Child Sex Abuse Inquiry keeps private more detailed report to protect victims
Another coruscating report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has condemned Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire County Council for their handling of allegations from survivors of abuse.
Following damning reports by the inquiry into Rochdale, the London borough of Lambeth, the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, a picture is now emerging across many parts of England of failures among the police, social services and the churches to tackle this problem with thousands of survivors being let down by authorities that should have protected them.
The national press and the BBC have rightly highlighted the failures of the police and the council to adequately investigate claims by survivors yet again in cases of historic child sexual abuse.
However it is in the mind blowing detail of the report that exposes how incompetent the police and council were in handling the investigations. It reveals a picture of quarrelling under resourced police officers, hiding of key evidence, and a difference of approach to investigations into a VIP figure, Lord Janner, from other less prominent people.
The report shows there were two separate police investigations into child sexual abuse by Leicestershire Police – one in 2000 Operation Magnolia – into abuse at two children’s homes and the second -Operation Dauntless in 2005 – into specific complaints against Greville Janner. The first also involved Lord Janner though it was mainly directed at suspected staff in the homes.
The initial budget for the first operation was just £10,000- and it kept being paused as investigating officers were put on other police work including murders.
The inquiry reports: “Detective Constable (DC) Nigel Baraclough, one of the team of officers involved in Operation Magnolia, told us that the Operation was a low-priority investigation, allocated to the least experienced SIO[senior investigating officer]and Deputy SIO, and was poorly staffed. The Operation was classed as a Category C investigation, the lowest of three gradings for a major investigation.”
During the investigation two residents alleged they had been sexually assaulted by Lord Janner which would normally trigger a reference to the assistant chief constable. This does not appear to be have been done and one officer thought the allegations were “lies”. Lord Janner was never interviewed. Nor were the two cases ever referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. The rest of the allegations against staff of physical or sexual abuse led to no prosecutions by the CPS. The statements given by the two children against Lord Janner were locked away in a drawer at Market Harborough Police Station.
They only resurfaced after fresh allegations were made against Lord Janner in 2005 when Operation Dauntless was launched. Even then no attempt was made to reinvestigate them or even find out whether the children were still alive. Officers argued whether Lord Janner should be arrested and his home searched.
“Staggering, bewildering and disappointing” a policeman’s verdict
Detective Sergeant Swift-Rollinson told the inquiry it was “incredible that an individual such as Lord Janner should be treated any differently by not interviewing him, not arresting and searching” his properties. He stated that the fact that Lord Janner “was not allowed the opportunity to dispel those allegations or provide a reasonable account is staggering, bewildering and disappointing”.
This time the CPS was informed but before any further investigations took place. The CPS advised not to interview Lord Janner or pursue this any further. The inquiry describes the view as complacent. The case was wound down despite protests from some officers.
It was not until 2012 when Leicestershire Police launched a further investigation, Project Enamel, that Lord Janner was finally charged when 33 former children came forward. By then Lord Janner was not well and died before any trial could take place.
This has left a situation where all the complainants have no resolution to what happened to them and Lord Janner’s family are left denying the charges but cannot challenge them in court. Daniel Janner, his son, has however been wrong in trying to stop the inquiry investigating the circumstances as this report will remain a permanent guide on how not to investigate child sexual abuse cases. Without it other police forces could be tempted yet again to dismiss such allegations.
One issue the inquiry has decided I find rather difficult. This comes from the decision to produce two reports – an expurgated report-now published – and a much longer and more detailed unexpurgated report. The inquiry’s explanation is that they have to protect the anonymity of those who allege were sexually abused for life. They did not answer my questions on whether the survivors will see the report, whether they also took this decision to prevent any litigation from Lord Janner’s family who have been opposed to the inquiry and would find the details of the allegations pretty damning.
A spokesman told me: “In order to protect the identity of complainants, who are entitled to lifelong anonymity under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992, a part of the public hearing for this investigation was held in closed session, reflecting the necessity for a restricted report. The Inquiry took steps to ensure that as much evidence was heard in public as possible, and the same approach was taken in regard to the unrestricted report. Whilst the restricted report cannot be publicly published due to anonymity issues, it will still be used by the Chair and Panel to inform findings and any recommendations they choose to make in the Final Report. ”
Chair to the Inquiry Professor Alexis Jay said:“Despite numerous serious allegations against the late Lord Janner, police and prosecutors appeared reluctant to fully investigate the claims against him. On multiple occasions police put too little emphasis on looking for supporting evidence and shut down investigations without pursuing all outstanding enquiries.”
“It was a similar picture for Leicestershire County Council, which had a sorry record of failures in relation to the sexual abuse of children in its care over several decades. A number of council staff had concerns about Lord Janner’s association with a particular child in residential care, and further enquiries should have been carried out.”
“This investigation has brought up themes we are now extremely familiar with, such as deference to powerful individuals, the barriers to reporting faced by children and the need for institutions to have clear policies and procedures setting out how to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse, regardless of the prominence of the alleged abuser.”
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I was expecting Lord Janner, the former Labour peer, to become the first prominent person to face charges for child sex abuse as a result of a plethora of current police investigations across the United Kingdom. It was quite clear from the attitude of both the Met Police and Leicestershire Police ( and it now appears Northamptonshire as well) that they had uncovered serious allegations against him dating back decades.
So in one sense it was not a surprise that the Crown Prosecution Service statement says that the Labour peer faced numerous charges.
They were following Operation Enamel ( the Leicestershire Police investigation) enough for the CPS to say “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 listed below; these relate to nine individuals:
- 14 indecent assaults on a male under 16 between 1969 and 1988
- 2 indecent assaults between 1984 and 1988
- 4 counts of buggery of a male under 16 between 1972 and 1987
- 2 counts of buggery between 1977 and 1988.
One of the victims has issued a statement through Leicestershire police. So the decision after four separate medical reports not to prosecute Lord Janner because he has Alzheimer’s Disease and is unfit to plead is devastating for all the survivors of the alleged abuse who will not be able to testify. It also must thoroughly frustrating for Leicestershire Police , who are understandably furious about the decision, after conducting such a thorough and forensic inquiry. It appears in the CPS’s view to have been done too late. There is a full report by my colleagues on the Exaro site.
At the moment we are left with an impasse over a high-profile and contentious figure. His family can forever say he is innocent of all charges because it will not be tested in a trial. His victims and survivors can claim he is guilty and yet another member of the Establishment to escape justice for hideous crimes.
To make it worse both views are irreconcilable even among people who worked with him. Before this decision I had talked to two people who had closely worked with Lord Janner. One,a journalist, was utterly convinced that he was innocent and could not believe he would do such a thing. Another,a politician, was highly suspicious about his behaviour with young men ( though he had never been propositioned himself).
If the CPS decision cannot be challenged it seems to me the only way for survivors to receive any form of justice is for Lady Goddard to step in and make this a central plank of her judicial inquiry. It has all the messy ingredients of the current historical child sexual abuse scandal – missed opportunities, failed previous police investigations, a failure by the Crown Prosecution Service itself, and the convenient death or terminal illness of alleged perpetrators just when justice beckons. A different scandal,involving Grafton Close children’s home in Richmond the death of the council’s former children’s home deputy manager,John Stingemore , just before his trial for child sexual abuse at Southwark Crown Court earlier this year, echoes Janner.. Again there were police failures, allegations were not followed up, and charges not made until years after the event.
Only a thorough examination of the entire documentation of the Janner saga and – as it is a judicial inquiry – testimony from people who people involved, including the survivors, social workers, the police, and for that matter Keith Vaz, the chair of the Commons home affairs select committee in the last session of Parliament- and a staunch defender of Janner in the past.
If Goddard fails to do this – it could also be taken up by the Independent People’s Tribunal- which is also now being set up and will provide an alternative voice to the official inquiry.
Justice has to be done and lessons learned. The biggest one involves any current allegations of child sex abuse – justice must not wait until the perpetrators are dead or terminally ill.
Leicestershire and the Met Police have re-opened their investigation into historic child sex abuse allegations against Greville Janner,the Labour peer and former Labour MP for Leicester North West and Leicester West until 1997. I report the full story in Exaro News.
Until now it had been assumed that the police had dropped their inquiries after it was reported that the 86 year old peer was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and would be unfit to stand trial should the Crown Prosecution Service consider he should face charges.
The CPS has advised the police to continue their investigation so that it can decide whether charges are warranted. If Janner’s lawyers claim that he is too ill to face trial, prosecutors would insist on an independent medical assessment, and would potentially leave it for a court to decide whether he is fit enough. The investigation is called ” Operation Enamel.”
A spokeswoman for Leicestershire Police said “Operation Enamel is still an active investigation, and enquiries are still very much ongoing.”
The decision by both police forces to continue the investigation comes as police all over the country are stepping up inquiries into child sex abuse – both in the past and current cases – since Theresa May, the home secretary, announced the setting up of an independent panel into child sexual abuse covering a wide number of institutions. The police know they will be one of the bodies under scrutiny when the panel starts collecting evidence.
The investigation into Greville Janner is bound to be controversial since he was heavily defended by Labour colleagues when during the 1991 trial of Frank Beck,a warden for children’s homes in Leicestershire, and now a convicted paedophile Janner was named as having engaged in a sexual relationship with a teenage boy. Janner ferociously denied the allegations. A friend of his, who worked closely with him at the time, told me only last week that he did not believe the allegations could be true and had no knowledge about them.
Among Janner’s biggest supporters included former Labour leader, Neil Kinnock,Derek Foster, then Labour chief whip, passed on “tremendous support” from the party’s leader, Neil Kinnock to Mr Janner.
Keith Vaz, a Leicester MP and now chair of the Commons home affairs committee, was also one of Janner’s greatest supporters saying he was ” a brave man ” in handling the situation.
Vaz is now playing a big role in scrutinising the setting up of child sex abuse inquiry, by quizzing supporters and opponents of the present inquiry and intending to hold Theresa May to account over the present blunders in appointing a chair to the inquiry.
I did email Keith Vaz about his support for Janner and his role as a solicitor in two other London boroughs, Richmond and Islington now the subject of child sex abuse allegations, but he never replied.