Officials will take blame for escapes

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The Independent Online
There will be no high-profile resignations when Sir John Woodcock publishes his report on the security lapses which allowed five IRA men to shoot their way out of Whitemoor top security jail after smuggling in Semtex.

Neither Dame Angela Rumbold, prisons minister at the time and now Conservative Party vice-chairman, nor Derek Lewis, the Director General of the Prison Service, who have both been warned they face criticism, will give up their jobs.

Nor will Michael Howard, who as Home Secretary has ultimate responsibility for prisons and public safety. He had been made aware of concerns over conditions, which enabled prisoners in the Cambridgeshire jail's special secure unit - a prison within a prison -to make the most dramatic escape since that of the spy George Blake, 30 years ago.

However three senior civil servants look set to be moved. They are Philippa Drew, director of Custody, her deputy, Philip Wheatley, and Amy Edwards, area manager.

A question mark hangs over the future of Andrew Barclay, Whitemoor's former governor, who now works in the Chief Inspector of Prison's office. However, sources said that the future of Brodie Clarke, who became governor just a few months before the September escape and who is regarded as one of the country's best, is secure.

A disciplinary panel has already been set up to deal with lower ranking prison staff to be identified in the report likely to be published on Monday.

Although no one is named in the report, they are recognisable by their job descriptions. Dame Angela is clearly the minister criticised in a draft of the report for agreeing to the "dangerous and inept" recommendation from civil servants - made as a result of intimidation of staff by the inmates - to suspend the rub down searches of visitors.

Internal prison security documents obtained by the Independent revealed that the IRA men, accompanied by an armed robber, used game posts, furniture and sheet ropes to scale the walls.

Sir John's report, which highlights security failings at all levels , says prisoners were able to make their escape plans and tools in the units hobby room, because senior prison service staff had agreed to let them put up curtains over the windows.

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