Former POA chair at Feltham YOI victimised by Prison Service

The chair of the Feltham branch of the Prison Officers’
Association at the time of Zahid Mubarek’s murder yesterday
claimed that he was victimised by the Prison Service for
“lawful” union activities, writes Amy

Andrew Darken, who went on to be the national chair of the POA,
added that Martin Narey,  the director general of the Prison
Service at the time of Murbarek’s murder, had personally
apologised to him for the manner in which he had been treated.

He claimed that in July 2001 the Prison Service tried to move
him from his position at Feltham Young Offender Institution to a
position at Head Office. They told him that the attitude of the
Prison Officers’ Association was preventing change at Feltham
and that as chair of the branch, he was partly responsible for

The chief inspector of prisons at the time published a critical
report of Feltham YOI in July 2000. He had previously published
another damming report of the establishment in March 1999.

Darken said that the misconduct alleged against him solely
consisted of carrying out his trade union duties and he challenged
the action in the High Court. He added that the service had
subsequently backed down from moving him away from a job working
with prisoners and transferred him to HMP Latchmore House.

He alleged that the attempt to move him was “designed to
deflect criticism which was bound to come the Prison
Service’s way” for failing to adequately respond to
critical inspection reports published prior to the July report.

Zahid Mubarek was murdered at Feltham Young Offender Institution
on 21 March 2000 by his cellmate Robert Stewart.

The inquiry continues.

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