John Worboys was sentenced to
life imprisonment in 2009
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is launching an unprecedented appeal against a High Court ruling which states it breached the human rights of two rape victims.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd will be supporting the police case against the two women, who received more than £40,000 in compensation from the force three years ago.
If the ruling stands, civil claims could be made against the MPS for failures to conduct an effective investigation that amounts to inhuman or degrading treatment.
The MPS’ lawyers have said the case relates to points of principle and does not detract from the bravery of the women who will keep their compensation despite the outcome.
The appeal to the Supreme Court will begin on Monday (March 13).
Identified as DSD and NBV, the pair were two of at least 12 women raped by the “black cab rapist” John Worboys after he drugged them with champagne.
Although the victims reported the attack in 2003 and 2007 respectively, failures in the investigation meant Worboys was able to continue attacking women until he was jailed for life in 2009.
In 2014, the High Court ruled that the women’s human rights had been breached by the MPS, and said the force had a duty under the Human Rights Act to investigate serious violence against women.
DSD alleged she suffered a depressive disorder as a result of her treatment by officers during the 2003 investigation and was awarded £22,250.
NBV claimed she suffered serious distress, anxiety, guilt, post-traumatic disorder and depression because of her treatment by officers. She was awarded £19,000.
Worboys drugged victims in his black taxi by offering them sedative-laced champagne, claiming he was celebrating winning a large amount of money.
The sedatives left his victims disorientated and confused, with a partial memory of what happened.
Police suspect he may have attacked more than 100 women, with the first reports emerging in 2002.
He had been arrested several times by the MPS after many of his victims came forward, but charges were repeatedly dropped.
In 2007, a 19-year-old student told officers at a police station in south-east London that she had been sexually assaulted by Worboys while returning home from a night out.
She said he gave her a case of champagne, which she accidentally dropped, and after refusing to drink a glass he became aggressive.
He proceeded to force a pill into her mouth, and the next memory she had was waking up in her bed at 2pm the next day.
Worboys was arrested but officers believed his story that the woman had been drunk and incoherent, despite traces of sedatives and antihistamine found in her blood.
In DSD’s case, Worboys was so confident he would not get caught that he drove her to the police station following the attack so she could get help.
Judges said if his details and cab registration had been noted, investigators may have identified Worboys as the prime suspect.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission upheld complaints against five of the officers involved in investigating the Worboys case.
It identified “individual and systemic” issues within the force, and said the officers made no effort to corroborate the victims’ accounts.
An MPS spokesperson said: “The appeal raises an issue of considerable public importance regarding the boundaries of police responsibility and liability and we believe that it is important for these principles to be tested before the courts, giving police forces and police and crime commissioners nationwide clarity as to the extent of the investigative duty.
“We are committed to providing the best possible service to victims, ensuring that they are at the heart of every investigation. In the last few years we have made important and significant changes to the way we investigate rape, which remains one of the most challenging and complex policing issues.”
Co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, Rachel Krys, said: "If things go disastrously wrong with other public services, there is some form of redress.”
"In cases of gross negligence by the NHS, the victim or the family of the victim can sue. If the MPS and the Government get their way in this case there are no such mechanisms for dealing with the police in UK law.
"That is why it is so disappointing that the MPS along with the UK Government are now seeking to overturn this judgement."