Hearing into Handling of Child Abuse Allegations against Lord Janner Delayed

By Sandra Laville
The Guardian
November 17, 2016

Criminal proceedings against Lord Janner came to an end following his death in January. Photograph: PA

A public hearing into allegations of child abuse against the late Lord Janner is to be put back to an undisclosed date, the national inquiry into institutional abuse has said.

The first public hearing to be held by the national abuse investigation was to be held in March next year and focus on the institutional responses to allegations made against Janner. But the chair, Prof Alexis Jay, having looked again at the case, and the pace of ongoing investigations by the police and the IPCC, decided the hearing had to be delayed to avoid prejudicing these inquiries.

The development came after news that another lawyer had left the national inquiry, which was set up in 2014 to examine institutional failings to investigate child abuse. Aileen McColgan, who was leading the inquiry’s investigation into abuse in the Anglican and Catholic churches, quit over concerns about the inquiry’s leadership, according to BBC Newsnight.

The latest departure led Yvette Cooper, the chair of the Commons home affairs select committee, to urge the inquiry to be more transparent, and said her committee would seek evidence from McColgan and other lawyers who have quit.

At least one lawyer who was working on the Janner investigation for the national abuse inquiry has also left in the last few weeks.

An inquiry spokeswoman said on Wednesday that the decision to delay the Janner hearing came after Jay examined the case again, but said the inquiry remained committed to holding oral hearings in the case.

“Professor Alexis Jay has looked at whether to keep these hearing dates, bearing in mind the progress of the ongoing criminal and disciplinary investigations and the stage reached of the inquiry’s own work,” a statement said.

“In particular, the chair has had in mind the significant overlap in witnesses who may be involved in both the inquiry’s investigation and the criminal proceedings. The chair considers that the reasons given at the preliminary hearing in July for postponing the oral hearing still apply.

“The need to coordinate how evidence is obtained from witnesses so that it does not prejudice any of the criminal investigations and the need to protect the welfare of complainants in doing so remain a paramount concern for the inquiry.”

The statement added that the chair and panel remained committed to holding oral hearings into the issues raised by the Janner investigation.

The public hearing was due to take place on 7 March next year. But it is understood the investigation is unlikely to hold even a preliminary hearing until the spring. The inquiry would not indicate when it expected the full public hearing into Janner to take place.

Leicestershire police is carrying out an investigation into other individuals who might be linked to the original allegations against Janner. The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating 11 Leicestershire officers over their handling of allegations of sexual abuse by Janner and other individuals, which were made in 1991, 2001 and 2006.

In January this year, criminal proceedings against Lord Janner, who was a Leicester MP, came to an end following his death. He had been charged with 15 counts of indecent assault and seven counts of a separate sexual offence.

Jay has carried out a review into the inquiry’s ways of working, but has yet to publish her findings or communicate them to core participants. The inquiry has announced 13 public hearings into a number of institutions including the Catholic Church, Church of England, Medolmsley detention centre, Lambeth council and Nottinghamshire children’s homes. It has held preliminary hearings into seven of these investigations including that of Janner.

Jay is expected to announce whether the inquiry will go on to carry out more public hearings as part of her review. When it was launched by Justice Lowell Goddard, the national abuse inquiry promised up to 25 public hearings into institutional failures to protect children.








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