In a dramatic last-minute turn of events on Friday 26 January, lawyers for two victims of the serial rapist John Worboys successfully obtained a High Court order blocking his parole pending a hearing due to take place this month.
The order grants an “interim stay” on Worboys’ release until a further oral permissions hearing is held at the High Court in London between 6 and 8 February. The case has been brought by two of Worboys’ victims, known as DSD and NBV, who are hoping to secure a full judicial review of the Parole Board decision to release the rapist, and for full disclosure of the 360-page dossier that led to their recommendation that he was no longer a risk.
Worboys had been expected to be released by January 31st; this sparked outrage amongst his victims, who originally had been informed by the CPS after Worboys’ trial that he would be detained under an IPP (“indeterminate sentence for public protection”) They had been sent letters at the time stating that “to all intents and purposes, it is a sentence of life imprisonment.”
Solicitor for the two victims who obtained the order, Harriet Wistrich of Birnberg Peirce, said: “Bringing this case was the last thing they wanted to do because they didn’t want to go through the ordeal again. But they feel under a duty to do all they can to keep him off the streets.”
Lawyers also intend to present police and prosecutors with a dossier of fresh allegations against Worboys, saying they were contacted by a “number of other victims”. Ms Wistrich said the raft of evidence she intends to hand to detectives “includes two previously unreported cases from 2002 and 2003 and two cases that were investigated by the police that would pass the evidential threshold but have not been prosecuted”.
The announcement of Worboys’ imminent release after less than a decade shocked all who were involved in the case. The victims were further horrified when they learned that Worboys had been moved from HMP Wakefield in West Yorkshire to a Category A prison in London – so much nearer to where they live – pending his release.
Justice Secretary David Gauke came under fire from the public and fellow MPs alike, for his prevarication over possible government intervention in the matter by way of a judicial review, which did not happen.
However, the entire situation has sparked legal action from all manner of other fronts: in addition to the crowdfunded action by DSD and NBV, national newspapers the Daily Mail and the Sun announced that they intended to judicially review the decision of the Parole Board not to disclose the rationale behind their decision to release Worboys.
Then it was announced that the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has lodged an application for Judicial Review into the decision to release Warboys, stating that “the astonishing and deeply concerning decision” made by the Parole Board to release him “simply cannot go unchallenged”.
In addition to all other developments, it is hoped that a positive outcome will avenge the capital’s black cab fraternity.