Lord Janner Faced Allegations of Abuse against 30 Victims, Hearing Told
By Rajeev Syal
March 9, 2016
| Lord Janner showing Michael Jackson around parliament in June 2002. Photograph: Reuters|
Lord Janner faced allegations that he had abused 30 victims from the mid-1950s until the late 1980s, the first preliminary hearing of a public inquiry into child abuse has heard.
The inquiry, overseen by Justice Lowell Goddard, began by looking at abuse claims against the former Labour MP, including claims he took alleged victims to the houses of parliament.
Wednesday’s hearing was the first of Goddard’s public investigations in her independent inquiry into institutional failures to protect children from abuse over many decades in England and Wales.
Janner, a former Leicester MP, was charged with 22 sexual offences dating back to the 1960s, but died in December at the age of 87 before a trial of the facts could take place in a criminal courtroom.
In her inquiry, Goddard will be asked to decide whether or not the allegations are well founded, to discover any institutional failings, and to look at why so many children who complained of abuse were left within his reach for so long.
The public bodies under scrutiny in the Janner inquiry include the Crown Prosecution Service, Leicestershire police, Leicestershire county council, a number of care homes, the Labour party and the Home Office.
All of those bodies as well as two legal firms representing Janner’s alleged victims have been given the status of “core participants” as part of the public hearing. The family of Janner, who have previously protested his innocence, have not applied for the same status, the court was told.
Ben Emmerson QC, senior counsel for the inquiry, said that police had received allegations of sexual abuse from 30 victims which related to events from 1955 to 1988.
“The allegations in summary are that Greville Janner exploited children and perpetrated a full range of sexual offences against them, including what would now be termed as rape,” he said.
The offending was alleged to have taken place at children’s homes and hotels, the hearing was told.
In relation to a number of allegations it was claimed that Janner abused his position as an MP, including bringing victims to the houses of parliament.
Emmerson added that there were 30 alleged victims, 12 of whom were selected to give evidence at trial. Seventeen complainants have been given core participant status at the inquiry.
The examination of claims linked to Janner is one of 13 investigations launched by the inquiry, which is being chaired by Goddard. Janner’s alleged victims will be invited to appear before the inquiry in September, he said.
Referring to the inquiry as a whole, Emmerson said: “The task is vast but critically important.”
He cited figures indicating that between April 2012 and March 2014 more than 50,000 children were identified as victims of sexual abuse, adding that there were suggestions the true number may be as high as 450,000.
The inquiry is unable to make findings of criminal or civil liability. However, Emmerson said: “No one should be in any doubt that, where the evidence justifies it ... the panel will make findings of fact.”
The inquiry will also examine allegations of a Westminster paedophile ring at Dolphin Square and look at claims that children were abused in Elm guest house in south-west London.
It will also look at the “devastating” impact of false allegations of abuse, Emmerson added.
Director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, had originally decided that Janner should not be charged because he was suffering from dementia, but this was overturned by an independent review.
The peer was facing charges involving nine alleged victims, who were mostly under 16 at the time, and while he was unfit to stand trial, a proceeding called a trial of the facts was due to take place at the Old Bailey. However this was dropped when Janner died.
In January a report by retired high court judge Sir Richard Henriques found that three chances had been missed to charge him while he was alive. The judge found that in 1991 prosecutors made the wrong decision not to charge Janner after an “inadequate” police investigation.
In 2002 Leicestershire police failed to pass claims made by a second alleged victim to prosecutors, and in 2007 again a flawed decision was made not to charge the politician when a third man came forward.