Lord Janner case: Family want child sex abuse inquiry delay

Lord Janner Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Lord Janner died in December last year

The family of the late Labour peer Lord Janner are demanding the public inquiry into child abuse postpones its plan to examine allegations against him.

Lord Janner's son Daniel says that, as civil proceedings by several alleged victims are "already in train", the courts are the best place to hear them.

He says the inquiry will not offer his family an opportunity to fully cross-examine those who accuse Lord Janner.

Lord Janner's children plan to use the proceeds of his estate to defend him.

Police investigations

A former Leicester MP, Lord Janner is accused of sexually abusing more than 30 men and women during visits to children's homes, schools, hotels and Parliament between the mid-1950s and late-1980s.

Lord Janner was not prosecuted despite three police investigations, all started in the 1990s.

A fresh attempt to prosecute him was halted by his death in December last year.

But the ongoing independent national inquiry into child sexual abuse in England and Wales has identified the Janner case as one of 13 separate strands it intends to investigate fully. Others include allegations of abuse in Rochdale, assaults carried out in the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, attacks by people exploiting children in foreign countries, and abuse facilitated by the internet.

Daniel Janner QC, himself a criminal barrister, told the BBC the child abuse inquiry was wrongly focusing one of its most high-profile investigations on a man who was now dead, had never been convicted, and could not defend himself.

He has prepared a submission for the Home Affairs Select Committee, which will question the former chairwoman of the inquiry, Dame Lowell Goddard, and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, next month.

He and his two sisters, Marion Janner and Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, are furious that the inquiry will consider their father's past, as part of an investigation of potential "institutional failings" within Leicestershire social services.

'Mockery of justice'

A review of the case by retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques found opportunities had been missed and the Labour veteran should have been charged.

But Daniel Janner says he has been told that under the terms of the inquiry, the family could only question those who accuse Lord Janner "sparingly", rather than subjecting them to a full cross-examination.

"This process actually discredits the important work of the inquiry", he said, "This makes a mockery of justice."

He said the inquiry was "working on an assumption of guilt".

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Media captionDaniel Janner: "We have to fight back because these are false allegations"

Dozens of people are considering suing the estate of Lord Janner, and Daniel Janner said it was right that the civil courts should hear their evidence, ahead of the inquiry.

"Our family has decided this is what we want, to use such inheritance as there is to clear his name," he said.

The family believes Lord Janner is innocent and that all of the 33 men and women who have accused Lord Janner have fabricated their accounts.

'False allegations'

Daniel Janner said the earliest claims, investigated by three police inquiries, were "rubbish".

He believes they prompted others to make allegations, tempted by the prospect of compensation and "bolstered by the weight of numbers". Some, he claimed, had colluded to falsify their accounts.

"I have no doubt that some of them have been abused and of course, my heart goes out to them but they were not abused by my father and it is here where we have to fight back because these are false allegations."

However Liz Dux, who represents some of those accusing Lord Janner, said there was a risk a court would not be able to rule on the truth of the allegations because of legal time limits for bringing a civil action.

She said the inquiry would have decided to consider the case regardless of whether Lord Janner was prosecuted.

Peter Saunders, one those representing child abuse victims within the inquiry, said it was vital the Janner case was fully investigated.