Silhouette of a prisoner

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and media organisations go to court today in a bid to overturn an order granting anonymity to a killer who committed “exceptionally horrific crimes”.

Their move follows a decision by a High Court judge that allowing the convicted murderer, who has spent decades inprison, to be publicly named would potentially endanger his life.

The order at the centre of the case was made by Mr Justice Simon, sitting in London, at a hearing relating to a judicial review action brought by the man against a Parole Board decision refusing him a transfer to open conditions.

He and Lord Justice Pitchford will hear the challenge against the order, which was made on January 23.

On that date Mr Justice Simon continued previous orders that have hidden the man’s identity over several years.

At the hearing he rejected submissions from the Press Association that granting the man anonymity was setting a precedent for other high-profile prisoners to seek similar orders.

The judge said the Press Association had “raised some important points”, but he was satisfied he should grant the order – “at least for the moment”.

He said media organisations could apply to challenge or vary the banning order.

Even the details of the killer’s offending – referred to by his own lawyer as “horrific and horrendous” – cannot be disclosed to the public.

When making the anonymity application on January 23, Quincy Whitaker, for the man, told the judge there was “a serious likelihood of a serious attack” on him in prison if his identity was revealed in the press and media.

She argued this would infringe his rights under the 1998 Human Rights Act not to have his life endangered and not to be subject to inhuman or degrading treatment.

The prisoner’s judicial review challenge was against a decision of the Parole Board in August 2011not to recommend his transfer to open conditions.

He claimed that in reaching its conclusion the panel acted in breach of the rules of natural justice, in basing its decision on material which had not been deployed and reasons which had not been canvassed during the hearings, “and on which the claimant had no opportunity to address them”.

But in February, Mr Justice Simon rejected his case, announcing that the claim “fails and is dismissed”.

He said it was “no part of the case advanced on behalf of the claimant to minimise what were, on any view, exceptionally horrific crimes” – carrying out “sadistic, unprovoked and vicious murders”.

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