Heaven v Ministry of Justice
The Claimant, an ex-prison officer, brought proceedings against the MoJ for severe psychiatric injuries which he suffered during the course of his employment at HMP Grendon, a category B prison. The Claimant was stationed on a wing that housed inmates convicted of serious sexual offences. As part of their rehabilitation, inmates underwent “therapeutic counselling” in which they were encouraged to speak openly about their offences.
The counselling sessions were held by prison officers and the Claimant was required as part of his employment to sit in the sessions and listen to the inmates talk in the most graphic terms about their offences. He had no training in counselling. He struggled mentally to cope with the sessions and was eventually dismissed on grounds of ill health.
The MoJ admitted that the Claimant suffered an injury, namely PTSD and depression, but denied breach of duty. The issues in the claim were complex. Recently the MoJ settled the claim for a large undisclosed amount. The claim has been widely publicised in the national media. This is one of many more such cases to come.