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Monday, 13 November, 2000, 13:55 GMT
Racism watchdog to investigate prison
Feltham
Feltham: Criticised over racist murder
The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) has confirmed it is to conduct an investigation into alleged racism within the prison service.

The move follows a highly critical Prison Service report on the circumstances surrounding the racist murder of an Asian man, Zahid Mubarek, being held at Feltham Young Offenders' Institution in west London.

A CRE spokesman, Chris Myant, told BBC News Online the investigation would be formally announced after its remit had been agreed on.

He said any investigation by the CRE was also likely to focus on employment practices and investigate allegations of harassment of ethnic minority prison officers.

Zahid Mubarek
Zahid Mubarek was attacked just hours before his release
Mubarek, who was due to be released on the day of the attack, was bludgeoned to death by his cellmate, Robert Stewart, who last week was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder.

Stewart was being held on remand at Feltham for sending race-hate letters.

An inquiry into Mubarek's death carried out by a senior prison service investigator concluded that the authorities at Feltham had not taken account of Stewart's violent record or properly checked his security file which warned he was "a very dangerous individual".

Call for action

The investigation by the Commission for Racial Equality follows a call by the Home Office minister, Paul Boateng, for the organisation to act.

Mr Boateng also made his views known to the chairman of the CRE, Gurbux Singh, but did not exercise his right to require the Commission to comply.

Boateng
Paul Boateng called for CRE to investigate

The CRE investigation is likely to be announced by the middle of this week.

But the family of Zahid Mubarek have already said they will not be satisfied with a CRE report.

They are calling for a full public inquiry into his killing.

The BBC's Community Affairs correspondent, Geeta Guru-Murthy, says the family believe the government must be open about the failings of the prison service and are due to see ministers about the issue on Monday.

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See also:

11 Nov 00 | UK
Report rebukes youth jail
18 Sep 00 | UK
Prison racism inquiry call
21 Jun 00 | UK Politics
'Evil' prison learns lessons
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