THEY’VE won a massive fight to change bail law – but now the parents of murdered Blackpool nurse Jane Clough are looking to challenge the accountability of judges.
John and Penny Clough – whose daughter was stabbed to death by her ex-partner Jonathan Vass after he was released on bail – have already won support from the House of Commons and House of Lords to allow appeals against judges’ bail decisions.
But they are not about to rest on their laurels.
The couple now plan to battle to make judges accountable for decisions they make when victims are subsequently injured or killed.
Mrs Clough said: “The judge ignored all the advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the police and gave Vass bail.
“There must be procedures in place to question how the bail decision was made.
“If Jane had died because a doctor ignored advice and behaved inappropriately, they would be investigated.
“We find it incredulous we have judges who are not accountable, it takes away the credibility of the justice system. It’s one law for us and another for them.
“It’s a huge challenge, it’s been a judge’s right for hundreds of years. But we are in it for the long haul.”
After Miss Clough, a 26-year-old mum-of-one, reported Vass to the police, the CPS felt there was enough evidence to bring nine charges of rape and four charges of sexual assault to court.
They warned there was a likelihood Vass would “interfere with witnesses, particularly Jane Clough” – but nonetheless, he was granted bail by the judge.
During the ensuing months, Miss Clough lived in fear of her life and her own prediction that Vass would kill her tragically became reality on July 25, 2010.
Mrs Clough added: “It brings into question judges’ training.
“What kind of training do they have for rape cases?
“I would encourage any judge to read Jane’s diary and see what she went through. She found the courage to report Vass and go through the court case, the judge let her down.
“It’s disgraceful there is nothing we can do about it. We can’t question him to find out how he came to make that decision. He doesn’t have to explain.
“That has got to stop. We are looking at a game plan with the contacts we have made to look at the best way we can achieve this.”
n The Bail Amendment Bill, which received backing from the House of Lords, is now awaiting Royal Assent so it can officially be made law.