Utterly disgraceful!

John and Penny Clough
John and Penny Clough
Share this article
Have your say

THE parents of murdered Blackpool nurse say the Justice Minster has failed to answer crucial questions over the death of their daughter.

John and Penny Clough wrote to Kenneth Clarke after Jane was stabbed to death by her evil ex-partner outside Blackpool Victoria Hospital last year.

Eight months later and they have finally got a reply – but they say it does not go far enough to answer why dangerous Jonathan Vass was allowed out on bail to murder their daughter.

Mrs Clough said: “It’s utterly disgraceful the letter does not answer one thing we put to the Minister of Justice about what he can do to make the system safer.

“If he said he can’t add anything else, he’s in the wrong job.

“The people of this country are depending on him to stop this from happening again. It’s his job to sort it out.”

Mr and Mrs Clough are campaigning for bail rulings to be changed to allow victims and the Crown Prosecution Service chance to appeal judges’ decisions. Their MP, Andrew Stephenson, has presented the bail amendment bill in the House of Commons and more than 8,000 people have signed a petition supporting the Justice for Jane campaign.

In their letter to Mr Clarke, the Cloughs questioned when judges are going to be made accountable for bail decisions and asked why the justice system had let their daughter, who had reported rape charges against Vass, down.

They also asked why Vass’ rape charges were laid on file when he pleaded guilty to their daughter’s murder on July 25 last year.

In his response, Mr Clarke said: “Let me begin by apologising for the inordinate delay in replying to your letter of November 5 last, and for the inadequate nature of the reply that was sent to you recently. Both of these failings were particularly unfortunate in view of the tragic loss that you have suffered. You have met one of my Ministerial colleagues, Nick Herbert, and have received a letter from another, Crispin Blunt, and have also met the Chief Crown Prosecutor for Lancashire. You have throughout been in touch with your Member of Parliament, Andrew Stephenson, who has himself very recently had a meeting with Crispin about the Ten-Minute Rule Bill he introduced in June.

“I am not sure that there is much I can add to what you have already heard. It would not be appropriate for me as a Minister to comment on judicial decisions, such as those relating to Vass’s bail or what happened to the rape charges.”

Mr and Mrs Clough say they will write again to Mr Clarke to outline their disappointment to his response.