Yesterday the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) made it clear in a statement that it, together with previous police investigations, had failed in its prosecution of Lord Greville Janner, against whom the CPS had in its possession substantial evidence of child sex abuse – enough to have brought a prosecution if it had not been for Janner’s health. What is now highly significant is that both the CPS and the police are advocating various means by which this matter can proceed within the legal system. We examine these alternatives below, as well the efficacy of an alternative option: direct, extra-legal action by the victims.
- Private civil legal action is being taken against Janner and Leicestershire County Council by at least one of Janner’s alleged victims.
- Leicestershire Police are threatening to take legal action (against the CPS?) in light of the DPP’s decision and are continuing in their investigations into the abuse (their may be other prosecution cases to follow).
- Here is a statement issued in the last 24 hours by one of the alleged victims.
- Also, today, ‘Nick’, a victim of child sex abuse as part of the infamous Westminister/VIP paedophile ring, has identified Janner as one of the alleged perpetrators of that ring.
A. The case against Janner
According to Leicestershire Police there were 25 victims of child sex abuse by Lord Janner. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Alison Saunders, said in a statement yesterday that had Janner been considered fit to stand for trial he would have been charged with 22 separate offences. 14 of these offences related to assaults on males under 16 between 1969 and 1988, two concerned indecent assaults between 1984 and 1988, 4 related to counts of buggery of a male under 16 between 1972 and 1987, and 2 concerned counts of buggery between 1977 and 1988.
During the course of the more recent investigation, more than 2,000 individuals were seen, 442 statements taken, more than 2,700 lines of enquiry were pursued and police seized/created nearly 600 exhibits, including cine film and videos. In total, more than 6,000 pages of case file material were supplied to the CPS.
It is claimed that Janner, whilst MP for Leicester West in the 1970s and 1980s, was able via a friend, Frank Beck, to have access to children at a care home. In 1991, after Janner was accused by a witness in a trial of Beck, Janner was interviewed by police, but the DPP (Director of Public Prosecution Alan Green decided that the evidence against Janner was insufficient for prosecution. Janner’s solicitor was Sir David Napley, who represented several prominent figures caught up in sex scandals, including Conservative MP Harvey Proctor and diplomat Sir Peter Hayman, a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange. The
Further allegations were made against Janner in 2002, but evidence was not passed on by police to the CPS. In 2007 another victim made allegations against Janner, but again the CPS decided not to prosecute.
Ms. Saunders admitted that both the CPS and Leicestershire police shared blame for the failure of these previous prosecutions against Janner. Ms. Saunders stated: “In relation to the other three previous investigations, the CPS also now considers that the evidence test was passed. It follows that mistakes were made in the decision-making at the time by both Leicestershire Police in 2002 and the CPS in 1991 and 2007. Lord Janner should have been prosecuted.”
Significantly, in 1991, Mick Creedon, now Chief Constable of Derbyshire, was ordered by “senior officers” not to arrest Janner or to search his property. This suggests a cover-up.
B. Legal options/redress
Assistant Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police, Roger Bannister, who has overseen the more recent investigation, said in an extraordinary press release: “There is credible evidence that this man [Janner] carried out some of the most serious sexual crimes imaginable over three decades against children who were highly vulnerable and the majority of whom were in care. We are exploring what possible legal avenues there may be to challenge this [CPS] decision and victims themselves have a right to review under a CPS procedure.”
That last sentence by Bannister is significant because it hints at two possibilities: one is a judicial review (which can take months) and the other is the possibility of private (civil) prosecutions, or a class action, instigated by victims via solicitors in the courts. Alison Millar, a solicitor with the legal firm, Leigh Day, which specialises in sex abuse cases, agreed and stated that many of Janner’s alleged victims may want to consider taking legal action either as personal (civil) prosecution or as class action.
Yesterday the CPS revealed that it has asked Sir Ricard Henriques to conduct an independent review into how the CPS handled the case. Alison Saunders also stated that the victims of Janner’s abuse may wish to present their evidence to the [Lowell] Godard inquiry in child sex abuse. This inquiry, however, has not yet begun and is expected to take years to complete.
C. Another option?
But there is another, alternative, option that is available to victims – one that would be controversial, in that it would bypass the legal system altogether – a legal system that has clearly failed in this case.
This option would see victims taking direct action by, together, placing all the evidence into the public domain ahead of or alongside the Goddard Inquiry or the Henriques Review and possibly in conjunction with a class or civil action. It would be unlikely that Janner or his estate would wish to sue these victims for libel if they chose this option. But if the victims did choose this option, at least the information and evidence they possessed would be available for all to see and so provide them with the satisfaction that their stories have been told.
There are, of course, many other establishment figures accused of child sex abuse and who have yet to be properly prosecuted, let alone investigated. But if the law continues to fail and justice shown wanting, as in the Janner case, then victims may wish to opt for other legal means of redress.