Who we are
The Lord David Ramsbotham GCB CBE
Edward Fitzgerald CBE QC
His Honour John Samuels QC
Martine Lignon (Chairperson)
Lucy Rhodes (Vice Chairperson)
Lucy Rhodes is a Solicitor in the Charities & Social Enterprise department at law firm, Bates Wells Braithwaite. Lucy’s interest in prisoners’ rights stems from her trusteeship on the UK board of a prisons charity through which she visited prisons and charity projects started by ex-prisoners across Kenya. She joined PAS as a trustee in June 2012.
Kassim Gaffar (Treasurer)
Kassim Gaffar completed an MSc in IT systems from London School of Economics and subsequently qualified as a chartered accountant with Deloitte in London. Kassim has worked in the financial services sector since 1997, having held a number of roles in the corporate and investment banking arm of HSBC. Kassim is currently Director of Techrun Technologies Ltd, a company that provides IT services to non-profit and social sector enterprises. Kassim also mentors a number of start-up businesses. He joined PAS as a trustee in July 2015.
Eric Allison is The Guardian’s prison correspondent.
Eric spent some 16 years in prison, ending in 2000, all for theft related offences. He soon became appalled at the bad treatment handed out to people who had not “chosen” crime as a career and witnessed acts of brutality and racism on an almost daily basis. As a result, he decided to speak out and took action against the abuse. He discovered that the adage “the pen is mightier … ” proved particularly accurate in prison and, following the Strangeways Prison Riot, in 1990, he co-authored a book on the protest, A Serious Disturbance. The book was used by several education authorities as A-level course work (Sociology). In 2003, Eric Allison joined the Guardian as the prison correspondent. In 2013, with a colleague, Simon Hattenstone, Eric was awarded an Amnesty International media award for investigative journalism. Prior to joining the board of PAS, Eric was a trustee of the Shannon Trust.
Jeanne is a Chartered Management Accountant currently working as an Analyst with Moody’s Investors Service, with a focus on assessing the creditworthiness of not-for-profit entities. Prior to working at Moody’s, she worked as an accountant in both the university and housing association sectors. She joined PAS as a trustee in July 2015.
Jeremy Harrison is co-owner of abdi Ltd which teaches impact planning and measurement and conducts impact evaluations concentrated on the value of investment in human learning and activity. His career has been in journalism, the voluntary sector as public relations director of Shelter and as deputy director of the Community Projects Foundation (now CDF), as a long-term consultant with the European Commission on education, training and economic development, and teaching impact measurement and conducting evaluations in the UK and overseas in recent years in India, Sri Lanka and Nigeria. He joined PAS as a trustee in July 2015.
Rebecca is a Solicitor at global law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills. Rebecca manages and oversees HSF’s pro bono practice for the UK, US and EMEA, developing initiatives and projects that support access to justice, international development, impact investment and human rights. She advises the firm’s pro bono clients, including NGOs, charities, individuals, social enterprises and governments, on a wide range of legal issues. She joined PAS as a trustee in July 2015.
The Management Committee (Board of Trustees) has delegated the day-to-day management of PAS to the Joint Managing Solicitors.
Joint Managing Solicitors
Deborah Russo and Lubia Begum-Rob jointly manage PAS and are responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation. They manage and supervise PAS staff, regularly report to trustees as well as run their own cases. Both have been at PAS for over 10 years and are qualified Solicitors with over 12 years PQE.
Deborah was the first Women Prisoners’ Caseworker at PAS. Alongside her position as Joint Managing Solicitor, she continues to take on women’s cases with a particular focus on indeterminate sentence prisoners. Lubia was originally employed to undertake Race and Religious Discrimination case work focusing on civil litigation and non-litigious complaints regarding racial and religious discrimination. Within her role as Joint Managing Solicitor, she continues to advise prisoners on racial and religious issues. Together, they run a monthly legal advice outreach clinic at HMP Belmarsh, the highest security prison in Europe.
Women Prisoners Caseworker
Kate Lill is the Women Prisoners’ Caseworker at PAS, having joined in May 2015. Women in prison have different experiences and needs to men, and often require specialist assistance. Kate offers legal advice, information and representation to women in custody, and also runs regular outreach advice clinics at HMPs Bronzefield, Downview, New Hall and Send. Kate previously worked at the Death Penalty Project and Prisoners Abroad, where she assisted British nationals in detention overseas. Kate qualified as a Barrister in 2010.
Nicki Rensten has been at PAS since 1998 and was PAS’ first outreach caseworker. Nicki delivers legal education and outreach sessions to male prisoners at a number of prisons across England and Wales. As well as providing advice and information on prison law via outreach sessions, Nicki is responsible for coordinating and providing responses to the email inquiries PAS receives via our website. She also takes on cases, both as a result of outreach and through other means of contact with PAS, as well as advising prisoners by letter writing and via telephone calls to our advice line.
Joint Community Care Caseworkers
Laura Orger and Anna Fairbank jointly handle community care cases. Our Caseworkers offer advice, information and assistance to prisoners prior to their release and upon release. Prisons, local authorities and probation services sometimes fail to meet their responsibilities towards prisoners with physical and mental disabilities both during their time in prison and when they are due for release. Our Caseworkers liaise with and if necessary issue judicial review claims against prison/probation services and local authorities when they fail to meet their legal duties towards vulnerable adult prisoners. Our Caseworkers also arrange legal outreach clinics at various prisons. Laura trained as a Solicitor at Fisher Meredith while Anna trained at Hodge Jones and Allen.
Fundraising & Communications Manager
Geof Jarvis is PAS’s Fundraising & Communications Manager. He is responsible for the research and development of PAS’s fundraising sources and strategy. Geof has more than 12 years of experience in fundraising, working in the arts, health and trade sectors. Prior to that, he worked in arts administration and management. He holds degrees from The University of Stirling (BA Honours English Literature) and The Nottingham Trent University (MA Cultural Studies).
Buffy Sharpe is PAS’s Trusts Fundraiser. She is responsible for researching and applying to small and medium sized charitable trusts and foundations and submitting timely and accurate reports to them. She has 11 years of experience in Trusts and Statutory fundraising and previously worked as a fundraiser for Crisis, Womankind Worldwide and KIS Training. Prior to this, Buffy worked for The Prince’s Trust, Inbiz and the North Fulham New Deal for Communities project as a business advisor, helping people get into self-employment and sitting on or advising funding panels, giving her good experience with fundraising from the other side (giving out funds).
Jane Finnis is responsible for managing our remote letters clinics. PAS has several corporate law firms and universities which assist us in responding to the increasing amount of letters we receive from prisoners. Jane is responsible for selecting the letters and approving the responses that are sent out by the clinics. Jane was previously at PAS providing maternity cover for the Women Prisoners’ Caseworker role and is an experienced solicitor of 12 years.
Office and Advice Line Manager
Ben Blackwell is PAS’s Office and Advice Line Manager. Ben manages the telephone helpline and is responsible for ensuring the smooth daily running of the office. In addition, Ben is in charge of payroll and manages PAS’s volunteers. He previously worked at Refugee and Migrant Justice (a legal advice charity).
Given our few staff and limited resources, we rely heavily on the help of volunteers to meet the demands to help prisoners. We take on both Legal and Fundraising and Communications Volunteers.