Goddard abuse inquiry to review Lord Janner case

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

The independent inquiry examining historical child sex abuse in England and Wales is to conduct a "full investigation" into claims made against former Labour MP Lord Janner.

The inquiry, chaired by New Zealand judge Justice Lowell Goddard, confirmed it would consider the case, after the CPS decided against charges because of the politician's dementia.

It said it would review all decisions by police and prosecutors.

The peer has always denied the claims.

'Public concern'

Lord Janner was the MP for Leicester North West between 1970 and 1974, and then Leicester West until 1997, when he stood down from the Commons.

Two weeks ago, Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said there was enough evidence to prosecute the 86-year-old peer for 22 sex offences allegedly committed in Leicestershire children's homes between 1969 and 1988, but that he was now too sick to stand trial.

Ms Saunders also said the CPS was "wrong" not to prosecute the peer following investigations in 1991 and 2007, and announced that retired High Court Judge Sir Richard Henriques will review how it handled the case.

Lawyers representing a group of people who claim they were sexually abused by Lord Janner have written to the CPS calling for a review of the decision.

Justice Goddard said the "depth of public concern" surrounding the case exemplified the need for a "thorough and wholly independent investigation".

"It would of course be quite wrong to pre-judge the outcome of our inquiries in any way," she said.

"But there is, in my view, a clear public interest in conducting an exhaustive and critical examination of the institutional decision-making processes in this case and in exposing them to public scrutiny."

'Original failures'

The inquiry will also examine:

  • the conduct of all institutions, including the relevant local authorities, the relevant care home, the Home Office, Leicestershire Police and the CPS
  • the factual basis for the allegations and evidence from alleged victims and witnesses
  • the allegations that improper attempts were made to influence the decision-making of relevant institutions by figures of public prominence
  • the previous police investigations and all relevant decisions

The investigation will not be a criminal process and cannot order Ms Saunders to review her decision, but any factual evidence concerning the allegations will be recorded and published.

Lord Janner may also be questioned again, with a statement from the inquiry saying: "Justice Goddard will consider the medical evidence that has been provided to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the prior statements made by Lord Janner, before deciding whether it is medically appropriate and/or whether there is any useful purpose to be served by seeking to interview him further.

"She may wish to commission her own expert advice on this matter."

The CPS said it welcomed the inquiry, adding that Ms Saunders had already contacted Justice Goddard to ensure that the complainants in the case would be able to give evidence.

A spokesman said: "We are providing the documentation requested to the inquiry and will also, of course, provide the findings of Sir Richard Henriques' independent review."

A law firm representing some of the alleged victims have welcomed the inquiry's announcement.

Liz Dux from Slater and Gordon said: "This announcement shows that the original failures to prosecute Janner are now finally being taken seriously."

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