The controversy surrounding the sacking of Pastor Paul Song as a chaplain has deepened after it has been revealed many Christian groups have been banned from the prison since the arrival of the new Imam.
Earlier this year, Evangelical Times reported how Christian Concern (CC) was supporting Paul Song, who was told he was not allowed on the prison wings after allegedly accusing a Muslim inmate of being a terrorist. Pastor Song, who has been helping at Brixton for 19 years, has categorically denied he ever used those words or made any such comment to a prisoner.
He is being supported by Christian Concern, led by Andrea Williams. She has sought a meeting with prison governor David Bamford. However, he has refused to meet to discuss the matter. Instead he has sent a letter which, according to Mrs Williams, only serves to ‘muddy the waters’ further.
Claims made by the prison suggesting there was a witness to the alleged incident have not yet been backed up by evidence. No witness statements have yet been shown to Christian Concern, nor has the name of the accuser yet been disclosed.
Mrs Williams commented: ‘Even if a statement was written, how are we to know that it was not fabricated without having an opportunity to test it? Imam Mohammed Ahmed, the Muslim chaplain to Brixton Prison, had stated categorically to Pastor Song that he wanted to “wipe out the Christian domination” at Brixton.
‘But for our exposure of what is going on, Christian witness within the prison may well have been wiped out. We have heard that, since we exposed what was going on, an Anglican chaplain has been appointed’.
Mrs Williams added, ‘We have also spoken to numerous other Christian groups who have volunteered in Brixton for over a decade, leading Alpha courses, Christian drama courses, prayer groups and other vital ministries, only to have since been told that they can no longer continue at the prison.
‘Some of them wish to remain anonymous out of fear, though they all tell the same story. Their courses ran smoothly until Imam Mohammed Ahmed took over as senior chaplain in 2015.
‘From then on, one by one, their ministries were shut down. Different reasons were given. Some were told there was no longer a demand for their course, despite them regularly being oversubscribed.
‘For others, procedural minutiae prevented them from continuing. For others, Imam Mohammed Ahmed made it so clear they were no longer welcome they felt intimidated and left’.
She added that, while numerous attempts have been made since the summer of 2017 to arrange a meeting with Governor Bamford, Mr Horlock or Imam Mohammed Ahmed, to allow Pastor Song to discuss the allegations and evidence more fully, the requests have either been ignored or refused.