Northern Ireland

Maghaberry Prison: Officer suspended following row with prisoner

Maghaberry prison sign
Image caption It is believed the prison authorities launched an investigation into her conduct after other prison officers questioned her account of the incident

A prison officer at Maghaberry who claimed that scalding water was thrown over her during a row with a prisoner on Sunday has been suspended.

It is believed the prison authorities launched an investigation into her conduct after other prison officers questioned her account of the incident.

The matter has been referred to the police.

It is believed detectives are studying CCTV footage and interviewing staff and prisoners who witnessed the incident.

On Monday, the Department of Justice issued a statement saying four officers had been injured during "an incident involving a prisoner".

It said one of the officers had received medical treatment.

Democratic Unionist Party MLA Edwin Poots had criticised prison service management when reports about the incident appeared on social media at the weekend.

Mr Poots, a former Stormont minster for health and public safety and a current member of Stormont's justice committee, said the jail was under-staffed.

On his Twitter account on Sunday, he wrote: "A prison officer scalded with hot water and five colleagues injured. How long is the SMT [senior management team] and minister going to drag their feet."

Image caption The BBC tried to contact Mr Poots for a comment, but he was unavailable

He told the BBC that under-staffing in the high-security County Antrim jail was creating dangers for both staff and inmates.

But the officer's account of what happened has now been questioned.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Prison Service said: "Following an incident at Maghaberry Prison on Sunday 31 January, the Prison Service can confirm that a prison officer has been suspended pending an investigation.

"The incident has also been referred to the PSNI."

On Wednesday, Mr Poots said he still maintains that the incident occurred as a result of under-staffing in Maghaberry.

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