R (Marie McCourt) v Parole Board, Secretary of State for Justice and Ian Simms


Practice Areas

Public Law

Cases Citation

[2020] EWHC 2320

The judicial review of the Parole Board’s decision to release Ian Simms, who murdered Helen McCourt in 1988 and who has refused to reveal the location of her remains.

The claim was brought by Marie McCourt, Helen’s mother, who has led a nationwide campaign for a change in the law – known as Helen’s Law – to prevent the release of murderers who refuse to reveal where they left their victim.

Following a two-day hearing, the Divisional Court dismissed 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.

Nicholas Chapman represented the Parole Board.

The judgment can be found here.

Related Barristers

Nicholas Chapman

Nicholas Chapman
Year of Call: 2001

Close X

Coronavirus Update

TGC continues proactively to safeguard against the risks posed by the spread of Coronavirus. We have a Covid-19 Committee who continue to monitor the situation and follow advice issued by the Government and Public Health England. We will be updating this page as and when new information becomes available. As of 6 July 2020, our London premises, 1 Harcourt Buildings, will be operating with a reduced clerking team in attendance. The remaining staff members and barristers will continue working remotely. We wish to reassure everyone that our contingency plans enable us to continue to provide our services.

Telephoning us

When calling our switchboard number, it will be diverted to a member of the clerking team who will be able to assist in the usual way. All direct dials in Chambers are diverted to be answered remotely.

Emailing us & Sending Instructions

Please send all instructions via email directly to We would be grateful if this could be sent in an orderly fashion to enable working from a screen manageable. We are able to receive hard copy instructions via DX or Post, if necessary. However, we have a preference for electronic documents wherever possible.

Please continue to communicate with barristers directly via phone or email.

Conferences, Joint Settlement Meetings & Mediations

Conferences, meetings and mediations will take place remotely, either by telephone or video until further notice. Group Telephone calls and video calls can be easily arranged. If an in-person meeting is felt necessary please see our Covid-19 Information page for full criteria.

Court Hearings

We are following the Government’s advice closely, which is changing daily. In keeping with that advice, we will continue to service hearings remotely, where possible and as instructed by the hosting Court. In-Person hearings will be accommodated by members of TGC. We will continue to monitor this situation.

Making a payment

If you do not already pay us by BACS, going forward please make arrangements to do so. Please contact the clerks who can supply you with the relevant BACS details.

If you wish to discuss our policy and procedure relating to coronavirus, please do not hesitate to contact our senior clerk Dean Norton on 07535 753098 or

To learn more visit our Covid-19 Information page.