04:13, March 29 234 0 theguardian.com

2018-03-29 04:13:04
Ex-Parole Board chief criticises justice ministry over Worboys case

The former head of the Parole Board, who was forced out over the quashed decision to release the rapist John Worboys, has said the justice secretary, David Gauke, has failed to take his department’s share of responsibility for failings in the case.

Nick Hardwick, who was forced to resign by Gauke, said three high court judges had made it clear that a dossier of evidence supplied by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to the Parole Board panel considering Worboys’ release did not contain sufficient detail on Worboys’ alleged broader offending.

The judges’ comments came in a ruling handed down on Wednesday that overturned the Parole Board’s decision to release Worboys and ordered a fresh hearing, prompting the effective sacking of Hardwick as chair of the board.

The judges found that the Parole Board should have looked closer at Worboys’ other alleged offences. Worboys was convicted of 19 offences, including rape, against 12 victims but police believe he may have attacked more than 100 women.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Hardwick, who has received the backing of the QC representing the victims who brought the judicial review, stopped short of calling for Gauke to resign but said the minister must take responsibility for his department’s mistakes or the right lessons would not be learned.

“The dossier that the panel received from the secretary of state – that was the secretary of state’s responsibility – didn’t contain sufficient information about those other alleged offences,” Hardwick said.

The MoJ has said there was detail in the information supplied, but Hardwick said: “I don’t think the Ministry of Justice is being correct in this. The judgment is very clear that the dossier provided to the panel by the secretary of state didn’t contain all the information it should have done and the secretary of state’s representative – who is at the panel – didn’t in any way suggest the panel should have considered those other matters.”

Hardwick said it was the “widely held practice” of the Parole Board at the time not to look at offences for which a prisoner seeking parole had not been convicted.

“I didn’t resign willingly, I resigned because the justice secretary said I had no choice,” he said. “I accept that the Parole Board was at fault in these matters. I don’t accept we were any more at fault than the Ministry of Justice and I don’t believe the right lessons will be learned from this case if the only people accepting any responsibility for the things that went wrong here is us.”

Worboys, 60, now goes by the name John Radford. He was jailed indefinitely in 2009 with a minimum term of eight years, and has now spent 10 years in jail.

Gauke was appointed as justice secretary, replacing David Lidington, in January’s cabinet reshuffle, days after the Parole Board announced its decision on Worboys.