Lord Janner: 'He took my innocence'
- 15 January 2016
- From the section Leicester
Criminal proceedings against the late Labour peer Lord Janner over sex abuse charges have been halted by his death, a judge has ruled. In his lifetime, the peer consistently denied the claims but some of his alleged victims tell a startlingly different story.
John Gater, from Leicester, says he was eight years old when Lord Janner first assaulted him.
He grew up in a single-parent household in the Northfields area of the city after his father left when he was just three years old.
"In the late 1960s, that was very unusual," he said. "My mother had to work and I was farmed out to all of our elderly neighbours. As a result, I became very trusting of people."
Mr Gater describes himself as a "happy-go-lucky" child. "I had red hair and I was a cute little boy," he said.
After school, Mr Gater would go to a working men's club on Gypsy Lane, near his junior school, to be looked after by a relative who worked there.
"It was quiet at that time of day and I used to have the run of the place," he said. "There were all these cellars I used to explore."
Lord Janner, then an MP for Leicester West, used the club's private lounge as his office, Mr Gater said.
"He used to buy me pop and crisps. I had no father in my life so I looked up to him. I was told he was a very important person.
"Nobody would have lifted an eyebrow at me going into the lounge.
"Looking back, I can see he was trying to befriend me so he could have his wicked way."
Who was Lord Janner?
- Born in Cardiff in 1928
- Served in the Army and studied at Cambridge before becoming a barrister and then QC
- Labour MP for Leicester North West and then Leicester West from 1970 until retiring in 1997, when he was made a life peer
- He had a high-profile political career, meeting Royalty and celebrities including Michael Jackson
- Diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2009 and died in December aged 87
- He was described by his family as a man of "great integrity" and "entirely innocent of any wrongdoing"
Over a period of three years, between 1973 and 1976, Mr Gater says he was taken by Lord Janner into the lounge and sexually assaulted about once a month.
"It made me feel dirty, unloved and very frightened," he said.
"His face is etched into my brain."
As a child, Mr Gater said he was unable to find the words to tell people what had happened to him.
"Back in the 1970s, we lived in a completely different society where you respected your elders," he said.
"If I had said anything it would have meant a clip round the ear."
Yet a feeling of guilt persists - particularly with regard to Lord Janner's other alleged victims.
"If I had summoned up enough strength I might have been able to stop it earlier," he said.
"If I had done something all those years ago, maybe he wouldn't have abused anybody else."
Since his childhood, Mr Gater has worked as an accounts manager and got married. But he was unable to tell his wife what had happened to him and his marriage ended in divorce.
"I have never really been able to form proper relationships with anybody and I don't trust anybody now," he said.
"I have tried to blot it out but the older I got, the more I couldn't forget it and I wanted justice."
In 2007, Mr Gater says he went to report the assaults to Leicestershire Police.
He said he was told to go and see a doctor.
Upset that his allegations were not being taken seriously, it took him another eight years to approach the police again.
Finally, in May 2015, he repeated his story as part of Operation Enamel, the force's investigation into the allegations against the peer.
This time, he felt as if the police were much more receptive and he was offered support, although his claims did not form any of the charges against Lord Janner.
But he remains cynical about why the authorities failed to follow up the allegations against the peer.
"I have no faith in the British justice system," he said.
"I feel the establishment haven't listened properly to the victims. He led a very charmed life and he must have been protected. I think people went out of their way to protect the establishment.
"I'm not sorry he's dead and I hope he goes to hell.
"I would like Greville Janner's family to apologise for his appalling behaviour. He was a monster. He has done immense damage. He took my innocence away."
Mr Gater has not been the only man to break his silence.
Paul Miller, also from Leicester, was in care when - as a nine year old - he was chosen to go on a trip to the Houses of Parliament after Lord Janner visited his school.
Now aged 52, Mr Miller claims he was groped by Lord Janner while inside the Westminster chapel.
"He suddenly grabbed me for about 10 seconds," he said. "My arms were by my sides and he basically groped me.
"I was shocked. What right did he have to do that to me? I have been angry ever since, to be honest.
"I have got a lot of anger and bitterness and it has been eating away at me for the best part of four decades.
"Every time I see his face I feel that he is mocking me. Even after all this time it is still affecting me."
For more on this subject watch Inside Out on BBC One East Midlands at 19:30 GMT on Monday 18 January and nationwide for 30 days thereafter on the iPlayer.