The Met Police loses a landmark claim – victims of John Worboys are entitled to compensation to recognise the Police’s failings

 

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The Supreme Court has unanimously agreed that the Metropolitan Police breached the human rights of two victims of John Worboys (the “Black Cab rapist“) with the way in which they investigated their allegations.

Between 2003 and 2008, John Worboys, the driver of a black cab in London, committed sexual offences against many women. The claimants in this case were two of his victims and both reported their assault to the police. One of the claimants, referred to as DSD was one of Worboys’ first victims. She was attacked in 2003. After her assault Worboys was not identified as her assailant. The other claimant, referred to as NBV went to the police following an attack in 2007. Worboys was quickly arrested as a suspect but released without charge. A review of sexual assault cases by police in February 2008 then resulted in a police media appeal. This led to DSD and NBV being identified as his victims. Many other women were also identified as being victims of his attack. Worboys was eventually convicted of 19 counts of sexual assault, including the assault on NBV.

Both women brought proceedings against the police, alleging failure to conduct effective investigations into Worboys’ crimes. They claimed that these failures constituted a violation of their rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides that no one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The women were successful in their claim both in the High Court and Court of Appeal and were awarded compensation, but the Met Police decided to appeal to the UK Supreme Court.

The five judges of the Supreme Court were unanimous in their decision that in this case the Met’s failures were of such seriousness that the women’s Article 3 rights had been violated.

Gary Walker is a specialist abuse lawyer at Enable Law and says:- “This is a landmark decision and demonstrates the important role that the police play in our society, particularly when investigating serious violent crimes and the impact that this can have on victims.  It now means that a police force can be held accountable if they fail to properly investigate violent crimes. 

I hope that this ruling will give the two women vindication for what they have been through and that, going forward, the police properly and rigorously carry out investigations of serious and violent crimes. 

This decision has far-reaching consequences and could impact on the way in which other agencies and authorities carry out their investigations where serious failings can have significant impact on someone’s human rights and freedom.”