MD2231 The Mayor’s judicial review - John Worboys

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Code: 
MD2231
Date signed: 
30 January 2018
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

The Mayor has indicated his serious concerns about the decision of the Parole Board of England and Wales, reported on 4 January 2018, to recommend the release of John Worboys from prison. John Worboys was convicted in 2009 of 19 offences against 12 women, including one rape, although the total number of victims is believed to be much higher.  Many of his crimes were committed in Greater London.  He was sentenced on 21 April 2009 to an indeterminate sentence with a minimum term of 8 years (less time served), which expired on 14 February 2016. At an oral hearing on 8 November 2017 a panel of the Parole Board of England and Wales considered whether it was necessary for the protection of the public for John Worboys to continue to be detained. The decision to release Worboys so soon has caused very serious concern for his victims, many of whom still live in London, and among members of the public more widely.  It is considered that the decision of the Parole Board of England and Wales should be subject to scrutiny by the courts to provide reassurance that it was lawful. The Mayor is therefore invited to agree to issue judicial review proceedings challenging the decision.

 

Decision

That the Mayor agrees to:

  • Issue a judicial review claim with the Mayor as claimant against the Parole Board of England and Wales’s decision to release John Worboys from prison; and

  • If necessary, apply for interim relief against the Secretary of State for Justice to prevent John Worboys being released from prison before judgment has been given in the judicial review claim.

 

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.         The Mayor’s judicial review of the Parole Board’s recommendation to release John Worboys

1.1       The Mayor has indicated that he has serious concerns about the implications of the decision of the Parole Board of England and Wales to recommend the release of John Worboys from prison.

1.2       John Worboys was convicted in 2009 of 19 offences against 12 women, including one rape, although the total number of his victims is believed to be much higher (more than 100).  Many of his crimes were committed in Greater London, where he lived and worked as a black cab driver. He was sentenced on 21 April 2009 to an indeterminate sentence with a minimum term of 8 years (less time served), which expired on 14 February 2016.

1.3       At an oral hearing on 8 November 2017 a panel of the Parole Board of England and Wales considered whether it was necessary for the protection of the public for John Worboys to continue to be detained.  Following that hearing, on a date which has not been confirmed, the Parole Board decided to recommend John Worboys for release.  The decision was first reported on 4 January 2018.

1.4       The Mayor is aware that the proposed release of John Worboys has caused very high levels of concern amongst his victims, many of whom still live in London, and amongst Londoners more widely.  Mr Worboys is understood to own property in London and his victims fear that he will return to the area once he is released.  No information has been provided about the likely conditions of release and whether there will be any restriction on Mr Worboys’ ability to live or work in London.

1.5       It is of particular concern that there is no transparency around the Parole Board’s decision-making process so that the public cannot know what factors were taken into account in reaching the decision to release him.  By bringing a judicial review claim of the decision, the Mayor can ensure that the decision is properly scrutinised by the courts, to provide reassurance that it was taken lawfully. The Mayor is therefore invited to issue judicial review proceedings challenging the decision. 

1.6       The Mayor is asked to agree:

To issue a judicial review claim against the Parole Board of England and Wales’s decision to recommend the release of John Worboys from custody; and

If necessary, apply for interim relief against the Secretary of State for Justice to prevent John Worboys being released from custody before judgment has been given in the judicial review claim.

 

Equality comments

2.1       Under section 149 Equality Act 2010 the Mayor must, when exercising his functions have due regard to the need to:

eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act;

advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not; and

foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

2.2       The proposed judicial review challenge will provide some reassurance to the female victims of John Worboys and to women and girls in London generally, by ensuring that the Parole Board’s decision is properly scrutinised by the court.  The Mayor considers that the victims should have had their views and concerns about their safety taken into account when the Parole Board of England and Wales considered whether to recommend the release of John Worboys.  Until the decision has been reviewed by the Courts, the victims and other vulnerable female members of the public cannot be confident that Mr Worboys no longer poses a threat to their safety.

 

Financial comments

3.1       It is not known at this stage what the total legal costs arising for the GLA from this claim will be.  The level of costs will depend on a number of factors which are not known at this stage, most particularly whether it will be necessary to apply for injunctive relief against the Secretary of State for Justice.  In addition to the Mayor’s own legal costs, if the challenge is unsuccessful there are likely to be adverse costs payable. The best estimate at this stage is that total legal costs will be between £75,000 to £125,000.  Costs will be carefully monitored and officers will be kept informed as matters proceed, if this estimate changes significantly. The costs which do arise will be met from the contingencies available within the GLA budget.

 


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