CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

JUSTICE – SENTENCING POLICY – 11 February 2020

[Luke Pollard: ... The fact that Vanessa George has been released without naming the children she abused shows that something was not right with the law and the experience of many of the parents throughout this process has been to stumble across deficiencies and difficulties in how it has worked. That needs to be addressed.]

Dr Julian Lewis: With all his experience in this tragic case, does the hon. Gentleman believe that the fault lay with inadequate powers for the Parole Board, in that they felt that they had no option, or did the Parole Board have the power not to release Vanessa George and choose not to exercise that power, in which case there is something terribly wrong with the recruitment practices for membership of the Parole Board?

[Luke Pollard: The right hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. I would not wish to sit on a Parole Board for all the money in the world. It must be an incredibly difficult decision to choose whether or not to keep what are in many cases very serious offenders behind bars. As regards Vanessa George, I think the Parole Board had no choice but to release her, and that is why this change of law is so essential. Indeed, initially I called on the Secretary of State to reopen the investigation to ensure that no stone was left unturned, and no charge was missed that could be put against her to try to keep her behind bars. The dedication and professionalism of Devon and Cornwall police in reopening the file and ensuring that nothing was left in it showed that the system had done as much as it could do, which is why a change in the law is absolutely necessary in ensuring that we can keep someone like Vanessa George behind bars.]