Crossword Genius

Judge — extremely illiberal — hauled up prisoner (5)


I believe the answer is:


'prisoner' is the definition.
(lifer is a kind of prisoner)

'judge extremely illiberal hauled up' is the wordplay.
'judge' becomes 'ref'.
'extremely' means to remove the middle letters.
'hauled up' is a reversal indicator.
'illiberal' with its centre taken out is 'il'.
'refil' back-to-front is 'LIFER'.

(Other definitions for lifer that I've seen before include "Serious criminal" , "One with very long sentence" , "Prisoner serving the maximum term" , "One given lots of porridge" , "Rifle (anag.)" .)

I've seen this clue in The Times.
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