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Parole boss sorry over failure to tell victims of rapist cabbie release

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The chairman of the Parole Board has apologised "unreservedly" over the failure to inform the victims of serial rapist John Worboys of his imminent release.

Professor Nick Hardwick said he fully accepts there was a problem with the parole system, and that it was believed the victims had been informed before the decision was issued.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme he said he is still trying to establish precisely what happened and does not want to "blame anybody yet".

He said it was not the Parole Board's responsibility to inform victims, and added: "Whoever's fault it was, I fully accept this was a problem with (the) parole system.

"I'm chair of the Parole Board, this would have been absolutely horrible for those two women concerned, and I apologise for it unreservedly."

London cabbie Worboys, a former stripper and adult film star, was jailed indefinitely in 2009, with a minimum term of eight years, for drugging and sexually assaulting women passengers.

In a statement, Prof Hardwick said he has "recently set out options for change" and that the Parole Board has a "statutory duty" under its rules which "prevents disclosure of proceedings".

"We will shortly be launching a public consultation about how we share our decision-making with the public," he added.

"I am very concerned some victims were not told about the decision; this must have been very distressing.

"There are robust arrangements in place for victims to be informed through the Victim Contact Scheme. We were told that had been done as usual in this case and released the decision on that basis."

Lawyer Harriet Wistrich said two victims had not been informed of Worboys' imminent release or of his Parole Board hearing.

She told the Press Association they are both "shocked and horrified by this news", and said on Channel 4 News that the first they learned of the planned release was while "listening on the radio, cooking tea for the kids".

It is understood that all those who were signed up to the Victim Contact Scheme were informed as soon as the Parole Board decision was made.

Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, has called for the Parole Board to immediately publish its reasons for allowing the release of Worboys.

She said was "really shocked" by the move and called for scrutiny of the Parole Board's reasoning before the prolific sex attacker is let out of jail.

Worboys, who became known as the "black cab rapist", was found guilty of 19 charges of drugging and sexually assaulting 12 women passengers, in one case raping a woman.

But police said in 2010 that his alleged victims numbered 102 after more people came forward following his trial and conviction.

The allegations were investigated but no further action was taken on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), police said.

It is feared Worboys may have more than 100 victims and the Parole Board's decision sparked an outcry from charities and support groups when it was made public on Thursday.

Charity campaigners have called the time served by the 60-year-old "woefully short" and said his release "beggars belief".