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M25 killer Kenneth Noye wins court challenge over open prison refusal

Road-rage killer Kenneth Noye has won a High Court challenge against a decision refusing him a move to open prison conditions.

Noye, now 69, was convicted of murder in April 2000 and sentenced to life with a minimum term of 16 years, after stabbing 21-year-old electrician Stephen Cameron to death in an attack on the M25 in Kent in 1996.

In September 2015 the Parole Board declined to order his release, but recommended he be transferred to open conditions.

But the board's recommendation was rejected by then justice secretary Michael Gove.

A judge in London ruled in Noye's favour on Friday.

Mr Justice Lavender quashed the refusal decision made on November 5 2015 and announced: "It will be for the current Secretary of State to take a fresh decision whether or not to transfer the claimant to an open prison."

Noye's QC argued at a hearing last month that the rejection decision was ''unlawful and irrational''.

The judicial review challenge was contested by current Justice Secretary Liz Truss, who said there was ''nothing irrational'' in the decision taken.

At the January hearing, Edward Fitzgerald QC, for Noye, said t he Parole Board panel ''concluded that the benefits of a move to open conditions outweighed the risk of such a move, and they found that the claimant's risk had significantly reduced'' since the killing of Mr Cameron.

He added: "They noted that he had made significant progress in changing his attitudes and tackling his behavioural problems."

In taking that view, said the QC, the panel "recorded that they had taken into account the very serious nature" of the offence, the claimant's "criminal history, and the suspicion that he enjoyed close links to the world of serious organised crime".

Mr Fitzgerald said the panel further emphasised "that they had very much taken into account the question of the risk of the claimant absconding".

He said: "They concluded on the basis of all the evidence presented that it was inherently unlikely that the claimant would throw away the opportunity for release on licence in the foreseeable future in return for a life on the run in a foreign land."

Tom Weisselberg QC, for the Justice Secretary, said Mr Gove had decided he would ''personally take the decision on transfer and would not leave the decision to his officials''.

He said: ''He was rightly concerned about a decision which would have the effect of undermining public confidence.''

The decision not to transfer was made as the result of a number of factors, the court heard, including Mr Gove's "doubts as to the credibility of the claimant's claims" that he had "changed his attitude to violence", the "risk of absconding posed by the claimant's links to Spain", the "risk of violence linked to the claimant's ego and desire to be in control", and his "use of excessive violence".

In 1985 Noye stabbed police officer John Fordham 10 times. A jury found him not guilty of murder or manslaughter on the ground of self-defence.

Mr Weisselberg submitted: ''The Secretary of State was entitled to consider that the claimant had made excessive use of violence, even where the jury acquitted him of murder, particularly in circumstances where his decision had the potential to put members of the public at risk.''

He argued: ''The Secretary of State was entitled to consider the risk to the public posed by the claimant and to decide that further work needed to be done by the claimant in closed conditions before a transfer to open conditions would be appropriate.''

But Mr Justice Lavender ruled that the "Secretary of State approached the assessment of both the risk of future violence and the related risk of absconding on an inappropriate basis".

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: " We have noted the court's findings and will consider."

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