Judicial Review challenge to Worboys release succeeds – case remitted to Parole Board for fresh decision. Parole Board rule 25 ultra vires


Re: R (DSD & Anor) v The Parole Board of England and Wales [2018] EWHC 694 (Admin)

This was a judicial review challenge to the Parole Board direction to release John Worboys (now known as John Radford) and the lawfulness of Parole Board rule 25. In 2009 Worboys was convicted of 19 serious sexual offences committed between Oct 2006 and Feb 2008 involving twelve victims. He had been given an indeterminate sentence for public protection specifying a minimum term of imprisonment of eight years (being the equivalent of a determinate sentence of 16 years), less time spent on remand.

The Court upheld the challenge to the release and quashed the direction to release him on the basis that the Parole Board should have undertaken further inquiry into the circumstances of his offending and, in particular, the extent to which the limited way in which he has described his offending may undermine his overall credibility and reliability. Accordingly, Radford’s case was remitted to the Parole Board for fresh determination before a differently constituted panel.

Further, the Court upheld the challenge to the vires of Rule 25(1) of the Parole Board Rules 2016. There were no obvious reasons why the open justice principle should not apply to the Parole Board in the context of providing information on matters of public concern to the very group of individuals who harbour such concern, namely the public itself. This information could readily be provided in a fashion which in no way undermines the prisoner’s ECHR, art 8 rights and the confidentiality which attaches to it. The failure to provide reasons for Parole Board decisions is also ultra vires as it interferes with victims’ right of access to the court.

Nick Armstrong, Sarah Hannett, Phillippa Kaufmann QC, Dan Squires QC, Aidan Wills, Gavin Millar QC were involved in this case.