The Metropolitan Police will go to the Supreme Court to challenge a ruling which led to two women who were seriously sexually assaulted by London cabbie John Worboys being awarded compensation.
One of the women, identified only as DSD, was the first of Worboys’ victims to make a complaint to the Met in 2003 while the other, know as NBV, contacted them after she was attacked in July 2007.
Between 2002 and 2008, Worboys, who was jailed for life in 2009, carried out more than 100 rapes and sexual assaults using alcohol and drugs to stupefy his victims.
In 2014, after the High Court ruled that the Met were liable to the women for failures in its investigation, it said DSD and NBV, who brought their claims under Article 3 of the Human Rights Act which relates to inhuman or degrading treatment, should receive £22,250 and £19,000 respectively.
DSD alleged she suffered a depressive disorder as a result of her treatment by officers during the 2003 investigation, while NBV claimed she suffered serious distress, anxiety, guilt and an exacerbation of post-traumatic disorder and depression because of her treatment during 2007.
The Met’s lawyers have said the case relates to points of principle and nothing was to detract from the bravery of the women who will keep their damages whatever the outcome.
In 2015, the Court of Appeal said it was inescapable the High Court was right to find a violation of the Article 3 investigative duty and, under the applicable legal principles, the conclusion on liability was inevitable.
On Monday, five Supreme Court justices will consider whether there is an obligation under the Human Rights Act, together with Article 3, to investigate ill-treatment which has been perpetrated by a private individual without any complicity of a public authority.
The court will also examine whether any positive obligation is confined to a requirement to put in place the necessary structure to enable such investigation to be conducted, but does not extend to the conduct of an individual investigation into a particular alleged crime.
Among those who have intervened in the case are the Home Secretary, Liberty, and women’s rights groups including Rape Crisis England and Wales and the End Violence Against Women Coalition.
Jodie Woodward, deputy chair of Rape Crisis England & Wales said: “Rape Crisis England & Wales has supported this intervention to ensure victims and survivors’ rights are protected and that the state is held to account.
“The details of this case highlight that when there are police failings it has catastrophic impact.
“When women and girls report sexual offences to the police it is critical that they are taken seriously and their complaints are acted on promptly and effectively.
“It is essential that women and girls have access to reparation when the state fails.”