The Justice Secretary has said the Parole Board needs a ‘fundamental overhaul’ after rejecting his offer to keep Baby P’s mother behind bars.
Tracey Connelly, whose son Peter died after months of abuse, was released weeks after a judge rejected the government’s offer to keep her in prison longer.
Dominic Raab condemned the decision, saying it was proof that the parole system needed to change.
Now 40, Connelly was jailed at the Old Bailey in 2009 for causing or enabling the death of her 17-month-old son Peter at their home in Tottenham, north London on August 3, 2007.
She was released on license in 2013 but called back to prison in 2015 for violating her parole conditions.
Mr Raab said Connelly’s actions were ‘pure evil’, adding: ‘The decision to release her shows why the Parole Board needs a fundamental overhaul – including ministerial oversight for the most serious offenders. serious – so that it serves and protects the public.
In March, the Parole Board ruled that Connelly was fit for release – after rejecting three previous offers in 2015, 2017 and 2019 – after hearing she was now considered at “low risk of committing a new offense and that probation officers and prison officials supported the project.
But last month Mr Raab asked the council, which is independent of the government, to review the decision under the so-called review mechanism.
On Thursday, the parole board announced that the request had been “denied”.
A spokesperson said in a statement: “Following the Secretary of State’s request for reconsideration, a judge has ruled that the decision by independent members of the Parole Board to release was not irrational, as indicated in the request for reconsideration, and the original decision is affirmed.”
Documents outlining the decision highlighted concerns about Connelly’s ability to manipulate and deceive, also revealing how she got embroiled in prison romances and exchanged secret love letters with an inmate.
The reconsideration mechanism, introduced in July 2019, allows the justice secretary and the inmate to challenge the parole board’s decision within 21 days if they believe it is ‘procedurally unfair’ or ‘irrational’ “.
Victims and members of the public can also apply through the Minister.
But the threshold is high and is the same as that required to seek judicial review in court.
The provisions also specify that “not being satisfied” with the decision is not grounds for reconsideration.
Mr Raab intervened on the grounds that the decision to release Connelly was ‘irrational’, arguing that it had failed to take due account of information surrounding the case and failed to provide sufficient reasoning for its conclusions.
Parole judge Jeremy Roberts QC, who considered the appeal, said: ‘I have carefully considered all of the arguments put forward by the Secretary of State in support of his application, but… I find nothing in them to justify reconsideration of the committee’s decision.
“This request is therefore rejected and the provisional decision of the jury is now final.”
Connelly will be subject to restrictions on her movements, activities and who she contacts, and faces 20 additional license conditions.
These include living at a specified address – initially a hostel on bail – as well as being supervised on probation, wearing an electronic tag, adhering to a curfew and having to disclose one’s relationships.
Her internet and phone use will be monitored, and she has been told she cannot go to certain places to “avoid contact with victims and protect children”.
Earlier, Mr Raab told MPs the case for an overhaul of the parole process was ‘clear and established’ as he pledged to ‘uphold public safety’.
The Parole Board has said in the past that it welcomes the reconsideration mechanism as a “crucial safeguard in the system that allows people to control our decisions”.