Prison chief wrongly sacked, says Howard

In a humiliating climbdown, Michael Howard, the Home Secretary all but admitted he wrongfully sacked Derek Lewis, the former head of the prison service, and will now pay up to pounds 200,000 in compensation.

An agreement reached at the High Court yesterday is a victory for the former television chief, who has always claimed he was made the scapegoat for the embarrassing escapes of three dangerous men from Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight - only weeks after IRA terrorists had fled another top security prison.

The settlement, in what has been a personal and acrimonious battle between the two men, re-opens the thorny question about whether ministers, who decide prison policy, or civil servants, responsible for day-to-day operations, were to blame for the failures that led to the debacle.

Mr Lewis, who, from the moment he was dismissed last October made it clear he would not go quietly, immediately accused Mr Howard of wasting taxpayers' money. He said: "The attempt to distinguish between policy and operations was no more than a political figleaf - such a small figleaf that it was grossly indecent."

The former prison chief has issued his writ in the middle of a political storm over the running of the country's jails, claiming 12 occasions when Mr Howard intervened in operational duties - including the question of Private Lee Clegg being held following a right-wing press campaign to free him. Those close to Mr Lewis claimed that if his action ever reached court it would damage Mr Howard even more.

Mr Lewis will now receive a year's salary of pounds 125,000 but will fight for bonus and pension contributions worth pounds 75,000.

"These legal proceedings should not have been necessary," he said. "This has been an open-and-shut case from the beginning and yet I have received no explanation for my dismissal or any apology."

Adding to Mr Howard's embarrassment yesterday was the news that he has still not been able to find a successor for the man he sacked. Headhunters have told the Home Office the task of finding suitable candidates to head Britain's troubled jail system has been hampered by the treatment of Mr Lewis.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Website Editor

£15 - £17 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently r...

Primary Teachers needed for supply in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: We are looking to rec...

Primary Supply teaching jobs in Stowmarket

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Year 1 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: The Job An inner city Birmingham sc...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments