Protest by prison officers in England leads to delay in Jo Cox murder trial

Thousands of officers are reported to have stopped working over health and safety fears

Protest by prison officers in England leads to delay in Jo Cox murder trial

UK Labour MP Jo Cox | File photo: PA Images

Thousands of prison officers are protesting in the UK - forcing a delay to the murder trial of MP Jo Cox.

Up to 10,000 staff have stopped working today over health and safety fears amid claims the country's prison service is in "meltdown".

The UK's Prison Officers Association (PAO) has directed all of its members to effectively go on strike for a day after talks with the government broke down.

Jurors at the Old Bailey were told defendant Thomas Mair, who is on trial accused of killing West Yorkshire MP Mrs Cox on 16th June, was unable to attend court because of the industrial action.

Sky News reporter Mark White, at the hearing, said proceedings had been adjourned until Wednesday. The trial got underway yesterday.

The UK's justice ministry has condemned the industrial action by prison officers as "unlawful" and says it will be taking the matter to court.

A spokesperson for the ministry said: "There is no justification for this action.

"We have been engaged in constructive talks with the POA over the last two weeks and have provided a comprehensive response to a range of health and safety concerns."

Official figures show that in the year to June, the number of attacks on staff rose by 43% to 5,954, with 697 of them recorded as serious.