Most of today’s front pages are taken up with the news that John Worboys, known as the “Black Cab Rapist” as he was a London Cabbie at the time he committed his crimes, is to be released from prison on licence, having satisfied the Parole Board that he is no longer a danger to women. Many pundits and analysts do not agree. And for those scraping the bottom of the barrel, this case brings an opportunity to play the blame game.
Worboys was sentenced under a provision called Imprisonment for Public Protection, or IPP, which is no longer used. This was intended to ensure serious sexual offenders were not released until they were no longer regarded as a danger to the public. After serving a mandatory tariff, they could apply for parole, but the onus was on them to persuade the Parole Board. And they would then be subject to a strict ten-year licence period.
Milk, no sugar, thanks Alex
But it seems none of Worboys’ victims knew he was about to be released until they learnt of the move via news reports, which has raised eyebrows. Thus a yet greater controversy. Victims’ and women’s groups are deeply unhappy about the move. So, I am told, is the cab trade in London, who have taken steps to ensure there is a not unadjacent to zero chance of there ever being another who abuses his badge in the way Worboys did.
All of which brings us to the opportunist blame game, which was kicked off crudely and with as little evidence as possible by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. The maximum shamelessness needed to manipulate such a delicate issue for political advantage was applied by the Fawkes blog’s newly anointed teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, who probably thought he was dead clever doing so.
Keir Starmer - smeared by the vicious and ignorant
The attack line used by the Fawkes massive is to assert that, as Keir Starmer was Director of Public Prosecutions at the time Worboys was convicted (in 2009), he is somehow to blame for the current controversy. As the BBC has reported, Worboys “was convicted of one rape, five sexual assaults, one attempted assault and 12 drugging charges”. However, the Police believe he “carried out more than 100 rapes and sexual assaults”.
Of course, for Staines and Wickham, and to their shame the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun who have blamed Starmer in their editorial this morning, it’s all so simple. But, as the Secret Barrister has said of the other potential cases, “In order for the CPS to prosecute a criminal allegation, it must be satisfied that there is a realistic prospect of conviction on the available evidence … We simply don’t know, in the case of any one of the further complaints, whether the evidential test is met”.
The resource constraint under which the CPS has to operate was then touched on after one Tweeter asked why more of Worboys’ victims’ cases were not brought to trial. Former DS Jacqui Hames simply observed “One word - money!” The Sun ought to know the limitations under which the Crown operates, having out-spent them during the Hacking Trial, widely believed to explain how their CEO Rebekah Brooks got acquitted.
And the sick Fawkes smear brought this response from Zoe Williams: “I don't know the fine details of the Worboys sentence, but I do know that Keir Starmer completely remade the way victims of sexual attack were treated by the law, with vision and humanity, while Guido Fawkes has never deepened anyone's empathy for anything”. Attacking Starmer is the lowest of the low, but then, that’s what The Great Guido does best. Another fine mess.