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Last Updated: Monday, 11 July 2005, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Prison whistleblower 'victimised'
Whistleblower Carol Lingard
Carol Lingard was awarded 480,000 for unfair dismissal
A culture of victimisation inside Britain's prisons is exposed by a senior officer, forced to resign after blowing the whistle on wrongdoing.

Carol Lingard left her job at Wakefield jail after colleagues intimidated her when she reported issues of concern.

An employment tribunal awarded her the biggest public sector payout ever for a whistleblower - 480,000.

File on 4 asks if the prison service is really able, despite promises, to end victimisation of staff and inmates.

'Felt unsafe'

Carol worked at Wakefield as a senior officer. She says after she reported alleged wrongdoing at a high level the claims were not fully followed up and her work was made untenable.

"People were turning their backs on me and it felt like a very unsafe environment. Wakefield is a high security prison and it is essential that all staff do work together and that you are all safe together. It was quite clear to me that I was not safe."

We need to learn the lessons and sharpen up our response to those sorts of complaints
Phil Wheatley, Prison Service DG

The employment tribunal revealed that she is not the only member of prison staff victimised for whistle blowing. Her colleague Emma Howie, who gave evidence on her behalf, is now waiting for transfer to another prison because her life at Wakefield has been made untenable.

The Director General of the Prison Service, Phil Wheatley, said it was a matter of grave concern that allegations were made and not followed up and the senior officer was then treated in such a way that she did not feel able to carry on in the service.

"We need to learn the lessons and sharpen up our response to those sorts of complaints," he said.

Shahid Aziz
Shahid Aziz died at the hands of a violent cellmate

The family of an inmate who died in at Armley jail in Leeds also claim he was intimidated.

Shahid Aziz had been involved in getting up a petition with 65 signatures complaining about racism and discrimination against ethnic minority prisoners in the jail. As a result his wife Parveen thinks he was singled out by prison officers.

'Quiet life'

He was killed by his cellmate Peter McCann, a man with a history of violence towards other inmates.

A full inquest into his death is still to be opened.

Dr David Wilson, a former prison governor and now Professor of Criminology at the University of Central England, says: "If you raise a complaint you are disturbing the culture of a quiet life.

"And if you disturb that quiet life, you are considered the problem.

"It doesn't matter if you are a prisoner or a prison officer, if you rock the boat, if you draw attention to something in that jail, it's you who are the problem - not the problem you're drawing attention to."

File On 4: BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 12 July, 2005 at 2000 BST and repeated on Sunday 17 July, 2005 at 1700 BST.

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