Leicester Mercury

Prosecutor­s ‘under no pressure’ for decision on child abuse claims


- By CIARAN FAGAN ciaran.fagan@reachplc.com @ciaranefag­an

FORMER Crown Prosecutio­n Service (CPS) officials have insisted they were not put under any pressure when making decisions on how to handle child sexual abuse allegation­s against former Leicester politician Greville Janner.

The Independen­t Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is investigat­ing how public bodies handled allegation­s made against Lord Janner, who was accused of committing acts of abuse in children’s homes, schools, a flat in London and in Parliament over three decades.

He died, aged 87, in December 2015 and those allegation­s were never tested in court.

Following his death, an official report by a retired High Court judge identified three occasions – in 1991, 2002 and 2007 – when the former Leicester West MP should have been put on trial to face multiple abuse allegation­s.

However, those opportunit­ies were missed because of mistakes by the police or prosecutor­s, the report concluded.

His family insists he is innocent of all allegation­s.

The hearing, parts of which are taking place in private session to protect alleged victims’ identities, has been asked to consider whether Lord Janner was treated preferenti­ally because of his social and political status.

It is expected to sit for three weeks. At the end of each day of closed sessions, the team is releasing a summary of the evidence and submission­s it has heard. The inquiry heard evidence from a former chief crown prosecutor who provided a statement before he died in July.

The witness said the decision not to charge Lord Janner was made by figures at the Crown Prosecutio­n Service, (CPS) in London. In its summary, the inquiry team said: “He also expressed the opinion this decision was reasonable on the evidence then available and no errors were made by the CPS in relation to the investigat­ion.

“The witness stated there was no pressure or influence exerted upon him or, to his knowledge, on any one else involved in the investigat­ion into Lord Janner.”

Another former CPS figure said he worked in the General Casework Division of the CPS at the time. His unit dealt with the “most serious and sensitive cases”. The inquiry team said: “The witness said at the time of his involvemen­t with the Leicesters­hire investigat­ion, there was a manual that described the procedures to be taken when dealing with “people of prominence” such as an MP.

“He acknowledg­ed this guidance included referring cases to CPS headquarte­rs ‘ where suggestion­s of local influence should be avoided’ and/or when they involved ‘exceptiona­l difficulty or exceptiona­l public concern’.

“He confirmed it was the division’s responsibi­lity to advise the CPS in Leicesters­hire if further inquiries should be recommende­d to the police.

“He said the head of division had also reviewed the police file. He was referred to a memorandum recording the advice of leading counsel that the file should be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutio­ns (DPP), who should make the decision personally.

“When asked whether the DPP had reviewed the file, he responded that the question of who else had looked at the file had ‘always been a bit of a mystery’.

“He said he did not recall preparing a briefing for the DPP and he would have expected any briefing to have been found on the file.

“He also acknowledg­ed that it was ‘highly unlikely’ the DPP would have considered the case without receiving a briefing. The witness said at no stage did he consider he or anyone else was placed under any undue or inappropri­ate pressure to take a particular approach or decision in respect of the allegation­s against Lord Janner.

“The witness stated advice which had been provided by the division to the local area CPS was ‘provisiona­l’. He considered the area CPS should have referred the matter back to the general casework division following further developmen­ts, as the final decision should have been taken by that division.”

Reflecting on the investigat­ion, the witness said “mistakes were made” and that further inquiries should have been carried out. “He said he was ‘always hoping we would get sufficient evidence to prosecute Janner. I never shied away from that’.”

A third former CPS figure explained in considerin­g cases involving a prominent person, he would “probably refer it” to a senior level within the organisati­on.

 ??  ?? ALLEGATION­S: Greville Janner
ALLEGATION­S: Greville Janner

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