FOUR guards from Bullingdon Prison, near Bicester, accused of perverting the course of justice, have been cleared of all the charges against them.

Yesterday a jury took four hours and 21 minutes to return not guilty verdicts after a two-week trial at Oxford Crown Court.

There were cheers and sighs of relief from the public gallery as the verdicts were read out.

Senior officer Michael Stooks, from Tingewick, Buckinghamshire, was charged with assaulting then-serving prisoner Jamie Cassell during a forced removal from his cell on February 4 last year. He was found not guilty of the charges.

He was also accused – along with Martin Egerton, 25, of Lower Heyford, Mark Reed, 45, of Bicester, and Nicholas McGregor, 38, of Witney – of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Nigel Daley, prosecuting, told the jury that all four men changed their “use of force” logs to remove any mention of another guard, Stephen McCallum, who was going to report the alleged assault.

But during the trial, Mr Stooks gave evidence that the removal of Mr Cassell had been “textbook” and no assault of any kind had taken place.

He said he regretted asking the other officers to change their paperwork, but told the jury it was only to save a “tearful” Mr McCallum from going through any more stress.

After the verdicts were read out Recorder Patrick Hamlin thanked the jury for its help with the “interesting and unusual case”.