UK

Lord Janner: Chances missed to prosecute, inquiry finds

Lord Janner Image copyright AP

Three chances were missed to prosecute late peer Lord Janner over sex abuse claims, an inquiry has found.

The independent inquiry, commissioned by the director of public prosecutions, found police and prosecutors missed opportunities to charge Lord Janner in 1991, 2002 and 2007.

Before he died in December, the ex-Labour MP - who then had dementia - was accused of 22 counts of sex offences against boys between the 1960s and 80s.

His family denies the allegations.

The inquiry found the 1991 decision not to charge Lord Janner was "wrong" as there was enough evidence against him to provide "a realistic prospect of conviction" for indecent assault and one other serious sexual offence.

'Sincere regret'

Furthermore in 2002, allegations against Lord Janner were not supplied by the police to the Crown Prosecution Service, and as a result no prosecution was possible, the inquiry said.

And in 2007 Lord Janner should have been arrested and his home searched, because there was "sufficient evidence to prosecute" for indecent assault and one other serious sexual offence, the inquiry also concluded.

Since Lord Janner's death a "trial of the facts", which was due to take place in April, has now been shelved by prosecutors.

Image caption Alison Saunders said mistakes could not happen again

Because Lord Janner was ruled unfit to to plead, due to this dementia, it was decided there would be a "trial of the facts" in which a jury would be asked to decide - without reaching a decision about guilt - if 22 alleged incidents of abuse had taken place.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said: "The inquiry's findings that mistakes were made confirms my view that failings in the past by prosecutors and police meant that proceedings were not brought.

"It is a matter of sincere regret that on three occasions, opportunities to put the allegations against Lord Janner before a jury were not taken.

"It is important that we understand the steps which led to these decisions not to prosecute, and ensure that no such mistakes can be made again.

'Disappointed'

The inquiry was carried out by retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques, who also made some recommendations for better handling child abuse cases.

As part of those recommendations Sir Richard said the CPS should consider whether time limits in charging decisions are appropriate.

His inquiry also found that a Leicestershire Police investigation in 1991 failed to cover basic steps such as checking details of whether a 14-year-old boy - known as complainant one - had shared hotel rooms with Lord Janner.

He also said that only "extremely limited" inquiries were made at the children's homes where the boy lived.

The inquiry also found a second alleged victim came forward in April 2000 when police in Leicester were investigating abuse in children's homes.

He made a statement claiming he had been seriously sexually abused by Lord Janner, but this was not passed to the CPS in a file submitted in 2002, and no further action was taken.

Then in 2007 problems with the credibility of a third complainant meant Lord Janner could not be prosecuted, a reviewing CPS lawyer said, according to the inquiry's findings.

A Leicestershire Police spokesman said: "During the course of his review Sir Richard spoke to a number of CPS staff in order to understand their role in those previous investigations into Lord Janner.

"We would have welcomed the opportunity to assist Sir Richard in a similar way and are disappointed not to have been asked to do so."

'No surprise'

Solicitor Liz Dux, from Slater and Gordon, which represents eight of Janner's alleged victims, said Ms Saunders' show of "sincere regret" was "of little consolation".

"Confirmation by the CPS that mistakes were made in handling of past allegations against Lord Janner comes as no surprise to his alleged victims," she said.

A spokesman for the children's charity the NSPCC said these mistakes should "never be allowed to happen again".

"It is vital that victims of abuse, however long after the crimes against them, have the confidence to speak out knowing their allegations will be fully investigated," he said.

All findings have now been passed to the Goddard inquiry - which is the independent inquiry examining historical child sex abuse in England and Wales, chaired by New Zealand judge Justice Lowell Goddard.


Who was Lord Janner?

Image copyright PA
  • 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
  • Served as president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews
  • Diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2009
  • Suspended from the Labour Party in April
  • Ruled unfit to stand trial over allegations of child sexual abuse in December 2015

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