Lord Janner was framed, his family say
Child abuse inquiry is told why peer was not prosecuted before he became ill
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has been rightly criticised for the secrecy surrounding its “Janner strand” — an investigation into institutional responses to allegations of child sexual abuse involving the late Lord Janner of Braunstone QC.
So it’s worth looking more closely at what the inquiry was told in open session yesterday by Danny Friedman QC on behalf of Janner’s daughters, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner and Marion Janner OBE (pictured here with their parents and brother in 1970).
Friedman read out a personal statement in which Janner’s daughters — and their brother Daniel Janner QC — said they believed in their father’s innocence, as they had always done. This was reported in the press.
Understandably, there was less coverage for what Friedman went on to say. He was working under a number of legal constraints and I don’t propose to add any comments of my own. But this is what he told the tribunal:
After five years of institutional investigations, we have seen no evidence that any police officer, prosecutor or public servant acted in bad faith or set out to interfere with the administration of justice. There is equally no evidence at all that Lord Janner played any part in influencing any decisions made about him and there is concession by these complainants that they could not prove their case in court, even to the lesser standard of proof, by virtue of having withdrawn their civil claims.
We now know that, in 2015, those who criticised earlier decisions not to prosecute did so in ignorance of grave evidential problems that meant that these cases would almost certainly have led to not guilty verdicts. We also know that every decision that IICSA has taken about this investigation, until very recently, has been without the benefit of that crucial evidence.
Firstly, the inquiry knows that the specific period and context in which Lord Janner is alleged to have committed these offences was extensively investigated over many years by police and independent inquiries and through civil litigation against the Leicestershire County Council, all of which did not remotely produce the nature of the allegations that was levelled against him in the much later date.
We appreciate why you would be cautious before disbelieving victims simply because they delay in making complaints. But there was a particular context and chronology that made the delay, in this instance, suspicious.
Those earlier inquiries involved vulnerable adult men being supported to make many complaints of sexual abuse for the first time, which were listened to with ground-breaking sensitivity and care; and many of them took the opportunity to be heard about others, including powerful others. They just did not speak against Greville Janner, and that is why this is an exception to what you have otherwise had identified to you as the common theme of your work.
Our second point is that, as police and prosecutors had suspected, Lord Janner was framed. At least one key player in framing him was accused by police of improper practices which led to judicial review proceedings. For reasons that I cannot detail in the open hearing, the court held the accusations about this man to be reasonable. Another witness to that framing was a tried and tested police informant. Both that judicial review and the informant file were disregarded by those who later made criticisms of the earlier decision-makers.
Our final point for opening: there has been a misrepresentation of evidence about Lord Janner’s association with a number of children’s homes and with a particular person associated with them. Those who have more recently criticised previous operations were misdirected that there was ample evidence to link Lord Janner to people and places when, in fact, such evidence was weak and much of it has been withdrawn.
Panel, the objective account of why these complaints were likely to fail in court has never been told. It is not in the legal opinions that caused the criminal proceedings to begin, nor the report of Sir Richard Henriques, because those decision-makers did not have access to the evidence which undermined the credibility of the allegations that you now have.
This was never the lost opportunity for justice it was misleadingly proclaimed to be, and this inquiry can only be true to its service of ensuring true justice for child abuse victims in the future if it is prepared to bravely and fairly now set the record straight.
Declaration of interest: Daniel Janner and Laura Janner-Klausner are personal friends of mine. They did not ask me to publish this transcript or even tell me where it could be found on the inquiry’s website. Neither did my wife, who wrote a column about the inquiry in today’s Times.