House of Lords backs ‘Vanessa George’ bill

House of Lords backs Vanessa George bill forcing sex offenders to name victims

New legislation dubbed the Vanessa George Bill – that would prevent child sex abusers from being released if they refuse to name children in indecent images – is a step closer to becoming law.

Vile paedophile George was jailed for a minimum of seven years in 2009   for the disgusting sexual abuse of babies and toddlers in her care at the Little Ted’s nursery in Plymouth

George, originally of Douglass Road, Efford, admitted to two counts of sexual assault by penetration of children under the age of 13, four counts of sexual assault by touching a child under 13, five counts of distributing indecent images of children and one count of making indecent images of children. She denied one count of sexual assault on a child, which will be left to let lie on file.

She was released from prison last year despite ignoring repeated calls to identify her victims, causing more anguish for the families affected. 

The Prisoners (Disclosures of Information about Victims) Bill would have prevented her from being released until she broke her silence.

The Bill passed its Second Reading in the House of Lords yesterday, getting one step closer to becoming law, having been passed with cross-party support in the House of Commons earlier this year.

Luke Pollard, the Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport and Shadow Environment Secretary, has welcomed the news.

Mr Pollard’s campaign for a change in the law started after it was announced that Plymouth child abuser Vanessa George was to be released from prison.

He tried to prevent her release from jail citing her refusal to name the children she abused at the now closed Little Ted’s nursery as a sign of her not showing adequate remorse for her crimes.

Mr Pollard said he has met with Ministers repeatedly over the last year to make the case for the law to be tightened.  He also made the case for the voice of victims to be heard louder in the Parole Board’s decisions and today proposed new measures to make it easier for victims.

The Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Bill has cross-party support and also enacts the Helen’s Law campaign that seeks to prevent early release of prisoners convicted of murder if they don’t tell authorities where the body is.

Mr Pollard said: “I am pleased to see the Prisoner’s Bill pass it’s Second Reading in the House of Lords, bringing it one step closer to becoming law.

“I have been campaigning on this issue since it was announced that George would be released in July 2019, and it is encouraging to see this new law enjoy such widespread cross-party support.”

“I want to make sure that no family ever again has to endure what Vanessa George’s victims and their families in Plymouth had to. It was a kick in the teeth to all of her victims that she was released without even revealing the names of all of the babies and toddlers she abused. Hopefully this new law will put a stop to any other family feeling the pain and anguish that her victims and their families did.

“Despite the virus outbreak I am pleased that this Bill is making progress through its final few stages. I expect it will become law before the Summer.”

During the debate in the House of Lords Labour’s Baroness Kennedy said: “It is tragic that this legislation is not in place in time enough to apply to the George case.

“She has refused to disclose the identities of the children she photographed to the authorities. But she has been released.

“So already distressed parents not knowing if their children were abused or not, will continue to live in fear, pain and concern for their children.”

From the government benches, Conservative Peer Lord Keen said: “The crimes of the likes of Ian Simms [who murdered Helen McCourt] and Vanessa George are harrowing, and families affected by these crimes deserve the peace of some element of closure, whether that is the opportunity to lay a loved one to rest, or the certainty of whether or not they were abused.

“This Bill offers families and victims a chance to achieve that.”