UK

Lord Janner abuse inquiry 'grotesque and Kafkaesque'

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Media captionMarion Janner says the allegations against her father are "an outrage"

The daughter of the late Labour MP and peer Lord Janner has called an upcoming inquiry into child abuse allegations against him "grotesque and Kafkaesque".

Speaking to BBC Newsnight in her first interview on the subject, Marion Janner said it amounted to accusations against "a corpse".

In December 2015, shortly before his death, Lord Janner was ruled unfit to stand trial because of dementia.

The Goddard inquiry is due to hold public hearings into the allegations.

Thirty-three complainants have been given core participant status in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, meaning they have the right to make statements, see documents and seek permission to ask questions when Justice Goddard begins hearing the Janner allegations in March.

The offences relating to Lord Janner are alleged to have taken place in children's homes and hotels between 1955 and 1988.

His family has always denied the allegations.

'Cannot be just'

"It's an outrage. It's an absolute outrage," Marion Janner told Newsnight.

"Now Dad is dead, there's not the possibility of the other side of the story being heard.

"It's the people making the accusations' word against a corpse, which doesn't work. It cannot be just.

"The other 12 strands are all institutions - big institutions... If they had decided to look at individuals, they could have chosen someone who was alive and convicted - instead they have chosen someone who is dead and not convicted."

The Goddard inquiry is currently looking at 13 separate claims of historical child sex abuse involving an alleged institutional cover-up, of which the strand involving Janner was expected to be the first.

Other areas under investigation include the Catholic and Anglican churches and abuse in children's homes in Nottinghamshire and Lambeth and a school in Rochdale.


Who was Lord Janner?

Image copyright PA
  • Born in Cardiff in 1928
  • Served in the Army and studied at Cambridge before becoming a barrister and then QC
  • Labour MP for Leicester North West and then Leicester West from 1970 until retiring in 1997, when he was made a life peer
  • Diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2009
  • Suspended from the Labour Party in April 2015
  • Ruled unfit to stand trial over allegations of child sexual abuse in December 2015
  • Died 19 December 2015

The peer had been on a leave of absence from the House of Lords since October 2014. He died in December 2015.

Lawyers for the alleged victims say their clients have been waiting years for justice.

'News blackout'

Marion Janner says the family has evidence Lord Janner could not have committed the crimes he is accused of, which will emerge during civil cases against him.

She says the family is particularly unhappy that witnesses in the Goddard inquiry will not be cross examined.

"The pendulum has swung so far that people making accusations are automatically believed over this most serious of crimes... We're in the current situation that people can make any accusations and be automatically believed... It's just bonkers."

Mrs Janner said her father's relationship with one of the complainants was "not strange for somebody of Dad's generation".

"Dad was fired up with the sense of social justice... He was just really committed to helping people whose lives were so much harder.

"And because we have such a loving family, I think Dad really felt for people who didn't have a family at all, and were stuck in a children's home."

At the end of his life, Mrs Janner says her father was "completely unaware" of the allegations against him "because he didn't have the cognitive understanding to grasp what was going on".

"We had a news blackout in the house - as much for my sanity as his."

But he would have been "completely bewildered" by pictures of himself popping up on the television, she said.

"He had absolutely no idea - which was one of the blessings of his dementia."

Marion Janner was speaking to BBC Newsnight's Evan Davis - you can watch the full interview on iPlayer