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Honour for campaigning Barrowford mum
10:00am Saturday 29th December 2012 in News
A MUM who campaigned for a change in the law in the wake of her daughter’s murder has received an MBE in the New Year Honours.
Penny Clough, 53, has been recognised after working tirelessly for a change in the law relating to bail.
Her 26-year-old daughter, Jane, was killed in 2010 by her ex-partner, Jonathan Vass, after he was released on bail having been charged with rape and assault offences against her.
Mrs Clough, from Barrowford, said it was ‘amazing’ to get the MBE and that it gave a ‘lasting legacy to Jane’ and the campaign.
She said that she would share the award ‘fifty-fifty’ with husband, John, who she said ‘had gone through all this together with me’.
Jane, a nurse at the Blackpool Victoria Hospital, was stabbed to death by Vass in the hospital car park in July 2010.
After he was jailed for a minimum of 30 years in October 2010, Mr and Mrs Clough set up the Justice For Jane Campaign.
Earlier this year, the Government moved to amend the law on bail to allow prosecutors to challenge judges' bail decisions in the Court of Appeal.
The amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill was dubbed "Jane's Law".
Mr and Mrs Clough were also outraged that the rape allegations against former bouncer Vass were allowed to lie on file by the trial judge.
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson was one of those who nominated Mrs Clough for the award and has been a supporter of the Justice For Jane campaign.
He said: “Penny and John have shown huge determination and courage in the face of enormous tragedy.
“They are truly inspiring in their determination to make a difference in the wake of Jane’s death.
“I was approached by some of Penny’s work colleagues who believed she deserved recognition and I agreed wholeheartedly.”
Mrs Clough, who is a staff nurse in critical care at Royal Preston Hospital, said: "My first impression was 'Wow'. I was then shocked that my husband hadn't got one. We have fought together every step of the way as Jane's parents.”
Mrs Clough said she and her husband would continue fighting on other issues such as holding judges accountable for the decisions they make and getting domestic abuse risk assessments to be read in open court so judges and magistrates can make more informed decisions regarding offenders.
She said: “Judges are so protected. They hold us accountable for the decisions we make in life but they are not accountable themselves. It should be open and transparent.
“Every police force does risk assessments on the danger to victims of domestic violence, honour crime and stalking.
“We know Jane was at the upper end of this scale but it couldn’t be heard in open court and made available to prosecutors.”
Mrs Clough said her MBE and the change in the law provided a ‘legacy’ for Jane.
She said: "Jane did not get the justice that she deserved. We knew her life was worth something and worth fighting for and she would have wanted us to carry on fighting.
“Even though John and I are well known for our campaigning work we still find it hard to get replies from police and other authorities.
“Maybe the three letters ‘MBE’ at the top of our correspondence may change that a little.”
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