MUBAREK PUBLIC INQUIRY REPORT PUBLISHED
(29 June 2006)
report of the Zahid Mubarek Public Inquiry was published today (29
June 2006). It lists more than 180 failings that led to Zahid's
tragic death, names individuals and makes 88 recommendations for
the future. Inquiry Chairman, Mr Justice Keith has considered what
led to the murder of the teenager, killed by his cellmate Robert
Stewart, and also at what changes could be made to reduce the risk
of such an attack taking place in the future.
Justice Keith said "As I said at the beginning of the Inquirys
hearings, we will do what we can to get at the truth so that Zahids
family will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that such
lessons as can be learned from his tragic death may make our prisons
a safer place in which to be. I hope that throughout the process
I have been comprehensive, fair and have left no stone unturned."
2000, Zahid Mubarek, an Asian teenager, was serving a short sentence
at Feltham Young Offender Institution. He had not been to prison
before. While there, he wrote movingly to his parents, admitting
his shortcomings and expressing a determination not to let them
down again. He was due to be released on 21 March.
he was never to get the chance to prove that he had put his past
behind him. In the early hours of that morning, he was brutally
attacked by another young prisoner, Robert Stewart, with whom he
had been sharing a cell for the previous six weeks. According to
Stewart, Zahid had been asleep at the time, though some prisoners
claimed to have heard screams. What is not in doubt is that Stewart
clubbed him several times about the head with a wooden table leg.
When help came, Zahid was barely conscious. Such was the ferocity
of the attack that his father told the Inquiry that when he saw
Zahid in hospital, his head looked like a huge balloon. He
was almost unrecognisable. His face was full of blood with bruising
all over it. He died from his injuries a week later. He had
been in a coma and never regained consciousness.
months before, Stewart had bragged about committing the first murder
of the millennium. He was subsequently convicted of Zahids
murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. In convicting Stewart
of murder, the jury rejected the suggestion that he should be convicted
of manslaughter on the ground of diminished responsibility rather
after the attack on Zahid, the police discovered that Stewart had
strong racist views. They also learned that he had had a violent
past while previously in custody, and that his mental health had
been questioned. Much of that had been known to some of the prison
officers at Feltham at the time. Not surprisingly, questions began
to be asked about how he and Zahid had ended up in the same cell.
How had Stewart come to share a cell with someone from an ethnic
minority? What exactly had been known about Stewart? Had any information
about him been passed to the wing? And had any assessment been carried
out of the risk Stewart might have posed to any prisoner who shared
a cell with him?
its credit, the Prison Service never sought to deny that it had
failed to fulfil its responsibility to look after Zahid while he
had been in its care. On the day of Zahids death, the Director
General of the Prison Service, Martin Narey, wrote to Zahids
parents. He frankly stated: You had a right to expect us to
look after Zahid safely and we have failed. I am very, very sorry.
at a public hearing held by the Commission for Racial Equality in
the course of its investigation into racial discrimination within
the Prison Service, Mr Narey said in terms that Zahids had
been a preventable death.
protracted legal proceedings which went on for a number of years,
it was decided that there had to be a public inquiry into Zahids
death. This published report is the result of that inquiry. It identifies
the key stages when, had appropriate action been taken, the tragedy
which befell Zahid could have been prevented. It also considers
what steps should now be taken to reduce the risk of something like
this ever happening again.
report can be downloaded at www.zahidmubarekinquiry.org.uk