10:02, January 11 354 0 theguardian.com

2018-01-11 10:02:04
John Worboys victims demand CPS reassess 93 allegations against him

Lawyers representing victims of the serial sex attacker John Worboys are demanding prosecutors reassess 93 cases for which he was not previously prosecuted.

The 60-year-old black-cab driver is set to be released from jail within weeks after he was convicted in 2009 of the drugging and sexual assault of 12 women, including one rape.

Q&A

Why is John Worboys being released and can the decision be reversed?

The Parole Board is able to assess the continued risk posed by prisoners based on psychiatrist and prison guard reports at Parole Board hearings that take place around once a year for each offender. Some of the hearings are oral, some of them written.

In November, a three-person panel of the Parole Board directed the release of Worboys, following an oral hearing. He will be released back into society under strict monitoring on a licence period of at least 10 years.

Parole Board hearings are held in private and reasons for release are not made public, although a consultation is to be launched on how the body shares its decision-making with the public.

The Parole Board is an independent body and its recommendation for Worboys’ release cannot be overturned by the Ministry of Justice.

There are examples of Parole Board decisions being challenged by judicial review in the courts, but only when the prisoner has been denied release.

Read a fuller explainer on John Worboys

In a letter to the Crown Prosecution Service, lawyers for several victims and alleged victims said: “Worboys was only prosecuted in respect of a small fraction of the allegations against him: 12 complainants out of some 105 in total whom, we understand made complaints to the police.

“It is understood that the intention was that ‘the indictment was not overloaded and that the case was as simple as it could be to present to a jury’. In the course of the trial an additional four allegations emerged which were linked to Worboys. Furthermore, in the wake of media observations following the conviction an additional 45 incidents were reported, of which 18 were linked to Worboys. The total number of allegations linked to Worboys upon the closure of the investigation was 105.”

Richard Scorer at Slater and Gordon, which represented 11 of Worboys victims in a successful civil claim, said: “Our clients were led to believe their attacker would not be walking free for many many years, so there was no point in prosecuting him for their allegations. This clearly has not happened and we are left with dozens of women fearing for their safety and feeling sorely let down by the very system that is meant to protect them.”

The CPS said last week that during the police investigation into John Worboys, files relating to 83 separate complainants were referred to prosecutors. However only 14 of those passed the “evidential test”, it said.

It said in a statement: “Prior to trial, the cases of three further complainants were assessed to have passed the evidential test. However, by that stage it had been decided that there were sufficient counts on the indictment to enable the judge to impose an appropriate sentence in the event of conviction.”

In their letter to the CPS, Scorer and Harriet Wistrich of Birnberg Pierce reiterated that their clients “were shocked and dismayed to learn of Worboys’ imminent release”.

“The decision of the Parole Board, the manner it was communicated to victims (most found out through the media), and the seeming failure to put in place proper measures to protect victims following his release are all matters of grave concern to our clients,” they said.

They claimed the victims were told Worboys would “not be coming out for a long time” and, as a result, it was not necessary to prosecute the serial rapist with another trial, based on other allegations.

“To the extent that this was the CPS’s expectation at the time, this has clearly not happened and this justification for not bringing further prosecutions has fallen away,” the letter said. “We therefore formally request that the CPS make a public commitment to reconsidering the evidence in all Worboys cases with a view to further prosecution.”

The CPS said: “In any crime allegation, it is a matter for the police to investigate in the first instance and pass to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether charges should be laid.”