Black prisoners seek £1m for 'bullying'

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The Independent Online

Four black men sued the Home Office for £1m yesterday, alleging they were beaten by prisoners and bullied by officers while on remand in an "all-white" jail.

The four, who were later cleared of all charges, say they were taunted and racially abused during their 10-week stay at Swansea prison, culminating in an attack by up to 30 prisoners in the jail's recreation area. Within hours of their arrival at the jail, they say, other prisoners were making "monkey impersonations" and calling them "niggers" and "wogs" - but prison staff did nothing.

The racial tension culminated in an outbreak of violence in which the four were set upon by 20 to 30 white prisoners and badly injured, their counsel, Harbinder Lally, told the High Court yesterday.

Marnon Thomas, Nigel Johnson, Hopeton Falconer and Patrick Campbell, all from Birmingham, are suing the Home Office for compensation, including "exemplary" and "aggravated" damages to reflect public abhorrence at what happened to them.

Mr Lally told Mr Justice Buckley the four had gone to Aberystwyth on 31 September 1994 to celebrate Mr Johnson's birthday, but ended up being arrested and remanded in custody. All the charges against them were dismissed by magistrates on 14 December 1994.

Although the prison had an anti-racism policy, it was not being observed, Mr Lally told the High Court hearing.

The Home Office denies all the allegations.

The hearing continues.