The arrogance of Daniel Janner over the future of the Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry


Daniel Janner QC Pic credit:


On May 3 a final decision was made by Alexis Jay, the chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse not to hold a preliminary hearing into whether there should be inquiry into Lord Janner and Leicestershire institutions of allegations of child sexual abuse.

His son and his two sisters who had already had a meeting to press the case for such a preliminary hearing were understandably unhappy. They believe their father is innocent and just the subject of an historic witch hunt and no one needs to look into it.

And it is now clear that at some suitable date there will such an inquiry so long as it does not prejudice any other investigations still under way..

Daniel Janner decided to write an article for The Times denouncing the decision and protesting again that his father was ” wholly innocent of any wrong doing ” despite up to 33 people coming award and alleging they were victims of such acts.

Thus far a perfectly understandable stance from a close relative. But then he went so far to demand that the entire inquiry should be closed down and the chair was an incompetent. He also produced one sided evidence to justify his case.

As he said: ” Professor Jay is not competent to chair the inquiry because she is not a lawyer and unqualified to make difficult complex quasi legal decisions. She is simply out of her depth.”

And on the inquiry itself : “It veers between a bloated expensive irrelevance and a vindictive witch -hunt which will be condemned by history”.

To back his case up he quoted the former judge Sir Richard Henriques in his defence : ” prominent people..are more vulnerable to false complaints than others…They are vulnerable to compensation seekers, attention seekers, and those with mental health problems.”

However he doesn’t quote what Sir Richard said about his father’s case: ” 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.”

So Times readers would not have known  that the very judge warning of prominent people being accused of false complaints decided in his father’s case that he should be prosecuted.

My main complaint about Daniel Janner is his arrogance. Just because the inquiry chair has decided not to do what he and his family alone wanted and not investigate his father – he decides the inquiry is a sham and the chair incompetent.

It is also extremely arrogant to say that only lawyers have the intelligence to chair inquiries. On that basis the Hillsborough inquiry would never have happened – and no one denies that has been a success.

A chair will anyway be guided by counsel and I notice the counsel to the inquiry was of the same opinion.

The inquiry is not perfect and has had serious troubles and run into serious problems with survivor groups – but the idea that the whole process should be stopped because one man doesn’t like it is ridiculous. It would deny investigations and recommendations far beyond the Janner case.

I certainly will be keeping a critical look at what the inquiry does – but I am afraid abandoning it just because it won’t do what the son of VIP tells it  is no go territory.


Janner: Good Call by the Goddard Inquiry

Lord Janner Image courtesy BBC

Lord Janner
Image courtesy BBC

The decision announced today by the Goddard Inquiry to carry out a thorough investigation into the allegations against Lord Janner is good news. I had wondered why the inquiry had been so silent for so long following  the statement by Alison Saunders, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service, that Janner would have been prosecuted save from him suffering advanced Alzheimer’s Disease. Frankly it would have outrageous if the inquiry did not conduct a thorough investigation.

The full statement plus a Q and A  is on the inquiry’s website here .

It will remain to be seen how exactly this will be done and whether any of the evidence will be heard in public or whether the inquiry will publish a full report on it after the investigation. But the right things appear to have been put in place including ensuring that all the key documents are handed over to the inquiry.

Of course this decision comes at a time when the inquiry itself could face a judicial review for deciding not to appoint survivors and  its plans to limit access and powers of people appointed to its advisory committee.

There is also  the fact that as well as the review of the DPP’s controversial decision not to prosecute Lord Janner and any potential legal action to get the decision reversed that Goddard will not be able to proceed immediately.

But what is absolutely essential is that the scandal surrounding the failure to prosecute Lord Janner earlier by the police and the legal authorities is properly investigated and the survivors are given a chance to tell their stories. In the meantime we must be vigilant to ensure the right thing is done.


Child sex abuse : Why Goddard must put the Lord Janner decision at the heart of her inquiry

Lord Janner Image courtesy BBC

Lord Janner
Image courtesy BBC

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).

New Zealand dame Justice Lowell Goddard pic credit:

New Zealand dame Justice Lowell Goddard pic credit:

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.

Police re-open child sex abuse investigation into Labour peer Greville Janner

Lord Janner  Pic Credit: Wikipedia

Lord Janner
Pic Credit: Wikipedia

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.