A German woman escaped from youth jail by hiding in the case of a fellow inmate who was being released from the prison. A spokesman said, "Our staff are going to make sure they inspect the suitcases more carefully in the future."
See our pages on how to make a claim - slop out
TAXPAYERS face a tenfold increase in pay-outs to prisoners for slopping out, after a landmark legal ruling opened the door to thousands more claims totalling more than £70 million.
As a result of the House of Lords' decision, the one-year time limit imposed by ministers on inmates' claims for compensation over human rights breaches cannot apply. This means the total bill for settling slopping out claims will soar.
Last night, the ruling brought fresh criticism of the former Scottish Executive for ignoring warnings that slopping out was a breach of human rights and would require millions of pounds in compensation to be paid from the public purse.
Ministers previously insisted they would settle compensation claims only from prisoners who raised legal actions against the state within one year of their rights being breached.
So far, pay-outs of about £400,000 have been made to 200 prisoners who had to slop out in a shared cell. A further 1,500 cases were put on hold pending yesterday's ruling, and, with hundreds of new cases emerging every month, a senior prison source said the ruling would raise the number of eligible claims tenfold.
The source said: "This ruling is bad news. We were looking at paying out to hundreds of people, now it looks like thousands."
One legal firm said 500 cases on its books would now be eligible for compensation.
Tony Kelly, from Taylor & Kelly, said: "Thousands more people will be able to claim compensation from the government for slopping out. We are handling just over 600 cases and only about 100 have been settled. We are getting more cases all the time - there were 30 last week alone."
The ruling was issued following several years of wrangling between Scottish ministers and lawyers acting for four prisoners who claimed their human rights had been denied during months in solitary confinement.
The most significant point was whether a one-year "time bar" on claims should apply. While the time bar exists in the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), the incorporation of the legislation into Scots law in 1999 removed such restrictions. The decision by the House of Lords means ministers were wrong to agree to pay out only in cases raised by prisoners within one year of their human rights being breached.
Mr Kelly said: "On the back of this decision, people are going to be critical of the fact these cases have been taken forward by prisoners. I have found it galling, as the public has, that prisoners have been making these claims.
"But the really hard questions should be asked of politicians who made choices years ago to divert money away from [the] prison estate on the chance nobody would complain about conditions. Those choices are coming home to roost."
Bill Aitken, the Scottish Tories' justice spokesman, said: "Once again, the Scottish taxpayer is going to be hit with a substantial bill because the last Executive did not use the money allocated to refurbish prisons to do away with slopping out.
"This, plus the continued negative impact of the ECHR on Scots law, is leaving us wide open to the most spurious of claims. It is time this entire issue is reviewed."
Had the time bar been allowed, no further claims would be granted, as shared-cell slopping out - which was held by a judge in 2004 to breach human rights - was ended two years ago. But claims will now be allowed from prisoners dating back to 1999, when slopping out was a feature in several Scottish prisons.
A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service said: "We are considering the wider implications of this judgment.
"We have already made provision within the SPS accounts for claims under ECHR legislation. The Scottish Government has made considerable financial commitments to providing a prison estate fit for purpose for the 21st century. This will eliminate the conditions which have given rise to many of these claims."
IGNORED WARNING COULD PROVE COSTLY
IN JANUARY 2001 ministers were warned that a failure to tackle slopping-out in Scotland's jails would lead to multi-million-pound claims, but many dismissed the prospect of prisoners winning cash from the then Scottish Executive over the issue.
However, in August 2002, 60 prisoners at Barlinnie, the country's biggest jail, launched legal action against the government, claiming slopping-out contravened their human rights.
Two years later, a landmark legal judgment ruled slopping-out breached a prisoner's human rights, paving the way for a potential damages bill of tens of millions.
Robert Napier, a prison inmate, won £2,450 in damages after taking the Executive to court. His counsel told the court his cell was "grossly inadequate" and compared conditions to those at Pentonville Prison, London, in 1841.
But ministers insisted on appealing the decision, despite warnings over human rights' legislation.
Feb/03 - All change at Perth prison
Perth Prison modernisation
Jan/10 - Breach of security at Castle Huntly prison
Lax security at prison
Jan/02 - Drop in prison suicides
Figures down to 78 from 95
Dec/31 - Jail time 'proof that ASBO's work'
THREE OF Dundee’s seven groundbreaking retail Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) have been breached in the past three months
Dec/29 - Iraqi jail killing spree
Prisoner grabs rifle and kills guards and prisoners
Dec/14 - Tookie Williams execution
Watching Tookie Williams die
Nov/29 - Call for early drugs intervention
More specialist drug services must be introduced to cope with Scotland's rising number of addicts, according to a leading charity.
Nov/29 - Police plea over knife sentences
Senior police officers are calling for a mandatory 18 month jail sentence for anyone caught with a knife in Scotland.