Lewes Prison whistleblower officer sacked

Kim Lennon
Image caption Kim Lennon spoke to the BBC last year about staff shortages inside Lewes Prison

A whistleblower prison officer who raised concerns about conditions inside an East Sussex jail has been sacked.

In 2014, Kim Lennon said the smuggling of drugs was rife at Lewes Prison and its wings "resembled a war zone".

She was dismissed earlier this week following disciplinary proceedings but said she would appeal and had no regrets about speaking out.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said Ms Lennon was not dismissed for being a whistleblower.

'Insufficient staff'

Ms Lennon alleged in August 2014 that the drug Spice was being smuggled into the jail.

She said officers were supposed to carry out daily cell checks but there were insufficient staff to do so, and that she feared an inmate or prison officer would be seriously injured.

The Prison Service denied at the time that staffing levels were unsafe and said there was a "zero-tolerance approach" to illicit substances.

Ms Lennon was suspended from her job after talking to the The Argus newspaper and the BBC.

"Speaking out has caused me a lot of distress but I don't regret it," she said. "Frontline prison officers are too afraid to speak out because of what will happen to them."

Image caption Ms Lennon was suspended from her job at Lewes Prison during the disciplinary process

"I loved my job and I feel like I am being punished for doing the right thing," she said.

"I am going to appeal but I'm taking it one day at a time."

The MoJ said it could not comment because Ms Lennon's dismissal was a confidential matter.

"We would not wish to prejudice a possible appeal," it said in a statement, adding it took the issue of staff discipline extremely seriously.

"Any unprofessional behaviour will be investigated immediately, with strong action taken and serious wrongdoing referred to the police," it said.

"Disciplinary action can range from a verbal warning to dismissal from their post."

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