British Prison Service Settles Complaint with Lesbian Guards

Great Britain’s Prison Service reached a settlement with nine lesbian prison guards who had accused the Prison Service of sexual discrimination.

Back in March 2002, the nine prison guards were transferred out of Holloway Prison after a five-month investigation claimed they were part of an organized group that was sexually harassing female staff at the prison.

At the time, the women were accused of harassing heterosexual female staff and trying to pressure them to become lesbians. Martin Narey, then director general of the Prison Service, said at the time,

The findings of the investigation report into bullying and intimidation of staff at Holloway have deeply concerned me. The findings reveal that sexual harassment, bullying and intimidation of staff have taken place, and have not, until now, been properly challenged. Behavior of this kind will not be tolerated in the prison service. Management should be tough. It should be robust. But it should never be intimidating. Bullying and sexual harassment are totally unacceptable. These staff who have been there some time effectively established themselves as an alternative management structure. They turned Holloway into an unhealthy place in which to be going to work.

Former Holloway staff member Terry White went further, telling The Observer,

They wanted the challenge of turning straight women. They would target the best looking and most feminine of the new recruits, especially the young ones from outside London.

The women responded with a complaint calling the allegations unfounded. In January, the Prison Service reached a settlement that explicitly stated the sexual harassment claims were in fact unfounded. The Prison Service also agreed to a six-figure settlement with the nine women and allowed them to apply for jobs at Holloway Prison in the future.


Damages for lesbian prison guards. The BBC, January 28, 2005.

Lesbian Prison Officers Disciplined. The Observer, March 18, 2002.

Lesbian prison officers claim sexual discrimination. Dan Thomas, Personnel Today, January 13, 2005.

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