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