Prison officers defend conduct after Woolwich murder suspect Michael Adebolajo is attacked

The 28-year-old was injured at high security Belmarsh prison

Prison officers “strenuously deny any wrongdoing” after Woolwich murder suspect Michael Adebolajo lost two teeth when he was restrained in jail, a trade union said tonight.

The 28-year-old was injured at high security Belmarsh prison in south east London on Wednesday, where he is being held on suspicion of murdering soldier Lee Rigby.

It was reported last night that five prison officers had been suspended following the attack on Adebolajo.

The Prison Officers' Association (POA) hit out at the Ministry of Justice, claiming it had done "little to avoid sensationalist reporting" of what happened.

The union said: "The POA are aware of an incident that took place on Wednesday July 17, which involved a prisoner being subjected to restraint using approved techniques called Control and Restraint.

"Our members strenuously deny any wrongdoing and the POA will be supporting them legally and emotionally during this difficult time. The use of restraint is only used where necessary when dealing with incidents up and down the country."

It said it will fully co-operate with any police investigation, and expects the officers to be "fully exonerated".

Adebolajo is accused together with Michael Adebowale, 22, of hacking Fusilier Rigby to death near Woolwich Barracks in south east London on May 22. The pair are due to stand trial at the Old Bailey on November 18.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "We can confirm that an allegation of assault was passed to the Metropolitan Police Service on July 17 by Belmarsh prison. An investigation has been started."

The Prison Service again refused to comment on the detail of what is claimed to have happened.

A spokeswoman said: "The police are investing an incident that took place at HMP Belmarsh on July 17. It would be inappropriate to comment while the investigation is ongoing."

PA