HMP Lewes: Claims of 'mass poisoning' at prison after inmates and staff need hospital treatment

HMP Lewes (Wikipedia / Oli96)
HMP Lewes (Wikipedia / Oli96)

At least 10 prisoners and staff members at HMP Lewes in East Sussex have reportedly been taken to hospital after a suspected mass poisoning.

Between 10 and 15 people were taken to hospital shortly after midday on Thursday, after becoming suddenly ill after attending a religious service, according to unconfirmed reports by prison sources.

Two of those in hospital are said to be in a life-threatening condition, according to MailOnline, though this has not been confirmed.

At least eight ambulance, police and fire response vehicles were reportedly at the prison on Thursday afternoon.

Police have not yet released details of the incident.

A Sussex Police spokesperson said only that officers “are assisting the ambulance service following the report of a medical incident at HMP Lewes at around 12.30pm on Thursday”.

However a source at HMP Lewes told MailOnline: “They all got sick after going to a religious event at a chapel service with food at the end of it.

“A significant amount of staff and prisoners have been taken ill.

“It's either a case of food poisoning or spiking,” they added, speculating: “It's happened far too quickly for it just to be food poisoning.”

They said: It wouldn't be unusual at festival times for staff to attend religious services and staff are encouraged to participate.”

The prison has been placed on lockdown while the incident is investigated, MailOnline reports.

A South East Coast Ambulance CBRN - chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear - van was reportedly seen at the site, along with a number of other emergency vehicles.

MailOnline reported a ‘major incident’ sign had been placed outside Eastbourne District General Hospital - which is around 16 miles away from the prison - on Thursday afternoon.

A South East Coast Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “I can confirm we have attended a medical incident at HMP Lewes reported to us at approximately midday today (March 28).”

HMP Lewes is a men’s category B prison, which is understood to hold both prisoners serving sentences and people on remand to local courts.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust and the Ministry of Justice have been approached by the Standard.

This is a breaking news story. More to follow.