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High Court rejects Helen McCourt murder release challenge


Marie McCourt has lost her judicial review claim against the decision of the Parole Board to release Ian Simms, who murdered her daughter Helen McCourt in 1988 and who has refused to reveal the location of her remains.  Nicholas Chapman represented the Parole Board.  Marie McCourt has led a high-profile nationwide campaign for a change in the law – known as Helen’s Law – to prevent the release of murderers who refuse to reveal their victim’s whereabouts.

Following a two-day hearing in July, the Divisional Court today handed down its judgment dismissing Mrs McCourt’s claim on all grounds.

In doing so, the court (Macur LJ and Chamberlain J) held that there was no arguable unlawfulness either in the substance of the Parole Board’s decision to release Ian Simms or in the process it adopted when making it.  In particular, it rejected Mrs McCourt’s case as to victims’ rights of involvement in Parole Board proceedings.  It also gave guidance as to the standing of victims to bring judicial review proceedings against Parole Board decisions.

The claim was the subject of substantial attention in the national press.

The judgment can be found here.

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Nicholas Chapman

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