A FORMER manager at Lewes Prison has claimed she suffered racial and gender discrimination while working there.

Marcia Thomas, from Ringmer, near Lewes, said she was passed up for training for a better position and placed on a redeployment list because she is a black woman.

Her claim against her employers is being defended in a case expected to last three days in the South London Employment Tribunal.

At the first day of the hearing in Croydon, South London, yesterday the tribunal was told Ms Thomas had not been put on a conversion course that could have allowed her to move from non-operational to operational manager.

Ms Thomas, who started working at the men’s prison in 2008, said she had expressed an interest in the programme in 2011 but was not put forward for it by the then-governor Robin Eldridge.

The tribunal was told no staff at Lewes had been put forward for the scheme, although others in the Kent and Sussex region, with different bosses, had.

Ms Thomas said she felt her interest in joining the scheme, at a time when the prison needed more operational managers, had been dismissed with little discussion.

She said: “If it had been explored then he would have found that me going on to the conversion scheme would have been beneficial to Lewes Prison.

“What I am arguing is that if I was a white male or a white female I would not have been treated as differently as I have been.”

Catherine Rayner, defending the prison, said Mr Eldridge had expressed his doubts about the scheme overall and had staffing levels and the management of the prison to consider when determining whether he could spare someone for training.

She said: “The point is, he has indicated to you at an early stage it is nothing to do with your race or gender, he was saying: ‘I am not sure I am automatically attracted to this.’ He was managing your expectations.

“There is not a shred of evidence anywhere to suggest and support your frankly offensive view that Mr Eldridge, a reasonable man working in difficult circumstances, rejected your interest and application because you are black, because you are a woman. That’s simply unsupported.”

Ms Thomas said she was also put on a redeployment register four times and had been informed of this by her line manager.

Ms Rayner said there was no record of her being on the register.

The case continues.