Why the children of Greville Janner believe he must be innocent of 33 child sex abuse allegations

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Lord Janner Image courtesy BBC

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Earlier this blog ran a piece highlighting why  I believed on the basis of current investigations and recent inquiries that Daniel Janner must be wrong to say that all the cases of alleged child sex abuse against his father, Greville, are fabricated.

I sent him the blog. He came back to me to put his case and released some documents including one sent to the child sexual abuse inquiry. He did not put me under any pressure to write anything else.

In the interests of transparency and fairness I think it worth reporting what the family think. Daniel Janner tells me his views reflect the views of his sisters,Marion and  Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner. I am not saying I agree with them but I am saying that if and when the cases are examined by Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse they have to be handled with care. The inquiry will have to ask  searching questions as to why they were not raised all that time ago.

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Daniel Janner QC Pic credit: http://www.regulatorycriminallawyers.co.uk

Daniel Janner points out that the original allegations against his father were raised by the notorious paedophile Frank Beck  during his trial. As the excellent book I reviewed earlier, Abuse of Trust, reveals Beck was a sadistic, manipulative character who conned a weakly run Leicestershire social services department and the local Liberal Party into believing he had a magic touch in dealing with seriously disturbed children. Therefore he would and could manipulate  survivors at the time.

Daniel Janner’s case is that during the original  police investigation into Beck his father’s name was never mentioned despite 400 people being interviewed ( it was the first serious police investigation into child sex abuse). He also has a statement from a convicted burglar who shared a cell with Beck who says Beck planned to  falsely drag Greville Janner into the allegations against him before he stood trial.

He is particularly disparaging of  the claims of one of the survivors – who also made allegations against Janner  at the time- and points out discrepancies into the claims  made by other survivors. In one case, he produced a copy of his father’s passport to show that he was in Australia when an alleged offence took place. In another case in Scotland he says his visit was much shorter than alleged.

He also says as he had the power of attorney for his father, who had Alzeheimers before he died, he has reviewed all the evidence supplied by the Crown Prosecution Service  for the trial that was abandoned against him and in his view none of it stood up. When pressed to explain why there are 33 people making allegations his father, he says a number  of them are a conspiracy which has become a bandwagon aimed to claim money against his father’s estate.

There are at least six claimants – according to  the document submitted by his solicitors  to the inquiry – claiming compensation from the estate.

He wants them to face a civil trial where ” the Estate will be able to examine the claimant’s overall credibility, the consistency of the allegations,the reasons for the delay in bringing the claims and the authenticity of any psychiatric symptoms that are now alleged to have been caused by the abuse.”

“The Estate will also be able to explore the effect of the delay on the evidence, in particular the absence of any earlier accounts by the claimants, the effect of missing witnesses and documents and the effect on memories of the passage of time.”

He says none of this will be possible in the inquiry which could then issue a finding of fact against Janner and the letter to the inquiry from his solicitor says: ” factual findings…will prejudice the Estate’s position in any civil claims, which would be unjust.”

His family’s decision not to become ” a core participant ” in the inquiry – someone entitled to all the documents and to mount a response- does place the inquiry in difficulty.

But he is also taking a risk in the civil court. A criminal court would have acquitted Janner if there had been any  reasonable doubt about the evidence against him. A civil court will have to decide on the ” balance of probabilities” which is a lesser level of proof.

They also have a position where the Criminal Prosecution Services decided there was a case to answer and  the original police investigation which found no evidence is now under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. None of those points are in Janner’s favour.

That is why  for both the family’s sake and the survivors’ sake in my view  there needs to be a thorough investigation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abuse of Trust: A horrible reminder of a child sex scandal as the Jay inquiry prepares to examine Greville Janner

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Frank Beck. Pic Credit:BBC

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Today  when the pendulum seems to swinging again to start disbelieving claims by survivors  that they were sexually abused the republication of a book examining one of the first major  child sex scandals is a timely reminder of what victims faced in the 1970s and 1980s.

Abuse of Trust looks at the case of the long dead Frank Beck, a charismatic social worker who got away with abusing possibly up to 200 children for two decades before finally being caught and convicted.

It is particularly relevant as Alexis Jay’s child sex abuse inquiry is planning to resurrect the dire situation in Leicestershire social services at the time with an examination of the role of the then local MP, Greville Janner, who was facing multiple charges of child sexual abuse at the time of his death last year.

The book written by two diligent journalists, Mark D’Arcy, a BBC Parliament correspondent and Paul Gosling, an ex Leicester councillor and an experienced freelance journalist, and has been updated by Paul with the latest information about the allegations and investigation into Greville Janner.

The involvement of Greville Janner – who always claimed he was falsely accused by the paedophile Frank Beck  of sexually abusing boys – will be highly  controversial as his family, led by his son, Daniel Janner,QC intend to try and stop the hearing going ahead. They want instead go to the civil courts so all  the allegations from 33 survivors against him can be subject to rigorous cross examination.

This book however concentrates on the horror facing  disturbed children sent to be looked after by Beck and his colleagues and the brutal techniques Beck, an ex Royal Marine, used to subdue, sexually abuse and infanticise teenagers, using faux psychological techniques. He also bullied and sexually abused his staff, manipulated and conned local councillors.

It is highly revealing about the lack of backbone among senior social work management and the failure of democratically elected councillors, particularly in the Liberal Party,who allowed him to stand as a councillor, to take a grip on the situation. The police are also seen as failing to believe the children. It is equally damning of  investigations that followed by distinguished people – notably by Andrew Kirkwood,QC – into the scandal after Beck was convicted and the tragic consequences of Beck’s techniques – which led one disturbed kid to later murder a young boy simulating  the strangulation technique used by Beck.

And it shows the role of insurance companies ,in this case Zurich Municipal, in trying to deny  the council’s responsibility for what happened to these kids -later to be used with similar force in suppressing a report into North Wales child sex abuse.

It is also clear from the book that Beck was not the only person sexually abusing people and  there could have been part of a ring that was never properly investigated. He may have murdered one of his boys – but this was never satisfactorily pursued.

He also like many paedophiles attracted people who believed in his innocence – notably Bernard Greaves, a Liberal Democrat  and Lord Longford  who supported killer Myra Hindley.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to remind themselves about sheer nastiness, brutality and cover ups that seem to dog this area.

Abuse of Trust: Frank Beck and the Leicestershire Children’s Home Scandal. 

available from Canbury Press £15

 

 

 

Daniel Janner is wrong to say all allegations of child sex abuse against his father must be fabricated

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Lord Janner Image courtesy BBC

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There is nothing more understandable than a son and a daughter wanting to clear their father’s name of serious unproven allegations after he is no longer here to defend himself.Particularly if the allegations concern such a heinous crime as child sex abuse.

And their father Greville  was a national figure with a huge reputation as a fighter for reparations for the victims of the Holocaust.

However  his son Daniel Janner, himself a prominent barrister, has gone over the top in deciding that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse cannot examine the allegations against his father.

He told the BBC that all the claims  against the late Lord Janner by 33 people were fabricated, the police investigations into claims against his father were ” rubbish” and that the people concerned had colluded with each other to make false allegations.

For good measure he added that people were motivated by getting compensation and that he knew his father was totally innocent of all charges and had never been convicted of anything. He claimed the inquiry would be discrediting itself by looking into his father because the people making the claims would not be properly cross examined.by a barrister who would presumably accuse them all of being money grabbing liars.

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Daniel Janner QC Pic credit: http://www.regulatorycriminallawyers.co.uk

Now Janner is a prominent criminal lawyer. If you look at his entry in the Birmingham based No 8 chambers here you will see he has formidable record.

As the entry says: “High profile cases include:The Heysel Stadium football extraditions; The Knightsbridge Safety Deposit box robbery; Oyston and Martin rape trials; French student murder trial; “Happy slap” murder trial; London City Bond fraud trial; Gouldbourne Cayman Islands murder; McGrath money laundering; Cleeve Prior missing body murder; Lord of Fraud, Rodley trials.”

He also has defended a former headmaster against allegations of historic child sex abuse.

Therefore it is rather surprising as a QC that he  has decided that his father is totally innocent given that the Crown Prosecution Service, while rejecting the need for trial just before his death on medical grounds, concluded in 2015 that  “the evidential test was passed on the basis that the evidence is sufficient to have warranted charging and prosecuting Lord Janner in relation to the particular charges”.

A further independent investigation by Sir Richard Henriques into allegations against Janner concluded: ” I am satisfied that, in 1991, there was a sufficiency of evidence for a prosecution to be commenced against Janner for offences of indecent assault and buggery with Complainant 1.”

And ” Had the statement of Complainant 2 been forwarded to the CPS, there was, in my judgement, a sufficiency of evidence to commence a prosecution against Janner, in 2002, for indecent assault and buggery both with Complainant 1 and Complainant 2.”

and

” In my opinion there was sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction in 2007, and Janner should have been arrested and interviewed and his home searched.  He should have been charged with offences of indecent assault and buggery with Complainant 1, Complainant 2 and Complainant 3.”

Finally there is the investigation by the police watchdog into the failure of the police investigation into Janner. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it had served criminal and gross misconduct notices on 11 individuals in July.

Now if we are to believe Daniel Janner these respected bodies and Sir Richard have been taken in by lying child sex abuse survivors and must be (though I am sure he wouldn’t use such language ” a load of gullible twats.”

By saying that as Janner was not convicted of anything he shouldn’t be investigated by the Jay inquiry he also raises another question. Logically neither should Sir Cyril Smith nor Jimmy Savile be investigated because they can’t defend themselves and all allegations against them should be dismissed and forgotten. This puts him firmly in the camp of those who say really there is no such thing as any widespread child sex abuse and  an ideal advocate for the Justice for  Jimmy Savile  website which believes he is innocent.

I am aware the Janner allegations are highly controversial. Some like a former researcher  I interviewed who worked closely with Janner on Holocaust issues would 100 per cent concur with Daniel.

Another researcher  who worked for him had deep suspicions though no proof but told a story about a colleague  remarkably similar to one reported in the Jewish Chronicle this August. Only in this case Mr Janner did take the young man down to the sauna.

Whatever happens the Jay inquiry does need to look at Janner as part of its institutional abuse inquiry. There is too much smoke around to dismiss this particular fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexis Jay: A game changer appointment for the Child Sex Abuse Inquiry?

 

Alexis Jay at the Rotherham inquiry Pic credit BBC

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The very fast decision by Amber Rudd, the home secretary, and Theresa May, to appoint Alexis Jay, as the new chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is a very positive move.

After three attempts to appoint leading lawyers  to run the inquiry have all failed, it was a breath of fresh air to decide that a non lawyer could take on the job. Amber Rudd used powers under the Inquiries Act to appoint an existing member of the inquiry to take over the job.

The appointment  shows ministers are thinking ” out of the box” after running into problems – two caused by perceived conflict of interest – over the three previous chairs, Dame Fiona Woolf, Baroness Butler-Sloss and Dame Lowell Goddard.

I fully expected  politicians to try and get another lawyer to run the inquiry – because of the legal minefield surrounding  child sex abuse claims – but I am glad they didn’t.

Indeed it is a shame they did not think of appointing Alexis Jay in the first place to counteract the legal dominance of the inquiry.

Alexis Jay will bring a more human face to the inquiry and will have empathy for the traumas facing child sex abuse survivors. As a former social worker she may at last take seriously the problems of support for survivors – which should be one of the mainstream concerns of the inquiry  and has been sadly lacking until now.

But there are also other big advantages.

Her appointment means there will continuity and the Amber Rudd’s commitment to the inquiry couldn’t be clearer.

As Amber Rudd said:

Let there be no doubt; our commitment to this inquiry is undiminished. We owe it to victims and survivors to confront the appalling reality of how children were let down by the very people who were charged to protect them and to learn from the mistakes of the past.

Any new person coming to chair the inquiry would have needed time and space to read into events and there would have been an inevitable delay to further progress. This will not happen now.

It also means that the driving force of the future inquiry will not be a lawyer – which is my view is a good thing and puts it closer to the model adopted by independent panels.

Hillsborough for example was not chaired by a judge – and its impact on raising issues such as the  re-opening of the inquest into the deaths of the Liverpool football fans – has been enormous.

She  also has enormous experience in the issues of child sex abuse – and contrary to issues raised by survivor  Andi Lavery – there seems to be little potential for conflicts of interest.

Her letter to Amber Rudd dealing with  conflicts of interest also reveals  the breadth of her knowledge of the issue. As well as her inquiry into the appalling sexual abuse scandal in Rotherham  she had done similar work investigating child sexual abuse cases in Scotland.

As chief inspector for social work  in Scotland from 2005 to 2011 she investigated child sex abuse under the direction of ministers and  also took  a wider role in advising ministers on social work policy. As Scotland is outside the terms of reference of the inquiry, there is no conflict of interest here.

So what is the downside. She will need a lot of legal advice on how to handle some of the most difficult cases of child sex abuse -I am thinking of the judicial challenge to the investigation into Greville Janner – as the most pressing example. In a way this will enhance the role of Ben Emmerson, the inquiry’s QC and his team, as they will be crucial in defending the role of the inquiry to investigate this.

Secondly she may have to take some hard decisions about what to pursue and what to decline to investigate because of the massive amount of paperwork from the 13 streams they are already investigating. Otherwise it will become unwieldy.

I still  think the panel as whole is unbalanced in one respect – it has no dedicated investigator to cross all disciplines. The decision to drop having a journalist – Sharon Evans was the chosen person but it fell apart- on the panel was a bad idea. Lawyers are brilliant when they have got all the facts and can cross examine people about them – but they are not natural investigators and do not have the journalist’s mind to think ” out of the box”and make  connections.

I am not making a bid for myself – I am already on one national independent panel inquiry – but I think the issue should be re-examined and they should attach an investigative journalist to the inquiry.

Otherwise at this stage one can only wish Alexis Jay well in her new and demanding job.

Time for Dame Lowell Goddard to explain why she quit

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Dame Lowell Goddard giving evidence to House of Commons home affairs committee today. Pic credit: BBC

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The shock decision of Dame Lowell Goddard to quit the child sex abuse inquiry has been compounded by her very terse statement on why she resigned. See here Dame_Lowell_Goddard_letter

Survivors have been suddenly let down  by someone who only two years ago committed herself to a five year comprehensive inquiry that would cover every aspect of child sex abuse from VIP paedophiles to institutions as varied as children’s homes, religious orders,  schools and colleges.
It already has a packed programme  including a controversial hearing of the facts surrounding the allegations against Lord Janner; the scandal in Rochdale around Sir Cyril Smith, Lambeth Council, the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England to name but a  few. It was also, I understand, to look at the Westminster paedophile ring and Operation Midland but not until 2018.

So her decision to leave at this crucial moment when the inquiry was starting to get into its stride is more perplexing. Her statement today in full  read :

“I announce with regret my decision to resign as Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, effective from today.

“When I was first approached through the British High Commissioner in Wellington in late 2014, and asked to consider taking up the role, I had to think long and hard about it. After carefully discussing the matter with the Home Secretary and her Officials and seeking the counsel of those people in New Zealand whose opinions mattered to me, I decided that I should undertake the role, given my relevant experience and track record in the area.  It was however an incredibly difficult step to take, as it meant relinquishing my career in New Zealand and leaving behind my beloved family.

“The conduct of any public inquiry is not an easy task, let alone one of the magnitude of this. Compounding the many difficulties was its legacy of failure which has been very hard to shake off and with hindsight it would have been better to have started completely afresh.

“While it has been a struggle in many respects I am confident there have been achievements and some very real gains for victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse in getting their voices heard. I have nothing but the greatest of respect for the victims and survivors and have particularly enjoyed working with the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel which I established.”

What I find particularly perplexing is her implication that she should never have been appointed to continue the inquiry in the first place. If suggests that she did not think things through.

The inquiry following the resignations of Baroness Butler Sloss and Fiona Woolf because of conflicts of interest had already been remodelled – changing it from an independent panel to a  statutory judicial inquiry. Its work  and costs have gone up enormously and Lowell Goddard, as The Times pointed out, has taken time off and obviously misses her family.

The volume of work must be enormous – I know from sitting on a much smaller independent panel myself which I cannot talk about – that historic inquiries generate masses of documents.

In the child abuse area  a chair also needs to have a tough skin and a focused mind – since he or she is entering a minefield of controversy – and will face a barrage of complaints from a small but vocal minority who don’t believe that most of the child abuse took place – and most survivors are liars or bounty hunters.

Remember there are websites  devoted to the idea  that Jimmy Savile was totally innocent and everything has been made up by disturbed people. After all as Dame Janet Smith found the BBC either didn’t know or couldn’t bring itself to believe that he was a paedophile.

Therefore it seems to me that if she thinks there is something wrong in the process she should say so and she owes  the public who paid her a lot of money to chair this inquiry a full and frank explanation.

Reports suggested to me that her decision to go was not sudden. She has been seen as a little distant from event ( and not just physically ). There have been suggestions that Home Officials have tried to capture the direction of an independent inquiry and other suggestions that Ben Emmerson, the counsel in charge of the inquiry, may have had too much power.

Whatever happened we need a full explanation. And action from the Home Office and Theresa May, the PM who originally set up the inquiry as home secretary to make sure investigations and hearings go ahead regardless.

As I am the only person made redundant from Exaro who has a personal website – I intend to continue reporting on child sex abuse issues here and on Byline.com. Those who wish to keep abreast of developments should follow this blog or keep an eye on  Byline.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Lowell Goddard moving towards a ” Show Trial ” over the Westminster Paedophile Ring?

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Justice Lowell Goddard giving evidence to House of Commons home affairs committee today. Pic credit: BBC

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Last month I  highlighted Ben Emmerson’s opening address to the Goddard Inquiry in which the leading counsel raised the argument of examining false accusations of child sex abuse and finding  against those who made them – effectively putting ” survivors on trial “.

I wrote: “this threat …must be very real for survivors who may want to give evidence in highly contentious cases. If  it does – sometime down the route – look at the Westminster paedophile ring – will ” Nick ” be expected to testify and face questions from lawyers for Harvey Proctor  who is alleged to be his abuser ( and vociferously denies it)- at the risk that a ” court” will decide he could be publicly condemned for going to the police in the first place.”

Now Lowell Goddard has confirmed this in an otherwise finely balanced statement issued surprisingly on All Fools Day ( but then she is a New Zealander and may not have known).

In it she says:

“. I am committed to ensuring that we hear all relevant testimony, including from victims and survivors as well as from those affected by false allegations of abuse. As I announced in November last year, the Inquiry intends to explore the balance which must be struck between encouraging the reporting of child sexual abuse and protecting the rights of the accused.  

I am determined to get the process of the Inquiry right.

I will ensure that all relevant evidence is considered. As is standard practice in public inquiries, questions to witnesses will normally be asked by Counsel to the Inquiry whose role will include, where necessary, the exploration of witness credibility. Affected parties will not ordinarily be permitted to ask questions of witnesses directly, but as I said in my Opening Statement in July 2015, affected parties are entitled to make an application to ask direct questions and I will grant those applications if fairness requires it. “

Yes there is a point here but the press seem to have immediately interpreted this to mean that  Harvey Proctor will have his day in court so he can condemn ” Nick” and ” Nick’s ” credibility will be judged by Lady Goddard and Ben Emmerson.

I am not going to comment further on Proctor’s case  but  draw attention  to another scenario.

Dame Janet Smith’s conclusion on the Jimmy  Savile scandal at the BBC concluded that  paedophiles were both very clever and manipulative ( Harvey Proctor’s lawyers please note this is not a reference to him).

Now just imagine if Bishop Peter Ball had appeared before Goddard after he had been first cleared but well before his recent conviction as a sex offender in a fresh police investigation.

Justice Goddard and Ben Emmerson would have heard what a decent and well respected chap he was from George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, Tory Mp, Tim Rathbone, Lord Justice Lloyd and ex Tory minister Sir Tim Renton. What chance would any  survivor have against such a phalanx of the great and good to be ” credible” let alone ” credible and true”. I can just imagine the line of questioning from Ben Emmerson and he wouldn’t be hauling the former Archbishop of Canterbury over the coals.

And how utterly stupid Lowell Goddard and Ben Emmerson would have looked when a subsequent police inquiry found the Bishop guilty.

The pitfalls of handling the Westminster paedophile allegations in such a way should be clear to see and the inquiry better think very carefully about how they are going to do it. And survivors again the  Latin words ” Caveat Emptor” – buyer beware – should be utmost in their minds  before taking part in such an inquiry.