Abuse allegations against Lord Janner 'not properly investigated', inquiry concludes

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Lord Janner was charged in 2015 but died before he faced trial - Eddie Mulholland
Lord Janner was charged in 2015 but died before he faced trial - Eddie Mulholland

Child sexual abuse allegations against Lord Janner of Braunstone were not properly investigated, an inquiry has said, as it concluded police made "serious and inexcusable" failings.

The former Labour MP for Leicester died in 2015 just months after being charged with a string of indecent assault and buggery charges relating to nine separate complainants.

On Tuesday, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) released its report into how allegations against Lord Janner, spanning three decades, were handled by both Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire County Council.

It said the complainants in two police investigations “were let down by institutional failings” and allegations made during the course of both operations “were not properly investigated".

Responding to the report, Daniel Janner QC, Lord Janner’s son, spoke to the Telegraph on behalf of the family, saying: “Our late father’s innocence is unchallenged in this report. It offers no proof whatsoever of guilt. He was, himself, the victim of institutional failings because he was denied the ability (in court) while of sound mind, prior to his dementia, to defend himself and challenge the false allegations.

“The fact all the civil claims made against his estate were withdrawn or discontinued speaks for itself.”

Lord Janner at his Hampstead home in 1996 - Eric Roberts
Lord Janner at his Hampstead home in 1996 - Eric Roberts

The inquiry, which said it was not investigating the “truth or otherwise of the allegations”, said it had examined allegations made against the late peer by 33 complainants, stretching from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s.

All the complainants were said to have been between eight and 16 years old at the time of the alleged incidents, with much of their evidence to the inquiry given in closed hearings to protect their identity.

IICSA finds officers appeared reluctant to properly pursue allegations

IICSA found that officers in two different police investigations by the force - Operation Dauntless and Operation Magnolia - appeared reluctant to properly pursue the allegations against Lord Janner.

Operation Magnolia, opened by Leicestershire Police in 2000, was said to be "insufficient and seemingly involved a deliberate decision by Leicestershire Police to withhold key witness statements from the Crown Prosecution Service".

It set out to find evidence of physical or sexual abuse at two Leicestershire children's homes between 1980 and 1990 and during the course of the inquiry allegations were made against Lord Janner.

A member of the investigation team at the time, Kevin Yates, told IICSA he thought there may have been a “positive instruction” not to mention Lord Janner to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the report said.

“Whatever the reason, the failure to pass on these statements was serious and inexcusable,” IICSA concluded.

Operation Dauntless, established in May 2006, saw the senior investigating officer, Christopher Thomas, and the CPS reviewing lawyer for the force, Roger Rock, "reluctant" to progress the investigation, according to IICSA.

The report concludes that their decisions were "unsound and strategically flawed".

Court artist sketch of Lord Janner appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court in 2015 - Elizabeth Cook
Court artist sketch of Lord Janner appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court in 2015 - Elizabeth Cook

Leicestershire County Council was also found to have had a "sorry record of failures in relation to the sexual abuse of children in its care in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s".

IICSA said: "It’s clear that a number of Leicestershire County Council’s staff were aware of, and had concerns about, Lord Janner’s association with a child in its care, with the report concluding that further enquiries should have been made."

Professor Alexis Jay, head of the inquiry, said: "Despite numerous serious allegations against the late Lord Janner, police and prosecutors appeared reluctant to fully investigate the claims against him. On multiple occasions police put too little emphasis on looking for supporting evidence and shut down investigations without pursuing all outstanding enquiries.

“It was a similar picture for Leicestershire County Council, which had a sorry record of failures in relation to the sexual abuse of children in its care over several decades. A number of council staff had concerns about Lord Janner's association with a particular child in residential care, and further enquiries should have been carried out.

“This investigation has brought up themes we are now extremely familiar with, such as deference to powerful individuals, the barriers to reporting faced by children and the need for institutions to have clear policies and procedures setting out how to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse, regardless of the prominence of the alleged abuser.”

Lord Janner appeared in court in August 2015 charged with 22 charges tracing back to the 1960s and 1980s. At the time, he was 87 and suffering from dementia.

Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slate & Gordon, who acts for 14 complainants against Lord Janner, said: “This report makes clear that there were serious, unacceptable and repeated failings by both Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire County Council in their response to allegations against Lord Janner.

"Had investigations been conducted properly, it is clear that Lord Janner could have been prosecuted in his lifetime.

"As it was, serious allegations were brushed under the carpet and concerns remain that Lord Janner was treated differently because of his status. Sadly the clock cannot be rolled back, and the criminal trial of Lord Janner which could and should have taken place will never be possible.

"The key lesson from this appalling saga is that no matter how prominent the accused, allegations of sexual abuse should always be taken seriously, investigated thoroughly and complainants treated with dignity and respect. This is the lesson that all statutory agencies need to take to heart to ensure that this shocking saga never happens again”.

Simon Cole, the Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police, said: "On behalf of Leicestershire Police, firstly, I would like to reiterate the wholehearted apology I gave in February 2020 to any complainant whose allegations during earlier police investigations into Lord Janner were not responded to as they should have been.

"It is fair and correct to say that the allegations could and should have been investigated more thoroughly, and Lord Janner could and should have faced prosecution earlier than 2015."

A CPS spokesman said: "The CPS has acknowledged past failings in the way allegations made against Lord Janner were handled.

"It is remains a matter of sincere regret that opportunities were missed to put these allegations before a jury."

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