Worboys case: Nick Hardwick says ‘government at fault too’

John WarboysImage copyright

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John Worboys was jailed in 2009 for a string of sex attacks on women

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) must also “accept its role” in the decision to free rapist John Worboys, according to the former Parole Board chairman.

Nick Hardwick quit after the High Court quashed the board’s decision to release Worboys, who was jailed in 2009 for sex attacks on 12 women. Police believe he may have had more than 100 victims.

Mr Hardwick said the MOJ had not given details of the other alleged offences.

A review of at least six other cases has now been ordered.

The MOJ has been contacted for comment.

Worboys, who is now known as John Radford, has served 10 years, including remand time, of an indeterminate prison sentence.

In November, the Parole Board decided to approve his release with “stringent” licence conditions, arguing its decision was based on appropriate evidence.

However, following a legal challenge by two victims and the mayor of London, High Court judges overturned the decision on Wednesday, saying the board “should have undertaken further inquiry into the circumstances of his offending”.

Justice Secretary David Gauke outlined a series of changes to the Parole Board system, saying the court’s findings had highlighted “serious failings”.

‘Accepting responsibility’

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday, Mr Hardwick said the board had “got it wrong” by not considering other alleged offences – but that it had been “the widely-held practice at the time”.

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Media captionNick Hardwick said ‘right lessons’ will not be learnt unless responsibility is shared

“I thought at the time it was correct that we couldn’t go into the alleged offences (Worboys) hadn’t been convicted of.”

Mr Hardwick refused to accept he had been “scapegoated”, as claimed by lawyers representing Worboys’ victims, but added: “I accept the Parole Board was at fault, I don’t accept we were any more at fault than the MOJ.

“I don’t think the right lessons will be learned if the only people accepting responsibility is us.”

Mr Hardwick said Mr Gauke should not resign but, as the Parole Board “accepts its role in this, so should others”.

Mr Hardwick also said the High Court judgement had “turned” on the fact that other allegations were not considered, and though the judges had “some doubts” about the decision to free Worboys, they did not believe the Parole Board’s conclusion to release the rapist had been “irrational”.

The dossier provided to the panel by the MOJ “did not contain sufficient information about those other alleged offences and therefore they were not considered”, he added.

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Media captionJustice Secretary David Gauke says there were serious failings in the case

Mr Hardwick also said an independent review had found the probation service rather than the Parole Board was to blame for not keeping victims informed of the decision to release Worboys.

Marie McCourt, mother of Helen McCourt who was murdered in 1988, told BBC Breakfast she too had been frustrated by a lack of communication from the Parole Board dealing with her daughter’s killer.

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Media captionMurdered woman’s mother ‘kept on edge’ by Parole Board wait

Worboys will remain in prison while a “fresh determination” is carried out by a new Parole Board panel.

Mr Gauke has now also ordered a review of cases in which other prisoners have been released directly from high security prisons.

The Parole Board said there were six Category A offenders released in the 12 months up to April 2017.

Who is David Gauke?

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David Gauke became the sixth justice secretary in six years – and the first solicitor to take the role – in Theresa May’s January 2018 reshuffle.

His appointment breaks a run of four consecutive non-legally qualified MPs to hold the position of the government’s chief law officer.

He was previously work and pensions secretary and chief secretary to the Treasury.

The former City lawyer has been the MP for Hertfordshire South West since 2005.

Source : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43580469