Ronnie Biggs be Released on Medical Grounds

Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs is to be released from prison after being granted freedom on compassionate grounds.

Biggs is severely ill with pneumonia and Justice Secretary Jack Straw approved his release on Thursday after being told he is unlikely to recover.

The Ministry of Justice is expected to sign-off on his licence conditions later, granting his formal release, BBC News reports.

"Mr Ronald Biggs has been informed today of my decision regarding his application for compassionate release on medical grounds," said Straw, reversing a decision a month ago to refuse him parole.

"The medical evidence clearly shows that Mr Biggs is very ill and that his condition has deteriorated recently, culminating in his re-admission to hospital. His condition is not expected to improve," he added, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, Biggs' son Michael said his father was sick and frail and freedom would make little "practical" difference. But he said it would make a big "spiritual" difference to the family, The Press Association reports.

Biggs, who was held in Norwich prison, was a member of a gang that robbed a Royal Mail train of 2.6 million pounds, or about 40 million pounds ($67 million) when adjusted for inflation. Train driver Jack Mills was beaten unconscious in the robbery and was unable to return to work before his death seven years later, Bloomberg reports.