After being accused of having an affair with a prisoner, a female prison nurse was fired. She also faced allegations that she smuggled drugs into prison. 

The inmate claimed NHS worker Samantha Ketterer had expressed feelings towards him and that he had used a contraband mobile phone to keep in touch with her for ‘several months’.

Miss Ketterer was suspended after intelligence reports suggested she had been ‘compromised’ amid allegations she had been offered money to bring drugs into HMP Low Moss in Scotland.

The prison nurse was later dismissed for having an inappropriate relationship with the prisoner, after records showed that she had accessed his information an ‘excessive’ number of times.

Although she claimed that she had been unfairly fired, her case was dismissed by an employment tribunal in Glasgow.

NHS nurse Samantha Ketterer was sacked after she was accused of having a romantic relationship with an inmate at HMP Low Moss, an employment tribunal heard

NHS nurse Samantha Ketterer was sacked after she was accused of having a romantic relationship with an inmate at HMP Low Moss, an employment tribunal heard

Miss Ketterer began working in the East Dunbartonshire prison, on the outskirts Bishopbriggs, April 2019.

In September that year, a psychologist working at the prison reported that a patient – referred to in the tribunal only as ‘Patient A’ – had disclosed, unprompted, during a therapy session he had been having an inappropriate relationship with an NHS nurse called Samantha.

Tribunal heard that the prisoner confessed to her about their relationship and used a contraband cellphone to reach the nurse.

While he said he had offered to pay for her repairs of the car, he also claimed she was willing to take a package of drugs into prison. However, Patient A wasn’t able confirm that these were actually true events.

HMP Low Moss: Scottish medium-security facility which once held child killer John Leathem

HMP Low Moss can be found in the East Dunbartonshire suburb of Bishopbriggs, Scotland.

The medium-security prison holds approximately 750 men over 21 years old. There are 25 to 30 NHS employees employed at this facility.

In the past one of the prison’s most infamous inmates was John Leathem, who murdered 15-year-old student Paige Doherty in 2016 after stabbing her 61 times.

He had to be transferred to a protection wing 75 miles away at HMP Dumfries, which houses the country’s most notorious sex offenders, after prison staff at Low Moss uncovered a plot by other inmates to kill Leathem.

Patient A claimed Miss Ketterer also had relationships similar to those of other prisoners, and that he was in constant contact with his sister.

When the nurse returned to prison after her afternoon tea break, a small amount of medication was found in her pocket. This triggered the security alarm.

She was brought to Anette Dryburgh’s office, Head of SPS Operations. Ms Dryburgh explained she had received a number of ‘intelligence reports’ suggesting Miss Ketterer had been ‘compromised’.

Miss Ketterer stated that she didn’t feel unsafe or pressured by the prisoners when she was questioned. 

Also, she answered that she hadn’t done any work outside of the scope and function of her job.

At the end of the meeting Miss Ketterer’s bag and locker were searched and she was removed from the prison and took sick leave before being suspended from duty by the Greater Glasgow Health Board while an investigation was launched.

Interview with Dr Claire Ogilvie, a psychologist in June 2020. She explained to Patient A how she wanted to know if the relationship was romantic. 

He had said ‘the nurse had expressed romantic feelings towards him, but he did not feel the same way’, the tribunal heard.

Miss Ketterer denied any inappropriate relationship and bringing contraband to prison.

Ms Dryburgh told the investigation she had received various pieces of intelligence from multiple sources who saw Miss Ketterer ‘spending a lot of time with Patient A, taking him into one of the nurse’s rooms and going into his cell’. 

She explained how Scottish Prison Services (SPS) staff are meant to be able to see into the nurses’s room, but Miss Ketterer ‘kept looking at the window and staring at the staff as if she did not want them to be looking in’. 

The tribunal heard Miss Ketterer did not answer any of the questions put to her during the investigation, was ‘very unemotional’ and had been going through ‘a very turbulent time in her personal relationship’ at that time. 

In total, Miss Ketterer logged 2,122 clinical interventions for prisoners between April and October 2019. 

On average, there were three entries per patient. Patient A however had 72 entries.

The prison nurse claimed she was unfairly dismissed, but her case was thrown out by an employment tribunal in Glasgow (pictured, HMP Low Moss)

Although the prison nurse claimed that she had been unfairly fired, her case was dismissed by an employment tribunal in Glasgow. (photo: HMP Low Moss).

Ms Dryburgh stated that the patient A was not at risk of having too many interventions.

The report also showed Miss Ketterer had checked Patient A’s records 17 times after days off and periods of annual leave or sickness but did not then record any clinical intervention.

A disciplinary hearing took place in December 2020 where Miss Ketterer ‘displayed no emotion’. 

While there was no evidence of her bringing contraband into the prison, it was ruled her actions ‘resulted in an irreparable breakdown in trust in the employment relationship’.

She was dismissed due to ‘unprofessional conduct, serious breaches of confidentiality, accessing computer records or files with no authority, blatant and serious breach of policies and procedures, and action which is likely to bring the NHS into disrepute’.

Miss Ketterer claimed she was unfairly fired and filed a claim at an employment tribunal in Glasgow.

Her claim was dismissed, with Employment Judge Beyzade Beyzade stating: ‘(Miss Ketterer’s) conduct was a sufficient reason to justify summary dismissal.

‘Full consideration had been given to alternative outcomes before taking the decision to terminate (her) employment.

‘It was clear that given the seriousness of (Miss Ketterer’s) misconduct, the nature of the misconduct, and its potential impact on patient and public confidence together with the breakdown in trust and confidence in the employment relationship this could not be considered.’

The medium security facility houses approximately 750 male prisoner over 21. Between 25 and 30 NHS workers were also employed there.