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Inquiry to scrutinise Janner claims

Published 29/04/2015

The Crown Prosecution Service decided that Lord Greville Janner should not be prosecuted because of the severity of his dementia
The Crown Prosecution Service decided that Lord Greville Janner should not be prosecuted because of the severity of his dementia
Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders has come under intense pressure following her decision not to prosecute Lord Greville Janner over child abuse allegations

The judge leading an independent inquiry into child sex abuse is to investigate claims made against Lord Janner.

Justice Lowell Goddard, a New Zealand judge appointed chairman of the inquiry by the Home Secretary, could even call the 86-year-old peer to give evidence.

Lord Janner is accused of a string of historic child sex abuse allegations during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s but was deemed unfit to stand trial because of his dementia.

In a statement, Justice Goddard said: " The depth of public concern surrounding the Janner case exemplifies the need for a thorough and wholly independent investigation into the adequacy of institutional responses to child sexual abuse, particularly where persons in positions of influence are alleged to have abused children in institutional settings and have, for one reason or another, escaped prosecution over a number of years.

"It would of course be quite wrong to pre-judge the outcome of our inquiries in any way, but there is, in my view, a clear public interest in conducting an exhaustive and critical examination of the institutional decision-making processes in this case and in exposing them to public scrutiny.

"Given the prominence of this case, and the controversy that surrounds it, I am taking responsibility for leading this investigation. I have asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to provide the Inquiry with the full files held by her office and she has undertaken to do this. I expect nothing less than full co-operation from all relevant institutions."

The inquiry will examine the conduct of institutions involved in the case, including Leicestershire Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Home Office and the care home where it is alleged he abused the victims.

It will also probe allegations senior figures intervened to keep the matter covered up.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders has come under fire for her decision not to prosecute and has been asked to hand over all documents and evidence.

Witnesses and alleged victims could be called to give evidence and Justice Goddard indicated the inquiry will consider medical evidence before taking a decision on whether to call the peer to be interviewed.

A statement from the inquiry said: "Justice Goddard will consider the medical evidence that has been provided to the DPP, and the prior statements made by Lord Janner, before deciding whether it is medically appropriate and/or whether there is any useful purpose to be served by seeking to interview him further. She may wish to commission her own expert advice on this matter."

The Goddard inquiry cannot order Ms Saunders to review her decision and also cannot find Lord Janner guilty but can make findings of fact in relation to the allegations, which it can then make public.

Law firms representing alleged victims have written to Ms Saunders to seek a CPS review and have welcomed the announcement.

Liz Dux, abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: "This announcement shows that the original failures to prosecute Janner are now finally being taken seriously.

"For the alleged victims, who reported abuse of the most serious kind on more than one occasion many years ago, this is where the real travesty of justice occurred, especially now they may never get the resolution they deserve."

Earlier, Peter Garsden, whose firm is representing three clients in a civil child abuse claim against Lord Janner, has said he wants Ms Saunders to clarify the reasons for her decision by disclosing the various reports which supported it.

Lord Janner denies the allegations against him. His family have said he is "entirely innocent of any wrongdoing".

A CPS spokesman said: "The CPS welcomes the independent inquiry's confirmation that it will be looking at the previous cases relating to Greville Janner. The DPP made contact with Justice Goddard earlier this month to ensure that the complainants would be able to give evidence as part of the inquiry.

"We are providing the documentation requested to the inquiry and will also, of course, provide the findings of Sir Richard Henriques' independent review into CPS decision-making and handling of past matters."

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