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Investigation over Ronnie Biggs Norfolk hospital picture

PUBLISHED: 21:33 06 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:39 06 July 2010

An investigation was launched yesterday into how a photograph was taken of Ronnie Biggs in hospital despite a tight ring of security around his hospital bed.

An investigation was launched yesterday into how a photograph was taken of Ronnie Biggs in hospital despite a tight ring of security around his hospital bed.

The picture, leaked to a national newspaper, shows the Great Train Robber looking frail with his arms heavily bandaged and tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth. It was taken after the 79-year-old was transferred from Norwich prison to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Three prison guards watch over Biggs at all times and, other than medics, Biggs has only received a small number of visitors. Paul Baker, governor at the Knox Road jail, said he was concerned about the circumstances surrounding the picture.

He added: “We will be calling in a governor from another prison to investigate how this happened. My staff are very disappointed about this.

“It is a very low-quality picture which appears to have been taken while Ronnie was asleep. It is difficult to see how he consented to this and it is an invasion of privacy of a frail man.”

Mr Baker said he had visited the hospital personally to speak with Biggs. Although he remains ill it is possible he will return to Norwich prison later this week.

The picture was published at a time when the Ministry of Justice comes under increasing pressure from Biggs' family to release the former fugitive. Last week justice secretary Jack Straw rejected a parole board recommendation that Biggs be released, saying he was “wholly unrepentant” about his crimes.

Son Michael and nine-year-old grand-daughter Ingrid visited Biggs last week but it is not thought that the picture was taken by a member of the family.

Legal adviser Giovanni Di Stefano has now sent the photograph to MPs.

Biggs has pneumonia, plus fractures of the hip, pelvis and spine. According to Michael Biggs, he could die if he does not respond to treatment.

He has suffered three strokes and cannot eat, speak or walk, according to Mr Di Stefano.

Biggs was transferred to Norwich's specialist elderly lifers' unit in 2007.

Biggs, from Lambeth, south London, was a member of a 15-strong gang which attacked the Glasgow to London mail train at Ledburn, Buckinghamshire, in August 1963, and made off with £2.6 million in used banknotes.

He was given the 30-year sentence but after 15 months he escaped from Wandsworth prison in south-west London by climbing a 30ft wall and fleeing in a furniture van. After more than 30 years, living in Spain, Australia and Brazil, he returned to the UK voluntarily in 2001 in search of medical treatment.

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