Friday, 17 April 2015

Greville Janner

The complainants were understandably disappointed, but the DPP had little choice in electing to abandon proceedings against Greville Janner on historic sexual abuse charges. There is no doubt that he is in the advanced stages of dementia. There is precedent. In 1997, a jury decided that a man accused of crimes during the second world war was unfit to stand trial because of dementia. Coincidentally, Szymon Serafinowicz was the same age then as Baron Janner is now, 86. (Thanks to Ian Pace for pulling out a copy of the contemporaneous report.) Then there is the question: if he were to be found guilty, would he be capable of understanding his punishment and so would it be punishment?

What the complainants, and we, should really be angry about is a failing which, ironically, Janner himself complained about in 1997:

Former Labour MP Lord Greville Janner, vice-president of the World Jewish Congress and chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said he was disappointed that Serafinowicz had not been brought to trial sooner.
A 1940s war crimes investigator himself, Lord Janner said: “There was an abundance of evidence alleging individual and mass murders against him. I am sorry that he was not tried while he was fit enough to stand. War criminals have managed to evade prosecution under our system of justice for decades. There were absolutely no reasons why he should have escaped charges for ever.
“The CPS had a huge file of powerful evidence against him. He was accused of individual involvement in more than 3,000 murders.

Investigations into Janner's sexual conduct seem to have begun in 1989, then stopped on orders from above. They were forced to be resumed when the then MP was named in the trial of the notorious Frank Beck. For further detail see , and Andy McSmith's analysis in the Indy. Jonathan Calder's commentary is especially valuable as he is physically on the spot as well as being a news editor for the British Psychological Society.

It could be that Janner was kicked upstairs in 1997 not only to make way for a New Labour-favoured woman, Patricia Hewitt, in Leicester West, but also to head off any political embarrassment.

It is to be hoped that the complainants will have their day in court through the Lowell Goddard Inquiry. Whether the shadowy names hinted at during the Beck trial are also revealed is another matter.

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