| Lord (Greville) Janner, pictured in 2005. Alison Saunders said it was not|
in the public interest to charge him because he had dementia.
Photograph: Nick Razzell/Rex Shutterstock
Janner is to face justice in a trial of the facts following a review from an unnamed QC, the Crown Prosecution Service will announce on Monday.
It will be the first time that allegations against Janner – which have been investigated in the past in three failed police investigations – will be aired in a courtroom.
Actually, they weren't 'failed' police investigations, they were 'sabotaged' police investigations.
Saunders said in April it was not in the public interest to charge Janner, because he had dementia, which meant he was unfit to enter a plea. Her decision was challenged by alleged victims in a formal process known as the right to review. It is believed to be one of the first times that alleged victims have overturned a DPP’s decision.
Saunders overruled a specialist QC, Eleanor Laws, an expert in child abuse law, who recommended that the peer be charged. The DPP’s decision led to an extraordinary rift with Leicestershire police, who spent two years investigating Janner in the latest inquiry and said Saunders’ failure to charge him was “perverse”. The force threatened legal action to overturn the DPP’s decision.
The family of the 86-year-old peer have said he is innocent of any of the allegations.
Alleged victims of Janner said that they had received hand-delivered letters on Saturday informing them that the CPS’s decision not to prosecute had been reversed.
One, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “It shouldn’t have taken this long – 45 years for some – to get to this point. Saunders should go because she has tried to stop the truth from coming out.”
Another alleged victim, Paul Miller, accused Alison Saunders of incompetence.
Miller, 53, from Leicester, claimed he was groped by the former Labour MP at the Palace of Westminster during a school trip when he was nine. He told the Sunday Express: “It’s great news but Alison Saunders should be sacked. She’s been proved to be incompetent in not making the right decision in the first place. Her position is now untenable.”
Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale, led calls on Friday for Saunders to resign following initial reports that the decision would be overturned.
“All suggestions are that Saunders reached the wrong conclusion in April and this is not the first time she has made a major mistake,” he said. “She has struggled in some of her decisions to pursue journalists through the courts, too. Her job is all about judgment.”
David Davis, the Conservative MP and former shadow home secretary, said this was the right decision but questioned why it had taken Saunders so long to come to this “unusual” conclusion.
“It is hard to know why she decided not to have a trial of the facts in the first place, only to decide to do so after the huge political furore,” he said. “This has been a terrible process which has prolonged the misery not just for the alleged victims but also for Janner and his family.” He stopped short of calling for her to resign, saying to do so would be premature.
John Mann, the MP for Bassetlaw who has called for criminal inquiries into other historical claims of child abuse against former and existing Parliamentarians, said the decision should be welcomed because it would open doors for new inquiries. “This decision is a huge breakthrough. Hopefully, we will be able to look at the way MPs and peers have used privilege and their connections to stop inquiries into their alleged conduct,” he said.
Mann added that he did not want Saunders to leave her post. “This would be a distraction from the job in hand of uncovering the truth about alleged child abuse. She should be shouting much louder to get enough resources to properly resource her prosecutors who are looking into historical child abuse claims.”
In a “trial of facts”, the jury is asked to decide – on the basis of evidence adduced by prosecution lawyers and by lawyers appointed by the court to put the case for the defence – whether or not the accused did the acts he was charged with. Because the defendant cannot put forward a defence, there can be no verdict of guilty and the court cannot pass sentence. All the court can do is to make a hospital order, a supervision order or an order for the defendant’s absolute discharge.
Liz Dux, a lawyer from Slater and Gordon representing a number of the alleged victims, said: “My clients are delighted by this decision. It is a total vindication of why they challenged the original decision of the DPP. All they have ever wanted was to give their evidence in a court and have findings of fact established. They have been denied this right for many many years but now their faith in British justice is restored and they look forward to being listened to after so long.”