Biggs Is So Ill He Needs Treatment in an NHS Hospital, Say Jail Chiefs

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Byline: DAVID WILLIAMS;STEPHEN WRIGHT

RONNIE Biggs should be treated in an NHS hospital because of fears over the state of his health, senior prison officials believe.

The Great Train Robber, who has suffered three strokes, had to use sign language to communicate with carers during his first full day back behind bars yesterday.

He pointed to his mouth if he wanted food and used his hands to form a square if he wanted to watch television in the healthcare centre at Belmarsh jail, South-East London.

Prison officials believe Biggs is in need of urgent medical care in an outside NHS hospital. They feel that only after specialist treatment should he return to the top-security prison.

However, they are adamant the 71-year-old should not be freed from jail until he has only 'a matter of weeks to live' - something they communicated to Tony Blair yesterday in an official Prison Service briefing paper.

The revelation raises the stakes in a case which threatens to become a political issue during the General Election campaign.

In high-profile cases, the Home Secretary has the final say in applications for early release.

Biggs's team of lawyers, headed by human rights expert Nigel Sangster QC, is already preparing to take the case to the Court of Appeal to get his remaining 28-year sentence reduced.

They are expected to cite human rights legislation in arguing their corner.

A public relations firm has been employed by Biggs's family to press his case for early release. A friend of his has even gone on radio to ask for donations to his freedom campaign.

Yesterday Biggs had medical tests at Belmarsh where he has been given a lower risk 'category B' rating.

The outcome of the tests will determine whether he will stay in the hospital wing which was last year praised for its standards in an official report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons, David Ramsbottom. …