Compensation is to be paid to former prisoners because they were forced to stop taking drugs in jail.
DrugScope a drugs charity said 198 former inmates who used heroin were about to settle out of court with the Prison Service after suing the Home Office.
The former inmates allege the "cold turkey" withdrawal treatment they were forced to undergo amounted to assault.
David Davis the Shadow home secretary said the case set a "disastrous" precedent and accused Home Secretary John Reid of failing to protect the public.
"Drugs are a scourge on society and completely undermine all our other efforts to fight crime. By doing this Mr Reid would be letting down the taxpayer, the victims of these offenders and the drug addicts themselves. The precedent would be disastrous.
"Former Conservative prisons minister Ann Widdecombe said the settlement was "an insult to every victim and every law abiding person".
The former inmates are suing under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Q. Should we move away from the European Convention on Human Rights?
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