynski has been as keen on locking up people as any Tory backbencher. Only this summe

The last time we heard from Daniel Kawczynski, the Tory MP for Shrewsbury, he was announcing plans to bring a cow to Westminster. You may recall that Mr Speaker denied him permission and, as it turned out, her vote would not have been decisive anyway.

Now he is back in the news after claiming that Otis Ferry, the son of Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry, is being held as a political prisoner.

Otis - he was christened Charles, but must have thought changing his name would give him a lift - is being held in HMP Gloucester. He was remanded in custody on charges of perverting the course of justice which he denies.

Kawczynski told the Shropshire Star that Ferry is being held on remand rather than being bailed “because he tweaked the Government’s whiskers by invading the House of Commons”.

It’s a delightful turn of phrase, but where is his evidence? Kawczynski points to the fact that Otis will miss the opening meet of the South Shropshire hunt and also be in prison for his birthday.

The hunting debate is one I steer clear of because, just as in arguments over smacking children, both sides are insufferable. But I decided to make an exception for Otis and investigate his plight.

So I rang a number of prisons and they all (those who did not put the phone down on me, that is) confirmed it is not their usual practice to release inmates because it is their birthday. Nor are they allowed out for the new hunting season - unless they are convicted millionaire fraudsters in an open prison, obviously. All of which makes me doubt that Amnesty International will be taking up Otis’s case.

It turns out that, until now, Kawczynski has been as keen on locking up people as any Tory backbencher. Only this summer he was complaining that the government is “simply not building enough prisons” and that magistrates are unwilling to give custodial sentences as a result.

But maybe he will learn from this case. The words of the elderly John de Stogumber in Shaw’s Saint Joan give me hope:

“If you only saw what you think about you would think quite differently about it. It would give you a great shock. Oh, a great shock.”


One of the best things about this part of Shropshire is the view into Wales. It gives you all the advantages of Welsh scenery without the disadvantage of having to live there.

On a clear day you can see Cadair Idris, the Berwyns and Lembit Öpik. And on a really clear day, if I climb to the battlements and use a pair of field glasses, I can just make out the two little dots over his name.

For this reason I have always taken a keen interest in Lembit’s career. And I am concerned for him after his resounding defeat (only 22 per cent of the vote) in the Lib Dem Presidential contest.

You see, deep down - very deep down - underneath the tabloids and the asteroids, there is a serious politician who should be fighting harder to get out.

Will we see more of him? I hope so. Lembit has a Westminster seat to defend and could no doubt return to the Lib Dem front bench if he chose.

Besides, the alternative for him is too dreadful to contemplate. I caught a glimpse of it from behind the sofa on Saturday evening when Neil and Christine Hamilton appeared on Hole in the Wall.

Jonathan Calder has been a district councillor and contributed to speeches by Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy. These days he prefers to poke gentle fun from the sidelines. He blogs at Liberal England