By CHRIS GREENWOOD FOR THE DAILY MAIL
Suspected paedophile peer Lord Janner faces questions by the judge leading the national inquiry into historic child sex abuse.
Justice Lowell Goddard said she will take personal responsibility for examining the actions of the former Labour MP, and will bring in her own medical experts to determine whether it is possible to confront the 86-year-old over the avalanche of allegations against him.
The announcement is a shot across the bows of Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders, who ruled this month that Janner should not be charged.
|New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard |
said because of the 'depth of public concern'
surrounding Lord Janner's alleged abuse
she could call him and his alleged victims
However Justice Goddard, a senior New Zealand judge, said the huge controversy demonstrated the need for a ‘thorough and wholly independent investigation’ into abuse cases.
In a surprisingly direct statement, in which she referred to the Labour life peer as ‘Janner’, she said she will also probe ‘institutions’ linked to his career.
I like this woman. She's my hero today.
Justice Goddard said there was clear public interest in an ‘exhaustive and critical’ inquiry into ‘institutional decision-making’ and making her findings public. ‘Given the prominence of this case, and the controversy that surrounds it, I am taking responsibility for leading this investigation,’ she said.
‘I have asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to provide the inquiry with the full files held by her office and she has undertaken to do this. I expect nothing less than full co-operation from all relevant institutions.’
Oooh! I love this woman!
HOW COURTS CAN DEAL WITH SUSPECTS WITH SEVERE DEMENTIA
A procedure exists to deal with criminal suspects thought to have mental illness.
In serious cases where a judge rules a suspect is not fit to stand trial a jury can hear the evidence in the suspect’s absence and decide if the individual committed the crimes.
A suspect is not found to be guilty, or not guilty, but a jury do rule on if they have committed the crimes.
Often the judge will order them be detained in hospital, often indefinitely.
The patient's discharge, transfer or leave of absence from hospital cannot be without the consent of the Secretary of State.
The head of the CPS has stood by her ruling that the case should not go to a special fact-finding hearing for a jury to determine if the allegations against the peer are true.
Alison Saunders said: ‘Dementia in itself isn’t a bar to either a trial or to a trial of the facts, but you have to look at – and the law is very clear about this – is there a need to have a trial on the facts for the public protection?’
'It would of course be quite wrong to pre-judge the outcome of our inquiries in any way, but there is, in my view, a clear public interest in conducting an exhaustive and critical examination of the institutional decision-making processes in this case and in exposing them to public scrutiny.'
Lord Janner denies the allegations against him and his family have said he is 'entirely innocent of any wrongdoing'.
The independent inquiry into historic sex abuse, ordered by Home Secretary Theresa May, is expected to begin within weeks.
The reformed independent inquiry into child abuse will be able to 'compel witnesses' in a bid to get to the bottom of many difficult and complex claims.
It will probe incendiary claims that Establishment figures were able to prey on children with impunity thanks to their powerful roles in society.
Yesterday’s announcement revealed for the first time that it will consider potential offences by at least one high-profile figure who is still alive.
Justice Goddard said she will ask experts to reconsider Janner’s health and to examine whether he could be questioned. She has not ruled out the possibility of taking evidence from the retired politician himself or whether there will be public hearings on the matter.
Documents issued by her staff showed she intends to consider the medical evidence given to Mrs Saunders and prior statements by the paedophile suspect. The inquiry will hear evidence from Janner’s alleged victims, along with bodies such as care homes, Leicestershire police, local authorities and the Home Office.
Labour politician Simon Danczuk said: ‘If Alison Saunders had had the conviction of Justice Goddard, I believe we would be a lot further forward in terms of prosecuting a case against Lord Janner. All credit to Justice Goddard, who is prepared to take a more independent view of what has gone on in this case.'
The Crown Prosecution Service is conducting two of its own reviews – one under the victim’s charter and the second by a retired High Court judge.
The latter will focus on mistakes that let police inquiries into allegations against Janner hit the buffers in 1991, 2002 and 2007.
The CPS said two weeks ago the 'core allegation' was that Lord Janner befriended Beck to access children 'to allow him to perpetrate serious sexual offences' on them.
The politician was first implicated during the 1991 trial of Beck, who ran The Beeches children's home in Leicester.
A victim told the court the peer regularly abused him. Beck was convicted of child abuse and rape charges. He died in jail in 1994.
Following Beck's trial, Lord Janner, then a Labour MP, stood up in the House of Commons to vehemently deny any abuse, and the CPS decided not to take further action.
Child abuse campaigners have questioned the extent of Janner's mental deterioration after learning that he signed a letter to the House of Lords as recently as this month.
He has also hosted numerous events in Parliament since being diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2009.
'Victims' call for review of DPP decision not to charge Lord Janner with alleged child sex offences because of Alzheimer's
Alleged victims of Lord Janner have formally asked prosecutors to review their decision not to charge the peer with child sex offences.
Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders announced earlier this month that the case against the former Labour MP was strong enough to bring to court.
But she provoked outrage by ruling that Janner, 86, should not face trial because he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Now a solicitor for several of the peer’s accusers has requested that the Crown Prosecution Service should think again.
Liz Dux of law firm Slater and Gordon yesterday wrote to Mrs Saunders asking her to reconsider the decision not to charge Janner, who is accused of preying on boys at care homes around his former Leicester constituency between 1969 and 1988.
Mrs Saunders found there was sufficient evidence to charge Janner with 22 sex attacks on nine children. However, she said the peer should not be prosecuted because his dementia means he could not follow the court proceedings. Janner’s family have denied all the allegations against him.
Victims of crime have had the right to challenge CPS decisions not to bring a prosecution since 2013.
There is a special legal process for defendants who are found to be incapable of understanding court proceedings.
A jury can be asked to consider whether they did the act they are accused of – but not whether they are guilty of any crime.
However, Mrs Saunders ruled that this would be pointless in Janner’s case as he would ‘inevitably’ receive an absolute discharge from the court.
|Lord Janner's signature is redacted, but his printing looks pretty good.|
Lord Janner signed a letter on April 9
An MP passed a dossier of information to the department in the hope it would kick-start a fresh police investigation. But instead the paperwork was shelved by officials until it was discovered in 2013 and belatedly passed to Leicestershire Police.
The revelation will heighten fears that the peer, now 86, was the beneficiary of an Establishment cover-up.
The missed opportunity to bring him to justice echoes the case of the late paedophile Liberal MP Cyril Smith who continued in public life despite repeated warnings of his crimes.
It heaps pressure on the Home Office to reveal exactly who knew what and when about the disturbing allegations against Janner.
Labour’s Simon Danczuk – who outed Smith as a predatory child abuser – called on the department to ‘come clean’.
‘The Director of Public Prosecutions has admitted there were previously missed opportunities to investigate Lord Janner,’ he said. ‘The Home Office needs to come clean on what information was passed to officials in 1995.
‘This scandal is getting worse every day and the public are rightly angry at the shambolic way this case has been handled.’
Mrs. Saunders said that the former Leicester MP was investigated in 1991, 2002 and 2006 but mistakes meant he was never charged.
Now the Daily Mail can reveal a fourth opportunity was missed when an unnamed MP passed a dossier to the Home Office in 1995. The politician received a letter linking Janner to prolific paedophile Frank Beck, who died in jail the previous year.
Home Secretary Theresa May ordered the review over fears her department was holding evidence of historic child abuse by influential people. A trawl through more than 700,000 documents identified four ‘items’ that should be passed to police.