Charles Bronson To Be Freed? Thousands Sign Petition to Release UK's 'Most Violent Prisoner'


Thousands of supporters of one of Britain's most notorious prisoners are pushing for his release.

A petition calling for the release of Charles Bronson, the man dubbed the most violent prisoner in the UK, has gained more than 10,000 signatures.

Campaigners will hand in a petition at 10 Downing Street pleading that the Prime Minister release him after almost 40 years in prison.

The 61-year-old, one of the UK's longest serving prisoners, was jailed for seven years in 1974 for armed robbery but has been locked up for much of the time since then following a string of violent incidents, including assault, hostage-taking and damage.

The muscle-bound prisoner took a teacher hostage at Hull Prison for 44 hours and threatened to kill him

However, supporters have insisted that he is now a changed man, having undergone therapy behind bars.

Lorraine Etherington, secretary of the Charlie Bronson Appeal Fund, said that the petition aimed to raise awareness of Bronson's case again.

"I would love for No 10 and the politicians in positions of power to look over his case, to be big enough to look beyond the name and reputation that precedes Charlie," she said.

"We feel he's served enough time. There are murderers who've got out after serving less time than Charlie. He hasn't killed or raped anyone."

The former bare-knuckle boxer's story was told in critically-acclaimed 2008 film Bronson, which saw actor Tom Hardy in his first big role before becoming a Hollywood star.

Bronson, whose real name is Michael Gordon Peterson, was jailed for life in 1999 for taking a prison art teacher hostage for two days.

A judge ordered him to serve a minimum of four years but he has been regularly been refused parole and is kept in an isolation cell at HMP Wakefield known at the Hannibal cage.

His supporters have said that despite Bronson completing a violence reduction programme last year he has been "denied the opportunity to progress and is still kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day."

"He is not a danger to the public - I would argue that he never has been a danger to the public," Etherington said.

"Out of pure frustration he has tried to get attention by taking hostages and causing trouble, but he knows today that is not the way forward.

"Despite having a lot of detractors, he has gained an awful lot of support for people who realise that beyond the name there is an injustice here."

The petition which will be handed in at Downing Street includes a hand-written plea to David Cameron in which Bronson asks to "live what's left of my life and not be buried in the prison system".

It also refers to his artistic talents and drawings of his that have been sold for hundreds of pounds.

His supporters are currently planning to launch a fourth appeal against his life sentence, and will put his case to the European Court of Human Rights if that fails.

Tanya Bassett, of the National Association of Probation Officers, told Sky News that the petition to the Prime Minister had little chance of succeeding.

She said: "It's highly unlikely he or the Justice Secretary would intervene. There is a thorough, in-depth process for the release of prisoners and decisions are made by the Parole Board."

Before You Go