UK

Lord Janner complainants to seek review of CPS decision

Lord Janner Image copyright PA
Image caption Greville Janner was Labour MP for Leicester North West and then Leicester West

Lawyers representing a group of people who claim they were sexually abused by the former Labour MP Lord Janner say they are to seek a review of the decision not to prosecute him.

The Director of Public Prosecutions announced Lord Janner, 86, would not be charged, despite sufficient evidence to bring a case, because of his dementia.

The ex-MP has denied any wrongdoing.

The CPS Victims' Right to Review Scheme allows a complainant to request a charging decision be reconsidered.

Guidelines suggest a review, to be conducted by a prosecutor unconnected to the original case, would normally take six weeks.

Slater and Gordon has confirmed it has written to the CPS on behalf of its clients, formally requesting a review.

'Outraged'

Another firm, Quality Solicitors Abney Garsden, which is representing three clients in a civil child abuse claim against Lord Janner, has written to Ms Saunders.

Peter Garsden, a leading child abuse lawyer at the firm, said he wants Ms Saunders to clarify the reasons for her decision by disclosing reports which supported it.

He has also requested documents relating to historical investigations relating to Lord Janner, including an investigation into several children's homes in Leicestershire during the 1990s.

Image caption Alison Saunders has said she was aware her decision "might not be welcome"

Mr Garsden, who is president of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, has asked for CPS agreement to obtain his own report on Lord Janner's mental capacity.

"My clients are outraged that, after co-operating with a two-year police investigation into the abuse by Lord Janner, they will not now have their chance of justice through the courts," he said.

The firm is also considering the possibility of seeking a judicial review.

Liz Dux, a solicitor from Slater and Gordon, told the BBC that the alleged victims wanted a "chance to be heard".

"Even if a judge deems that Lord Janner is mentally unfit to enter a plea they could still have a hearing of facts actually in his absence," she said.

"I think everyone is sceptical as to the chances of this review being successful, but we've got to try because this is their last hope."

The CPS has confirmed it has received at least one request for a review of its decision.

Medical assessment

Announcing her decision on 16 April, DPP Alison Saunders said there was enough evidence to prosecute Lord Janner for 22 offences against nine children.

But she said the CPS also has to decide if a prosecution is in the public interest. Four medical experts concluded Lord Janner was not healthy enough to enter a plea, instruct a solicitor or take part in a trial after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2009.

BBC home affairs correspondent Tom Symonds says it is likely the review will centre on this medical assessment, along with the question of whether the DPP was wrong to rule out a so-called trial of the facts.

This would have involved a jury hearing details of the alleged abuse, and deciding whether it happened, without there being a possibility of Lord Janner entering a plea or facing conviction.

Ms Saunders decided such a trial should not take place because under law it could only result an order that Lord Janner be confined to hospital, a supervision order or an "absolute discharge", a decision by the court that no further action should be taken.

She said Lord Janner was not a risk to the public because of his condition, and therefore it was not in the public interest to begin criminal proceedings.

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