Lord Janner of Braunstone will be prosecuted for historic child abuse offences dating from the 1960s to 1980s, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed today. The first hearing in the criminal case will be heard in court this August.
The decision to prosecute overturns the ruling by director of public prosecution Alison Saunders not to prosecute Lord Janner, despite there being sufficient evidence, on grounds of ill health. A QC reviewing that decision has ruled that it would be in the public interest to prosecute, given that the Peer has been investigated three times by police in relation to the charges. The case will be a “trial of the facts”, which means that Lord Janner does not have to appear in court, due to his diagnosis of dementia.
Mrs Saunders now faces numerous calls to step down from MPs and alleged victims alike, her authority having been grossly undermined by the CPS’s u-turn. She had ignored advice by another senior lawyer and expert in child abuse cases to reach her original decision, so it is now being seen as ‘two against one’.
Liz Dux, the lawyer for a number of alleged victims, said: “My clients are delighted. They have waited a long time for their very serious allegations to be brought before a court. It may be long overdue but what matters to them now is being heard in a criminal court.”
Peter Gardsen, a solicitor who also numbers some of Lord Janners alleged victims amongst his clients said that the decision not to prosecute was appalling. The Times has reported him as saying: “She [Mrs Saunders] overruled one QC and now she’s been overruled by a different QC. That’s two senior counsel who have told Alison Saunders to charge and she has been the only dissenting voice,” he said.
“It puts her in a very difficult position but whether she should resign or not — I’m not sure. My clients on the other hand are adamant she should be handing in her resignation.”
But Simon Danczuk, a Labour MP who has talked to a number of the alleged victims and has called for Mrs Saunders resignation previously was adamant: “The biggest problem is that she did not consider the importance of public confidence in the justice system. We need someone at the top of the CPS who is alert to the fact that victims, witnesses and the public have to have faith in the system. I’m sorry to say Alison Saunders is not that person,” he said.
Lord Janner’s family have said that is “entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.”
Follow Donna Rachel Edmunds on Twitter: Follow @Donna_R_E or e-mail to: email@example.com