Jails chief says his job is safe

DEREK Lewis, the beleaguered director-general of the Prison Service, last night dismissed speculation that he was being used as a scapegoat and declared that his job was still secure, writes Ilsa Godlovitch.

His claim came despite recent remarks by Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, that the transfer of IRA prisoners the day after the ceasefire was a source of political embarrassment. The attempted escape of four IRA prisoners from Whitemoor jail last week further inflamed the situation.

Earlier in the day, Mr Lewis had been summoned to a meeting with the Home Secretary. But he played down speculation that tense relations with Mr Howard was threatening his future position when he arrived for a conference of the Howard League for Penal Reform.

He said they were committed to building a prison service that 'is an example to the world' and recent events would not deter them from continuing in the task.

Letters, page 13