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Duke of Marlborough converted to Islam in prison to be given ‘more food’

8/21/2017 12:00:00 AM   |      |   

 An aristocrat who in the past was jailed for crimes including drugs and burglary has revealed how he converted to Islam in one prison so he could get more food.

Jamie Spencer-Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, said "luckily” the Ramadan period when Muslims fast was just over when he told the authorities he had changed faith.

The peer, who had a public battle with cocaine and heroin, has more than 20 convictions going back 30 years for numerous offences that include punching a police officer.

His late father John Spencer-Churchill had fought a failed court battle to stop his criminal son from inheriting his £36m estate, which included the Blenheim Palace country house in Oxfordshire.

The Duke was put on the spot over his time in prison during an event at the China Exchange forum in London, billed as a series of “talks by exceptional people with extraordinary lives”.

He revealed to interviewer Sir David Tang: “I changed religion when I went to jail. I became a Muslim because you got more food. It wasn’t the time of Ramadan. I luckily hit it just right – just afterwards!”

Many prisoners believe if they convert to Islam they will eat better, a Government report found.

The inmates – known as “convenience Muslims” – also think they will pick up other benefits such as more time out of their cells, according to the 2010 publication Muslim Prisoners' Experiences.

The Ministry of Justice denied that inmates who switched to Islam would get any perks in prison such as a better diet.

A prisoner can opt for a halal meal option regardless of their religion.

The Duke had served a string of prison terms up until some 30 years ago but said that those days were in the past and that he had also stopped using hard drugs 10 years ago.

“I don’t know whether it was age or something in my brain, or my wife,” he said, the Mail on Sunday reported, “but it was around that time when I just felt ‘enough is enough’.”

The peer publicly fell-out with his father John, the 11th Duke of Marlborough, who launched a failed legal battle in 1994 to disinherit his son from the family’s estate.

But the Duke said his father later joked that he understood his battle with addiction shortly before he died aged 88 three years ago.

He recalled phoning his father to ask: “Dad, do you want me to come in and see you?"

The reply was: "No, no. I have just had a very large dose of morphine and I am enjoying it. I can quite understand why you had a problem."



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