"HELEN will be looking down on me saying good for you mum, I don't mind my life being taken because this law in my name will help others to never go through what you have."

Those are the words of Marie McCourt whose tireless campaign, which calls for killers to be denied parole if they refuse to reveal where their victims’ bodies are, will result in a new law in her daughter's memory being passed on to the statute books.

Marie McCourt, whose daughter Helen was murdered more than 31 years ago, has been campaigning for the law for four years.

George and Dragon pub landlord Ian Simms was jailed for the crime in 1989 but has never admitted what he did or where Helen’s body is and is eligible for parole.

St Helens Star:

Ian Simms outside the George and Dragon pub in 1989 flanked by prison guards

Now that ‘Helen’s law’ is set to be passed, it will place a legal duty on the Parole Board to reflect the failure to disclose the site of a victim’s remains when considering a prisoner’s suitability for release.

The move follows the unwavering campaign of Helen’s mother, Marie McCourt, to see the law changed and comes after recent meetings with St Helens North MP Conor McGinn and Justice Secretary David Gauke.

The Government is acting to acknowledge the particular anguish faced by families who do not have the chance to lay their loved ones to rest, and will now consider the most suitable options to bring through legislation as soon as possible.

Marie, from Billinge, said: "I am elated that it has now been confirmed that the Government is proceeding with Helen's Law.

"In December 2015 when I heard that Simms had a hearing for parole it kickstarted my campaigning and I have faced so many twists and turns along the way that I never truly let myself believe it would happen, I would never give up but it was hard to see an end to the campaigning.

"I called it Helen's Law, but never expected for it to be passed under that name, I just wanted an amendment to the law, but to hear that it is in her name is amazing.

"David Gauke told me when we spoke in May that it would be called that and said, 'this means that when we are both long gone, Helen's Law will still be there and people will know of her case, so she will will on longer than any of us'.

St Helens Star:

The search for Helen McCourt has never stopped

"This will hopefully impact Simms as well as he will be told under Helen's Law you will not be able for parole unless you tell us where she is.

"I know he may never tell me, but I can rest easy now knowing that Helen's Law will help so many other families.

"I really feel that Helen would be proud.

"She will be looking down on me saying good for you mum, I don't mind my life being taken because this law in my name will help others to never go through what you have.

"I would like to thank Conor McGinn for his support in bringing this law forward and the St Helens community for always supporting me and Helen, even 31 years later. Thank you, thank you all so much."

St Helens Star:

Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, said: "It's bittersweet because the reason we worked so hard on the campaign is because Marie lost her daughter Helen and nothing that happens will ever replace her or mitigate her sense of grief or loss.

"But what has always struck me about Marie is it has never been just about her and the McCourt family, it has been about all of the families affected by this, so it is a good day.

"Victims can expect some form of justice and we firmly have that and for our campaign and Marie's drive to change the law is a hugely significant thing to get the ministry of justice to agree to introduce Helen's Law.

"It is a huge achievement and one I think is due primarily to Marie and the hundreds and thousands of people who have signed the campaign and my parliamentary colleagues and for people in Billinge and St Helens borough who have been the cornerstone of support over 30 years which is invaluable.

"It's special and symbolic for it to be called Helen's Law to have what happened to Helen and her family to be recognised by government by the introduction of this law is something that I think is very unique and testament to the respect my colleagues in Parliament have for Marie and her family.

"Helen's legacy is that other families won't have to go through the pain the McCourt's have.

"We were both very emotional about it, we didn't get it in a straight forward way but we have got it introduced into the Government, which was beyond our expectations, we felt we would have to do this through a private members group, but for the government to do it made us both very overwhelmed.

"I want to also thank the St Helens Star for always supporting the campaign and the McCourt family over 30 years who have informed the community, without which we would not be where we are today."

Justice Secretary David Gauke added: "It is a particular cruelty to deny grieving families the opportunity to lay their murdered loved one to rest, and I have immense sympathy with Marie McCourt and others in her situation.

“‘Helen’s Law’ will mean that the Parole Board must consider this cruelty when reviewing an offender’s suitability for release – which could see them facing longer behind bars.

“The profound grief inflicted on families and friends of the murdered is incalculable. Those responsible should know that if they choose to compound this further through their behaviour, they will be held accountable.”

Parole Board guidance is already clear that offenders who withhold information may still pose a risk to the public and could therefore face longer in prison. ‘Helen’s law’ will for the first time make it a legal requirement to consider this withholding of information when making a decision on whether to release an offender.

Human Rights legislation protects against arbitrary detention, and the proposed new law balances this with need to keep the public safe.

The proposals also take into account instances where a murderer may genuinely not know the location of a victim’s body if, for example, it has been moved.

The changes to the release test build on wider reforms to the parole system, announced earlier this year, that will allow victims the opportunity to request the reconsideration of a release decision. This forms part of sweeping changes to bring more transparency and accountability to the parole process and improve the support to victims.