POLITICS
08/04/2018 12:38 BST

John Worboys: Justice Secretary David Gauke Admits Mistakes Over Parole Board Row

'Look, I made the decision. I accept responsibility, so I’m not hiding behind my advisers.'

Paul Hackett / Reuters
David Gauke leaves Number 10 Downing Street in London

Under-fire Justice Secretary David Gauke has admitted he made mistakes in the row over black cab rapist John Worboys’ potential release. 

In an interview with the Sun On Sunday, Gauke said he takes responsibility for the Government’s decision not to oppose the Parole Board’s controversial ruling - later overturned in a High Court challenge by two victims - to release the sex offender. 

Gauke said: “Clearly, things didn’t go as they should have gone.

“Look, I made the decision. I accept responsibility, so I’m not hiding behind my advisers. It’s my responsibility entirely.”

He said a review of how the Parole Board operates would see it become “more transparent than it is now”, following criticism over the way the case was handled.

There was widespread criticism earlier this year when it emerged a three-person panel had decided that the 60-year-old serial sex attacker was safe to be freed after around a decade behind bars.

Worboys became known as the black cab rapist after attacking victims in his hackney carriage.

He was jailed indefinitely in 2009 with a minimum term of eight years after being found guilty of 19 offences, including rape, sexual assault and drugging, committed against 12 victims.

PA Wire/PA Images
Black cab rapist John Worboys was jailed indefinitely in 2009 

Police believe he committed crimes against 105 women between 2002 and 2008, when he was caught.

The Parole Board was ordered to revisit the case after two victims mounted a legal challenge in the High Court.

The three leading judges who blocked the release said the public have a right to know about Parole Board decisions.

At the March hearing Sir Brian Leveson said there are “clear and obvious reasons” why the board should provide information about its decisions on long-term prisoners.

He said this could be done in a way which did not undermine a prisoner’s rights or the confidential nature of Parole Board hearings - which “quite properly” take place in private.

Parole Board chairman Professor Nick Hardwick announced he was standing down after being told by Mr Gauke that his position was “untenable” in the wake of the High Court ruling.

Gauke said in March that a new mechanism to challenge Parole Board decisions would be created as part of a major shake-up in the wake of the case.

He said: “We’re looking at all the rules. We must be sure with a particularly sensitive case we have people on the panel who can be sufficiently probing and ask tough questions.”