Prison officer, John McGee, asked the governor at Durham Prison to have a “quiet word” with officer Hugh Cockburn, who had given evidence against former officers, including his own father, at an abuse trial and was due to give further evidence.

McGee’s father, John McGee Senior, was convicted of misconduct in a public office in December 2018 for his part in the mistreatment of inmates at Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett , in the 1970s.

McGee, who admitted that he hero-worshipped his father, stated that his email request was a “moment of madness” after his father was jailed last year for assaulting young boys at Medomsley Detention Centre.

The Jury at Durham County Court found McGee guilty of a single count of perverting the course of justice. Judge James Adkin, adjourned sentence to allow for reports to be prepared and McGee will be sentenced in March.

The Court was also told that McGee will now lose his job at Frankland Maximum Security Prison where he has worked for more than 20 years.

Prosecutor, Deborah Smithies, told the court that officer Cockburn was working at Durham Prison at the time he gave evidence about seeing young inmates being assaulted and had given evidence at two trials and was due to go give further evidence at a third Trial of a former Medomsley officer accused of abusing inmates.

McGee had sent an email to Phil Husband, the governor at Durham Prison, in January 2019, after his father was convicted at Teesside Crown Court.

McGee wrote in the email to Mr Husband that Mr Cockburn had been “sticking the boot in” by giving evidence, and said:

“If I had my way he would be dealt with if you know what I mean, now it’s not for me to say anything Phil, but a quiet word in his ear would be a good idea.”

Mr Husband reported the email to the police and McGee was arrested.

In a statement to the police, McGee said:

“I simply wanted Mr Cockburn to understand that he had contributed to putting my family through a difficult time.”

Ms Smithies said it had been a “bold attempt to put Mr Cockburn off” giving evidence again, adding: “In McGee’s view it was wrong for a prison officer to take the side of ex-inmates in the trial of ex-officers.”


If you have been a victim of child abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre and would like to speak to one of our specialist abuse lawyers in confidence, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can advise you on the available options for pursuing a civil damages claim. Jordans successfully represent and secure compensation for numerous victims of abuse and are experts in overcoming the particular challenges that arise in these sensitive cases. Our abuse team can be contacted on 0800 9555 094 or 0330 300 1103.

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