Martin Jones, the chief executive of the Parole Board for England and Wales, is to receive a CBE despite controversies over black cab rapist John Worboys and the board’s decision to release double killer Colin Pitchfork.

Pitchfork, who strangled two 15-year-old girls from Leicestershire in 1983 and 1986, was approved for release from prison on Monday after serving 33 years.

The board also came under fire in 2018 over its widely criticised decision to release Worboys, the black cab rapist, after he served 10 years in prison. The High Court later overturned the decision following a legal challenge from two of his victims. 

The decision to award Jones the CBE was attacked by Alberto Costa, the Tory MP for South Leicestershire. He said on Friday: "I understand that this decision is made independent of government and was probably decided in January.

"However, it is to be deeply regretted that the timing of this honour has been issued at the same time as the Parole Board has made another appalling decision in the matter of Colin Pitchfork.

"It should be recalled that the CEO of the Parole Board was also the chief executive of the Parole Board at the time of the John Worboys fiasco."

John Worboys committed a series of sex attacks on women

He added: "I cannot understand how the independent honours committee can award an honour to an individual who has presided over appalling decisions in the cases of John Worboys and Colin Pitchfork and has granted that award in the same week as Pitchfork, the double child rapist and murderer, is nominated for release.

"My constituents and wider society are aghast at both decisions."

Mr Jones, who has been in his role since 2015, had insisted at the time "hundreds of pages of evidence" were used in determining Worboys’ release but admitted it would be impossible for anyone to be 100 per cent certain a person  would not reoffend.

In a letter obtained by the Sunday Times in 2018, Mr Jones had stated: "I can well understand why victims and the public find it impossible to understand our decisions if we are not able to explain our reasons; or indeed disclose the full licence conditions."

He had also claimed that "the panel took full account of the victim representations".

But Worboys’s victims, their lawyers and MPs said this was untrue, and that there had been three clear breaches of proper procedure. 

A spokesman for the Parole Board said it did not want to cause any "distress" to the families of the victims murdered by Colin Pitchfork and John Worboys, declining to comment further on the criticism levelled at Mr Jones by the MP.