A prisoner who claims he is not getting a strict vegan diet in jail has gone on hunger strike.
Graham Martin who is on remand at Lewes Prison awaiting trial for conspiracy to murder had yesterday refused to eat for 20 days.
He claims prison bosses will only give him crisps, onions or food contaminated with animal products to eat.
Mr Martin, who follows the ancient Indian religion Jainism, said that the prison’s refusal to provide him with suitable nutritious food in accordance with his religion is a breach of his human rights. He said that after weeks of being given the wrong foods he grew so frustrated he decided to stop eating altogether on July 11.
Describing the conditions he claims he has been subjected to at HMP Lewes, Mr Graham said: “The state of the kitchens is horrendous, there is no hygiene, no separation of foods, no separate areas for meat and veg. There are not even separate utensils.
“I am denied fruit, fruit juice, most veg and anything that could constitute a balanced and nutritious diet. So I feel it better I do not eat. My hunger strike is a protest until I get an apology from the Governor.
“I was given cheese, chocolate, milk powder – all wrong. I complained and said I wished to have a proper Jain diet. They agreed and finally the day after agreeing, they fed me onions and potato crisps.”
Mr Martin said he believes that not providing him with the proper diet so he can effectively practise his religion is a breach of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
He also believes he has had his food used as a punishment – which would come under Article 3 which prohibits “inhuman and degrading treatment and torture”.
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “We respect and cater for the dietary needs of prisoners. Food refusal is taken very seriously and healthcare staff in prisons monitor the physical and mental health of anyone refusing to eat.”
In 2011 the prison was praised by the Independent Monitoring Board for offering vegan options in the canteen.