Lawyers representing two victims of ‘black cab rapist’ John Worboys’ will launch judicial review proceedings against the Parole Board next week.
Confirmation of the independent legal case came after Justice Secretary David Gauke ruled out a challenge by the Government.
The Board’s decision to release Worboys, who is thought to have targeted as many as 100 women, after just nine years has been roundly condemned by the public, but little is known about the decision was reached.
Gauke told the Commons on Friday morning “the bar for a judicial review is very high” and he believed there was “no reasonable prospect of success”.
“I know this will disappoint the victims in this case and members of this House given the crimes for which he has been convicted. On a personal level, candidly, I share those concerns,” he said.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is also planning his own attempt to have the decision reviewed.
Worboys, 60, has spent under 10 years in custody and Gauke had been looking into whether ministers could challenge the decision to release him.
Police believe Worboys carried out more than 100 rapes and sex attacks.
He used alcohol and drugs to incapacitate his victims between 2002 and 2008.
The licensed London black cab driver told some women he had won money at a casino or lottery and offered them spiked champagne in an invitation to celebrate with him.
In 2009 the former stripper was convicted of 19 offences of drugging and sexually assaulting women at Croydon Crown Court and ordered to serve at least eight years in jail.
Charity workers who support victims of sexual assault and rape have criticised the length of time he has served.
Richard Burgon, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, said: “Many will be very disappointed by today’s news. The Government needs to take measures that restore public confidence in our justice system. It’s clear that there is a pressing need for real changes that will make Parole Board decisions much more transparent.
“But the Worboys case raises so many serious questions that anything less than an independent end-to-end review into the handling of the case—from the first report to the police of an attack right through to the Parole Board hearing—would let down the victims and the wider public. It is deeply regrettable that the Government once again refused to announce such a review.”
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, also criticised today’s decision: “The government’s appalling decision not to challenge the release of Worboys is deplorable. Worboys is a threat to public safety and the decision to release him is deeply distressing to the dozens of women he sexually assaulted.
“Our lawyers are currently in talks with affected parties and we are considering the best options to support the Centre for Women’s Justice in seeking to challenge this abhorrent decision. I implore people to donate to the crowdsourcing efforts of these brave women to ensure Worboys stays behind bars where he belongs.”
Yvette Cooper, the Labour chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, has said she was “really shocked” by Worboys’ impending release.