Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Family Win Cell Murder Inquiry

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Family Win Cell Murder Inquiry

Article excerpt


THE family of an Asian teenager murdered by his white cellmate today won their battle to force the Home Secretary to reconsider his decision not to hold a public inquiry.

A High Court judge ruled that David Blunkett must hold an independent investigation into the death of 19-year-old Zahid Mubarek at the hands of racist psychopath Robert Stewart in Feltham young offenders' institution.

Campaigners said the death highlighted a scandalous lack of care. The tragedy prompted prisons chief Martin Narey to admit there was evidence of blatant racism in Britain's jails. But the Home Office refused calls for a public inquiry.

Mr Mubarek, of east London, was serving three months for petty theft and was hours from release when Stewart, an arsonist with a record for violence, hit him more than seven times with a chair leg as he slept. The full reasons for Mr Justice Hooper's decision will be given next month, but he made clear that human rights laws entitle Imtiaz Amin, Zahid's uncle, to an independent investigation. The judge stopped short of declaring that Mr Blunkett should hold a full independent public inquiry.

It is possible Mr Justice Hooper may conclude that a reopened inquest would be enough to answer the family's questions, but the Mubarek family would mount a fresh challenge if a full public inquiry was not agreed.

Imran Khan, lawyer for the family, said after today's ruling: "This is a fantastic result which is groundbreaking in many ways. It is also a huge embarrassment for the Home Secretary. This was the first major challenge to one of his decisions in the courts and he has failed.

"It was quite clear to the family and all those involved in this case that there should have been a public inquiry into the murder. Patrick O'Connor QC, for the family, told the court that Stewart had a cross and RIP tattooed on his forehead and it was obvious to everyone that he was a dangerous racist. …

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