Skip to main content

Case details

R (on the application of Pearce and another) (Respondents) v Parole Board of England and Wales (Appellant)

Case ID: 2022/0052

Case summary


When a panel of the Parole Board assesses the risk to the public arising from the potential release of a prisoner, can it only take into account allegations if they are proved on the balance of probabilities?


In 2009, the Respondent, then aged 27, committed offences of sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault of two women whom he met in the street. He pleaded guilty to these offences. The Court was told about previous convictions including one for a sexual assault on a 13 year old girl in 2005. On 13 October 2010 he was sentenced to imprisonment for public protection with a minimum term of 3½ years (less time spent on remand) which expired on 7 November 2013. He is now aged 38 and remains in prison. His imprisonment has been reviewed on four occasions. Most recently, the Parole Board in May 2019 refused to direct his release and instead directed his transfer to open prison conditions (the “Decision”).

The Respondent challenged that decision by way of judicial review on the basis that the Board, following the Guidance on Allegations (the “Guidance”), took into account unproven allegations about other alleged sexual assaults by the Respondent against other women and girls. The High Court dismissed the Respondent’s claim and held that the Decision and the Guidance was lawful. On appeal, the Court of Appeal held that the Guidance was unlawful but the Decision was nevertheless lawful, as it had made findings of fact on which it based its assessment of future risk. The Board now appeals to the Supreme Court that the Court of Appeal erred in holding that the Guidance was unlawful.

Judgment appealed

[2020] EWHC 798



Parole Board of England and Wales


R (on the application of Pearce and another)



Lord Hodge, Lord Kitchin, Lord Hamblen, Lord Richards, Lord Hughes

Hearing start date

9 November 2022

Hearing finish date

9 November 2022