Today marks a year since my life was turned upside down.
On this day, one year ago, I accepted an invitation from the editor of The Prisons Handbook to write an article on my personal experiences of being a member of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for the Prisons Handbook 2016.
If I wrote it, he promised to publish it, and he did! You can find it on pages 20-23, after Michael Gove’s Foreward and just before the transcript of David Cameron’s speech on prisons.
Little did either of us realise the scale of interest from that one article.
Even before the book went to press I was catapulted into the media both local and National.
The local IMB board, IMB Secretariat, President of the National Council and National Council itself all decided that I needed to be shut up and shut up quickly.
The bullying started, then the intimidation, then the lies and then the prejudicial character assassination.
One Hollesley Bay IMB member who is still a member had the audacity to tell me that it would have helped if I had cried in front of the board whilst apologising for writing the article.
Call me contrary, but I make no apologies for having written the article. It was well grounded and factually correct, corroborated by the contents of the report by Karen Page Associates which the Ministry of Justice itself commissioned.
I did apologise for any offence caused as that was not my intention. The issues I raised are as important now as they were a year ago, I haven’t seen enough progress in any of the points I carefully considered and wrote about.
Those who truly know me can understand why I spoke out so passionately and continue to do so. I was given a platform which I took eagerly but never expected the venom, backlash, and dirty tactics by the IMB and MoJ in trying to destroy me my reputation and my working life.
But I have remained and will continue to remain steadfast in the knowledge that I spoke the truth and ultimately that’s all that matters.
My life has been turned upside down but I’m in some way I’m grateful for that. I have had the privilege to meet some of the most extraordinary people both in and out of prison and I have no regrets.
So, I’m not shutting up and I’m not going away
Join the conversation on Twitter: @fmspear #justgettingstarted