Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Janner must face justice, say MPs

Published 22/04/2015

MPs have expressed anger over the failure to prosecute Labour peer Lord Janner for alleged child abuse charges
MPs have expressed anger over the failure to prosecute Labour peer Lord Janner for alleged child abuse charges

The decision not to charge Lord Janner over alleged child sexual abuse could lead the public to see any investigation into the establishment as a "whitewash", a group of senior politicians has warned.

The former Labour peer, 86, was deemed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to be too unwell to stand trial because of his dementia, sparking anger from his alleged victims.

A cross-party group, co-ordinated by Labour's Simon Danczuk, claimed in a letter to the Times that the decision was "damaging public confidence" in the justice system and called for Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders to prosecute.

The letter, co-signed by politicians including Conservatives Zac Goldsmith and Nadine Dorries, Ukip's Mark Reckless and Caroline Lucas, of the Green Party, said: "Have we learnt anything from the mistakes of the past?"

"As long as justice is not seen to be done and the greater public interest is not served, the public will see attempts to investigate establishment figures involved in historic child abuse as a whitewash.

"The CPS has acknowledged the case against Lord Janner passes its evidential test, and there are established precedents in proceeding with cases against defendants with advanced dementia.

"Defendants have been charged with child abuse and found guilty in their absence. One man's ill health cannot be a barrier to the greater public interest."

The letter was also co-signed by Labour's John Mann, John Hemming and Tessa Munt of the Liberal Democrats, Tory Sarah Wollastoon, Naomi Long of the Alliance Party and Jim Shannon of the DUP.

Earlier Leicestershire Police, which has led the latest investigation against the peer, said it was "considering" contacting the Lords about an official letter Lord Janner signed on April 9 asking for a leave of absence.

The force also revealed that a number of new alleged victims have come forward to the Operaton Enamel police probe since it was revealed that Lord Janner would not be charged.

The CPS admitted last week there was enough evidence to prosecute the peer for 22 sex offences against nine people.

More than a dozen people came forward to claim he abused them during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, prosecutors said.

Greville Janner, the former Leicester West MP was originally investigated under three different police inquiries between 1991 and 2007 but never charged.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2009 and requires round-the-clock care.

The Labour Party said Lord Janner has been suspended in "light of these very serious allegations" but his family has repeatedly denied he is connected to any wrongdoing.

Boris Johnson said he would like to see a trial of facts, with a second opinion required on Lord Janner's ability to stand trial.

The mayor of London, who is also standing as a Conservative parliamentary candidate, told his LBC Radio phone-in: "I think it's very important that nobody should be under any impression Greville Janner has had an easy ride from the CPS or has been in some way allowed to escape justice.

"I have some sympathy with the DPP because, as I understand it, they are trying to cope with the fact Lord Janner has dementia and they can't see how he could be put on trial."

He added: "Yes, I think it's obviously very, very disgraceful, it's regrettable and questions need to be asked and there needs to be a proper analysis, if not an inquiry, into how we've managed to get to this position.

"It may be that there is a way forward. It may be that Alison Saunders can think of some approach that would allow the facts of the case to be tested in some legal way without, as it were, putting Lord Janner on trial."

Told this was called a trial of facts, Mr Johnson said : "I think that would be good.

"I also think it might be reasonable for people to be satisfied, doubly sure, that the medical disqualification ... is actually valid. I think we might need a second opinion from the doctors, as it were."

Mr Danczuk said told Sky News: "It can't be right or in the public interest that Lord Janner is not considered before the courts. It's just not acceptable.

"What I want to see, first of all, is for Alison Saunders to apologise for the mistakes the Crown Prosecution Service have made previously with regard to prosecuting a case against Lord Janner.

"But CPS should also accept that this decision needs to be more transparent and made in open court.

"Thirdly, we could have a trial of the facts. If he is as ill as is suggested then we could still have a trial in his absence. That's been done, there are precedents for that, and that's what I would like to see."

He added: "This decision has been made in private.

"It would have been quite possible for a judge to make the decision on whether Lord Janner could have been tried and that could have been done in open court.

"There are alternatives to the decision that could have been reached and it's right that politicians from right across the political spectrum - there is no political dimension to this - are calling for this decision to be revised."

The Labour politician said Ms Saunders' "credibility was struggling".

Ms Dorries said it was not Ms Saunders' job to make assessments about the fitness of establishment figures to stand trial.

She told Sky News: "It should have been passed to a judge, he should have been prosecuted and a judge should form an opinion, not Alison Saunders, it was not her place to do that.

"Given Lord Janner was a public figure of the establishment, I think a judge would have a responsibility to review the evidence and to issue a statement as to whether or not he could stand trial, if not why not, and perhaps give the victims some comfort by providing some evidence of proof in that statement."

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph