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Metropolitan Police to fight court ruling holding them liable for failures in catching cab rapist

John Worboys knocked out women by offering them drugged champagne before attacking them. Credit: PA

The Metropolitan Police will attempt to overturn a landmark court ruling which awarded compensation to two victims of a prolific rapist for failures in the police investigation.

It comes after the High Court found the force was liable to pay out damages to two women for failing to properly investigate their reports of serious sexual assaults by London cab driver John Worboys.

Worboys was jailed for life in 2009 for a series of rapes and sexual assaults.

He posed as a black cab driver to pick up women whom he offered sedative-laced champagne and then attacked once they were helpless. Police believe that he may have raped or assaulted as many as 100 victims.

One of the women involved in the current legal case was the first of Worboys' victims to make a complaint in 2003. The other contacted police after she was attacked in July 2007.

However, failures in the investigation meant that Worboys was left free to continue attacking other women.

100
Number of women John Worboys is thought to have attacked.

Both of the victims successfully brought cases against the force arguing it should be held liable for failures under the Human Rights Act. They were awarded £22,250 and £19,000 respectively in a groundbreaking ruling by the High Court in 2014.

Now the Met is challenging that at the Supreme Court in a case that could have significant implications over whether police can be held legally responsible for failing to find and hold a suspect in serious crimes.

The force's lawyers said their challenge relates to the principles of the law and that the women will keep their damages whatever the outcome.

Jodie Woodward, deputy chair of Rape Crisis England & Wales, said the state should be "held to account" if it failed to protect victims.

The details of this case highlight that when there are police failings it has catastrophic impact.

When women and girls report sexual offences to the police it is critical that they are taken seriously and their complaints are acted on promptly and effectively.

It is essential that women and girls have access to reparation when the state fails.

– Jodie Woodward