PRISONERS who said they suffered physical and psychiatric harm after a serious fire broke out at HMP Isle of Wight seven years ago have settled damages claims after taking legal action against the Ministry of Justice, a High Court judge has been told.

More than 20 people – who were prisoners when fire broke out in February 2015 – have been involved in the litigation.

Mr Justice Soole, who is based in London, had been due to make decisions about damages at a trial.

But barristers told the judge, at an online High Court hearing today (Wednesday), that settlements had been reached.

No detail was aired at the hearing, but lawyers had given the judge information in written submissions.

Lawyers representing prisoners of HMP Isle of Wight said the fire had been “started intentionally” by a prisoner who was a “known arsonist”, when all other prisoners were locked in cells and unable to “evacuate themselves”.

“The impact of the fire on the other prisoners, prison officers and the prison buildings was significant. Thankfully, no-one was killed,” their case outline said.

“However, some of the prisoners in the affected part of the prison suffered injury from smoke inhalation and ongoing psychiatric harm as a result of their traumatic experience.”

Lawyers said the “arsonist” had been prosecuted.

More than 20 people who were prisoners alleged “a series of breaches of duty” by the Ministry of Justice.

Mr Justice Soole had been told how the Ministry of Justice had initially denied allegations but had subsequently admitted a “breach of duty”.

The Ministry of Justice describes HMP Isle of Wight as a high security men’s prison, set across two sites just outside Newport.

Ten people needed treatment as a result of the fire, it was reported at the time.

The report said a hospital had declared a “major incident”.

A spokeswoman for law firm Leigh Day, which represented claimants, said, after the hearing, that the firm had no comment.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We only settle when it is in the interest of taxpayers and any outstanding debts owed to victims must be paid before prisoners receive a penny.”