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Divisional Court declares MoJ changes to Parole Board Rules and guidance unlawful


The High Court today upheld a claim for judicial review challenging decisions by the Secretary of State for Justice to amend the Parole Board Rules and to issue guidance about the effect of the amendment. 

The rule change, which was made without consultation, purported to prohibit MOJ staff from stating in their reports their views on the “ultimate issue” – the suitability of the prisoner for release into the community. 

The MOJ issued accompanying guidance going beyond this restriction, based on the incorrect belief that the rule change prohibited MOJ witnesses from giving “ultimate issue” evidence in any context, even where directed to do so by the Parole Board.  

The High Court held that the rule change amounted to an unlawful interference with in the independent judicial determination of the legality of detention, contrary to common law and/or Article 5(4) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and was irrational.  It also held that the guidance was unlawful.  

The Court adjourned the hearing for consideration of issues of relief and costs, and for submissions on the question of whether non-compliance with the Parole Board’s directions amounts to a contempt of court.  

Myles Grandison, led by James Strachan KC, represented the Secretary of State for Justice.   Nicholas Chapman represented the Parole Board, as interested party.

The press summary can be found here

The approved judgment can be found here

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