Janner’s family – and his accusers – denied core participation status in Westminster child sexual abuse inquiry

Alexis Jay at the Rotherham inquiry Pic credit BBC

alexis jay at her previous inquiry into Rotherham child sexual abuse


The Janner family and their accusers have all been denied ” core participant ” status in Westminster child sexual abuse strand of the independent child sexual abuse inquiry.

Instead they will keep ” core participant” status in a separate strand of the inquiry which examine the allegations against his father in an inquiry into child sexual abuse in institutions in Leicestershire where he was an MP.

Core participants have special rights in the Inquiry process. These include receiving disclosure of documentation, being represented and making legal submissions, suggesting questions and receiving advance notice of the Inquiry’s report.

Alexis Jay, chair of the inquiry, announced the decision, following an appeal by his son, Daniel Janner and his two daughters, Marion and Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner.

Daniel Janner told the preliminary hearing in January :”The strand does risk turning into a witch-hunt of dead politicians,a circus, where fantasists will have free rein to live out their fantasies in evidence. There were no paedophile rings in Westminster, save in warped imaginations. But the evidence and findings of the Westminster strand will have an influence and bearing on the strand which follows in my late father’s name, because, madam chairman, the two strands — again,  as we have witnessed today — are inevitably and inexorably intertwined.”

Alexis Jay said yesterday: ” The extent that Mr Janner’s application is based on concerns about his father’s reputation, and his ability to respond to allegations made about his father, these are matters for the Investigation involving the late Lord Janner of Braunstone QC, in which the children of the late Lord Janner have already been granted core participant status.”

The inquiry also refused an appeal by a survivor who was sexually abused under the care of Hackney social services. but he may be able to appear as a witness.

” I acknowledge that WM-A4 may be able to provide the investigation with a first-hand account of what his lawyer described as “a system” of practices involving child sexual abuse operating at Westminster. This may well make him a useful witness to this investigation and the Inquiry will consider whether to ask him to provide a witness statement.”

Other decisions made earlier include granting core participant status to Esther Baker,

Alexis Jay said of her :
“Ms Baker alleges that she was sexually assaulted by persons of public prominence associated with Westminster and that there were institutional failings in
connection with that alleged abuse by police and law enforcement services.

“Ms Baker was under 18 years of age at the time of the sexual abuse described and therefore within the Inquiry’s terms of reference. Ms Baker also alleges related failings by public officers and bodies. I am also aware that Ms Baker has spoken publicly and in her own name about these matters, and I regard that as an important factor in considering the nature of her interest in this investigation.”

The Westminster strand also  accepted as core participants survivors who say they were sexually abused by Sir Cyril Smith- the former Rochdale MP – in  the context of Westminster. And Mike Veale, chief constable of Wiltshire Police, who ran Operation Conifer, into allegations of sexual abuse by Edward Heath, will also be a core participant.

Among others turned down for this strand include Jonathon Brackenbury who alleged sexual abuse in the military,  one from Sarah McDonagh  alleging sexual abuse involving a magistrates bench and one from Sabine McNeill on a  cult in Hampstead, London. Jonathan Brackenbury decided on his own volition to withdraw his application but is willing to be  called as a witness giving details he gave to the now closed  Met police Operation Midland while he was working as a Homeless Housing Worker in the West End / Earls Court area of London in the 1980s. He is also proposing to submit a case to the inquiry for an investigation into sexual abuse in the military.



IMPRESS reject arbitration and compensation claim from ex MP over Esther Baker investigation story on this blog

esther baker

Esther Baker


The press regulator, Impress, has refused a request for arbitration and compensation from former Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming, over an article published on this blog last September when the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to  issue criminal proceedings against the ex MP and two other people over allegations of child sex abuse from Esther Baker.

The article reported, almost in full, statements issued by Staffordshire Police and the ex MP after the decision was announced by the CPS. The CPS concluded there was ” insufficient evidence ” to proceed, the ex MP said he had been the subject of false allegations.

Since then Esther Baker has appealed the CPS decision and a ruling is expected some time in the autumn.

This blog is not directly covered by the regulator, IMPRESS, but because I cross post articles on the independent platform, Byline, it is indirectly covered since Byline has agreed to be regulated by IMPRESS.

IMPRESS’S regulatory committee ruled  that the article  on its own could not been seen  as Mr Hemming claimed as ” harassment”. And it dismissed his claim for compensation by saying that any  alleged harm caused to Mr Hemming  by this article was ” trivial ” and ” too insignificant to meet the  test ” for a claim.

For the record  and to prevent other people putting  any spin on this decision this is the text of the ruling sent to Byline:

“I am writing to advise you that an IMPRESS Regulatory Committee recently met to consider John Hemming’s request for arbitration. Having carefully considered his request in accordance with the IMPRESS procedures they have decided that the request is not suitable for arbitration under the CIArb/IMPRESS Arbitration Scheme. The reasons for their decision are set out below.

Reasons for Board arbitration suitability decision:

Rule 8.3 of the IMPRESS Regulatory Scheme requires the Board to make an administrative assessment of whether a claim is covered by the scheme. For the avoidance of doubt, this decision is not based on an assessment of the merits of a claim.
Rule 46 of the Regulatory Scheme Procedures provides six administrative criteria that need to be satisfied before a claim can be accepted under the scheme.

The Board considered each of these in turn:
(i) The claim is made against a publisher regulated by IMPRESS.
The Committee was satisfied that the claim was made against a publisher (Byline) that was regulated by IMPRESS at the time of the act complained of (6 September 2017).
(ii) The claim is related to one of the areas of law covered by the scheme.
The Committee was satisfied that the claim related to an area of law covered by the scheme, namely defamation and harassment. With regards to the claim for harassment however, though this related to one of the areas covered by the scheme, the Committee determined that the claim for harassment did not satisfy the relevant test. This was because, under a claim for harassment, a ‘course of conduct’ required two or more events to be characterised as such. The claimant therefore could not bring a claim against the publisher for the publication of one article.
(iii) The claim is not a pre-publication matter where it is appropriate for it to be directed to the courts.
The Committee was satisfied that the claim did not relate to a pre-publication matter where it was appropriate for it to be directed to the courts.
(iv) The claim provides a clear statement setting out the harm or financial loss suffered by the claimant.
The Committee was not satisfied that the claim clearly set out the harm or financial loss that the claimant had suffered as a result of the published article. It noted that the claimant largely relied on the fact that the article was part of a wider campaign against him which he accepted that Byline was not a party to.
(v) The claim describes a specific action or activity of a publisher that has caused the alleged harm or financial loss.
The Committee was not satisfied that the claimant adequately described how it was the article published by Byline that caused the alleged harm and loss to the claimant. This is because, although the claimant identified specific harm and loss caused by the ‘wider campaign’, the claimant failed to specify any harm or loss which arose as a direct result of the article published by Byline. The Committee determined that any harm or loss caused to the claimant by the publisher was trivial or incidental in conjunction with the remainder, and was thus too insignificant to meet the test.
(vi) The claimant explains why the complaint is not suitable for resolution by the IMPRESS complaints procedure.
The Committee accepted that given that (i) the complaint did not, on the face of it, appear to engage the Standards Code and (ii) the claimant sought financial compensation as a remedy, it was not suitable for resolution by the IMPRESS complaints procedure.
In conclusion, the Committee decided that the claimant’s request for arbitration should be refused on the grounds that parts (iv) and (v) of the test were not met.

Elm Guest House: Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry to probe whether there was a conspiracy or cover up


Elm Guest House in Barnes, south west London


Often it is the conspiracy and the cover up that is worse than the  original scandal.  I am not sure whether that will apply to the notorious Elm Guest House in Richmond, south west London if it really was a mecca for child sexual abuse as well as a bed and breakfast for consenting gay couples.

However the decision of the independent inquiry to focus on this as one of six major strands of the Westminster investigations  into alleged paedophile activity next year is very welcome.

The inquiry is also being careful to avoid findings of fact on whether any of the survivors and complainants were sexually abused or not by concentrating on whether there were cover ups when people reported sexual abuse in the 1980s and 1990s.

That is why it is good that the inquiry has accepted Esther Baker as both a complainant and a campaigner against child sexual abuse to  be a  core participant in the inquiry.

It does not mean that the inquiry  – as was made clear today  -takes a view on whether she was sexually abused by prominent people  but it does confer a status on her long standing and very outspoken campaign against sexual abusers.

It is worth  quoting the six main strands. The first is improper influence of police investigations.

On  Elm Guest House Mr Andrew O’Conner, counsel for the inquiry, said :

“A number of retired police officers have claimed that they# were indeed ‘warned off’ investigating possible cases of child sexual abuse committed by senior politicians in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Several of these cases are linked to the Elm Guest House affair, which was itself the subject of investigation by the Metropolitan Police in its Operations Fairbank and Fernbridge. The claims that have been made are claims of conspiracy and cover up, and we submit that they go to the heart of the Inquiry’s work in this investigation.”

The second is improper influence by politicians.

“Have there been cases in which prosecutorial decisions in child sexual abuse cases have been the subject of improper influence from within the Westminster establishment? Questions of this nature relating to Cyril Smith were raised in the Rochdale investigation; we propose that you should pursue those questions in this investigation.

“Similar questions also arise in relation to prosecution decisions taken in at least two other cases – those of Peter Hayman and Victor Montague. We submit that those cases also should be investigated. And it is possible that the disclosure exercise that we are currently undertaking will raise similar questions in relation to other cases.”

The third is whether political parties were involved in improper decisions or ignored allegations. “What, for example, did the leadership of the Liberal Party know about the allegations against Cyril Smith?

Did they take those allegations seriously, and did they react appropriately?

“Similar questions have been raised about the way in which allegations relating to Peter Morrison were dealt with within the Conservative Party.

And how did the Westminster establishment generally react to efforts made to shine a light on child sexual abuse and associated institutional failings? I have already mentioned the well-known allegations relating to the Elm Guest House – they clearly touch on these issues.”

Then there are the role of government  and opposition whips – did they know about theses scandals and what did they do about it.

” Is it possible that on occasions in the past the Whips may have received allegations of child sexual abuse made against politicians in their own party, and then failed to report those allegations, or to take any other appropriate steps?

Is it possible,indeed, that the Whips may have taken active steps to conceal such allegations – in part to avoid embarrassing publicity and in part to gain a hold over the politician in question? ”

And there is the role of the honours system.

“Concerns have been expressed publicly about honours granted to individuals who had been accused of child sexual abuse, or where allegations of this nature were made after the honour had been granted.

Prominent amongst the cases that have raised concern are the knighthoods that were awarded to Cyril Smith and to Jimmy Savile.
We submit that the Inquiry should examine these matters.

We propose to investigate what policies have been and are followed in cases where candidates for honours havebeen the subject of allegations of this nature.

We will look at all relevant records, including those relating to Smith and Savile.”

Finally the lawyers want to investigate the Paedophile Information Exchange.

Mr O’Connor said this :

“The key issues of public concern in relation to PIE are its membership, which appears to have included senior members of the Westminster Establishment, and the suggestion that the organisation may have been funded by the government.

“These matters have already been the subject of a review commissioned by the Home Office and by a further independent review of that work by Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC. The original review found no evidence that PIE was funded by the Home Office’s Voluntary Service Unit (VSU), and Wanless and Whittam subsequently found nothing in registered files or in testimony offered by contemporaries in and around the VSU that funding of PIE might have taken place with the knowledge of the police or security services as part of an effort to infiltrate PIE. But Wanless and Whittam were not able to dismiss the latter suggestion entirely, and we submit that this investigation should explore public concern about the alleged position and influence of PIE members within Westminster, while mindful of the reviews which have already taken place into these matters.”

Interestingly only the Labour Party has applied for core participant status while these investigations take place. I am rather surprised that neither the Liberal Democrats nor the Conservative Party have applied – are they ignoring the implications of this inquiry or  do they not want to be questioned about it?

Of course some people notably Daniel Janner, the QC son of the late Greville Janner, who faced allegations of child sexual abuse, believe everything that happened involving prominent people in Westminster is the product of fantasists. While I can understand his determination to protect the reputation of his father, his sweeping generalisation exonerating everyone in Westminster is absurd. Would he defend Sir Cyril Smith and say it is all lies?

He tried to get core participant status yesterday – but it seemed only aimed to brand everyone complainant or survivor as a fantasist.

Esther Baker child sex abuse case: “Insufficent evidence”to prosecute as accused ex MP outs himself “

esther baker

Esther Baker


 UPDATE  20 January 2018: Since this blog was published Esther Baker has been given core participant status at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. She has appealed the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service who are currently reviewing the case

She is still regarded by Staffordshire Police as a witness for a separate inquiry with another police force into child sexual abuse and exploitation.

The two year long police investigation into allegations by Esther Baker against a former Liberal Democrat MP and two other people has ended with no prosecutions against any of the people following a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service that there is ” insufficient evidence” to get a conviction in court. Her case was highlighted,among others, by Exaro News, and centred around allegations that as a young girl she was sexually abused in the woods in Staffordshire by a number of prominent people while police officers looked on.

Staffordshire Police said in a  carefully worded statement which was supportive of Esther : “We have now concluded a thorough and sensitive investigation into a number of non-recent child sexual abuse allegations made by Esther Baker.

Throughout this process our priority has been to support Esther and ensure all potential lines of enquiry were carefully assessed and investigated. We submitted the findings to specialist lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who have now concluded that there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction of any suspect in this case.

We recognise this investigation, and subsequent review by the CPS, has taken a great deal of time. ”

Supt Amanda Davies said “It was vital we gave the victim the time, space and support she needed to disclose the information. Over 100 hours of interviews were conducted by specially trained officers, and throughout the investigation we have kept her informed and continued to provide support.

“In this case Esther made the difficult decision to waive her right to anonymity and we will continue to support her, as we would with all victims of crime. We want to take this opportunity to reassure other potential victims that their identity is protected by law.”

“Supporting victims remains our absolute priority, rest assured you can contact us confident that you will be listened to and we will provide the support you need.”

Three people were interviewed under caution during this investigation, one of whom was arrested, he has now been released from bail.

John Hemming, the former Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham, Yardley, decided yesterday to reveal that he was subjected to allegations from Esther Baker and interviewed by the police though not arrested. In a long statement on his own blog, reproduced below, he attacked the Labour Party and accused his successful opponent,  Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham, Yardley of a campaign against him over the case ( even though he was never named) which he claimed was a perversion of the course of justice. He also attacked Sky News and Exaro for their reporting of it.

 He said :“I am pleased that the Police have now made it clear that there has been a concerted effort to promote false criminal allegations against me and that the allegations had no substance whatsoever.

I would like to thank Emily Cox, my children, Ayaz Iqbal (my Solicitor), my local lib dem team and many others who supported me through this dreadful experience. 

There are many worse things that happen to people, but this was a really bad experience.

It is bad enough to have false allegations made about yourself to the police, but to have a concerted campaign involving your political opponents and many others in public creates an environment in which it is reasonable to be concerned about ill founded vigilante attacks on your family and yourself. Luckily there was a more substantial lobby to the contrary as well, which included many people who were themselves real survivors of abuse, which has helped. 

I am normally someone who helps other people fight injustice. Being subject to an unjust campaign of vilification is something I do not wish to repeat.

The police themselves have handled the allegations well. However, although it was obvious from the start that the allegations were nonsense, it has taken two years for this to be resolved. Identifying why that is will take time, but I believe that the system is too tolerant of false allegations. The current CPS guidelines on handling false allegations are in my view too tolerant of malicious allegations and need review. The unnecessary delay of around 2 years in resolving the issue I believe arises from procedures that are being used being flawed.

It has been in the public domain for 2 years that the complainant changed her allegations in early 2015 from those she had made publicly previously and that she had stated publicly that she had never met a politician…

It should be noted that the newspapers generally have handled the issue reasonably well. Exaro and Exaro’s funder have behaved dreadfully. Sky should recognise that not only was their broadcast of the original allegations in May 2015 a complete nonsense, but also had it been based upon truthful allegations that it would have undermined a criminal investigation. The attempts to drum up additional false complainants through the use of publicity highlights a difficulty with publicising cases whilst a police investigation is going on. There are people who will make false allegations merely because someone suggests that they are looking for such allegations.

Some members of the Labour Party, including my opponent in the last two General Elections, have invested considerable time in promoting these allegations. The promotion of the complainant as an expert in this subject area as a consequence of these allegations has caused additional difficulties for my family.

I am not myself aware of another situation where members and supporters of a political party have promoted such allegations in such a public manner – essentially arming the villagers with torches and pitchforks and setting off on a lynching. There were public attempts to prevent me from standing as a candidate because of allegations made maliciously by a Labour Party member backed by other members of the Labour Party. Many Labour members will find this unacceptable and it is an issue that needs consideration by the Labour leadership.

I have asked the police to investigate this attempt to pervert the course of justice and await their response. There are, of course, many procedural options that are open to me to obtain justice for my family. I will consider those over the near future.”

Two points need to be made as I suspect that this case will not be going away for some time.

First because other allegations  ( not involving the ex MP) made by Esther are still under investigation by Staffordshire Police with another police force, relating to when she was a teenager and she is intending to appeal the CPS decision.

Second it is clear Mr Hemming will not let this go. On his criticism of Exaro there are two points. He wrongly blames the former owner and funder, Jerome Booth, for publication of the story. Jerome never knew or wanted to know what stories Exaro was investigating and read the stories for the first time  like everyone else when they were published.

Secondly Exaro never named him throughout the investigation and when the police revealed his age which would have made it easier to identify him through ” a jigsaw identification ” removed the tag Liberal Democrat.


The blog in 2015: Driven by Aaronovitch and Amy Winehouse

The unlikely combination of combative Times columnist  David Aaronovitch and the tragic pop star Amy Winehouse drove traffic to my blog last year.

I doubt either have met each other but in different ways it reflects the present obsession with controversial names and celebrity culture.

The Amy Winehouse blog is three years old and is a travelogue based on the fact that I found myself and my wife staying at the same tourist complex in St Lucia that acted as a retreat for Amy when she was chilling out from drugs. I suspect the film about her has driven the traffic but the blog got over 1500 hits last year – 50 per cent more than the combined total of the two previous years taking it to nearly 2700 hits.

David Aaronovitch’s critique of my journalism in The Times led to 3537 hits when I decided to respond – though it was eclipsed by my critique of Dominic Lawson’s take on the Leon Brittan alleged child sex abuse scandal which attracted 6447 views.

Interest in the case of child sex abuse survivor Esther Baker was reflected in two high scoring blogs- at 2674 for an analysis of the challenge facing Staffs Police in investigating her case and 2096 when the first arrest was announced.

The scandal over former justice secretary Chris Grayling seeking contracts from the despicable Saudi Arabian justice system – which this blog  and Tribune broke- was a big highlight – with 4250 hits when his successor Michael Gove faced court action and 2795 when the story originally broke.

Otherwise the biggest hits were reserved for the attempt to get rid of the Speaker, John Bercow, on the last day of Parliament – with 3933 on a piece criticising William  Hague’s botched action  in changing the election rules and 2497 on the midnight email to MPs from Julian Lewis MP which alerted everyone to the dodgy deal.

The most controversial blog has been my reporting of a Northern Ireland judge’s decision to compensate a paedophile for a campaign against him by one of his victims -comments were both virulent in their hatred and support for the judge.

Altogether the number of hits  recorded by WordPress on my blog – 127,725 were down from 182,000 the previous year. I also wrote fewer blogs as I was away some of the time. But this is not the full story as the blog is getting increasing additional traffic from Linked In, Facebook and is now run on Byline.com so I am not longer sure how many hits I am getting any more.

WordPress also records I have had hits from 155 countries. Over 80 per cent (107,000) is from the UK but there were over 7,700 from the United States and over 1000 each from Australia, Ireland and France. I have had just one hit from Iran, Syria, Armenia and the Turks and Caicos Islands to name but a few.

The blog’s rating on http://averypublicsociologist.blogspot.co.uk/ has gone up from number 62 to number 50 on the top independent bloggers This partly reflects my twitter following increasing to 8085.

For a small one man blog however it is gratifying that so many people are interested – given I do no promotion.



Police make first arrest in Esther Baker child sex abuse investigation

Esther Baker

Esther Baker

Staffordshire Police confirmed today that they had arrested a 64 year old man as part of their investigation into an historic child sex abuse ring following allegations made by  Esther Baker. a survivor.

The full statement in reply to a question from me on behalf of Exaro News is:“A 64 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of rape and conspiracy to rape in connection with the ongoing investigation in allegations of historic child sexual abuse.He remains on bail pending further inquiries.In line with our normal policy we will not confirm the details of a person under investigation until such time as charges are made.”

For legal reasons I have been told we cannot name the man but I can say for those who have followed this story it is NOT the former MP.

Police investigations are continuing into the allegations which involve a child sex abuse ring which operated in Staffordshire and the West Midlands.

Esther Baker child sex abuse allegations: A challenging case for Staffordshire Police

Esther Baker

Esther Baker

The allegations of historical child sex abuse made by Esther Baker are going to be a big challenge for Staffordshire Police to investigate.

Her testimony  reported first on Sky News and developed in stories published at the weekend on Exaro News and in the Sunday Mirror make grim reading. I won’t repeat it all here.

What it suggests is that some 25 years ago a group of young girls – in Esther’s case as young as six – were taken into the deep woods of Cannock Chase in Staffordshire and  raped on numerous occasions  while a couple of police officers watched to make sure no member of the public stumbled upon such a scene.

She has been unable to identify any of the other girls – though she says they may have been six or seven of them and not all the same ones – and has until recently not been certain who all the assailants were. Some were alleged to VIPs, others were not.

But she has now told police that a former MP of repeatedly raping her not only there but at other places. He  is adamant that this is untrue and  insists that she has either fabricated this  or been manipulated by others to accuse him of criminal sexual acts he did not commit.

She points out to me that the first time she made the allegation it was to another survivor and was before she was being counselled by any organisation.

Staffordshire Police are at the moment nearing the end of a scoping exercise which has involved interviewing Esther seven times for hours before they proceed to a full investigation which  they have promised to undertake.

What has also emerged that quite independently two other women have come forward and made similar allegations against the same former MP. Unlike Esther these two women have not made their complaints public and still have to talk to Staffordshire Police in any detail about their allegations. Neither are known to Esther.

And to add to the complications a third survivor,  a man already talking to the Met Police, about allegations in Dolphin Square, London has identified from a picture of Esther as a child, her being there. She remembers being taken to London but had no idea where she had been taken.

All this is going to require a painstaking detailed investigation by Staffordshire Police which is going to take a lot of time and energy. It is a very good exemplar of how these allegations – which would have been dismissed years ago – are now being taken seriously by the police in the present climate. No doubt the naysayers would argue that these allegations  still should not be taken up because they sound so extreme.

But to clear up what looks like a hidden epidemic of child sex abuse that is being uncovered in this country Esther is entitled to a full and thorough investigation into exactly what happened in Staffordshire 25 years ago. And the police need to  track down  who is alleged to have carried out  such vile acts and bring them to trial.