Sex offender and serial killer Levi Bellfield killer will be allowed to marry in prison after officials conceded there is no way to prevent him under current laws.
Bellfield, who is serving two whole-life sentences for three murders including that of 13-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler, had made a bid for legal aid after his application to marry his girlfriend was turned down.
The 55-year-old has now reportedly won a bid to be granted up to £30,000 in legal aid, leading officials to admit that they have no way of preventing him.
The Sun reported that Bellfield's lawyers had cited the European Convention on Human Rights and the 1983 Marriage Act.
The government has been trying to block the release of dangerous prisoners and ban criminals serving whole life orders from marrying behind bars under plans to overhaul the parole system.
Plans, unveiled in March, included the prospect of prisoners serving whole life orders – where the offender spends the rest of their life behind bars apart from in exceptional circumstances – being barred from marrying or forming a civil partnership in jail.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Under current laws there are no legal routes to block this marriage and we recognise the pain and anger this outcome will bring to his victims’ families.
"It is what has driven our plans to stop prisoners on whole life orders from marrying in prison through our new Victims and Prisoners Bill – ensuring this never happens again."
Former Justice Secretary Dominic Raab previously said: “There is a history of vulnerable women who have become pen pals with serial killers or particularly nasty offenders who get into relationships and then there is an issue around marriage.
“We’re doing this as a safeguarding issue but also as a public confidence in the justice system issue.”
Upon receiving Bellfield’s application for marriage in 2022, Raab said: "What I can tell you is it is inconceivable that the prison or the Ministry of Justice would authorise that marriage unless the very significant concerns about the safeguarding were addressed."
Who is Levi Bellfield and what did he do?
Bellfield is a serial killer and sex offender who targeted women on public transport. His first conviction was for burglary when he was just 13. By the time he hit 34 he had racked up nine convictions including assaulting a police officer.
The nightclub bouncer, who is believed to have fathered 11 children with at least four women, was described by Met Police Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton as "a cunning individual".
"When we started dealing with him he came across as very jokey like he's your best mate," he said. "But he's a cunning individual, violent. He can switch from being nice to being nasty, instantly."
The 54-year-old predator, dubbed the bus-stop killer after targeting women on buses, is serving two whole-life sentences in prison for the murders of 13-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler, 19-year-old Marsha McDonnell, and French student Amélie Delagrange, 22, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy, then 18.
Bellfield was initially convicted of the murders of Marsha McDonnell and Amélie Delagrange in 2008, and in 2011 was found guilty of the 2002 murder of Milly Dowler. In 2016, he finally admitted to the rape and murder of the 13-year-old.
Police also reviewed a number of other attacks on women dating back as far as 1980 following Bellfield's conviction – stating at the time that they believed he may be responsible for up to 20 unsolved cases.
Can prisoners get married?
About 60 prisoners in the UK got married while behind bars last year, and it is legal for convicts to get married. However, this rule is not a guarantee – any prisoner who wants to get married has to request permission from the prison governor.
According to The Sun, Bellfield has claimed the refusal to let him get married is a breach of the 1983 Marriage Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Under Raab's proposed Victims Bill, anyone serving a whole-life sentence for rape or murder would be blocked from getting married.
Bellfield's girlfriend, who has not been named, told The Mirror: "He is not a monster. Yes, he has a bad past, but 17 years in prison changes a person.
“There is always a far bigger picture. He is 53 years old, still young and has to live knowing he will just grow old and die in that horrendous place," she said, also describing herself as "no random silly woman with an obsession for serial killers. I’m a very educated, intelligent woman, nobody’s fool."
The couple, who were reportedly introduced by the late Yorkshire ripper Peter Sutcliffe, "have an extremely close relationship", she added.