Guardian News and Media/London
Two victims of John Worboys have won their claim for compensation from the Metropolitan police after the Supreme Court ruled that the force had failed to carry out an effective investigation into the serial sex attacker.
The judgment sets a far-reaching precedent for police liability by allowing victims to argue that they have been subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment under Article 3 of the European convention on human rights.
The claim was brought by two of Worboys’ earliest victims, who reported attacks to the police in 2003 and 2007. Due to what the court said were significant errors, officers failed to charge the London black-cab driver at that stage.
A later review of sexual assault cases by the police finally identified Worboys’ pattern of drugging and assaulting female passengers. After his conviction, police said 100 women may have been attacked.
The Metropolitan police warned that the decision means the force will have to shift resources away from areas such as fraud in order to comply with the judgment.
The deputy commissioner of the Met, Sir Craig Mackey, said: “We have always accepted that serious mistakes were made in this investigation and it was only the courage of the victims coming forward, including these two claimants, that enabled us to finally convict Worboys.
“The ... appeal to the Supreme Court was not based on factual differences between us and the victims, but on the appropriate interpretation of European human rights law. There is no doubt that it will have implications for how we resource and prioritise our investigations.”
But Sarah Ricca, a solicitor for women’s groups who intervened in the case, said forces had for years been paying out compensation and apologising for cases where there were significant mistakes.
The two women in the case, known only as DSD and NBV, were initially awarded compensation by the high court totalling £41,250. The Met police failed to overturn the awards in successive appeals.
The women have also brought separate judicial review proceedings against the Parole Board, challenging the decision to release Worboys after 10 years in jail.
The 60-year-old was convicted in 2009 of 19 offences against 12 women, including one count of rape.
Speaking after the ruling, DSD, who was attacked in 2003, said her message to the police was: “You have the procedures in place now start doing your job. Stop using public money to fight (this case against liability). Had you done your job properly there would not have been 105 victims. I can take the one victim. I can’t take the 105.”
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