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Black cab rapist John Worboys' prison release on hold amid legal challenge

John Worboys' release from prison has been put on hold. Credit: PA

Black cab rapist John Worboys' release from prison has been put on hold after two of his victims won the first step in a legal challenge.

On Thursday, two of Worboys' victims lodged an application for a judicial review into the Parole Board's decision to release the 60-year-old, but "because of the urgency" of the situation in trying to stop the impending release, they were dealt with on Friday.

Earlier in January, the Parole Board sparked fury when it announced Worboys would soon be eligible for release after 10 years in prison.

He was jailed indefinitely in 2009, with a minimum term of eight years, for drugging and sexually assaulting female passengers.

Despite being convicted of 19 offences against 12 women, it is feared the 60-year-old could have more than 100 victims.

A judicial review sees a judge review the lawfulness of a decision made by a public body - in the case of Worboys, the Parole Board.

It is less about whether the decision was right or wrong, and more about challenging whether proper procedures were followed to reach the decision.

Worboys drugged his victims by offering them spiked champagne. Credit: PA

The two women, who say they were not informed of the decision to release Worboys, say their application for a judicial review is based on the claim that the decision not to disclose the Parole Board's decision to the public is unlawful, as it flies in the face of open justice.

Their second argument is that the Parole Board's release decision was "irrational" given Worboys' "long history of cold calculated attacks on a large number of women".

Harriet Wistrich, a solicitor for the two women said a stay on Worboys' release had been granted until a hearing, which is expected between February 6 and 8.

At the half-day hearing, a lawyer for Worboys will be able to make representations on his behalf.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said: “The Justice Secretary supported the request for a stay on Worboys’ release while the Judicial Review is heard and welcomes the decision.

“It is right that victims can be reassured that Worboys will not be released until the court has had a chance to consider their views.”

On Thursday, Ms Wistrich said the two victims had launched the legal challenge because they "consider they must do all they can to reduce the risk to other women and seek public accountability".

Also on Thursday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan also lodged an application for a judicial review.

Mr Khan said he was launching his legal battle at the High Court because he believes the decision to release Worboys "was astonishing and deeply concerning" and "simply cannot go unchallenged".

He continued he had lodged the application in a bid to put the "safety of Londoners and the needs of victims first".

The mayor's move comes after Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor David Gauke ruled out a judicial review.

Justice Secretary David Gauke previously ruled out a judicial review. Credit: PA

Worboys could "potentially" have a claim for damages if the two women's legal battle fails, Ms Wistrich said.

On Tuesday, police revealed they were investigating a fresh allegation of historical sexual assault against the former stripper, which is said to have taken place in 1997 and was reported to police earlier in January. Worboys has not been arrested in connection with the claim.

It is understood that Worboys had already beenmoved to a London prison ahead of his expected release, sparking outrage among his victims based in the capital.

The notorious predator is said to have been tranferred from HMP Wakefield in West Yorkshire to HMP Belmarsh, at the weekend.