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Ex-striker loses Featherstone Prison dismissal appeal

Staffordshire | News | Published:

Former footballer Vernon 'Big Vern' Allatt was not unfairly dismissed from his prison officer job at HMP Featherstone, an employment tribunal has ruled.

The ex-Preston North End and Hednesford Town striker was sacked amid claims he lost control during an altercation with a 'challenging' prisoner who refused to return to his cell, pulling out his baton, swinging it at the inmate five times and striking him twice.

Vernon Allatt

The Prison Service said Mr Allatt's actions were too much and fired him. The 56-year-old of Rugeley disputed this, saying he was unfairly dismissed.

However, Employment Judge Mr Robin Broughton upheld the prison's decision to relieve the officer of his duties on grounds of gross misconduct.

Mr Howard Shelley, representing Mr Allatt, told the hearing that during his entire 27-year career in the Prison Service, the prison officer had never previously used his baton and believed he and his colleagues were at risk of being harmed.

"In my submission this was lawful self-defence. There was never a question of charges being brought against Mr Allatt for assault," Mr Shelley said.

CCTV footage taken on the day of the incident - June 8 last year- is said to show the prisoner talking on a phone in a corridor while leaning on a broom. But the inmate is then said to lash out with the handle when a group of five staff members close in. Mr Allatt then swung his baton at the prisoner five times, landing twice, and also struck him twice in the face using his hand.

The inmate involved was later convicted of assaulting prison officer Mike Francis, of Gnosall, who suffered a head injury.

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Mr Allatt was sacked in January following a disciplinary hearing.

He declined to comment after the judgement.

The ex-striker scored three goals for Preston emerging as a cult hero in the 1985/86 season at Deepdale. He also played for Crewe Alexandra, Bolton Wanderers, Stockport, Rochdale, and Halifax Town.

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