Allegations of racial “games” to be examined by inquiry

Three witnesses are to give evidence on allegations that prison
officers at Feltham young offenders’ institution
“deliberately” set inmates against each other in a
Gladiator-style game, an inquiry heard today, writes
Maria Ahmed

The allegations are being examined as part of the public inquiry
into the death of Zahid Mubarek, who was killed by his racist
cellmate Robert Stewart in 2000.

Inquiry chair Mr Justice Keith named the witnesses as Nigel
Herring, branch chair of Feltham Prison Officers’
Association, Duncan Keys, POA assistant secretary, and Tom Robson,
POA national executive member of the prison officer’s

Nigel Giffin QC, counsel to the inquiry, said the Mubarek
family’s views were of “considerable importance”
in examining the allegations, which were “potentially
central” to the inquiry.

He said: “They have been subjected to reading allegations
in the press that something of this kind may have happened to their
son and it would, in my submission, be hard to justify a failure to
take reasonable steps to enable them to discover whether there
could be any truth in such a revolting suggestion, quite apart from
the intrinsic public importance of an allegation of such

At the opening of the inquiry in November last year, the inquiry
was told that prison officers at Feltham had allegedly put
prisoners in shared cells “in the expectation that they would
come into conflict with each other on racial grounds or

The claims came to light following an anonymous phone call to
the Commission for Racial Equality which “explicitly”
suggested a link between the practice and Mubarek’s

The POA had also reported concerns about rumours of the practice
to the Prison Service, the inquiry heard.

It is expected that the witnesses will give evidence in early
March. An earlier police investigation found no evidence to support
the allegations

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