Reinstate Pastor Paul Song as a Chaplain at Brixton Prison, and allow him to run Christian courses as he has in the past.
Pastor Paul Song was a volunteer Chaplain at HMP Brixton for nearly 20 years. Many prisoners became Christians through the courses he ran (including Alpha) and had their lives transformed. He had full security clearance for all his activities and had even been given keys to the prison as a sign of the high esteem in which he was held.
But in 2015, this changed - the Senior Chaplain at the prison was replaced by a Muslim. Imam Mohamed Yusef Ahmed began scrutinising the material used in Pastor Song’s courses, commenting that the material was “too radical”; and that the Christian views expressed were “extreme” – despite the fact that these courses are mainstream Christian courses, used by Christians throughout the world.
Imam Mohamed asked Paul to stop running the courses, which he reluctantly agreed to, though Paul carried on going into the prison to meet with prisoners. At no point were complaints made by prisoners either about the content of the courses or Paul’s attitude towards any of the prisoners.
Then, in August 2017, Paul received an email from Imam Mohamed, telling him that he no longer had permission to enter the prison wings or speak to any prisoner at HMP Brixton. Pastor Song was not informed of any substantive grounds which may justify his removal.
Bemused by the email, and having no awareness that anything was wrong, Paul met with the Imam, during which he was again told that he was no longer welcome at the prison and he had "no right to appeal against" the decision. Again, no reasons were given.
Eventually, Paul received a letter from Graham Horlock (Head of Reducing Re-Offending at HMP Brixton) on 4th September 2017, informing him for the first time that an accusation had been made that Paul called a prisoner a "terrorist", and stating that the decision to remove him from his role applied "permanently with immediate effect”. This was the first occasion on which Paul heard about the allegation - which Paul denies.
The prison has ignored requests to even provide information of the alleged complainant and a copy of his statement.
After being kept waiting for 5 months without explanation, he received an email on 11th January nothing that “the exclusion [from HMP Brixton] is permanent.”
Former Brixton prisoner Jeremy Conlon said: "Prison is a tough place to be, though Paul was a light in the darkness for me and many others. Paul’s humility, wisdom and gentleness amazed all the prisoners, and he gave us a much-needed opportunity to receive prayer, to discuss issues we were struggling with and to ask questions. I cannot speak highly enough of him, and am deeply saddened by the way in which he has been treated".
Another former prisoner at Brixton, Peter Levy, said: "Paul’s continued support for me and other prisoners, even after the course had finished, brought us all hope of a new way of life. He even met me at the prison gates on the date of my release and took me for food, and helped me work through the family and work issues I was having at the time. Without him, I would have had nowhere to turn, and to think he was doing all this voluntarily is amazing".
Please sign the petition to show your support for Pastor Paul, so that prisoners can continue to benefit from his life-changing ministry.
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Petition to: Dave Bamford - Governor of Brixton Prison