Racism Row Won't Cost Prisons Chief His Job, Say Ministers

Daily Mail (London), March 28, 1998 | Go to article overview

Racism Row Won't Cost Prisons Chief His Job, Say Ministers


PRISONS boss Richard Tilt, who was accused of racism after claiming black people are more likely to suffocate than whites while being restrained, will not be sacked.

Ministers yesterday dismissed calls for his resignation as 'ridiculous'.

Mr Tilt, the Prison Service's Director General, insisted: 'I am not a racist. I have never been a racist. I never shall be a racist. I don't think the question of resignation comes into it.' The row erupted after an inquest jury ruled that black prisoner Alton Manning was unlawfully killed after being held down by staff during a struggle at Blakenhurst jail in Worcestershire in 1995.

He was the sixth black person of the seven people who have died in prisons while being restrained since 1992. Attempting to explain that disproportionate figure, Mr Tilt cited Prison Service research suggesting sickle cell anaemia - suffered mainly by black people and in which the sufferer's blood carries less oxygen - could be to blame.

But the theory was rejected by the Home Office's own pathologist Nat Cary.

Asked yesterday if Mr Tilt should resign, Prisons Minister Joyce Quinn said: 'There is no question about that at all. …

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