UK

Lord Janner 'misled inquiry' over link with abuser Frank Beck

Lord Janner Image copyright PA
Image caption Lord Janner, who suffered from dementia, died in December 2015

Lord Janner misled an inquiry when asked about his contact with convicted child abuser Frank Beck, documents obtained by the BBC suggest.

They show he told the 1992 Kirkwood Inquiry into child abuse he had almost no dealings with Beck from 1976-86.

But residents and staff of children's homes, a former police officer and a former council official have told the BBC the men were associates.

Lord Janner died in December. His family have denied claims against him.

Beck, a care home manager and prominent social worker, was convicted of prolific child abuse in 1991 and died in prison.

In January, an inquiry by retired judge Sir Richard Henriques into the allegations against Lord Janner concluded that there was an "abundance of evidence" that he and Beck knew each other.

Police and prosecutors believe Lord Janner, a veteran Leicester MP, used his relationship with Beck to get access to children in the city's care home system.

Lord Janner died in December last year, days after a judge had ruled his dementia made him unfit to stand trial for 22 counts of alleged child sexual abuse against nine complainants.

A "trial of the facts" had been planned to resolve whether the alleged incidents had taken place, without bringing a verdict of guilt or innocence, but this was cancelled after Lord Janner's death.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lord Janner appeared in court last year but was later deemed unfit to stand trial

The documents, released to the BBC after a series of Freedom of Information requests, are from the files of the inquiry ordered by the government in 1992 to investigate child abuse in Leicestershire care homes in the wake of the Beck case.

Its chairman Andrew Kirkwood QC questioned Greville Janner - later Lord Janner - on 19 June 1992.

'Discrediting' evidence

Both the transcript of this hearing and Lord Janner's written statement to the inquiry have been released to the BBC in redacted form.

The transcript reveals Lord Janner was examined about the period between 1976 and 1986, when Beck resigned from Leicestershire social services.

"Your contacts with Mr Beck would have been to what extent?" he was asked.

Lord Janner replied: "Nil", except on one occasion when he said Beck might have answered a phone call.

But this year's Henriques report concluded: "There was considerable evidence... that [Lord] Janner was a regular visitor to children's homes and that he had a number of dealings with Beck.

"All of this would have been supporting evidence discrediting [Lord] Janner and, thus, supporting the prosecution case."

A former police officer has described to the BBC seeing Lord Janner in Beck's office in the late 1970s.

Eight former children's home residents and staff say he visited their homes, and a former council official said Beck claimed support from Lord Janner when confronted about his treatment of children.

The Kirkwood documents detail the inquiry's attempts to examine an allegation against Lord Janner, dating back to the 1970s, that he sexually abused a boy from a care home whom he had "befriended".

The boy, as an adult in his 30s, reported the allegations to the police in 1991. They were then made public by Frank Beck at his trial that year.

These documents set out for the first time Lord Janner's detailed defence against the claims.

'Kindly effort by me'

During the Kirkwood Inquiry hearing, Lord Janner discussed taking the boy on official visits as an MP, on a short business trip to Scotland, and swimming at the Leicester Holiday Inn hotel.

He also put the boy up in his house in London, and the pair swam in a pool belonging to one of Lord Janner's friends.

Both in his statement and cross-examination, Lord Janner strongly denied sexually abusing the boy and insisted he always asked for permission from care home staff before taking him on trips.

He said the director of Leicestershire Social Services, Dorothy Edwards, was "very positive about it and encouraged me to continue".

In his statement, he said he had intended to help the boy improve his future prospects: "A sensible, genuine and kindly effort by me."

He denied taking the boy to a friend's wedding in London.

But the Henriques report revealed that police uncovered film of the boy at the event.

'Chairman's permission'

The recent Leicestershire Police investigation, Operation Enamel, also gathered evidence from 32 witnesses supporting the boy's claim that he was abused by Lord Janner, including 12 dealing with events at the Holiday Inn.

The 1992 documents released to the BBC also reveal that, following his questioning by the inquiry, Lord Janner asked chairman Andrew Kirkwood if he could tell the media waiting outside that he had not been asked about allegations of child abuse against him.

Andrew Kirkwood replied: "Of course, Mr Janner."

Lord Janner left the hearing and told a BBC camera crew: "I have the chairman's permission to tell you that there was questioning about the social services and their operation, and none whatever concerning the allegations made against me."

The documents show this was not true, and the revelation that the real substance of the inquiry's questioning was withheld from the media will further fuel allegations of a cover-up.

Lord Janner was not prosecuted at the time and he rubbished the child abuse claims in the House of Commons.

He also refused to answer police questions.

The Kirkwood files will be crucial evidence for the national child abuse inquiry, chaired by Justice Lowell Goddard, which will examine the Janner case, including whether the inquiry wrongly left out allegations against Lord Janner in its final report.

Liz Dux, from the law firm Slater and Gordon who represents 16 alleged victims of Lord Janner, said the new evidence showed how "crucial" the Goddard Inquiry would be.

"All of my clients will be giving their personal testimonies before the inquiry and much of their evidence will contradict what Lord Janner said to the Kirkwood Inquiry," she said.

Leicestershire County Council said it was "fully committed to co-operating with the Goddard Inquiry".

"We worked closely with the police on aspects of their investigation that related to historic abuse involving former county council children's homes in the 1970s and 1980s," a council spokesman said.

"Since that period, the council has introduced a series of safeguards and procedures to strengthen the protection of children."

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