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No comment on report that shamed ace failed a drug test.

Byline: Richard Warburton

The Prison Service refused to comment yesterday on a report that shamed Premiership soccer ace Lee Hughes failed a drug test on his first day in jail.

A Prison Service spokesman refused to comment, but did confirm that an internal investigation was under way at HMP Birmingham into the leaking of an official mugshot of Hughes taken at the jail.

Several newspapers published the image of a glassyeyed Hughes and reported that the former West Bromwich Albion striker had tested positive for cannabis within hours of his arrival at Winson Green jail.

Hughes, who also played for Kidderminster Harriers and Coventry City, was jailed for six years at Coventry Crown Court earlier this month for causing death by dangerous driving and fleeing the scene of the fatal accident near his home in Meriden, West Midlands.

The spokesman refused to make any comment on the drug claims, but added: 'I can confirm the validity of the photograph.

'I can also confirm that an internal investigation has now been launched by the prison to ascertain just how the image came into the public domain.' Hughes's trial heard that he had downed at least six whiskies during a post-match drinking session before his pounds 100,000 Mercedes sports car smashed into a Renault Scenic on a bend.

The footballer - who was found guilty of killing a passenger in the Scenic, 56-yearold Douglas Graham - ran off after the crash to avoid a breath test.

Meanwhile, it emerged that the 28-year-old footballer has been moved to a Category C prison in Ashwell, Leics, just two weeks into his six-year sentence.

A source at Winson Green said Hughes was transferred there in a private hire taxi with a prison officer.

Ashwell, near Oakham, Rutland, is described by the Prison Service website as an 'open and free running regime' with commitment to throughcare and purposeful activity.

The 545-inmate jail gives prisoners unsupervised access to the prison grounds, access to the grounds at night and keys to their cells.

The chair of the Campaign for Drinking and Driving later attacked the Government for its handling of drunken motorists who are jailed after fatal crashes.

Mike Jobbins, whose 25year-old daughter Michelle was killed by a drink-driver 11 years ago, said moving Hughes to a Category C prison gave the wrong message to the public at a time when drink-drive deaths are rising.

Mr Jobbins, from Thornbury, Gloucestershire, said: 'The same thing happened to the killer of my daughter.

'He spent a year in a Category B prison and a year in an open prison and was released after just two years.

'They (the authorities) just don't see people like Hughes as criminals and they treat them with kid gloves.'

Mr Jobbins said he was disappointed penalties for drinkdrinking had been 'watered down' to give those convicted a reduction in bans from the road for taking part in rehabilitation courses.

'He (Hughes) is supposed to be paying penance for what he has done and he has been sent to an open prison - I feel sorry for the family of the man he killed. 'The Prison Service have devalued the life that Hughes has taken.'

The Prison Service also declined to confirm whether a taxi was used to transport Hughes.

The spokesman said: 'The Prison Service uses a variety of different vehicles for escorted prisoner movements dependent on risk assessment and availability.'

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Lee Hughes: Reports that he failed drug test
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 27, 2004
Words:574
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