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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    UK Prisoner Simon Benson Hangs Self in Gluten-free Food Row

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 09/06/2013 - In more downbeat gluten-free news, a convicted murderer was found hanged in his cell at UK's Maidstone Prison, allegedly after his demands for gluten-free meals were rejected.

    Image: CC--GeeJoPrisoner Simon Benson, who is Jewish, and who was serving a sentence for stabbing a man to death, had been receiving given kosher food since his transfer to the town centre jail two months ago. However, he insisted his meals should also be gluten-free.



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    The prison has refused to comment on reports claiming that officials denied Benson's request because he had no medical documentation to justify receiving gluten-free meals.

    Guards found Benson suspended in his room at around 7.30am last Wednesday.
    Emergency personnel rushed him to Maidstone Hospital, where he was placed on life support until around 9.10 pm, when doctors decided with his family to remove him from the life support machine.

    A Prison Service spokesman said: "As with all deaths in custody, the Independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation."

    On Monday, officials opened an inquest into Benson's death, which they then adjourned. The medical cause of death was given as suspension.

    A prison spokesman would not comment on reports Benson had been on hunger strike, or that he had a history of self-harm.

    As to any role that the denial of gluten-free food might have played in the incident, stay tuned for updates on the inquiry.

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    Lots of people who need to eat a gluten-free diet have not been officially diagnosed for one reason or another. In my case I had been gluten-free for 3 months before testing due to intestinal symptoms so the test came back negative, and I was simply not willing to eat gluten again just for an official diagnosis when after going gluten-free my unpleasant symptoms disappeared. I am also not willing to have a colonoscopy because of the damage that is frequently caused by this procedure. I have been free of symptoms now for almost 2 years. There is also the problem of false negatives as I've heard that the tests are not very reliable.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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