A prison officer resigned from Feltham Young Offender
Institution because of racial abuse a year before Zahid Mubarek was
The public inquiry into the 19-year-old’s death was told that an
officer, named as Kassim, was subjected to racism daily, mainly by
Mubarek, who was Asian, was killed by his racist cellmate Robert
Stewart, then also 19, at Feltham in March 2000.
Minutes from a race relations meeting read to the inquiry showed
Kassim had left because “he considered Feltham was unable to
prevent abusive language”. Kassim suggested that the problem
“appeared worse” at Feltham than elsewhere.
The minutes showed that, although staff acknowledged that racial
abuse was a “serious problem”, it had continued “for years”.
Keith Greenslade, staff officer to the governor at Feltham, had
told the meeting there were few sanctions that could be applied to
offenders on remand.
Greenslade also admitted to the inquiry it was “possible” that
officers could have put a racist in a cell with a black person,
despite the general practice of separating ethnic groups.
The response was the strongest yet in regard to allegations that
prison officers deliberately put white and black prisoners in the
same cells as part of a Gladiator-style game.
Greenslade told the inquiry that a lack of staff training and
“naivety” led to under-reporting of racial incidents at Feltham. He
added that he did not believe racial tension between inmates was a
Greenslade’s statement was followed by evidence given by John
Byrd, a Feltham governor at the time of the murder. Byrd told the
inquiry there were 62 allegedly racist incidents in 2000, and
described the atmosphere on Mubarek’s unit as “volatile”.
The inquiry also heard Stewart’s statement, in which he admitted
for the first time that racial prejudice had played a part in the
He said: “Whenever you went into a cell at Feltham you’d see
graffiti like swastikas, the initials KKK and things like ‘kill all
niggers…’ the general perception in Feltham was that all whites
were racist, and the black lads didn’t like the whites.”