Hollesley Bay Prison 'whistleblower' is suspended

Faith Spear Image copyright Faith Spear
Image caption Mrs Spear, of Ipswich, said the situation had "just escalated" since she wrote of her concerns about prison reform

The chairman of a prison watchdog has been suspended after voicing concerns about "bullying" to a newspaper.

Faith Spear refused to step down as chairman of Hollesley Bay prison's Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) after voicing prison reform concerns.

Her refusal, she says, led to her feeling bullied by other board members - a matter she raised with the East Anglian Daily Times.

The government said she would be reinstated if no wrongdoing is found.

None of those accused of bullying Mrs Spear have been suspended, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed.

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Mrs Spear, of Ipswich, said the situation "just escalated" after she wrote of her concerns about prison reform under the pseudonym Daisy Mallet in this year's The Prisons Handbook.

In it she described herself as a "whistleblower without a whistle". She says she wrote it as a private individual with a passion and interest in prison reform and not as the chairman of the Hollelsley Bay IMB.

Image copyright Mike Page
Image caption The prison near Woodbridge has capacity for 434 inmates who are considered to be low-risk

The suspension letter from prisons minister Andrew Selous said she was accused of "failing to treat colleagues with respect" and for "acting in a manner which could bring discredit or cause embarrassment to the IMB".

"It all blew up because I refused to stand down," said Mrs Spear. "I voiced concerns about the system yet I have been attacked personally.

"It has been absolutely terrible. But I have no regrets about speaking out. The IMB tried to silence me."

She later spoke of her issues with the board to the EADT which resulted in an article cited by Selous in her suspension notice.

An MoJ spokesman said: "There is an ongoing investigation into Hollesley Bay Independent Monitoring Board.

"No conclusions have been made and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.

"As with all public appointments, a member of staff can be suspended during an investigation. If no wrongdoing is found they will be reinstated."

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