• The Blantyre House Prison Affair by Tom Murtagh OBE - book cover

The Blantyre House Prison Affair

Lessons From a Modern-day Witch Hunt

by Tom Murtagh OBE, Foreword by Martin Narey


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Tom Murtagh OBE was a governor at The Maze Prison and Armagh Prison, Northern Ireland before becoming Area Manager – one of the highest ranks in HM Prison Service – for Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Building on a fine record and long experience he set out to raise standards in all the prisons under his charge, only to be demonised by a Parliamentary Home Affairs Committee in ‘The Blantyre House Prison Affair’. In this autobiographical account he tells his side of the story: the background, key facts, matters of intelligence that were confidential at the time, and about how the events led to his vilification as his strategically-informed messages and voice were ignored.


‘This is a story that needs a public airing … a story of nothing less than the institutionalising of public emotions’: The Rt. Hon Ann Widdecombe MP, former Prisons Minister

‘An absorbing and most disturbing account – it is enlightening material for every student of public administration and should invite careful reflection by every committed practitioner in the public services (not just those in criminal justice)’: John Raine, University of Birmingham, Vista

‘A strikingly interesting and well written book’: Justice of the Peace

Tom Murtagh’s actions in managing Blantyre House ‘not only preserved all that was good about the Blantyre regime… but may have saved my job and perhaps that of the Home Secretary.’ Martin Narey, Director of Barnardo’s and former Director-General of HM Prison Service – from the Foreword

‘It is to be hoped that the story is unique. But it sounds a warning about the effectiveness and legitimacy of our institutions and for public accountability as a whole’: David Faulkner CB, Oxford University Centre for Criminological Research

‘If I could recommend one book about HM Prison Service to National Offender Management Service staff and students of politics, criminology and forensic psychology this would undoubtedly be it’: Professor Graham Towl, Chief Psychologist, National Offender Management Service, Home Office

‘Progress needs people like Tom Murtagh who never shied away from anything if he believed he was doing right … This book is important: not simply for putting the record straight’: David Cottle, Then-chair, Blantyre House Board of Visitors

As attacked by Private Eye … they still don’t get it!

All royalties from The Blantyre House Prison Affair are being donated to Nacro


Tom Murtagh OBE ended his long career in the Prison Service as an Area Manager in HM Prison Service. He is also the author of The Maze Prison: A Hidden Story of Chaos, Anarchy and Politics (Waterside Press, 2018).

Additional information

Weight314 g
Dimensions234 × 156 × 12 mm

Foreword author

Martin Narey


Waterside Press




Publication date




Place of origin

United Kingdom

Ebook (PDF)


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