Ministry of Justice
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Bernard Lodge inquiry report published

The report of an inquiry into the death of Bernard Lodge, who died at HMP Manchester on 28 August 1998 has been published yesterday by Claire Ward.

The Justice Minister said she was grateful to the chair of the statutory inquiry, Barbara Stow, for the way in which she handled the inquiry and for fulfilling the terms of reference so efficiently.

The report of the Inquiry can be found on the TSO website.

Background

Bernard Lodge (who was also known as Sonny Lodge) died at Manchester Prison on 28 August 1998.

The inquest into his death was held in 2001. The verdict was that Mr Lodge killed himself.

Mr Lodge's family argued that the inquest was insufficient to meet the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Ministry of Justice commissioned an independent investigation to examine the circumstances in which Mr Lodge took his own life and to see whether there are lessons to be learned that might contribute to the care of prisoners at risk of suicide and self-harm.

The investigation began on a non-statutory basis. On 23 February 2009 the Justice Secretary Jack Straw converted the investigation into the death of Bernard Lodge into a statutory inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005.

The report of the inquiry has today been laid before Parliament under House of Commons paper HC 127.

The report of the inquiry report will also be available on the Ministerial Council on Deaths in Custody website in due course.

The Chair of the inquiry, Barbara Stow, was an Assistant Prisons Ombudsman from 1998 to 2005, managing investigations of prisoners’ complaints and deaths in prison. She is a former Chair of the Legal Action Group, an educational charity promoting access to justice. Ms Stow has worked with the Local Government Ombudsman and the Citizens Advice Bureau service and is independent complaints reviewer for various public bodies. She has a Masters degree in Prison Studies from the University of Cambridge and has conducted research on justice in prisons.

In 1998 deaths in prison custody were investigated by the Prison Service, and the investigation report was not routinely disclosed to the family of the deceased. In April 1999 the Prison Service introduced a new policy of disclosing investigation reports about prisoners' deaths to families. Since April 2004 the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman conducts an independent investigation into deaths in prison custody. Families are involved in the investigation and see the evidence and the report.

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