Lord Janner has so far failed to attend court to face the 22 child abuse charges against him. Having been ordered to attend Westminster Magistrates’ Court this morning the former Labour MP now risks being arrested.
Legal arguments from Lord Janner’s defence team have been heard. They tried to persuade the court to allow Lord Jenner, who has advanced dementia, to attend by means of remote link from his home rather than in person.
Lord Janner’s lawyer proposed a live link from the peer’s home, saying that is the option “least likely” to cause the 87-year-old distress. He added:
“There is evidence that moving him carries with it a risk of an adverse reaction to him, or other harm.”
If a live link from home was not deemed possible Lord Janner’s lawyer proposed it could also be carried out from somewhere less intimidating in the court building or even from a police station. The prosecutor said live links from police stations are only permitted for giving evidence when someone was in custody, which Lord Janner is not.
The prosecution team suggested Lord Janner could appear at Wood Green Crown Court as an alternative, as it is a court closer to his home and access to the building is suitable for him.
Having adjourned to consider the options Deputy Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, the District Judge, appeared to have lost her patience, telling Lord Janner’s defence team:
“Even if I have to have him arrested I will resolve this matter today… stop messing around. You are running out of time.”
She added: “This will take around 40 seconds… I will be as humane as possible.”
The District Judge’s preferred option was Westminster Magistrates’ Court, but if Lord Janner’s legal team wanted to opt for Wood Green Crown Court, sitting as a magistrates’ court, it could have been agreeable.
After a further adjournment Lord Janner’s team confirmed he would appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court at 2pm today. The District Judge allowed some concessions, for example Lord Janner would not have to enter the dock. She added that if Lord Janner exhibited extreme distress the hearing would immediately be abandoned.
Lord Janner was in court for less than two minutes to identify himself and satisfy legal requirements. The District Judge told him he was being released on unconditional bail and the matter would be sent on to the Crown Court in Southwark for a hearing on 1 September.
After he left court to return home with his daughter the 22 child sex abuse charges from the 1960s to the 1980s were read out.