Serial rapist recalled to prison months after failed bid to block release

A serial rapist who targeted young mothers has been recalled to prison just months after the Parole Board rejected a bid by the then justice secretary to halt his release.

Andrew Barlow, 67, from Bolton in Lancashire, was released earlier this year after serving more than 34 years in jail for a string of rapes in the 1980s.

The Ministry of Justice said Barlow, formerly known as Andrew Longmire, was being recalled to prison on Friday.

It is understood this relates to a breach of his licence conditions but he has not been charged with any offences.

Dominic Raab, who was justice secretary before he resigned last month following a bullying inquiry, applied in January to cancel the scheduled release of repeat offender Barlow, after the Parole Board determined on December 12 2022 that he could be released.

Mr Raab applied to the board for reconsideration on January 17, arguing that the panel which sanctioned Barlow’s release “failed to take proper account of the evidence regarding risk and in particular the expert psychology evidence”.

This was based on slightly differing reports from two psychologists about the safety of Barlow’s release – one declared him safe, while another said he should be “further tested in ‘open’ (jail)” before being confirmed for release.

The Parole Board rejected Mr Raab’s application in February, saying that “there has been no misdirection of law” and the panel had considered “all the evidence”.

Barlow was jailed for life in 1988 with a minimum term of 20 years for 11 rapes, three attempted rapes and a range of other offences committed in the 1980s.

He was subsequently found guilty of two further rapes in 2010 and in 2017, both committed during the 1980s.

He targeted women in their late teens and young mothers mainly in the Manchester area, where he lived during the decade.

Barlow broke into victims’ homes, used weapons to threaten them – and in one case to cause injury – before assaulting them often while their children were in the same house.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Protecting the public is our number one priority. That’s why offenders are subject to tough licence conditions and when they breach them, we do not hesitate to return them to custody.”