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UK News

Chaplain banned from HMP Brixton allowed to return

by Cara Bentley

Volunteer chaplain, Pastor Paul Song was accused of calling a prisoner a 'terrorist' by a Muslim chaplain and told to leave.

A prison official told Pastor Song that the decision to remove him as a volunteer chaplain was "permanent and with immediate effect".

But following an independent review, the decision has been overturned and Pastor Song has restarted his chaplaincy work at the prison.

HMP Brixton's website says they provide a chaplaincy service, including a six week, full-time, Christian resettlement course for 30 men and a Christianity Explored course. They say: "The course is open to men of any faith and who are willing to explore resettlement issues from a Christian perspective."

Pastor Song said the Muslim chaplain, appointed in 2015, had a problem with some of his Christian resources: "Imam Mohamed's discriminatory agenda was clear from the outset. He began scrutinising the material for each of our courses, commenting that the material was 'too radical', and that the Christian views expressed were 'extreme'.

"He paid scant regard to the fact that the courses are mainstream Christian courses, used by churches throughout the world. He also said he wanted to 'change the Christian domination' within HMP Brixton."

The Mail on Sunday also report extensively on his experience inside the prison, saying 'Islamic extremists hijacked his Bible classes. One afternoon, three inmates appeared in the chapel, interrupting a discussion on divine grace to loudly acclaim the killers of Lee Rigby'. 

In an interview he says he was psychically assaulted because he was a Christian, was called racist names and prevented using the chapel by the imam. 

A petition to reinstate him has been signed by over 40,000 people and his case brought up by Theresa Villiers MP with the Secretary of State for Justice.

A review was conducted in May this year by Sara Pennington, Governor of HMP Elmley.
Christian Legal centre, who took up Pastor Song's case, say: "The meeting with Governor Pennington was very open and honest and Pastor Song was given every opportunity to state his case. At the conclusion of the meeting, Governor Pennington confirmed she would compile a report that summarised her findings."

On 16th August the Governor of Brixton prison, David Bamford, met with Pastor Song to discuss Governor Pennington's findings.

Governor Bamford confirmed that the report concluded that "the decision to exclude Paul Song from HMP Brixton is not a reasonable one; due process was not followed in line with PSI42/2014 for the exclusion of an individual. I therefore recommend that Paul Song be reinstated as a volunteer chaplain at HMP Brixton".

Governor Bamford agreed that all of Pastor Song's prison passes should be restored and that he should resume his duties.

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