Prison officers 'authoritarian'

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Staff at Britain's three top-security hospitals are accused today of running a campaign of intimidation to preserve their authority.

The staff - at Broadmoor, Rampton and Ashworth - are accused by Elaine Murphy, former vice chairman of the Mental Health Act Commission and writing in the British Medical Journal, of resorting to threats and obstruction to wreck a programme to improve standards of care introduced by senior managers. One senior manager sought police advice after allegedly finding a fake grenade under his car. Staff at the hospitals yesterday rejected Professor Murphy's views as "scurrilous". Jeremy Laurance