A NORTH-EAST man has won the right to challenge his name appearing on the sex offenders’ register for life in a case that could hamper efforts to stop paedophiles grooming children on the internet.
The Supreme Court has rejected a Home Office challenge to rulings that it breaches the human rights of rapists and paedophiles to be on the register for life with no chance of review.
High Court judges have already ruled that the indefinite registration of convicted sex offenders 52-year-old Angus Thompson, from Newcastle, and a teenager referred to as JF, was incompatible with their right to privacy.
This decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal last year.
The Supreme Court has now dismissed a further Home Office challenge.
The ruling has opened the way for hundreds of sex offenders to challenge whether they should remain on the sex offenders’ register for life.
It is understood the decision could also damage attempts to reduce offenders’ ability to use the internet to meet and abuse children.
For several years, ministers have proposed that convicted rapists and paedophiles should be forced to disclose their email and computer addresses to stop them grooming youngsters. However, after the murder of Darlington 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall, the Home Office admitted efforts to introduce the legislation had been shelved until the outcome of the court case involving Thompson and the teenager. It is now feared the plans could be abandoned indefinitely.
Last night, the Conservatives’ home affairs spokesman, Chris Grayling, said: “This is a hugely sensitive area of the law. It beggars belief that ministers have managed to get themselves into this position.”
The NSPCC said it believed that some offenders had committed such unspeakable crimes against children that it is right to put them on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.
Thompson was sentenced in November 1996 to five years imprisonment on two counts of indecent assault on a female and other offences of actual bodily harm.
Since being released in April 2000, he has not been in any trouble and is in poor health after a series of heart attacks.
JF, now 18, was convicted of two offences of rape of a child under 13 and other sexual offences.
He was aged 11 at the time of the assaults.
In October 2005, he was sentenced to 30 months detention by Liverpool Crown Court and released on licence in January 2007.
Home Office officials said they would consider the ruling before making any recommendations.
The existing requirements on sex offenders to notify the police of their movements will remain in force in the meantime.
The Northern Echo has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of the internet and to call for tougher measures to stop sex offenders using the web to abuse children.