I take responsibility for John Worboys parole decision, says Gauke

Justice Secretary David Gauke has said he takes responsibility for the row surrounding attempts to grant parole to black cab rapist John Worboys.

He told the Sun on Sunday that a review of how the Parole Board operates would see it become "more transparent than it is now", following criticism over the way Worboys' 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.

That decision was later blocked after a High Court challenge brought on behalf of two of his victims after the Government decided not to oppose the Parole Board's ruling.

Mr Gauke, who became Justice Secretary in January, told the Sun on Sunday that he shouldered blame for this decision.

He 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."

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.

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.

John Worboys prison release
Professor Nick Hardwick resigned as chairman of the Parole Board for England and Wales following the row over the decision to parole John Worboys (PA)

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.

Mr 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 told the Sun on Sunday: "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."

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