Practice and Procedure

R (On the application of P) v PAROLE BOARD (2003)

PUBLISHED June 23, 2003

When deciding to revoke a sex offender's licence it was not unfair of the Parole Board to admit evidence of hearsay allegations made by children.Application by the claimant ('P') for judicial review of a decision by the Parole Board revoking his licence and recalling him to prison partly on the basis of hearsay evidence. In February 2000, P pleaded guilty to charges of indecent assault and making indecent photographs in relation to a four-year-old boy. In light of his history of sexual offences against children he was sentenced to 31 months' imprisonment with an extension period of five years subject to a licence. In June 2001, P was released on licence. One of the conditions of his licence was that he must not engage in work, organised activities or leisure activities involving anyone under 18 years of age. In January 2002, P's licence was revoked and he was recalled to prison. The licence was revoked on the ground that he had breached that condition by, among other things, taking three boys ('A', 'B' and 'C') and an unidentified girl to a bonfire. The Parole Board accepted the truth of hearsay statements made by three boys who alleged that they had been taken to the bonfire by P. The evidence of these allegations were reports of comments by A, A's mother and B, as well as a signed witness statement by C. None of the boys appeared before the Parole Board to give oral evidence. P claimed that: (i) by making the allegations, A's family, A, B and C had conspired against him out of spite; and (ii) in admitting the hearsay evidence the Parole Board had acted unfairly and unlawfully.HELD: (1) The hearing was fair. It was reasonable for the Parole Board to rely on the hearsay evidence having decided to hear the available oral evidence and then to consider whether further oral evidence was needed in the interest of fairness. (2) The hearsay evidence of the three boys was a key feature of the case against P. It was doubtful whether the Parole Board could reasonably have decided to revoke P's licence in the absence of the finding that P had taken the children to the bonfire. (3) It would have been extremely difficult to secure the attendance of A, B and C at the Parole Board hearing to give evidence. Accordingly, there would effectively have been no evidence of the alleged fireworks excursion had the hearsay evidence not been admitted.Application dismissed.

[2003] EWHC 1391 (Admin)