Greville Janner

by padraigcolman

A shorter version of this article appeared in Ceylon Today on Tuesday April 21 2015 under the heading “Cowardly and Wicked” (accompanied by a picture of Lord Longford rather than Lord Janner).

http://www.ceylontoday.lk/51-90502-news-detail-cowardly-and-wicked.html

“Cowardly and wicked”  were the words used by Keith Vaz MP in 1991 to describe the allegations against Greville Janner.

Colman's Column3

Keith Vaz is chair of the Commons home affairs select committee. Vaz enjoys portraying himself as a champion of the voiceless, happy to castigate the Home Office over its handling of the current investigation into child abuse.

Lord Janner Will not Stand Trial.

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Baron Janner of Braunstone is a prominent ex-barrister, aged 86, widowed with three children. As Greville Janner, he represented Leicester West as a Labour MP for almost 30 years. Janner is also a former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and he has been prominent in the field of education about the Holocaust.  He was President of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism, and chaired the All-Party Britain-Israel Parliamentary Group. He co-founded (along with Prince Hassan of Jordan) the Coexistence Trust, a charity to combat Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

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After retiring from the House of Commons in 1997, he became a life peer. Janner was a member of the Magic Circle. One of his few subsequent forays into the public eye came in 2002, when Uri Geller, a friend, arranged for him to accompany Michael Jackson and David Blaine on a tour of Parliament. Lord Janner was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009 and now requires round-the-clock care for his dementia.

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The UK Crown Prosecution Service said on 16 April 2015 that Janner would not be tried for sexual offences against children. Alison Saunders, the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions), said that because of Janner’s dementia a trial would not be in the public interest.

In statement issued through lawyers, Janner’s family said he is entirely innocent of any wrongdoing. “As the Crown Prosecution Service indicated today, this decision does not mean or imply that any of the allegations that have been made are established or that Lord Janner is guilty of any offence”.

In 1995, the DPP decided not to try Szymon Serafinowicz, a retired carpenter from Surrey, under the War Crimes Act in connection with murders of three Jewish people during the Second World War because of his dementia. Janner condemned the DPP’s decision. “I don’t care what bloody age they are,” he told The Jewish Chronicle. “These criminals should have been dealt with years ago.”

The Faulds File

I remember Andrew Faulds from my childhood. He played  Captain Jet Morgan in Journey into Space on the radio in the 1950s. He had already been a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1948. He was Labour Member of Parliament for the Smethwick constituency from 1966 until his retirement in 1997. When he  died in 2000 at the age of 77, Michael White, in his Guardian obituary described Faulds as “unmistakably loud and thespian… a man of deeply-held passions…who lacked either the patience or the subtlety to do effective justice to those concerns at Westminster.”

 

Shortly before retiring, he created an archive of the paperwork he had accrued during three decades in Parliament and lodged it at the library of the London School of Economics. Among the 263 boxes,  is a four-page leaflet published by a group which called itself ‘Concerned Leicester Parents’ and  a 24-page booklet, which claimed on its cover to reveal: ‘How people in high places covered-up for a Parliamentary paedophile’.

Janner and Frank Beck

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From 1994 to 1997, I worked at the Department of Health as a policy advisor to ministers on child protection. Someone I often met at Home Office meetings was Alison Saunders, who is now Director of Public Prosecutions.

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One of my colleagues spent a great deal of his time on the Frank Beck case. Beck was an officer-in-charge of several children’s homes in Leicester during the 1970s and 1980s. Beck died in prison in June 1994. He had been  convicted at Leicester Crown Court in November 1991 of 17 charges of sexual and physical abuse of boys and girls including rape, buggery, indecent assault and assault and sentenced to five life terms. My colleague had a very fat file of correspondence in which members of the public made serious and credible allegations against Greville Janner that connected him with Frank Beck.

Indeed, Janner’s name came up during Beck’s trial. One witness, who had previously said he had had a two-year sexual relationship with Janner, named the politician as one of his abusers. The jury was told the claims were a “red-herring” and irrelevant. In 1991, during the investigation leading to Beck’s trial, a man, Paul Winston,  alleged he had been groomed by Janner from the age of 13. Janner’s only police interview took place that year at a police station in Leicester. He attended with his solicitor and gave “no comment” answers. The CPS advised there was insufficient evidence to charge.

Closing Ranks

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In 1991, the House of Commons rallied to Janner’s defence. That scourge of Sri Lanka, Labour’s Keith Vaz, a fellow Leicester MP, rose to deplore the “cowardly and wicked” slur on a “distinguished” colleague. The majority of the MPs who spoke in Janner’s defence were Conservatives.

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Jay Rayner was a young freelancer in 1991 trying to do a story on Janner’s connection with Beck. He now recalls the wall of silence he encountered. He writes that Vaz is happy to castigate the Home Office over its handling of the current investigation into child abuse. Rayner tweeted Vaz to ask his views on the DPP decision. Vaz blocked him.

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Blair made Janner a life peer in 1997 – after the credible allegations mad against him in 1991.

 

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During Operation Magnolia in 2002, another Leicestershire Police inquiry, residents of a care home made further  allegations against Janner. Police decided to take no action against him.

During Operation Dauntless in 2007, an individual made complaints about serious sexual assault against three people, including Janner, over incidents alleged to have taken place in 1981. The CPS ruled there was insufficient evidence. Mick Creedon, now chief constable of Derbyshire police, but then a detective sergeant on the Beck case, told the Times last year that he and colleagues wanted to charge Janner but senior officers ordered him to neither arrest Janner nor search his London flat.

Anti-Semitism

A website connected with neo-Nazi groups has  been publicising the Janner case. They will no doubt exploit Janner’s activities for anti-Semitic purposes. For many years, bloggers campaigning against paedophiles in high places have been pointing out the fact that Janner and Leon Brittan are Jewish.

Jewish friends have described to me their own encounters with Janner. One said, he was so “galled by his pomposity and unmistakable air of the huckster that I distanced myself from his causes. I did not want this creep speaking for me”. He went on to say that he was frustrated by the fact that Janner seemed to be above criticism on the left and among Jewish activists. “I was shot down…for daring to express my strongly-held view that he was a wrong-un”.

Innocent until Proved Guilty?

In statement issued through lawyers, Janner’s family said he is entirely innocent of any wrongdoing. “As the Crown Prosecution Service indicated today, this decision does not mean or imply that any of the allegations that have been made are established or that Lord Janner is guilty of any offence”.

I have often written against witch hunts, vigilantism and smearing by unsubstantiated rumours. As Lord McAlpine said: “There is nothing as bad as this that you can do to people. Because they [paedophiles] are quite rightly figures of public hatred. And suddenly to find yourself a figure of public hatred, unjustifiably, is terrifying “. It is possibly worse to be falsely accused when you are someone with few resources. Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie were cleared by a court but they lived in fear of their lives when the Sun whipped up a lynch mob.

https://pcolman.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/the-persecution-of-lillie-and-reed/

CPS lawyers spent nine months studying evidence gathered by Leicestershire police’s Operation Enamel. Detectives approached more than 2,000 potential witnesses and interviewed more than 25 men who claim Janner abused them when they were children in care. Some of them told police about extreme sadistic behaviour, involving the use of blindfolds and restraints.

Credible Allegations

DPP Alison Saunders has stated publicly and clearly that both the CPS and Leicestershire police were at fault for the failure of previous inquiries. The CPS statement conceded that Janner, while “in a position of authority and trust as the local MP for Leicester West”, befriended the manager (Frank Beck) of a children’s care home to allow him access to children.

In some cases, the CPS decides there is not sufficient evidence to take a case to court. Ms Saunders said quite clearly that her office had decided that there WAS SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE for  Janner  to stand trial on 22 sex offences against children. He would have been charged with 14 indecent assaults on a male under 16 between 1969 and 1988; two indecent assaults between 1984 and 1988; four counts of buggery of a male under 16 between 1972 and 1987; and two counts of buggery between 1977 and 1988.

DPP Criticised

Leicestershire police took the unusual step of issuing a statement saying they might challenge the DPP’s decision in the courts, possibly calling for a Judicial Review. Sir Clive Loader, Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner, a Conservative, said the decision was “not just wrong” but “wholly perverse” and “contrary to any notion of natural justice”. The Assistant Chief Constable of Leicestershire feared that other victims would be dissuaded from coming forward. “

Victims and their families are also exploring avenues of redress through civil proceedings now that there criminal proceedings have been ruled out. Liz Dux, of Slater & Gordon solicitors, said the 25 alleged victims could claim for up to £100,000 each. She said: “If they are successful, damages could be very sizeable.”

One victim said: “Let someone feel the pain and suffering that I’ve endured and am still going to endure for the rest of my life. It’s not a case of being found guilty or going to prison – it’s about being believed after so long being told we were lying. Justice needs to be served.”

hamish Baillie

Hamish Baillie, one of Janner’s victims.

The Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who used parliamentary privilege to be the first to publicly  name the Liberal MP Cyril Smith as a paedophile, said Janner should be stripped of his peerage. (Danczuk‘s relentless efforts on behalf of his constituents forced the reluctant Sri Lankan authorities to take action against a thuggish local politician who murdered a British tourist and raped his girlfriend.) “This terrible decision is bringing the whole justice system into disrepute and will be devastating news to the alleged victims.”

DPP Defended

The evidential test prosecutors must apply before a criminal charge is laid has been passed. This evidential test was also passed in the three previous police investigations but the CPS failed to charge Janner. Many have condemned the DPP’s decision  on the grounds that  Janner could have been put before a court where his fitness to stand trial could be assessed by experts publicly in front of the trial judge. One   lawyer defended the decision. She told me: “She has had the guts to make a difficult and unpopular decision. The right to a fair trial is enshrined in the European Convention on Human rights .Inability to follow proceedings or instruct lawyers will prevent a fair trial. The DPP has had four medical reports saying that he is not fit to stand trial.  There would be no benefit in bring Janner before a court when the judge’s decision would be the same as hers. Indeed it would be regarded as an abuse of the process of the court ”.

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