Mubarek family win inquiry into Zahid’s murder

April 29, 2004

Written by Harmit Athwal

After years of campaigning by the Mubarek family, David Blunkett has announced that a judicial inquiry will be held into the racist murder of Zahid Mubarek at Feltham Young Offenders Institute.

The inquiry will investigate and report to the Home Secretary on Zahid’s death and the events leading up to the attack on him, and will make recommendations on preventing such attacks in the future.

In March 2000, 19-year-old Zahid was just hours away from being released when he was beaten to death by his racist cellmate, Robert Stewart. Stewart was convicted of murder later that same year and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In October 2003, the House of Lords ruled that David Blunkett had been wrong to refuse Zahid’s family a judicial inquiry into his death. Three Law Lords ruled that the state was under a duty, not only to ensure that a prisoner’s right to life was protected, but also to publicly investigate the death of an inmate due to prison system failures.

Zahid’s death has already been the subject of two inquiries, one by the Prsion Service and the other by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE). The CRE inquiry found a ‘shocking catalogue of failure’ and the CRE began work with the Prison Service to agree an ‘action plan’. Neither the CRE inquiry nor the Prison Service’s, though, allowed Zahid’s family to ask questions of witnesses through their lawyers – which is why the family believe that many questions remain unanswered.

The inquiry, which will be chaired by Mr Justice Keith, is non-statutory. Unlike the Macpherson Inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, it will not have the power to compel witnesses to attend or to give evidence. But civil servants would be expected to co-operate under the Civil Service Code. A non-statutory inquiry also does not have the power to compel the production of documents relevant to the case – although the Mubarek family hope that the relevant papers will nevertheless be made available.

Related links

Racist murder of Zahid Mubarek: questions remain unanswered – IRR report

Zahid Mubarek family campaign

Commission for Racial Equality investigation

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

Comments

June 4, 2005
Richard Pascoe:

Mubarek was not killed accidentally. When i was 17 they tortured me for three and a half weeks in Feltham. They moved me to a cell with someone who was 8 years older than me and the prison officers gave him the weapon and alcohol to start with. They provided him with a false name. I was deprived of sleep and water and forced to put on shows which the prison officers watched through the cell spy-hole. After 3 weeks of continuous beatings and psychological games they said they would release me if i never told anyone about it. I agreed. I am now 40 years old. My name is Richard Pascoe and i refuse to accept the Prison Services excuses. Before they started to torture me one prison officer said “You’re a black-bin bag and we’re going to fill you up with rubbish and throw you out. Personally i would have rather served the 2 years i was sentenced too. I live in Slough, Berkshire. I want to help but one man alone is never enough. Any other survivors? Speak up and let the UK hear your story.

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