A PRISON chaplain was sacked as his bosses feared a bloodbath if he was attacked by inmates as he was on a blood-thinning drug following a heart attack.

Rev Matthew Reed, a former chaplain at HMP Edinburgh, was placed on the medication after the heart attack in 2012 and prison bosses decided he could not return to work due to the health risks if he was assaulted.

They claimed the increased risk of bleeding was too high but an employment tribunal found the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) did not investigate all the medical evidence available to them and awarded Rev Reed £36,000.

The tribunal heard the 64-year-old's cardiologist said another drug might allow the priest to continue working at the prison, but SPS failed to seek his advice.

In a written judgment on the case, Employment Judge Andrew Macleod said: "The unanimous judgment of the Employment Tribunal is that Rev Reed's claim of unfair dismissal succeeds and that the SPS are ordered to pay him the sum of £36,220 by way of compensation."

Rev Reed, of Edinburgh, had been the prison chaplain at Edinburgh since 2002.

He suffered a heart attack at home on November 4, 2012, and spent 22 days in hospital recovering. Following his release he was placed on an anticoagulant known as Warfarin.

In March 2013, Rev Reed made enquiries about returning to work and spoke with SPS's occupational health provider about a possible phased return to work.

However, the judgment stated: "The SPS considered that Rev Reed could not return to work on the basis that they took the view that he was not fit to undertake [training] and that in any event, the prison environment presented too great a risk to the claimant while on anticoagulant medication.

"They were concerned that in the event of an incident in which Rev Reed was attacked by a violent prisoner in the prison while carrying out his duties, a blow to the claimant could lead to a catastrophic bleed because of the effect of the medication upon him in such circumstances.

"That effect, they considered, would be to increase the risk that serious injury or even death could result from an assault upon the claimant by a prisoner on the basis that a blow could cause bleeding, both internal and external, and that that bleeding would be exacerbated by the medication he was taking."

The tribunal heard that Rev Reed had never been physically attacked or threatened by any prisoner "nor did he recall ever feeling himself to be at high risk of a attack".

Bosses also failed to consult with his cardiologist, and failed to do so again at the chaplain's appeal - even though they had a letter from the medic stating that Rev Reed could have been placed on a newer drug which would be acceptable to the prison service.

Judge Macleod said: "We cannot find that that letter closes the door to the claimant's return to work; in our judgment, it opens the door, based on a new medication regime, and allows the respondents to reconsider their decision."

The judge added: "The respondents did not have reasonable grounds upon which to reach a conclusion as to the medical condition of the claimant, and thus his ability to carry out the role for which they employed him.

"This was a decision about a medical issue, which was taken with incomplete medical information and advice.

"Their own Occupational Health department had made it clear that in order for that advice to be complete a further report was required."

Rev Reed also tried to claim he had suffered disability discrimination but the tribunal dismissed this claim.

An SPS spokesman said: "We do not comment on any individual who is currently or has ever been employed by us."