John Worboys latest: Black cab rapist arrives at court to face victims

The black cab rapist John Worboys today arrived at court for a dramatic confrontation with some of his victims as a legal challenge to block his release got underway 

The development came after Worboys said that he wanted to attend today’s hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice. 

That meant he had to be driven all the way from his cell at Wakefield jail to London so that he could listen to proceedings.  

The option of using a video link, which would have allowed him to watch proceedings from Yorkshire instead, was ruled out after the technology was deemed to be too unreliable.

Prison officials were forced to send Worboys on a 370-mile round trip at taxpayers’ expense for his appearance in court today (London News Pictures)

That meant that prison officials were forced to send Worboys on a 370-mile round trip at taxpayers’ expense to make what his first known public appearance since his conviction in 2009. 

Sir Brian Leveson, one of the two judges presiding over today’s hearing, said that he had ordered Worboys’ attendance on the grounds that he was an important participant and that he was not prepared to take the risk that the video technology, which had failed yesterday, would not work again.  

He said he understood that at least one victim was unhappy about Worboys’ presence. 

Predator: John Worboys in handcuffs for a court appearance in 2008

He was “sorry about that” but felt that Worboys’ attendance was essential. 

Worboys’ appearance in court came as government lawyers said that they were ready to provide the two victims involved in today’s case with the full details of why the decision was made to release the rapist.

They said the documents “include intimate details” about Worboys “including reports by psychologists which discuss highly personal matters” but would be handed over if the victims and the lawyers concerned agreed to keep them confidential.

The new developments came as two of the country’s most senior judges, Sir Brian Leveson and Mr Justice Garnham, began hearing a legal challenge by two victims and Mayor Sadiq Khan to the Parole Board’s decision to approve the rapist’s release.

Worboys, 60, who is now known as John Radford, has served just under ten years of an indeterminate sentence imposed after he was found guilty of 19 offences, including a rape and several sexual assaults, against 12 women. Police later said that they suspected his true number of victims totalled more than 100.

Today’s challenge at the Royal Courts of Justice is being brought under judicial review rules which allow decisions taken by public bodies to be overturned if the way in which they were taken is judged to have been flawed.

Phillippa Kaufmann QC, representing two of Worboys’ victims, said her clients believed that both the decision to release Worboys and the secrecy with which it was taken were unlawful.

She added that there was “a strong case that Mr Worboys’ remains highly dangerous and that the [Parole] Board’s conclusion that he now presents no more than a minimal risk to women is unlawful.”

Ms Kaufmann said that Worboys’ release should also be delayed until the victims’ appeal – which will be decided at a later hearing if today’s bid for permission to proceed succeeds – has concluded.

The Parole Board continues to argue that has acted lawfully and that the evidence considered by its officials justified the freeing of Worboys. But it said today that it would not seek to block a full hearing. 

In a submission to the court on behalf of Justice Secretary David Gauke, barrister Patrick Halliday said that the minister also did not oppose a full hearing on the lawfulness of the decision to free Worboys.

Mr Sheldon said, however, that this issue should be decided separately, and more quickly, than the question of whether the secrecy of the Parole Board’s process was wrong.

He added that the handover of the Parole Board’s “dossier of evidence” on Worboys would only take place once today’s “permission” hearing gives the go-ahead for a full judicial review of the release decision.

The decision to release Worboys provoked an outcry when it was announced last month. The Parole Board has said that it would like to be able to give more details of how it reached its decision but that it is legally barred from doing so because of “Rule 25” restrictions which compel confidentiality.

Today’s legal challenge centres on both the claim that this rule is unlawful and the argument that the decision to release Worboys was unreasonable because of the potential threat that the victims and the Mayor believe that he must still pose.

Meanwhile, one of the women bringing today’s legal challenge told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she was “horrified” by the prospect of his relase but was optimistic about having the decision overturned. 

She added: “When we were told it was an indefinite sentence we never thought for one second that he would be eligible for parole. I was horrified.  If you look at just the 12 that went to court an eight year sentence for 12 victims is not enough but if you look at the bigger picture that 105 were linked to this case that is appalling.

“It seems like there are so many mistakes being made again. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think there was a chance of success. 

If the Parole Board decision to release Worboys is eventually declared unlawful then a new hearing will have to be covened. It could still agree to free Worboys.

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