High Court holds that the Parole Board may not be independent of Government


In R (Wakenshaw) v Secretary of State for Justice [2018] EWHC 2089 (Admin), the High Court has decided that it is arguable that the Parole Board lacks “objective independence” from the Government because of the arrangements currently in place by which members of the Board may be removed from their position by the Secretary of State. Mostyn J so held in granting a claimant permission to apply for a judicial review of the current arrangements. The claim will now be stayed for a period of three months to allow the Secretary of State to consider the Court’s judgment.

The Judge considered that an “insight” into the “precarious nature” of the present tenure arrangements was given by the resignation of Professor Hardwick as Chair of the Board on 27 March 2018 in the wake of the John Worboys case. The Judge commented that it was “not acceptable for the Secretary of State to pressurise the Chair of the Parole Board to resign because he is dissatisfied with the latter’s conduct”.

The Court however refused an application for interim relief seeking to halt the process which is currently ongoing to recruit a new permanent Chair of the Board following the departure of Professor Hardwick. That process will continue as planned.

You can read the judgment here.

Tom Cross acted for the Parole Board.