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Alleged victims of Janner 'devastated' as criminal case dropped

Published 15/01/2016

Legal proceedings were left in limbo after Lord Janner's death
Legal proceedings were left in limbo after Lord Janner's death

Alleged victims of the late Lord Janner have been left "devastated" after his criminal case was dropped, decades after they first accused him of child sex abuse.

Greville Janner had been charged with 22 sexual offences dating back to the 1960s against nine alleged victims, who were mostly under 16 at the time.

But legal proceedings were left in limbo following the announcement that the 87-year-old peer had died on December 19, just days after he was found unfit to stand trial at the Old Bailey.

Announcing the decision not to press ahead with the planned trial of facts, prosecutor Richard Whittam QC revealed in court that more charges were due to be brought.

The defence had been trying to get the case thrown out due to an "abuse of process", he said.

Mr Whittam said that a copy of the death certificate had been produced for the court file bringing an end to the criminal matter.

Following the short hearing, alleged victims expressed their disappointment at being denied justice " through a failure to prosecute earlier when Janner was alive and well".

Liz Dux, specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, who represents eight alleged victims, said: "My clients are obviously devastated that they are no longer able to give their evidence in a criminal court.

"They understand the reasons why but that doesn't make up for the real travesty - that many gave their statements decades ago and have been denied justice through a failure to prosecute earlier when Janner was alive and well.

"They sincerely hope that the Goddard Inquiry will prioritise this matter, will allow them to give their evidence in person and will make findings of fact.

"It is vital that all the evidence that has painstakingly been gathered over the years is carefully considered by the independent inquiry and that findings of fact are made public."

Meanwhile, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, headed by Justice Goddard, announced it was resuming its investigation into Janner.

A spokeswoman said: "The inquiry will seek evidence and submissions from all relevant parties, and will make findings of fact where appropriate.

"If allegations are found to be true, the inquiry will then consider the extent of any institutional failures to protect children from abuse and make recommendations for the future."

The inquiry will look into Leicestershire County Council, a number of care homes, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Labour Party, she said.

A description of the scope of the investigation will be published on Monday with a preliminary hearing on March 9.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Alison Saunders had originally decided that Lord Janner should not be charged with alleged child sex crimes because of his ill health.

But that was overturned by an independent review last year.

Last month, Janner was formally declared unfit to stand trial due to his "deteriorating and irreversible" dementia and the trial of facts was fixed for April.

Following the announcement the criminal case was closed, a CPS spokeswoman said: "In April 2015, the Director of Public Prosecutions commissioned an independent inquiry into the handling of past allegations of sexual abuse by Greville Janner.

"Now that criminal proceedings have concluded, we will publish the findings of Sir Richard Henriques' inquiry at the earliest opportunity."

An NSPCC spokesman said: "It is vital that victims of abuse, however long after the crimes against them, have the confidence to speak out knowing that their allegations will be fully investigated.

"Child abuse allegations need to be pursued without fear or favour and the well documented past mistakes in this case must never be allowed to happen again."

Simon Danczuk had used Parliamentary Privilege during a House of Commons debate to outline some of the allegations against Lord Janner.

The Rochdale MP said after the decision to end the criminal case: "We see justice move so quickly for some people but, when it comes to Lord Janner and his alleged victims, it has moved incredibly slowly, to the point that we have seen a failure to prosecute.

"It is a very sad day for the alleged victims, who have been denied the chance to tell their story.

"It is now for the Goddard Inquiry to take up the case and ensure that the victims are given a voice."

Lord Macdonald, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, said it was a "matter of huge regret" that a case had not been brought against the peer in the past.

He told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme: " It highlights the really abysmal performance of the criminal justice system, in this case over a number of years, including of course during the time I was DPP between 2003 and 2008.

"It appears that numerous opportunities were lost, or not properly investigated, to bring a case."

Asked if he felt any responsibility, he replied: "Well, of course. I was DPP for five years.

"Unfortunately, contrary to the rules at the time, this case was never brought to me personally, so I wasn't aware of it.

"But it is a matter of huge regret that he wasn't prosecuted earlier, and he should have been."

The peer said today's decision was "to be expected" and it would be "wrong" to continue with prosecutions after the death of a defendant .

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