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
    association.

    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
    seriousness.”

    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
    otherwise”.

    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
    death.

    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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