A prison governor has been criticised for being over-zealous in his attempts to be racially aware for sacking an officer.
The sacked officer was sacked six months after his Bin Laden remark
Colin Rose, 53, who was dismissed from Blundeston Prison in Suffolk in May 2002 for remarks he made about Osama Bin Laden, has won his case for unfair dismissal.
A employment tribunal in Norwich heard he had aggressively thrown a set of keys down a metal chute at the prison gatehouse, and jokingly claimed the al-Qaeda leader's picture was at the bottom of it.
He made the remarks two months after the 11 September attacks in 2001 when prison staff had been asked to "have continued sensitivity" as the prison had many Muslim inmates.
Mr Rose was told to be quiet after two Asian women wearing headscarves and an Asian man were seen at the window of the gatehouse.
The tribunal condemned Mr Rose's dismissal by prison governor Jerry Knight as being over-zealous in his attempts to be racially aware.
"This was a one-off incident, an injudicious remark by a
man under stress, with a good record over many years," the tribunal said.
The tribunal also "wondered whether the governor lived in the real world".
A Prison Service spokeswoman said they were very disappointed with the employment tribunal's ruling.
"The decision to dismiss Mr Rose was fully consistent with Prison Service's policy.
Racism in prisons
"The Prison Service is absolutely determined to eradicate racism in prisons.
"It is equally committed to ensuring staff act with honesty and integrity."
The tribunal heard a six-month internal investigation failed to establish whether the visitors in
Arabic dress had heard the comment.
Mr Rose, who had worked for the Prison Service for 21 years, said he had realised his barrack-room humour had been inappropriate and had immediately apologised.