Nick Hardwick lifts the lid on the John Worboys case: 'Justice Secretary sacked me to save his own skin'
EXCLUSIVE: Former chair of the Parole Board, Nick Hardwick, speaks to Byline about his sacking, the repercussions of the John Worboys case and what it reveals about our conception of justice.
The sacked chair of the Parole Board has said the Justice Secretary got rid of him to save his own position following the controversy over the John Worboys affair.
In a wide-ranging interview for Byline, Professor Nick Hardwick said he welcomed the judicial review of the Parole Board’s decision to release the black cab rapist, but disagreed with Justice Secretary David Gauke’s handling of the situation.
He also set out the key questions he believes the case raises, its wider repercussions for ensuring that justice is done and seen to be done, and the wheels of reform that must now be set in motion.
When the High Court ruled last month that Worboys would remain in prison while his release was reconsidered by another Parole Board panel, Prof Hardwick was told he had to resign.
“If you don’t like the heat, don’t go into the kitchen,” he said, when I asked how it felt to be pushed while being told to jump.“I imagined a scenario like this. I thought it would be after we released somebody who committed a serious further offence.“I think the Justice Secretary thought his position might become untenable and the way to avoid that was to get rid of me. I don’t think it’s the right decision, but that’s how politicians are.”
The Parole Board is an independent body that decides whether a prisoner is safe to be released once they have served the ‘minimum tariff’ of their sentence.Its decision to release Worboys after nine years in custody was met with public concern and outrage when announced in January.
“I didn’t have a problem with the judicial review taking place, particularly for a very difficult and controversial decision,” the professor of criminology at Royal Holloway, University of London, said.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing that a second panel will now have to look at the case.”
John Worboys was sentenced in 2009 for committing sexual assaults
The former stripper and porn actor was given a now-abolished sentence of ‘Imprisonment for Public Protection’ (IPP) for 16 years, meaning he became eligible to be considered for release once he had served half of this, last year. INCORRECT!
Prof Hardwick believes his axing from the Parole Board – an organisation he had already advocated needed to become more transparent before the Worboys case – was calculated realpolitik by the Justice Secretary, who had mounted no judicial review of the decision to release Worboys himself.
As the only parties involved in a Parole Board hearing are a prisoner and the Justice Secretary, this was the first time a judicial review had ever been brought by anyone who was not a party to the original proceedings.
While the London Mayor Sadiq Khan and News Group Newspapers also challenged the decision, two of Worboys’ victims were the only ones who succeeded and were considered to have grounds or ‘standing’ to make the challenge.
“David Gauke didn’t think my position was untenable, he thought his position might be untenable,” Prof Hardwick said.
“David Gauke thought ‘I’m going to get hammered for this because I didn’t pursue the judicial review’. If we had challenged the victims’ standing, which we didn’t, but if we had, the judicial review would have fallen and Worboys would have been released. The fact the Secretary of State didn’t exercise the powers that only he had would rightly have led him to a lot of criticism.”
Prof Hardwick said he understands people's concerns around Worboys.
The 60-year-old, who asked his victims to have a drink with him after lying to them that he had won the lottery, had previously been recognised by professionals as a manipulative character who “managed impressions”.He denied the crimes he was convicted of until nine months before he became eligible to considered for release.
He also denied he had committed any other alleged offences, despite admitting to paying compensation to women who had brought civil claims against him.
When he did eventually admit to his convictions, he maintained that the trigger for his behaviour had been the breakdown of his relationship. But, many of his other alleged offences predated this.
Prof Hardwick said both the Parole Board and the Ministry of Justice had been mistaken in believing that Worboys’ other alleged offences could not be taken into account when deciding whether he should be released.
The judicial review found that the Parole Board should have looked into Worboys’ wider offending and “the extent to which the limited way in which he described his offending may undermine his overall credibility and reliability”.
While the dossier of evidence provided by the MoJ to the Parole Board did reference at least 80 other potential victims, it did not provide any details on these alleged offences.
Crucially, details of the successful civil claims brought by some of Worboys’ victims against the Met Police for failing to properly investigate their allegations against him were also not included – despite Justice Green’s ruling in the 2014 case that Worboys had committed more than 105 rapes and sexual assaults on women in his taxi.
No mention was also made in the dossier of Worboys' grotesque “rape kit”, which was found in his car containing small bottles of champagne, gloves, a torch, condoms, plastic cups, a vibrator and Nytol tablets.
Despite the lack of details, the High Court said the Parole Board should have made further inquiries into these matters.
“The mistake was made by the Ministry of Justice," Prof Hardwick said. "I find it very difficult to see what the panel members could have reasonably done differently with the information they were presented with.
“The errors by the Ministry of Justice were made by people acting on behalf of the Secretary of State. He could have dealt with it differently.”
The academic said he does not believe that the result of the second Parole Board hearing into Worboys' case will be “a foregone conclusion at all”, and that while a decision to release him would now be “brave”, it is likely that he could be moved to an open prison.
For Prof Hardwick, one of the key questions raised by the Worboys case is “how does a focus simply on risk deal with the public’s wider, reasonable view of justice?”
“If you look at the original furore at the decision, the argument was that Worboys simply hadn’t been punished enough for what he had done,” he said. “The Parole Board’s statutory duty is to function entirely on risk. The first thing you have to consider is whether that is enough.
“For instance, if you were releasing somebody and their behaviour in prison had been poor and they weren’t admitting the entirety of their offence – as in some cases when people refuse to say where the body is – and this is causing a lot of distress to families, that doesn’t necessarily go to their risk after release.
“If you’re making a decision purely on risk you might say that it doesn’t affect or substantially affect it and we’ll release him. For a lot of people that would seem unjust and that actually your behaviour in prison, your attitude towards your offence and the genuineness of your remorse, ought to affect the decision on whether you are released or not, regardless of whether it’s relevant to your risk.
“The punishment part of the sentence for the offence should be the tariff that is set by the judge at the time, but it’s reasonable for the Parole Board to take into account what’s happened post-sentence.
“Maybe Worboys’ attitude towards his offences, the extent to which he was prepared to show genuine remorse and admit his offences should have influenced the decision. At the moment it’s just about risk.”
The former Chief Inspector of Prisons said people also needed to ask “how three forensic psychologists agreed he was safe to release”.
“Three people, without consulting each other, independently, came to a decision that he was safe to release. Are you saying the three forensic psychologists simply made errors or are you saying there’s something fundamentally wrong with the theoretical basis on which they work?”
“The view [voiced in the media and on social media] that these ‘silly female psychologists’ were all hoodwinked by Worboys and if only you’d had a retired, white, elderly, male judge he would have seen through it, I think is a bit of a flawed assumption,” he added.
Referring to an article by two of the psychologists published in The Psychologist, Prof Hardwick said much of the evidence around assessing risk is “counter-intuitive”, which makes having a sensible public discussion around the issue difficult.
“The fact that somebody minimises their offence is often an indication that they’re ashamed of what they’ve done and is, in fact, an indicator their risk is low. Statistically, deniers and the shame that goes with that is a protective factor.
“There is a lot of evidence that people who do this spree offending, statistically, once they’ve been caught, they stop at that point. They don’t repeat.”
Along with psychological assessments and consideration of any rehabilitative programmes completed while in prison, offenders' “static” and “dynamic” risk factors are measured.
Static are those factors that cannot be changed, for example the nature of an individual’s offences or their experiences in childhood. Dynamic factors focus on that which can change, such as social networks or substance misuse issues. Large data-sets based on these factors are compiled and then used to predict an individual’s likelihood of committing future offences.
“There are some big questions potentially about the over-reliance on forensic psychology and statistical risk models,” Prof Hardwick said.
“I’ve had people say to me that the best way to make a decision would be simply to run the data through a computer and a lot of forensic psychologists would say that, what appears to be common sense – the idea that you get an accurate decision by sitting down and talking to someone – is not true because all your prejudices will come into that and a better way to make a decision is to feed someone’s data into a computer.
“I don’t agree and this is a good example of why that wouldn’t work. I don’t think that provides the complete answer.
"I think there may well have been other issues about Worboys’ behaviour, post-sentence, while he was in prison, that may have had some bearing on the judgement on whether to release him.”
“All of this is distinct from the issue that it’s not the Parole Board’s job to punish people for the original offence,” he added.
Considering the practical and ethical complexities involved in determining the future risk of human beings who have committed crimes, the Parole Board’s serious further offences rate for the past four years has been less than one per cent.
A danger for the Parole Board, post-Worboys, is that it will become more risk-averse, Prof Hardwick said.
“The Worboys case has come at a time when you also have concerns about knife crime and police cuts. Crime has gone up the agenda and I think that will create pressure on the Parole Board. Not so much that the release rate changes, but there will be a lot more deferrals because they’ll feel the decision needs to be absolutely watertight and they’ve got to cover every single base. It will take longer to resolve cases and I think the backlog we successfully got rid of will come back.”
He also said he does not think there is "any prospect of legislative reform, not now” for those inmates still serving the abolished IPP sentences.
But the Parole Board must change.
Prof Hardwick said that, although considerations such as people feeling able to speak freely and the danger of revictimisation must be taken into account, the Parole Board’s hearings should be open to the public and upcoming hearings and results listed online, with the option provided for victims to indicate that they would like to be kept informed. Explanations for decisions and the evidence assessed in each case should also be provided.
The former chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission said there is a “danger that the informality of the process becomes too casual” and believes the organisation would work better as a tribunal-like body, with powers to summon witnesses and evidence and protection and tenure for members, akin to that provided to magistrates – so that they could not be sacked by a Justice Secretary who disagrees with them when they make an unpopular decision...
What are some of the wider issues raised by the Worboys case?
“When you talk about prison reform without talking about the seriousness of some of the offences people commit or their impact on victims, that means when we’re confronted by a very serious individual case, which to some extent is then having a very direct impact on policy, there isn’t a narrative that enables us to deal with it – that enables us to reflect the seriousness of the offence, but also to intervene in the debate and say ‘I don’t think the answer to this is locking more and more people up for longer and longer’, which unless we’re careful will be the result,” Prof Hardwick said.
“I think we need a narrative that doesn’t dismiss people’s concerns about crime or dismiss the harm that even minor crime can do, but, on the other hand, I don’t think the answer simply should be to lock people up for longer. I think we make a mistake by saying the only way we can nowadays reflect society’s condemnation of particular forms of behaviour is by the length of a prison sentence.
“So, with the parole reforms, I think it is a legitimate question that, in the interests of justice, should the way parole works more reflect people’s concerns? Is trying to make it a pseudo-scientific process of simply looking at risk algorithms getting in the way of justice?
“One of the problems about personalising it, in the way that sacking me did, is that these broader issues aren’t talked about. It becomes a one-off political interesting squabble.
“I’m not afraid to talk about punishment but it’s the classic thing that your punishment is going to prison, not being in prison and from that point we will try to rehabilitate.
The issue is not simply what stops offenders committing crimes, but what stops people becoming offenders.
“I think a lot more people would be up for reasonable discussion on this and that’s what we should do and I think the Worboys case raises quite profound issues.
“I think the people who said it was the wrong decision to release him for various reasons had quite a reasonable point of view. I could also understand why the panel did what they did. The view I disagree with most strongly are the people who say, one way or another, it’s all simple. I don’t think it was simple and I think there’s some quite profound and philosophical and ethical issues in it.”
What is an IPP sentence?
· (IPPs) were created by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and started to be used in April 2005the sentence was abolished 2012 because it was poorly planned and implemented and resulted in unjust punishments, particularly for those sentenced prior to 2008. , 8,711 prisoners were given IPPs. They were designed to protect the public from offenders whose crimes did not merit a life sentence had been used far more widely than intended, with some have been issued to offenders who have committed low level crimes with sentences as short as two years which they must spend in prison. After they have completed their tariff they can apply to the Parole Board for release but this did not happen.
What went wrong ?
· To qualify for release, IPP prisoners must complete offending behaviour courses but, not all prisons run the required courses and prisoners can wait years for transfer to an appropriate jail then wait further years on a waiting list.
· Before satisfying the Parole Board, IPP prisoners must complete offending behaviour courses but, even now, many are still waiting to participate in such courses tapping thousands of prisoners in Limbo
· To fight the sentence legal aid was removed from prisoners in December 2013 lather ruled to be unlawful by the Court of Appeal in April last year and 21 Feb 2018 legal aid was reinstated.
· Parole hearings were repeatedly delayed and complaints ignored.
· The plight of James Ward, who has served 11 years in jail after initially being sentenced with an IPP to a minimum of 10 months for arson is just one of thousands.
· The Prisoners’ Advice Service, which helps many in this situation, tells me that some of their IPP clients experience cognitive difficulties, making it difficult to ever complete the behaviour course s though they have finished there sentence and some over tariff by 10 years there punished again for having was having a learning difference.
· Deeply concerning prisoners have no hope sheer neglect of the prison had leading to unprecedented deaths. Today, seven years after IPPs were abolished, approx. 3,000 IPP prisoners remain behind bars, not knowing when they will be released yet four Ministers lather failed to take urgent action until the a coroner began investigating the deaths of 20 …..IPP prisoners whom wanted answers.
What do we want?
Prioritise and take action to release all IPP prisoner as a matter of urgency. Nick Hardwick said and Publicly reassured the families that IPP prisoners over tariff will be released by 2018 and difficult cases by 2020 therefore when the government has finshed blaming each other and Nick Hardwick can we get on with giving those reassurance dates promissed. We dont want warboy to become a ripple effect and set the progrestion off IPP backward. end the Constant recall for non-offences which leads to self-harm. Amend recalled to go before a judge and not straight back to prison because those those with cognitive issue are more at risk of recall for breaking the rules due to poor conative issues this results in a repetition.once a IPP prisoners has been release they spend a further ten year licence this is ” unjust and unfair moreover “ IPPs are already over tariff by decades. The test for release MUST be changed! An ipp should no longer have to prove they are safe to be released! Being locked behind a door with a sentence that implies ‘an indefinite’ time frame istorture! We would like to see is some statistical data to see how these changes have affected ipp’s progression.
Again a reporter gets the IPP sentence wrong stating Warboys got a
16year IPP and became eligible for release after serving half 😠
Nick Hardwick's interview however is very enlightening especially
useful if anyone is being accused in an Oasys report of Minimising an
offense or being classed as a denier. Make notes, some useful nuggets in
Ipp is a stain on the British justice system. David blunket ought to be locked up so he can truly comprehend the torture & mental anguish I and many others have suffered as a result of his publically admitted cock up. Many of us have endured nearly a decade behind bars, because of him, yet he’s still allowed to remain an mp, simply disgusting. Know doubt in the future he will be made a lord. Says it all really…Liz truss should abolish the ipp sentence retrospectively,as Ken Clarke would have done had he been in power still. Although I have my doubts. All future justice ministers should be legally qualified, ie hold a law degree as a minimum. We then might get some justice for the thousands of ipps locked up years after tariff…Ipps should be very wary of so called”independent” psychologist” the reality is they are ex HMP trained & there business thrives on the back of adding courses or so called therapeutic communities. Just as a method of further detention, thus adding many more years to ipp/lifers tariff. They often ironically when your up for release, attempt to give you a label or give you a personality disorder you never had until you met them . What you should know is they get about £2,500 per report. The an additional £1,500 to do a personality report, a nice little earner. So they have a vested interest in keeping lifer’s in prison. My advise. And I speak from experience is do not engage with them. Get an independent report, from someone who has no vested interest in keeping you locked up decades past your tariff. Beware of incarcerating yourself further than necessary….
BE AWARE OF PSYCHOLOGIST CONTRACTED TO THE PAROLE BOARD
Recently I know of ipps/lifers who have seen a well-known firm of
psychologists who act for the parole board. They are NOT independent at
all.on the first page of there report they have HMP, NOMS and MOJ logos
.They are as independent as a concrete parachute!!This so called
independent psychological firm regularly stitches ipp/lifers up, by
adding courses when there asking for cat d or release. This firm upon
research has built it’s business on the back of ipps/lifers. My advise
is refuse to see them. Get your brief to get an independent report from a
reputable independent psychologist outside of the prison environment,
that way you get a truely independent report from someone who does not
have a vested interest in keeping you locked up by throwing courses at
you just to put bums on seats. Fix term prisoners won’t do these courses
so they stitch up ISPS because they can’t get fixed termers on these
courses. Be very wary of the so-called parole board or prison based
independent ones. Once they get s report in your parole dossier you will
Never get rid of it….IPPS ARE CASH COWS
Having served an ipp sentence myself I noticed over time that ipps are
nothing but money earners for all involved in there management. This
includes prison officers, probation staff, police officers and the
dreaded psychology departments. We are nothing but cash cow’s in what’s
become a business. This is why ipps end up doing so many times there
tariffs. Whilst some rightfully deserved this sentence, the vast
majority of us never did. When will this nightmare end for all of us
Victim’ of the legal system. My friend successfully appealed his sentence through the help of CS Solicitors. They regularly deal with miscarriage of justice, excessive sentences and are experts in Prison law. If you require expert advice on Appeal matters contact CS Solicitors 01952 243 346 or alternatively drop them a email and they will be in touch.
My partner is a ipp prisonerDoing two years nine month
Into his eleventh yearI would like information into a appeal against his sentence
The onus on the inmate of proving a significant level of risk reduction to justify progression to D Cat or for release is rightly in place.\” On the contrary: the onus should be on the parole board, surely, to show cause why a prisoner past his or her tariff should *not* be released.
A prisoner who has served his tariff has completed the punishment part of his sentence: from then on he is in preventive detention because of a court\’s and prison officials\’ suspicion that if released unreformed, he may pose a risk to the public. But in a civilised society we ought not to be locking people up in punitive conditions, not to punish them, but because of a vague fear that they might commit further offences if released. With the onus where it is at present — on the prisoner — it\’s almost impossible to prove a negative about the future. Completion of the various courses is a lottery and really proves nothing. As with prisoners serving determinate sentences, the presumption should be that the prisoner must be released on completion of the tariff *unless* the parole board can cite a concrete reason (to be disclosed to the prisoner and his lawyer) for holding him behind bars a day longer. There should be a right of appeal against a refusal to release and the whole process should be supervised by a judge.
Kenneth Clarke, when he was Justice
Secretary (in many ways a golden age for justice!), made it clear that
he wanted the power in the legislation abolishing IPPs to amend the
criteria for release to make it clear that the onus should be
transferred to the parole boards on the lines I have described above —
he wanted release as the default unless release could be shown to pose
\”a serious risk\”. The present Justice Secretary has been given that
power to reform the criteria but he refuses to exercise it, on grounds
that are frankly absurd.
He should be pressed hard to think again — and Labour should be pressed equally hard to promise that if and when we have a Labour or Labour-led government, it will take early action to remedy this manifest injustice, especially as it is a relic of a serious blunder by a former Labour Home Secretary which was never corrected, right up to the end of the Labour government in 2010 — and would have been corrected by an enlightened Conservative Justice Secretary if he had not been sacked by the prime minister before he had a chance to do so.
The risk level can only be truly be assessed when they are back in the community. Even when you have extremely violent prisoners determinate sentenced they are released even if they have not completed any behavioural intervention. Many don’t always commit a similar offence. The longer you keep these IPP’s in the longer it will take for the to reestablist links with positive family and friends
They have done there time and they do not get it easy in there you have to put there famlie into concideration as well wifes and children if they have kept to the rules had no problems and stayed out of trouble then they should get the chance to get to a cat d or home settlement to get back to normality as soon as poss and a oral chance is a great idea to get to speak to them insted of a name and number
One question that does arise – when did the \’Probation Officer/Offender Supervisor \’ change from supporting the prisoner to supporting any idea to keep the prisoner inside? With an IPP already attached to the sentence, it is not \’fair\’ for the Offender Supervisor to be suggesting courses that can be added to the already over-tariff sentence.
michelle It’s appaulling to say the least our prison system is at braking point yet we had we have so many ipp prisoners still locked up and some only on petty crimes get the ipp sorted then then maybe we will have a chance to put our justice system right.
appealed IPP sentences on clients behalf and have had indeterminate sentences
replaced with determinate sentences for advice call us on 0203 816 1098.https://www.stephensons.co.uk/site/individuals/srvcriminal/appeal_solicitors/ipp_sentences/
quashed leads to client rlease from prison
in the Court of Appeal with Counsel David Rhodes of Doughty Street Chambers to
argue that our client had wrongly been given an IPP sentence.
No5 barrister chambers
R v Quinn  EWCA Crim 166
IPP sentence on 17 year old quashed over 4 years after it had been imposed
Philip Rule is a barrister at Number 5 Chambers, London
IPP sentence on 17 year old quashed over 4 years after it had been imposed
Direct Access’ to barristers, which is also known as The Public Access Scheme allows you to instruct a barrister directly. Previously, it was necessary for clients to use a solicitor to prepare their case and instruct a barrister.The Direct Access route means you can now enjoy significant savings by eliminating the cost of solicitors. IF you get legai Aid you can instuct your solictor to work along side a barrister of your choice who you feel is more experience in IPP cases rather than the solcitor choosing the barrister.
Using a solicitor’s servicesIt is possible for you to lead your case and carry out most of the work but to instruct a solicitor in certain parts of your case. This is known as “unbundling” and can include:
- A solicitor providing you with a self-help pack.
- A solicitor providing discrete advice on a specific step in your case or one particular issue.
- A solicitor checking or drafting a document on your behalf.
- A solicitor providing representation at court in a specific hearing.
Direct access barristersIt is possible to approach and instruct a barrister directly without having to go through a solicitor. Barristers can do the following:
IF you get legai Aid you can instuct your solictor to work along side a barrister of your choice who you feel is more experience in IPP cases.
- advise you on your legal status and rights
- draft and send documents on your behalf
- negotiate on your behalf
- represent you in court, tribunals or mediation
- Attend some meetings and hearings on your behalf