Judges urged to reject challenge to parole board secrecy rules that blocked publication of decision to release black cab rapist

Judges have been urged to reject a challenge to Parole Board rules which blocked publication of the decision to release black cab rapist John Worboys.

Lawyers for the Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke, told the High Court it was far too late to challenge Rule 25, which came into force in November 2016 and prevents details of parole decisions being made public.

The rule is being challenged by two of Worboys’s victims, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun newspaper.

News Group lawyers argued yesterday that the rule was “unlawful” because it breached the principle of open justice and the right to freedom of expression.

But today Clive Sheldon QC, for Gauke, said that about 3,000 parole decisions had been made since the rule came into effect, but The Sun had only sought to challenge it after hearing the decision to free Worboys.

There were “sound policy reasons” for privacy in Parole Board hearings, as they regularly covered matters of “extreme intimacy”, he said.

There was “no need” for the court to consider whether Rule 25 was unlawful, because it was currently “under review” by Gauke, who expected to publish his findings by Easter.

Sir Brian Leveson, hearing the case with Mr Justice Garnham and Mr Justice Jay, said it would be “unhappy” if the Justice Secretary reached a view on the future of Rule 25 without considering the judgment in this case.

Sheldon told the court that Gauke had decided it was “not appropriate” for him to challenge the board’s decision to release Worboys.

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