Woman receives compensation after grooming and sexual abuse by a prison officer

Matthew Gold & Co have successfully settled a claim for damages brought by a female former prisoner against the Ministry of Justice after she was groomed and sexually abused by a male prison officer.

Our client, Ms P, was very vulnerable on her arrival at the notorious women’s prison. She had recently been sentenced and was distraught at the prospect of being separated from her young family.

The officer immediately took advantage of our client’s vulnerability for his own ends. He initially presented as friendly and supportive, and soon arranged for her to be given a coveted job in the prison. This role allowed the officer to have daily unsupervised access to our client as he supervised her in carrying out her duties. Our client alleged that over a period of weeks the officer took advantage of this position of trust to manipulate her into sexual activity.

Prison authorities became aware of rumours circulating in the prison about the officer’s behaviour towards our client, however they failed to take any action to investigate him and our client was instead transferred to another prison. The officer had repeatedly told our client that if she reported the abuse her time in prison would be made more difficult and that prison authorities would not believe her.

Some time later Ms P was contacted by police investigating allegations that the same officer was engaged in a sexual relationship with another vulnerable female prisoner. Our client gave evidence at the officer’s trial and he was subsequently convicted and imprisoned for offences against the other prisoner. Our client was particularly disappointed that the prison’s failure to investigate the officer at an earlier stage had allowed him to continue his offending against others.

Ms P brought claims of negligence, misfeasance in public office, assault, and harassment against the Ministry of Justice who operated the prison and employed the officer. A settlement was recently negotiated with Ms P receiving substantial compensation and payment of her legal costs. The Ministry of Justice did not admit liability, and if the case had not settled it was due to be heard at trial later this year.

Ms P was represented by Tim Lloyd of Matthew Gold & Co ( http://www.matthewgold.co.uk/people/tim-lloyd/ ) and Nick Armstrong, an experienced human rights barrister at Matrix Chambers ( https://www.matrixlaw.co.uk/member/nick-armstrong/  ).