Independent Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry WILL investigate the late Greville Janner and whether there was a cover up

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Lord Janner Image courtesy BBC

The independent inquiry into child sexual abuse has decided to go ahead with a wide ranging inquiry into allegations that the late Greville Janner was involved in child sexual abuse and whether the Labour Party, the intelligence services, Parliament and government departments could have been involved in a cover up.

The decision, announced on the inquiry’s website, comes despite strong objections from Lord Janner’s family and a plea from retired  Assistant Chief Constable Tony Butler, from Leicestershire Police  to halt investigations immediately.

The terms of the inquiry are set out in a full statement  from Alexis Jay, chair of the inquiry here but the full terms are worth repeating in full.

” 1. The Inquiry will investigate institutional responses to allegations of child sexual abuse involving the late Lord Janner of Braunstone QC (“Lord Janner”).
2. In particular, the Inquiry will consider
2.1. the adequacy and propriety of law enforcement investigations and prosecutorial decisions relating to allegations falling within paragraph 1 above;
2.2. the extent to which Leicestershire County Council and the Kirkwood Inquiry were awareof allegations falling within paragraph 1 and the adequacy of their response;
2.3. the extent to which the Labour Party, Parliament, government departments, and/or the security and intelligence agencies were aware of allegations falling within paragraph 1 and the adequacy of their response;
2.4. the extent to which any other public or private institution may have failed in its duty to protect children from sexual abuse in respect of the allegations falling with paragraph 1;
2.5 whether any attempts were made to exert improper influence in order to hinder or prevent an institution from effectively investigating or otherwise responding to allegations falling within paragraph 1.
3. In light of the investigations set out above, the Inquiry will publish a report setting out its findings and recommendations to improve child protection and safeguarding in England and Wales. ”

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

In a series of private meetings Lord Janner’s three children, Daniel Janner QC,Marion Janner OBE and Rabbi LauraJanner-Klausner,  objected to further inquiries while they were pursuing cases against people who had claimed they were sexual abused by him in the civil courts.

They two daughters argued: “The Janner family and Estate remains energetically opposed to the singling out of an innocent, dead man for a paradigm case study that will, necessarily, be based on incomplete and distorted information.

“It is a further insult to Lord Janner’s posthumous reputation with consequential cost to the Janner Family and Estate, including devastating emotional upset.
It would be more representative to pick a prominent person from public life as the paradigm who is either alive,or has been subject to a prosecution process (whether convicted, or not).”

Daniel Janner argued:“the decision on whether to hold the investigation and whether it should be part of the Westminster strand should be put on hold pending the outcome of the civil case and IPCC.”  He insisted that his father was innocent.

There was also an attempt by the Janner family to have one member of the panel, Dru Sharpling removed from this particular inquiry, on the grounds that she could have a conflict of interest having worked for the Crown Prosecution Service and HM Inspector of Constabulary, but this was rejected by Amber Rudd, the home secretary.

But the strongest objection came from the former assistant chief constable of Leicestershire Tony Butler, who wanted the inquiry stopped.

He argued:”this particular investigation is unlikely, by virtue of temporal scope, number
of institutions involved or as a paradigm of the “pendulum effect”, to contribute
any unique or unusual feature”

He claimed all previous inquiries had already established what needed to be done in Leicestershire – during the time Frank Beck, who was found guilty of numerous child sex abuse attacks – in the 1990s. This is quite evidently not the case as the excellent book Abuse of Trust by  Paul Gosling and Mark D’Arcy which examined the Beck scandal reveals.

But this was rejected by alleged victims of child sexual abuse and counsel to the inquiry and their view prevailed.

I am very pleased with the decision particularly now it is known that the scope of the inquiry will be wide ranging. It is equally important that the inquiry looks at whole picture surrounding the allegations of child sexual abuse against Lord Janner which means delving into the Labour Party, Parliament, the security services and Whitehall and also forensically investigating whether there were further cover up. if they appear to be true.

So I applaud Alexis Jay for pursuing this against a background where some newspapers would rather it was not investigated.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goddard Inquiry: A very judicial view of child sex abuse

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It was always clear that when the independent panel into child sex abuse morphed into a full blown judicial inquiry under Lady Justice Goddard that the emphasis and atmosphere of the hearings  would change.

Now it has started with preliminary hearings into  Greville Janner, the Anglican Church, Rochdale and Sir Cyril Smith and the forthcoming one on Lambeth it could couldn’t be clearer.

The tone was set by Ben Emmerson, counsel to the inquiry, when he outlined the role of the inquiry. Meeting in Court no 73  at the imposing Royal Courts of Justice in London it will have the atmosphere of a trial, the trappings of a trial, and a huge surfeit of lawyers representing every conceivable interest you see at any trial.

Each separate inquiry over the next five years will amount to a  judicial hearing into the case and there will be a lot of them.The focus will be  into looking into  events surrounding each case  based on strict legal criteria.

This is very different to the workings of an independent panel inquiry. I am a member of one at the moment so cannot comment on its work. But there is a quite a different emphasis in approach between an inquiry which focuses on putting together facts and  whose prime responsibility is to the people who have made the complaints and an  adversarial  inquiry that will be dominated by legal arguments and disputes.

Ben Emmerson, in my view, gave the game away, in his opening address.

He said this on one key point and I  report this in full :

“As will be obvious, Madam, the Westminster  investigations take place in a highly charged media environment. Allegations of the involvement of  politicians in child sexual abuse are reported, on the  one hand, as evidence of a paedophile conspiracy at the heart of Westminster and, on the other hand, as evidence  of a modern-day witch-hunt. It is the role of this  Inquiry to move from the realms of rumour and speculation, allegation and counter-allegation, to the  assessment of objective facts.

The Inquiry must consider all relevant documents, take evidence from witnesses and publish a report which sets out in clear terms what the evidence shows. In doing so, the Inquiry will need to remain sensitive to the particular needs of vulnerable complainants without unduly privileging their testimony. The Inquiry will also need to recognise the damage that can be caused by false accusations of sexual abuse, without hesitating to make findings against individuals and institutions if justified by the evidence. “

What concerned me – and I sought guidance from the inquiry on this – is whether survivors who give evidence will find themselves ” on trial ” during this inquiry and subject to rigorous cross examination about what they claimed happened to them.

The inquiry has clarified that it plans no hearings just to cover cases of false allegations which may disappoint the very vocal minority on the internet who claim that the level of child sex abuse is exaggerated and the motives of survivors are to get easy money by lying about what happened to them.

But this threat  which  I have outlined in bold 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.

Judgements are also being made on who should be a ” core participant ” – ie a person who can question  all witnesses -and this has already happened at the first preliminary hearing on Greville Janner

Here  Nigel O’Mara, a survivor and campaigner applicant for core participant status,is involved in a legal dispute over whether he should be allowed to become one. In an independent panel this would not arise as all victims are treated equally and there are no public hearings. Justice Goddard has had to reserve judgement on this, but it will not be the last.

I raise these issues not because I  want the inquiry to fail by highlighting problems for survivors in giving evidence – but to warn of potential pitfalls. If I was a survivor I would weigh up these issues very carefully before giving evidence.