THE Government will ignore a High Court ruling overturning its ban on racing pages in prisons. The Security Branch plans to formalise the ban from administrative practice to law under proposals on Prison Rules. This is despite the fact the ban has been suspended since last November, when Mr Justice Sears ruled that censoring newspapers in jail was unlawful. Convicted drug trafficker Chim Shing-chung took the Correctional Services Department to court after it removed the racing supplements from prisoners' newspapers to combat illegal gambling. The Government is appealing the case. Legislative Council security panel chairman James To Kun-sun was surprised by the move to enforce the ban. 'Most people expected the Government would only take action after the appeal,' he said. In a paper to legislators, the Government proposes to amend Prison Rule 56 to authorise the Commissioner of Correctional Services 'to withhold from inmates those publications or parts of publications which he reasonably believes can adversely affect good order or discipline inside prisons'. The department had said that gambling behind bars was on the rise, with families getting drawn into the repayment of debts created by the illegal activities. Other proposed changes in the rules will give prisoners more freedom. Under the new plan, which requires legislative amendments, prisoners would be allowed to write additional letters at their own expense. At present, only two government-funded letters can be sent out each week. Restrictions that inmates can only correspond with their friends and relatives would also be removed. Staff would inspect correspondence in maximum security prisons only. Officers would not read letters in medium and minimum security prisons unless they had good reason to believe that the content threatened security, good order and discipline. The Government considers the current rules on communication are inconsistent with the Bill of Rights, which states that 'no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family home or correspondence'. The new plan would also re-classify offences against prison discipline to exclude criminal offences. Prisoners who commit criminal offences would be sent to court, instead of being punished by forfeiture of remission.