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Anguish as Janner abuse probe halted following his death

By Emily Pennink

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 years old at the time.

Legal proceedings were left in limbo following the announcement that the 87-year-old peer had died on December 19.

He had previously been declared unfit to stand trial at the Old Bailey by Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders due to his dementia.

Instead, a trial of the facts was due to be held in his absence.

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.

Meanwhile, the defence was in the process of trying to get the case thrown out due to an "abuse of process", he said.

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

He added: "Death ordinarily brings proceedings to an end. There is no longer someone to convict or acquit.

"Even though the proceedings had reached a stage where Lord Janner was unfit to plead or stand trial, the proceedings are a creature of statute and the Act makes no provision for posthumous proceedings."

Trial judge Mr Justice Openshaw agreed, commenting: "There is nothing more to be said.

"That's the end of the proceedings, that the defendant is dead."

The prosecutor added that the Goddard Inquiry had announced in April last year that it would conduct a "full investigation into the issues surrounding allegations of sexual abuse against the defendant".

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."

She added: "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."

Belfast Telegraph


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