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Janner makes first court appearance over child sex charges

Published 14/08/2015

Lord Janner is said to be suffering from dementia
Lord Janner is said to be suffering from dementia

Lord Janner has appeared in court in person for the first time over 22 historic child sex abuse charges.

The peer's attendance at Westminster Magistrates' Court lasted 59 seconds and comes after numerous attempts by his defence lawyers - three court hearings over a week - to avoid him having to turn up.

Dressed in a soiled bottle green cardigan, blue t-shirt and navy trousers and, using a walking stick, he entered the courtroom saying: "Oooh, this is wonderful."

He sat at a desk near the entrance used for vulnerable witnesses and looked around the room before being asked if he was Lord Janner.

He replied: "Yes."

The peer was escorted into the courtroom by a minder and woman believed to be his daughter.

Calling him "daddy", she said: "We're going to go home and have an ice cream."

All three of them then left the courtroom through the internal exit, avoiding the public section of the building.

Janner was released on unconditional bail with the next hearing to be held at Southwark Crown Court on September 1.

He was forced to attend the hearing after two senior judges ruled that an appearance by the 87-year-old former Labour peer and MP must take place because of "the obvious and strong public interest in ensuring those summoned to court attend when required".

Earlier today Janner's lawyer Paul Ozin argued that he should be allowed to appear via video link at the magistrates' court, from his residence.

But after District Judge Emma Arbuthnot expressed impatience with the legal wrangling over the issue, Mr Ozin told the court: "I can confirm that Lord Janner will attend this court at two o'clock this afternoon."

In response, the judge said that if the hearing became too much for Janner, she would "immediately abort" and continue in his absence.

His legal team had been insisting he was too ill to attend in person because of his advanced dementia.

As the defence tried to propose alternative ways of Janner appearing, the judge warned that Janner could face arrest vowing to resolve the row over his appearance.

Judge Arbuthnot declared: "Even if I have to have him arrested I am going to resolve this matter today.

"I'm warning you that as time progresses I'm going to turn to the prosecution and say 'let's get a warrant to have him arrested'. Let's not waste time."

She added that Janner's appearance "must be done in a humane way. I feel very strongly of that".

Janner's lawyers yesterday lost a High Court bid to prevent him having to attend.

Two senior judges said the public interest outweighed any personal distress that might be caused to Janner, who faces child abuse charges spanning a period from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Janner of Springfield Avenue, in Muswell Hill, North London is accused of 15 counts of indecent assault and seven counts of a separate sexual offence offence, against a total of nine complainants.

Janner returned to his north London home just after 3pm accompanied by his daughter and Mr Ozin.

Wearing the cap and a dark blue jacket, he was helped out of the car and up the steps to his house by his daughter, who attempted to reassure him.

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