The late Lord Janner enjoyed ‘the halo effect’ as a prominent politician which meant he was effectively protected from being prosecuted for years amid allegations he abused vulnerable children, an inquiry heard.
Lawyers for the Labour peer’s alleged victims told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) that there was a ‘culture of deference’ towards Lord Janner.
The former Leicestershire MP died in 2015 having been charged with 22 counts of historic child sexual abuse dating back decades.
He denied the allegations.
The late Lord Janner enjoyed ‘the halo effect’ as a prominent politician which meant he was effectively protected from being prosecuted for years amid allegations he abused vulnerable children, an inquiry heard
Summing up the latest strand of the inquiry, which is focusing not on whether Lord Janner was guilty, but on the institutional responses to the allegations against him, lawyers for the alleged abuse victims accused police and prosecutors of not robustly investigate the claims.
Nick Stanage, representing several complainants, said Lord Janner was offered ‘the luxury of a series of timid and incomplete investigations’.
He added: ‘Over a period of several decades, serious allegations against Lord Janner received nothing like serious institutional responses from Leicestershire Police and the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service).
‘The allegations demanded, but never received, thorough and objective analysis.
‘Investigations were oddly incurious, culpably feeble, and prematurely terminated with important inquiries still obviously left undone.’
Lawyer Christopher Jacobs said there was ‘a perfect storm of failure by police, CPS and social services’ which blighted the lives of his clients.
Lawyers for the Labour peer’s alleged victims told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) that there was a ‘culture of deference’ towards Lord Janner (pictured with the then new Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1997)
He said: ‘There was a culture of deference towards Lord Janner, a prominent individual who was given the benefit of the doubt at every turn.’
David Enright, on behalf of his client, added: ‘It appears Lord Janner enjoyed the halo effect of high office, and children the default of disbelief.’
William Chapman, also representing multiple complainants, invited inquiry chairwoman Professor Alexis Jay to ‘call this what it is – a cover-up’, and said there was ‘a distinct lack of enthusiasm for pursuing Janner’.
He added: ‘This investigation has provided striking evidence of how wealth and social status insulated perpetrators of child sexual abuse from being brought to justice, to the detriment of the victims of their alleged abuse.’
The former Leicestershire MP died in 2015 having been charged with 22 counts of historic child sexual abuse dating back decades
Danny Friedman QC, on behalf of the Janner family, said there was a risk that the allegations were made by people who ‘transposed their pain and need for recompense onto Lord Janner’.
He said: ‘Certain individuals of profile can also become the subject of societal myths and stereotyping.
‘In the operations you have looked at, there were concrete grounds for concern that Lord Janner’s very prominence could attract wrongful accusation.’
Edward Brown QC, for the CPS, said staff involved in the Janner allegations ‘made judgment calls to the best of their ability’.
He said: ‘There is, we believe, simply no evidence (of deferential treatment) anywhere in the evidence before you.’
Lawyers for Leicestershire County Council and Leicestershire Police said child protection services had vastly improved since the time of the allegations.
No alleged victims of Lord Janner were called to give live evidence during the three-week inquiry strand, which was held largely behind closed doors to protect their identities, although summaries of their witness statements were heard and referred to throughout.
Fantasist Carl Beech claimed to have been abused by Lord Janner
Prof Jay’s report into this strand of the inquiry is due to be delivered at a later date.
Lord Janner’s last public appearance, a 59-second hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in August 2015, was characterised by his apparent inability to register what was happening.
He denied the allegations, while his family said he ‘became a target’ for a number of reasons, including ‘his particular public profile and being financially comfortable in his later years’.
Mr Hewson said a man known as ‘Nick’ came forward to the Metropolitan Police in late 2014, claiming to have been abused by Lord Janner.
However, his evidence was deemed by Mr Hewson to be of little use.
Mr Hewson told the inquiry of Nick’s evidence, presented to Leicestershire Police in the form of a transcript: ‘The allegations were so minimal, although it mentioned Lord Janner’s name it didn’t go into any detail whatsoever.
‘There was minimal detail about the alleged conduct of Lord Janner, there was no timing, no place – anything else, really.
‘Literally it was two or three lines within that document (interview transcript), there were no immediate lines of inquiry.
‘You could almost say it was struggling to establish that it was a complaint in any event.’
Nick, later revealed to be fantasist Carl Beech, was not considered useful as a potential prosecution witness against Lord Janner and his claims were dismissed by the force, Mr Hewson said.
Beech was jailed for 18 years in 2019 for what a judge called his ‘cruel and callous’ lies against politicians he claimed abused him.
TIMELINE: Sexual abuse allegations against Lord Janner
1991: During his own trial for the sexual abuse of over 100 children, paedophile Frank Beck, director of a Leicestershire children’s home, accused Lord Janner of abusing a child. A witness also claimed to have been abused by Lord Janner. The CPS decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
2002: In an investigation named Operation Magnolia, Lord Janner was the subject of allegations as part of a probe into abuse children’s home. The CPS says documents containing specific allegations relating to him were not referred to them by police and claim the police chose not to pursue him.
2006: As part of a new sex abuse investigation, Operation Dauntless, an alleged victim made allegations of serious sexual offending around 1981 by three individuals including Lord Janner. The CPS decision in 2007 was again that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
Lord Greville Janner and Myra Sheink’s engagement announcement. The pair married in 1955. Allegations made against Lord Janner go back to the mid-1950s
2013: Leicestershire Police raid Janner’s north London home and offices as part of an inquiry linked to children’s homes in the county. He was not interviewed and maintained his innocence. Evidence was sent to the CPS.
April 2015: CPS said it would not be pursing charges against Janner, then 86, as his dementia made him unable to stand trial.
Twenty men came forward with allegations that Janner had abused them during police investigations.
If a prosecution had gone ahead CPS said that it would have included 22 counts of indecent assault and buggery of nine victims, between 1969 and 1988.
Sir Barnett Janner, 60 year old Labour MP for North-West Leicester, with his wife and son, Greville Janner, after receiving a knighthood, 1961
Janner was probed during an investigation into an alleged Westminster paedophile ring.
May 2015: MPs demanded rethink of Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision not to prosecute Janner.
June 2015: The decision is overturned.
August 2015: Janner attends Westminster Magistrates’ Court, appearing for only a minute to identify himself.
December 7 2015: It is ruled that Janner is unfit to stand trial.
December 19 2015: Lord Janner dies, with a trial of facts dropped.
2019: Fantasist Carl Beech jailed for 18 years for perverting the course of justice. Beech – known as ‘Nick’ – made up preposterous tales and ruined the lives and reputations of some of Britain’s most distinguished public servants.
October 12 2020: An inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse against Lord Janner begins, focusing on the police and prosecution response to allegations made against Janner.
2022: The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will deliver a final report of overarching findings from all 15 sections of the investigation before Parliament.