Abuse and neglect alleged at the country's largest prison

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SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS of a culture of abuse and neglect have been made following investigations into the country's biggest prison, HMP Liverpool.

The inquiry follows the death of Bob Price, a nurse at the prison's health centre, who had made allegations of bullying among staff and inmates.

A Channel Four News investigation disclosed last night that the level of care in the prison health centre was so poor that it often put inmates lives at risk. Verbal abuse was common, food and medicines were withheld, and prisoners frequently suffered physical assaults, the investigation said.

Mr Price was found dead at his home last November surrounded by empty pill bottles and complaint memos he had sent to the Prison Service. There was no suicide note.The inquest was postponed while an investigation into his death was undertaken by the Prison Service. The inquiry has taken nine months and no report has been released.

When he died, Mr Price had just received a formal commendation for saving a prisoner's life in June 1998. He had told his sister, Isabel Holloway, that when he found the suicidal inmate he had tried to raise the alarm. No one came, he said.

He also told his sister that staff would bring sleeping bags to the night shift and turn off the health centre's alarm system.

When the health centre was inspected in January, it was found that the alarm had been deliberately disabled. Mr Price had made a formal complaint. His sister claims that prison staff were angry over the complaint and intimidated him.

Six months before Mr Price died, a doctor working in theprison had resigned. "I am not prepared to practice medicine in what amounts to an unsafe clinical environment," he said.

The investigation into the bullying allegations is due to be completed in four weeks.