Investigation into government and police response to child abuse claims against the late Lord Janner starts today – with large swathes of evidence to be heard behind closed doors
- New strand of Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will begin today
- Inquiry to re-examine sexual abuse allegations against Labour peer Lord Janner
- It will focus on police and prosecution response to allegations made against him
An inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse against late Labour peer Lord Janner is scheduled to begin today, with large swathes of evidence being held behind closed doors.
The latest strand of the long-running Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) will focus on the police and prosecution response to allegations made against Lord Janner going back to the mid-1950s.
He died in 2015 and was facing 22 charges of child sexual abuse offences relating to nine boys.
His last public appearance was for a brief hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court where the effects of his ‘deteriorating and irreversible’ dementia were visible.
Lord Greville Ewan Janner arrives home from court after attending his trial at Westminster Magistrates Court on alleged sex charges, August 15 2015
He was deemed too ill to stand criminal trial and died before a so-called ‘trial of the facts’ could take place. It was dropped when he died.
Earlier this year, IICSA chairwoman Professor Alexis Jay confirmed the investigation into the responses of Leicestershire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service would continue – despite vehement opposition from members of Lord Janner’s family – although it would be held largely in closed sessions to protect the anonymity of those who accused him.
Prof Jay said this strand of the investigation was ‘not an investigation into Lord Janner’s guilt or innocence’.
She added: ‘It is not a proxy criminal or civil trial… it is an investigation into institutions, and into how they responded to the allegations made against Lord Janner.’
Lord Janner’s last public appearance (pictured with daughter Marion) leaving Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where effects of his ‘deteriorating and irreversible’ dementia were visible
Lord Janner’s son, Daniel Janner QC (pictured) vehemently opposed the decision to ‘press ahead’ with the investigation into the responses of Leicestershire Police and the CPS
Lord Janner’s son, Daniel Janner QC, described the decision to press ahead with the investigation as ‘a huge mistake and totally misconceived’.
He added: ‘It was founded on the grotesque and unfair assumption of guilt of a dead man. Our father cannot answer back from his grave.’
Lawyers for some of those who accused Lord Janner – none of whom will be called to give live evidence – said the inquiry pressing ahead would ‘come as a tremendous relief’ to those who have waited for their ‘voices to be heard’.
Kim Harrison, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon representing 14 of Lord Janner’s alleged victims, previously said: ‘Protecting their anonymity must obviously be paramount but the inquiry can still do that and achieve its aims by hearing the relevant parts of evidence in private and the rest in public.
Fantasist Carl Beech, one of Lord Janner’s accusers, was jailed for 18 years in 2019 for perverting the course of justice. Beech’s lies ruined reputations of some public servants
‘Discontinuing this hearing would not only have damaged the credibility of the inquiry, but also sent a harmful message to survivors who already find it difficult enough to speak up about their abuse.’
The investigation previously found there was no evidence of ‘Westminster paedophile ring’. Pictured: Carl Beech
The three-week investigation follows previous strands into Westminster, the education sector and other institutions.
The inquiry previously found the political establishment spent decades turning a blind eye to allegations of child sexual abuse, with high-profile politicians protected from police action as whips sought to avoid ‘gossip and scandal’ which would damage their parties, a scathing report found.
Previously, the investigation into MPs, peers and civil servants working at Westminster found political institutions ‘significantly failed in their responses to allegations of child sexual abuse’.
But it said there was no evidence of a ‘Westminster paedophile ring’ – allegations made in the House of Commons in 2012 which kick-started the multimillion-pound inquiry, and later resulted in the prosecution of fantasist Carl Beech.
The remaining three avenues of the inquiry – including the Lord Janner strand – are due to hear evidence this year, before a final report of overarching findings from all 15 sections of the investigation is laid before Parliament in 2022.
TIMELINE: Sexual abuse allegations against Lord Janner
1991: During his own trial for the sexual abuse of over 100 children, paedophile Frank Beck, director of a Leicestershire children’s home, accused Lord Janner of abusing a child. A witness also claimed to have been abused by Lord Janner. The CPS decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
2002: In an investigation named Operation Magnolia, Lord Janner was the subject of allegations as part of a probe into abuse children’s home. The CPS says documents containing specific allegations relating to him were not referred to them by police and claim the police chose not to pursue him.
2006: As part of a new sex abuse investigation, Operation Dauntless, an alleged victim made allegations of serious sexual offending around 1981 by three individuals including Lord Janner. The CPS decision in 2007 was again that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
Lord Greville Janner and Myra Sheink’s engagement announcement. The pair married in 1955. Allegations made against Lord Janner go back to the mid-1950s
2013: Leicestershire Police raid Janner’s north London home and offices as part of an inquiry linked to children’s homes in the county. He was not interviewed and maintained his innocence. Evidence was sent to the CPS.
April 2015: CPS said it would not be pursing charges against Janner, then 86, as his dementia made him unable to stand trial.
Twenty men came forward with allegations that Janner had abused them during police investigations.
If a prosecution had gone ahead CPS said that it would have included 22 counts of indecent assault and buggery of nine victims, between 1969 and 1988.
Sir Barnett Janner, 60 year old Labour MP for North-West Leicester, with his wife and son, Greville Janner, after receiving a knighthood, 1961
Janner was probed during an investigation into an alleged Westminster paedophile ring.
May 2015: MPs demanded rethink of Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision not to prosecute Janner.
June 2015: The decision is overturned.
August 2015: Janner attends Westminster Magistrates’ Court, appearing for only a minute to identify himself.
December 7 2015: It is ruled that Janner is unfit to stand trial.
December 19 2015: Lord Janner dies, with a trial of facts dropped.
2019: Fantasist Carl Beech jailed for 18 years for perverting the course of justice. Beech – known as ‘Nick’ – made up preposterous tales and ruined the lives and reputations of some of Britain’s most distinguished public servants.
October 12 2020: An inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse against Lord Janner begins, focusing on the police and prosecution response to allegations made against Janner.
2022: The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will deliver a final report of overarching findings from all 15 sections of the investigation before Parliament.