David Blunkett told the prison service to call in the Army and "machine-gun" inmates during the 2002 Lincoln Prison riots, the former director general of the service has claimed.
Martin Narey said the former Home Secretary was "hysterical" when he telephoned him on the evening of the riot, and told him to order staff back into the prison.
Mr Narey, who is now Chief Executive of Barnado's, wrote in The Times: "He shrieked that he didn't care about lives, told me to call in the Army and 'machine-gun' the prisoners and - still shrieking - again ordered me to take the prison back immediately. I refused."
An entry in Mr Blunkett's diaries accused the Prison Service of dithering after the riots but Mr Blunkett has forcefully denied Mr Narey's claims.
Mr Blunkett's spokesman added: "Quite apart from anything else, they do not carry machine-guns in the Prison Service."Reuse content