Nick Hardwick, the former chair of the Parole Board sacked this week after the high court’s decision to block the release of the serial sex attacker John Worboys, has predicted the case will lead to welcome and wide-ranging changes to the system.
After the high court ruled that the Parole Board “should have undertaken further inquiry into the circumstances of his offending” before taking the controversial decision to release the former black-cab driver, Hardwick predicted the case would lead to far reaching reform.
“It will be a better system for the challenge,” Hardwick told the Guardian. “And it won’t just work for victims. I think it will be a more just system.”
Hardwick had previously made the case for reform of the Parole Board to make its processes more transparent as the controversy grew about the decision to release Worboys, who now goes by the name John Radford. The 60-year-old was jailed indefinitely in 2009 with a minimum term of eight years, and has spent 10 years in prison.
“I think at the very least the Parole Board should be able to explain its decisions. People say, you’ll get high-profile cases and you’ll get a big row. Well, this was a high-profile case. There was no openness in this case and we got a big row.”
He said he and the Parole Board had previously thought Worboys’ other alleged offences should not be considered.
“What the judge said was that in this unusual and exceptional set of circumstances, the panel should have questioned him about those allegations, to test some of his other responses,” added Hardwick.
“We didn’t think we could do that. The judge has said that with this set of exceptional circumstances you could have done that – and I think probably that’s a good thing.”
Hardwick paid tribute to the victims of Worboys. After the high court ruling, Phillippa Kaufmann QC, who represented the two women who brought the case, said Hardwick had been “scapegoated” over his role.
“The women in this case – I don’t want to call them victims as that almost diminishes them – have been fantastic, very feisty, very determined and very brave,” he said.
“And what has been very humbling is that they’ve been very generous towards the Parole Board. They could have been furious – they haven’t, in public, at any rate. And they’ve been quite personally supportive of me, as their lawyer has.
“I’ve been very moved and humbled by that, and very grateful for it. What I’d say to them is what they have done is not merely win this important case, but they will have achieved some really big changes in the parole system.”
Hardwick was reluctant to criticise his Parole Board colleagues and confirmed that he was effectively sacked.
“Well, I wasn’t given any choice to stay. You shouldn’t have these sorts of jobs if you aren’t prepared to take responsibility,” he said.
“I’m very clear that if you’re head of an organisation you should take responsibility for what that organisation does and I take responsibility for the Parole Board. I’m not going to dump on the people who work for us.”