The Crown Prosecution Service has announced that Greville Janner will not be prosecuted for sexual offences against boys in Leicester during the 1970s and 1980s.
The CPS says the case passes its “evidential test.” They believe they have evidence which makes a conviction more likely than not. The reason for not proceeding is that, in the view of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, a prosecution “would not be in the public interest.”
The announcement has been greeted with outrage. According to one, unnamed, complainant quoted on the Leicestershire Police website:
“This animal is still being protected because [of his status] and isn’t able to stand trial. They say that it’s not in the public interest, but isn’t it in the public interest to know what his victims have gone through at the hands of this man?”
It seems quite unprecedented for an investigating police force to quote someone describing an unconvicted individual in such terms.
There are two questions:
Why did Ms Saunders find that a prosecution was not in the public interest?
What can those aggrieved by the decision do about it?
Four doctors, two instructed by the defence and two by the prosecution, have concluded that Janner is suffering from Alzheimers disease. Their findings are summarised by the CPS in this way:
“Lord Janner is suffering from a degenerative dementia which is rapidly becoming more severe. He requires continuous care both day and night.
- His evidence could not be relied upon in court and he could not have any meaningful engagement with the court process, and the court would find it impossible to proceed.
- The condition will only deteriorate, there is no prospect of recovery.
- Manipulation (“putting it on”) is out of the question.”
It is possible for doctors to be wrong, of course. One of the “Guinness” fraudsters, Ernest Saunders, for example, was famously freed from prison after serving only 10 months of a 2 ½ year sentence (cut from 5 years by the Court of Appeal), after doctors confidently diagnosed Alzheimers disease. He went on to have a second career as a consultant (while enjoying a useful £75,000 pension from Guinness). His “Alzheimer’s disease” turned out – if we are generous – to be a stress related condition caused by being incarcerated in Ford Open Prison.
But prosecutors must make decisions based upon the evidence that they have, not that which they might wish to have. It would be absurd to proceed on the basis that Janner was fit to stand trial when the medical evidence is entirely to the contrary.
Nevertheless, the fact that he has Alzheimers does not, in itself, mean he cannot be tried. A person who is “unfit to plead” because of his mental state can still be tried, although, if he is found to have done the act of which he is accused he receives neither the same verdict nor the same sentence as an ordinary defendant.
“Fitness to plead” is a somewhat slippery concept which depends to a large extent on law dating from the early nineteenth century. In 1836 a man called Pritchard was accused of bestiality, which at that time was a capital felony. He was unable to speak, although he had learned to read and write in the “Deaf and Dumb Asylum in London.” The jury decided that he was “mute by visitation of God,” and he was allowed to make his plea in writing. The judge then asked the jury to decide three further issues, namely whether he was of sufficient intellect:
“to comprehend the course of proceedings on the trial, so as to make a proper defence;
to know that he might challenge any [jurors] to whom he may object;
and to comprehend the details of the evidence, which in a case of this nature must constitute a minute investigation.”
In Pritchard’s case, the jury decided that he did not have sufficient understanding to stand his trial. The finding probably saved his life, but the judge, Baron Alderson, decided to commit him to prison “during His Majesty’s Pleasure” anyway. It is somewhat unclear from the report whether any evidence about the bestiality was actually called.
The procedure differs these days. If Lord Janner were to be put on trial it would be for a judge rather than a jury to rule on his fitness to plead. If (as one must assume would be the case) he were found unfit he would, unlike Pritchard, not be committed to gaol. Instead, there would be a trial of whether he “did the acts alleged.” A defence advocate would be appointed to put Janner’s case, as far as possible. Given that much of the evidence only came to light in the last year or two it seems that such an advocate would not have a great deal of material with which to work.
The jury would then decide whether he had “done the acts alleged.” Should it find that he did not, he would be acquitted. If it found that he did commit the acts, he would not be found “guilty” – it being recognised that a finding of “guilt” would be unfair against a man unable to defend himself – but the court would have to make one of three possible orders under S.5 of the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964:
(a) A hospital order;
(b) A supervision order;
(c) An order for his absolute discharge.
These are not intended to be punitive, their only purpose is to provide protection to the public and, where necessary, treatment of the defendant. In Janner’s case a hospital order would be pointless (because he poses no risk to anybody and his condition is untreatable), while a supervision order (in effect a probation order) would be a waste of time. The only possible result would be an “absolute discharge,” in other words nothing at all. It was for this reason that Alison Saunders decided that a prosecution would not be in the public interest.
Under the Crown Prosecution Service’s Code for Crown Prosecutors there are a number of questions that have to be considered in deciding whether or not to prosecute. The Code is not just a useful aide memoire for prosecutors. It is produced under S.10 of the Prosecution of Offences Act, and provides “general guidance” which the CPS is required to follow. Nevertheless, it certainly does not answer every question that arises, pointing out:
“The questions identified are not exhaustive, and not all the questions may be relevant in every case. The weight to be attached to each of the questions, and the factors identified, will also vary according to the facts and merits of each case.”
The questions are these:
(a) How serious is the offence committed?
(b) What is the level of culpability of the suspect?
(c) What are the circumstances of and the harm caused to the victim?
(d) Was the suspect under the age of 18 at the time of the offence?
(e) What is the impact on the community?
(f) Is prosecution a proportionate response?
(g) Do sources of information require protecting?
Although the answer to most of these questions do in fact tend to support prosecution, they are, we must assume, outweighed in Ms Saunders’s eyes by (f), the assessment that prosecution would not be a “proportionate” response. Any prosecution would be an expensive and time consuming process and it could not prove Janner’s guilt, or require the Court to punish him. The inevitable result would be either his acquittal or (far more likely given his inability to contest the evidence) a finding that he had committed the acts alleged, followed by his absolute discharge. What is more – although Ms Saunders did not say this – the trial of a man unable to defend himself while a succession of witnesses made a series of unchallengeable allegations against him would be a fairly grotesque parody of justice.
Many people, no doubt including many of the complainants, are furious at the decision. What possible redress do they have?
- A review of the decision not to prosecute
The CPS have recently introduced a procedure, known as the Victims Right to Review under which an “interested person” can ask for a decision of the CPS not to prosecute to be reviewed. In a run of the mill case this would involve a more senior prosecutor reviewing a local prosecutor’s decision.
Any alleged victim of Janner’s would qualify as an “interested person” for this purpose:
“a person who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss which was directly caused by criminal conduct.”
The Leicester Police Force, which investigated the case, and has somewhat petulantly criticised the DPP over her decision, would not do so.
In this case, since the decision not to prosecute was taken by Alison Saunders herself, such a review would be undertaken by the “Appeals and Review Unit” of the CPS. It would undertake a complete review of the decision not to charge, no doubt concentrating on Ms Saunders’s assessment of the Public Interest considerations. Whilst in theory it would have complete freedom to come to a different conclusion from Ms Saunders, if it were to do so it would render her position as DPP very difficult. I would be very surprised if it reached any different conclusion.
There are strict time limits for the review. Complainants must normally make their complaint within 5 days, although there is a discretion to consider complaints made up to 3 months from the decision. The CPS says that it will announce the results of such a review within 6 weeks. Should the Review Unit decide that the DPP’s decision was wrong, then it would still be possible to bring charges against Lord Janner.
- Judicial Review of the decision not to prosecute.
In principle it would be open to anyone with sufficient interest in the case to apply to the Administrative Court, in order to ask a Judge to reconsider the decision not to prosecute.
In practice the Administrative Court would only intervene in “highly exceptional” cases (see for example R (F.B.) v. DPP  EWHC 106 (Admin). The question for the Court is not whether it would have made a different decision but whether the DPP’s decision “[was] irrational (e.g. “so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could ever have come to it” or “so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it.” (See for example per Males J. R. (on the application of Grout) v Financial Conduct Authority  EWHC 596 (Admin).
The DPP has a wide discretion in deciding whether to bring charges. As long as she acted on the material available to her, in accordance with both the law and the CPS Code of Practice, and did so in good faith, “uninfluenced by any ulterior motive, predilection or prejudice,” the Court would unquestionably uphold her decision.
3. A Private Prosecution
Anyone has the right to bring a private prosecution. The right is expressly preserved in S.6 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985:
(1) Subject to subsection (2) below, nothing in this Part shall preclude any person from instituting any criminal proceedings or conducting any criminal proceedings to which the Director’s duty to take over the conduct of proceedings does not apply.
(2) Where criminal proceedings are instituted in circumstances in which the Director is not under a duty to take over their conduct, he may nevertheless do so at any stage.
However, those wishing to get around the DPP’s decision should not get their hopes up.
First, most of the likely offences with which Janner could theoretically be charged – Buggery and Gross Indecency, for example – require the consent of the DPP before any prosecution is brought. It seems most unlikely that such consent would be forthcoming.
Secondly, as the legislation makes clear, the DPP has a right, and sometimes a duty to take over a prosecution. Moreover, the current policy of the DPP is to take over and halt any prosecution which it does not consider to be in the public interest. As we know that the DPP considers a prosecution of Lord Janner not to be in the public interest it would seem virtually inevitable that she would take over and halt any such private prosecution.
4. An application to the European Court of Human Rights
Whilst an unreasonable failure to prosecute can amount to a breach of a victim’s right under the European Convention on Human Rights, and whilst the Court has upheld complaints against countries for having failed to prosecute for sexual offences (see for example X & Y v. Netherlands (1985) Application no. 8978/80), this hardly provides a practical remedy. Any complainant would first have to exhaust all his domestic remedies including, probably, an appeal to the UK Supreme Court. Even if, many years later, he was to succeed in Strasbourg the European Court of Human Rights would have no power to force the CPS to prosecute Janner, in the perhaps rather unlikely event that he was still alive.
Of course, had the DPP decided to prosecute, his defence would have argued that it a clearer example of an abuse of the criminal process would be difficult to imagine than the prosecution of a man both incapable of defending himself and incapable of causing any harm in the future, merely in order that he should be absolutely discharged by the Judge. If that failed they would have moved onto something not even considered by the DPP, the torrent of prejudicial material that has been published about Lord Janner that would make an unbiased jury almost impossible to find.
Ms Saunders had a difficult decision to make. For what it is worth, I think it was the correct one.
1. Many apologies for the weird and almost entirely random distribution of italics in this post, whatever I do I can’t manage to get rid of them.
2. Thanks to Greg Callus for pointing me in the direction of the latest learning on the judicial review of a refusal to prosecute. Do follow him on Twitter @Greg_Callus. He is one of the best legal tweeters.
71 thoughts on “Lord Janner: Was the DPP right? What can the complainants do next?”
Maybe, Saunders should have been shoved back inside when it became obvious, he was not suffering from dementia ! Only read up to this so far, looking good !
Sadly, it was the right decision based on the medical reports of Janner.
No not at all. Janner’s victims need justice and should be allowed to testify against him. They have been complaining for thirty years! There is no law that says being old justifies crimes you committed long ago. Janner is probably shamming.
There are only claimants at this stage. Victim status has not been proved.
You also make a leap of logic to conclude that Janner could fool 4 independent doctors, 2 who are police doctors.
How do you know “they have been complaining for 30 years”?
There were not this number of claimants alleging abuse in the past.
It’s strange how so many adults these days are forgetting to report serious crime until the alleged perpetrators are geriatrics.
Wrong. There have been accusations against Janner for thirty years or more. Find out the facts before you snigger like this.
Re: “There is no law that says being old justifies crimes you committed long ago”
Please do some reading up on what Alzheimers disease actually *is* before you pass judgement on the decision of the DPP again.
Why would one ever take expert reports at face value? Instructions, factual evidence relied upon, methods and reasoning should all be examined carefully before relying on any expert report.
And if Janner were, as alleged, a manipulative psychopath, it would be important to know whether the experts instructed were experienced in assessing defendants skilful in dissimulation.
Given that the only evidence in this case will be stories that must be believed, it’s a bit rich to complain on the basis of “factual evidence”.
I’d say the video evidence seized by the police could help corroborate “stories that must be believed” but. of course, it won’t get tested in court now.
Now ain’t that a surprise..
The factual evidence of Janner’s state of health relied upon by the medical experts. There would be little reason for medical experts reporting their opinions of Janner’s health to consider “stories”.
Does the decision re prosecution influence the alleged victims chances of compensation?
It’s an interesting point & I’ve been wondering about that. Sadly I’m not really a civil lawyer.
On the one hand it seems a clear admission of mistake or negligence by the CPS, on the other hand I’m not sure what the cause of action would be. I fancy the courts would be reluctant to entertain a case against the CPS for failing to prosecute, just as they’ve been reluctant to allow cases against the police for failing to investigate. Apart from anything else it would mean assuming that they would have won. If they had lost, that might have been worse for some complainants than not prosecuting at all. And what would the measure of damage be? The European Court has awarded modest damages for failing to bring prosecutions, but I can’t see our courts being very enthusiastic.
I do wonder what previous DPPs, especially the excellent Ken MacDonald QC makes of being publicly slated by his successor. Her assertion that he failed in his duty seems very harsh on him. It would be interesting to hear his response.
My question was ambiguous, my error. I Was thinking of compensation in the event of conviction either from criminal injuries compensation fund or the criminal, not compensation for failure to prosecute.
If the matter of fitness had been referred to the court and if there had been a hearing of the facts, and if the court had found the facts of the allegations to be proven, then any victims could have relied on any such proven facts in civil proceedings for compensation.
It’s been reported that after the police raids of Janner’s offices, his attorney transferred Janner’s assets to his children. This may mean that Janner now does not have the means to pay any damages claims that were proven against him.
The criminal injuries compensation fund does not require there to have been a conviction, they only need to be satisfied the injury was a result of a crime.
However, I think you can generally only claim for injuries suffered with the past 2 years. I am not sure whether there is any room for discretion by the fund on that.
Ken MacDonald has now made it clear that he was never asked to consider Janner’s prosecution in 2007.
Although he *did* have to wait to be told by CPS that it “hadn’t been brought before him” before he said so publicly.
You know, once they’d double checked the files to make sure there was no proof he’d seen the case… Dodgy as all hell.
In legal practice I had an open mind about any expert report until I a) knew the identity and track record of the witness; b) had seen the detailed instructions to the expert; and c) had seen the expert’s report and carefully examined their methods and reasoning.
In this case, where there is widespread and apparently justified concern that there has been a cover-up by the CPS, it may not be appropriate for observers simply to rely on the CPS’s own characterisation of expert reports without further examination. That the defendant is widely reported to have continued to work as a legislator until a few months ago throws doubt on the CPS’s grasp of the facts.
It is certainly not in the public interest for the CPS to conduct the case in a way that is relatively opaque. This may well further undermine public confidence in the CPS and in the justice system as a whole.
For the court to determine the issue of fitness to plead would expose the issue to public scrutiny and would be a more transparent and publicly accountable proceeding than an administrative determination by the CPS. Where the CPS itself is under suspicion, it is in the public interest for the matter to be referred to the appropriate, impartial tribunal.
The mob would claim the Judge was an ‘establishment’ figure and part of a cover-up.
The media would say the judge is “out of touch”.
This is a no win situation. Why bother with the expense and energy when the same conclusion would be reached.
If Janner’s dementia is a s severe as 4 doctors concluded, I doubt he would be alive to even face a court to judge his fitness.
Nothing save Lord Brittan’s demolition by the mob. Not even cancer.
I couldn’t agree more. It is so dispiriting when the lower orders get ideas above their station, and think that the same standards and processes that we apply to them (purely for their own betterment, of course) should be applied to US. Whatever next!
How do you know what the doctors concluded? The reports have not been published.
* This may well further undermine public confidence in the CPS and in the justice system as a whole. *
Do tell me when I can stop laughing.
No, I find your attitude most offensive.
This decision is just one more in a string of disgraceful bad and wrong decisions by the Crown Prosecution Service. The CPS is utterly corrupt. It is biased in favour of the powerful, permissive, & largely male-queer-dominated, establishment. When Christians tried to prosecute doctors for performing gender-abortions, on girl babies, the CPS first refused to act, then when a private prosecution was launched, the CPS took it over and closed it down maliciously. The judge left the prosecutor, Ms Aisling Hubert, with a legal bill of £25,000.
The CPS refused to prosecute Iwan Harding, the 32-year-old teacher [Edited for legal reasons]. They took the view that this would not be well-received by other homosexuals [Edited]
Harding got no penalty at all. He did not lose his job, he was not prevented from teaching and anyone who blames him for his behaviour is of course labelled “fomohobic”.
Janner should be prosecuted. He is a [Edited], and he is probably shamming this illness.
…(cont) Another point about Janner. He claims to be demented but he can still vote in the house of Lords and does so, He also sits on the board of various companies as a director.
How stupid are the doctors who classified him as geriatric…or how much did he pay them?
He doesn’t vote in the House of Lords.He did vote but no longer does. Dementia is a vicious disease that eats away the brain rapidly.
If you have ever had a relative with dementia you would know how it quickly it occurs.
It is also a disease that can be physically detected. It’s not a case of sitting down with the doctor and claiming to have it.
It’s interesting to note that Janner was a company director until 10th April this year, and serving on a parliamentary committee until May last year. Surely this is evidence that either the conclusions drawn by the doctors was erroneous, or that Janner was in breach of the Companies Act as he was not able to fulfill his duties as director? Whilst the DPP’s conclusions may be justifiable on the basis of the medical reports, those reports look suspicious to me.
Well said. He hasn’t given up his lucrative employments. I think this is just another establishment cover-up.
Note that Janner was one of the original gang who got homosexuality de-criminalised in 1967. All the time he was raping boys.
It’s not known whether any physical tests were conducted on Janner by any of the doctors.
…(cont) When he was director of CPS, Kier Starmer refused to prosecute Jimmy Saville. Maybe that is why he got a knighthood. Now he is a Labour election candidate. Hmmmm.
OMG ! The CPS decided that there was insufficient evidence to proceed against Sir Jimmy. End of ! try reading the facts before you comment. You obviously know nothing ! Not that I give a shit about Starmer. He’s a dangerous idiot who seems hell bent on destroying the justice system with his one-sided justice campaign !
It seems few Brits took notice of the Met’s original statement that they would not be investigating Jimmy Savile’s alleged crimes, mainly because he was dead.
All that has happened is lists of claims have been compiled, they may be true or they may not be. Certainly a great deal of those claims were ludicrous.
All that seems to have happened is a lot of expensive inquiries have totally confused the issue.
I object to your foul language as well as your rude aggressive tone in general. Don’t try to patronise me by saying “try reading the facts” – it is clear that you know far less about this issue than I do.
From indirect experience of the family court, I have learnt to be extremely sceptical of the evidence of medical experts used by the court.
Also, isn’t this another case of the legal process and the ethical/moral issues diverging. Lord Janner himself was highly critical of the Old Bailey when a person on trial for Nazi war crimes had the trial cancelled due to his dementia, and also saying that “no concessions to age or the time that has passed can be made when it comes to justice for crimes of this magnitude”. See https://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/lifestyle-features/82477/britain-full-people-%EF%AC%81ghting-hatred-we-are-lucky-live-here, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/lord-janner-criticised-justice-system-for-excusing-alleged-nazi-war-criminal-who-had-dementia–but-now-hes-in-the-same-position-10183717.html
Could someone with Lasting Power of Attorney be able to instruct defence on his behalf? Does he have someone with PoA, or does he make his own decisions about health and finance still?
I don’t really get why they didn’t go down the unfit to plead procedure, yes, it is a bit pointless in terms of final outcome, but so is every unfit to plead ever!
Matthew, Thank you for your most interesting and erudite analysis. While I have no reason to doubt the correctness of anything you say, I do think that this case presents a particular difficulty with regards to the effect that the DPP’s judgment will have in the future. It seems highly likely to me that this will cause two things to happen:
1, Many sufficiently wealthy defendants who consider their case to be more-or-less indefensible, will find a way to use their resources to secure a similar result.
2, Given the possibility that after many months or years of preparation a judge might suddenly “spring dementia” as the reason for having a trial cancelled, this is going to have a considerably chilling effect on both the cooperation of prosecution witnesses, and the willingness of the authorities to allocate the very large sums needed to support these kinds of prosecution.
My profound discomfort at this conclusion prompted me to write to the Home Secretary, though I do not imagine for a moment that my letter will have any effect (you can judge my pathetic attempts at: https://www.shaylor.com/pub/pt/tmay.html).
Something tells me that if we are to avoid this situation (which, I fear, could set back the cause of child protection by decades) some alternate possibilities must be found. I am not exactly sure what these could be, but something along the lines of a one-off “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” comes to mind. By this I do not mean that the perpetrator would offer a confession in return for some kind of benefit. I am thinking more of a forum where the complainants could at least have a “day in court” where he or she could at least get the opportunity to be heard. (I would however expect that this would only be available when a normal trial was not possible because of the unavailability of the defendant, be that for physiological or physical reasons.)
It seems clear to me that offering the complaints this option could only be beneficial. After all, if they do not like the idea they are entirely at liberty not to take part. For the perpetrator (who I would not expect to be present) the justice of the arrangement is less simple. If we apply this to Jenner’s case one of the following possibilities might transpire:
1, If Janner is sufficiently “compos mentis” (i.e. he is malingering) he might prefer the control offered by a proper trial.
2, If he is sufficiently demented he would not be aware of the trial at all, and thus not be effected by its existence.
3, He might however be somewhere between positions 1 and 2, which could be considered a cruel position in which to place him, especially if he was truly convinced he was innocent but be incapable of defending this position.
This third possibility is somewhat troubling, and brings to mind the very different philosophies of Immanuel Kant and Jeremy Bentham. Kant argued that one could never justify “using” someone to achieve a result, even if that result would have been highly beneficial to many other people and would have cost the victim nothing. So, in this situation, the distress Janner might suffer by witnessing (or knowing of existence of) the commission could never be justified even if he were both perfectly sane and utterly guilty. Kant is interesting as his position is so extreme, yet he is always so perfectly consistent logically. The biggest problem with Kant is his thinking is psychologically naïve and so can be applied in such a way as to easily conflate the human rights of the slave with that of the axe-murderer. Bentham is famous for his utilitarian principal: “it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong”. The main problem here is that rights of minorities will be neglected. For example, I and maybe many other people, might not like to see very ugly people, but few would think this could justify banning them from the streets.
The interesting thing with legal work is that the rights of the individual (Kant) often trump that of the general population (Bentham), the extensive English libel laws are a good example here. Yet in most respects society favors Bentham over Kant, and this is my instinct when it comes to a general rule concerning the rights of the plaintiff over that of the defendant. No one claims that because someone might be found innocent it is not right to subject potentially innocent people to the unpleasantness of a trial. In the same way (and I admittedly do find this very hard), I think a balance needs to be made between the unpleasantness the occasional mentally challenged defendant will be made to suffer and the very real benefit many victims could enjoy from the opportunity of being able to publicly “draw a line” between their past life and the future.
This is a complex ethical area, and there will be no perfect solution. I do however think that directly addressing this issue may be vital if we are to avoid creating situation that was all too common in the past where child-abuse was rarely challenged.
Nicholas Shaylor (a British expat living in California, USA)
Conviction followed by an absolute discharge would be in the public interest: it would tell the victims that they were believed, and the general public that paedophiles are not protected. This is not just about Janner, it is about the victims, who have been systematically side-lined by successive DPPs (people are welcome to believe Ken McDonald’s claim that he never knew or saw anything, but it does seem to be another terribly convenient development).
The trouble is, it would not tell anyone much, would it? The evidence of the complainants (not at this stage “victims”) would be untested and unchallenged. Lord Janner has never had a chance to reply to the allegations because by the time most of them were made he was unfit to be interviewed. So any trial would be, almost literally, a “show” trial. The verdict would not be a verdict of “guilty” and nothing would happen to Janner as a result. If he was a danger to the public then such a course might, possibly, be justified. Otherwise I think it would be a grotesque charade.
My head says you’re right.
My heart says that the complainants, victims, whatever, have been disbelieved and marginalised for their whole lives. The last fifty years have been spent telling powerless children and the damaged adults that they became that their experience is worthless, because as (largely) children from care _they_ are worthless. Smith, Saville, Beck. perhaps Janner: they all knew that it was safe to abuse the voiceless.
The judicial enquiry is being delayed and delayed in the hope that the problem will go away, so the victims will again be marginalised. It’s already been announced that the very earliest it will report is 2018, but given the experience of Chilcott and Saville that is very optimistic. The whole thing is about silencing and marginalising, whether deliberately or through indifference.
I would take Alison Saunders more seriously if there was any slight hint that she had given any thought to the victims, or was willing to investigate honestly (rather than a whitewash by a retired judge with no powers) what had gone wrong.
I don’t think your implied criticism of Alison Saunders is justified. If anything, she has been criticised over the last year or so for being too ready to prosecute, especially in sex cases, so I really don’t think she has any intention of “marginalising the victims.” She has wrestled with a difficult problem and come to a decision, as it happens the more courageous of the two possible decisions, which her statement explains pretty clearly. I understand why others think she was wrong, but it’s very unfair to put her decision down to either “deliberately” silencing victims, or doing so “through indifference.”
In the light of leading counsel’s advice seen by Alison Saunders, the police thought that her decision was perverse. There is no virtue in making a courageous but wrong decision.
The existence of multiple complainants where there has been no opportunity for collusion yet making similar and consistent allegations is potentially powerful evidence. The DPP determined that the evidential test had been met and seemed to indicate that the evidence was in her view strong.
Conviction followed by an absolute discharge? That would be a travesty of justice. The victims have been fobbed off and treated with contempt for thirty years. Janner should be gaoled and justice should be seen to be done. He can have his dementia in a prison cell instead of sitting in the upper house of our Parliament.
Conviction followed by an absolute discharge may be the legally correct outcome if it went to trial (bearing in mind that this may be distinct from what the correct moral or ethical outcome may be, as he can only be tried by the law as it stands, be that right or wrong). However this is dependent upon a number of factors, including the state of dementia of Janner, and there appears to be a discrepancy between the findings of the examining doctors, and Janner’s recent activities as company director and as an active member of the Hose of Lords subsequent to the examination. By taking the case to court, this can be publicly examined, and verified or not, which has to be better than the current status of a decision having been taken against legal advice behind closed doors, which is bound to trigger fears of a cover up.
I enjoy your pieces very much and this was another very interesting read. I am not a great fan of Alison Saunders, but I agree with you that she was right not to prosecute in all the circumstances. You do a good job of setting out the legal issues of the case and the difficulties facing her, and a decision to prosecute a person who is agreed by experts on both sides to lack capacity – even if they turn out to be all mistaken – would surely bring the judicial system into disrepute.
One small point. Though your usage in the first paragraph is no doubt correct, perhaps it would have been fairer to state that ‘Greville Janner will not be prosecuted for alleged sexual offences against boys in Leicester’.
Thanks Nick, glad you enjoy the blog. I will correct the error as you suggest.
I agree with the CPS decision. It is the only just and sane decision to come to. However I am appalled with their snide inferences by the CPS that Janner is guilty which gives the impression that a trial would have merely been a vehicle to establish that guilt.
Since the Jimmy Savile scandal it has become quite depressing to watch Britain fold into a sort of mob style justice and even more so that many prominent people have joined that pitchfork mob.
A civil society is quite a fragile thing. Tinker with the edges and with the fraying of the fabric society will begin to disintegrate. Great powers crumble from very small beginnings.
Since a rather tacky TV show appeared the mob, aided by a dangerous and vacuous media, has gained traction and power and begun to influence those in power.
They have certainly intimidated the legal fraternity into silence. The fact that the media has so much power and engaged in mass illegality itself with little repercussion is very worrying.
Hear hear! Spot on.
Lord Janner was well enough on 8th April this year to personally sign a communication to the Lords clerk.
Several other people with dementia have been tried and found guilty in similar cases. Five cases listed here
Nissemus @Nissemus 14h14 hours ago
Several other people with dementia have been tried for the same sort of offences that #Janner is accused of.
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If being unable to “have any meaningful engagement with the court process” renders it impossible for the court to proceed, what effect does simply being unwilling to have any meaningful engagement with the court process have? I presume that, where a defendant refuses to engage in the court process, the trial goes ahead based on the evidence without the defendant’s input. It would be illogical to hand criminals such a get-out clause as to give them the power to render a trial impossible and, thus, get off scot free.
Whether Janner is unable or unwilling makes no difference in real terms. Surely the evidence can still be read out in court. Only if a decision is entirely dependent on Janner’s evidence would it then be impossible to proceed.
If a defendant deliberately absents himself from his trial the trial can, but does not always, go ahead in his absence. Factors to be considered include (but are not limited to):
– the reason for his absence,
– whether an adjournement might resolve the problem,
– whether the defendant’s representatives had received instructions from him,
– the extent of disadvantage to the defendant of not being able to present his account of events.
As a general rule, a trial is likely to go ahead if the D has given instructions, is represented and has deliberately absented himself for no good reason. It would certainly not go ahead if, for example, he was genuinely too ill to attend.
If Lord Janner has the onset of “severe dementia” as the medical experts claim, then this diagnosis should be able to be confirmed by an MRI scan. Given the “alleged” coverups, the powerful position and skill at manipulation. Given that faked dementia has been used many times before (see Guinness Trial, Pinochet …). Given this, and that hard evidence is potentially available, why has the CPS not tried to obtain it? I genuinely think there should be a public protest on this.
Well said, Lara.
Records show Lord Janner claimed £2,500 for 15 House of Lords appearances in month BEFORE search of home.
Lord Janner wrote to Lords clerks earlier this MONTH in 2015 indicating he did not wish to step down as a serving peer..[Source documents on Children have rights @UK_Database_CSA ]
There are many references in the comments above to “mobs” and “lynching” or trial by media. Well, a man who uses refuses to appear in court deserves to be tried by the media and found guilty.
I gave a figure of thirty years. Allegations against Lord Janner go back at least 25 years.
Allegations about him were made in 1991 at the trial of Frank Beck, director of children’s homes in Leicester, who was found guilty of abusing more than 100 children in the 1970s and 1980s. Beck always insisted that he had been framed because he had exposed Lord Janner and threatened to expose others. In 1991, after accusing Janner of paedophile offences, Frank Beck was arrested and charged with child abuse himself. At his trial Beck stated that: – “One child has been b-gg-red and abused for two solid years by Greville Janner”.
Immediately after this, Janner who is a QC and long time member of the Boy Scouts association, and Sir David Napley, his solicitor, went to Police headquarters in Leicester. Whereupon, the following statement was issued: “We have advised Mr. Janner that he is prevented from making any statement at this stage”.
There are now in 2015 about 50 victims making accusations of CSA, If it’s a conspiracy who is paying them?
* If it’s a conspiracy who is paying them? *
Victim’s charities, law firms and the social services… possibly in reverse order.
These allegations are laughable. So-called victims’ charities (please note apostrophe) have barely enough funding to scrape along and exist, let alone to offer people money to tell lies. Most of it is done on a purely voluntary basis, Social services? The whole policy of UK social services has been to condone, enable and ignore CSA for the last fifty years. Show me one proven example of anyone getting paid by these sources or by a law firm to tell lies. It’s a ridiculous idea.
The very LAST thing social services want is more people making complaints of CSA.
Let’s get this straight – NOBODY pays victims to make fake allegations. They struggle for years to get heard and are met with cold shoulders and denial, sometimes by downrights reprisals.
Well, you would say that wouldn’t you.
I don’t underestimate the influence that the crusader spirit can exert.
Quote from a media victim:
“But the hugeness of what he had done, I didn’t realise at the time. As an adult, I do. I didn’t allow myself to go there, to think about it… It was only when I did the police video interview it all became really apparent, that he had abused his position… that he was a child abuser, a paedophile, that he was the devil’s work.”
Yes I would say that, because your theory is utterly absurd. You cannot find one example of a victim being paid by social services, police or lawyers to make false allegations, Does it ever occur to you that they may be required to pay their lawyers rather than the other way around?
Of course people who have been victims of abuse put it to the back of their minds and get on with their lives as best they can – that is the only way to cope. And of course many of them do not know the real identity of their molester and do not understand the legal position at the time… BECAUSE THEY ARE CHILDREN!!!
There is also another effect that comes into play. My experience is of school children, having attended Caldicott (where it took 2 goes to try the headmaster, the first attempted having been squashed by the judge, reminiscent of the DPP with Janner). Children are sent there by their parents and told hw important it is to be good, do well etc, and often layered with guilt by saying how much the parents have sacrificed to give their child this opportunity. With all of this on them, is it any wonder that they don’t want to let their parents down by saying what may have happened? And if they do, how many parents want to accept that they have sent their child into this situation? Often i is only when the parents die that the child can really get their head round things.
Yes that sounds quite convincing.
An excellent article. However, until the evidence is tested before the Court no one knows what a judge or jury will decide. I assume that, if there were a trial, the accused would be brought into Court so that his behaviour and demeanour could be taken into account in the judge’s decision whether he was fit to plead or not (after all, he might want to plead and be given the opportunity to clear his name, and yet be prevented from doing so by the CPS; he might have valuable evidence to give in relation to others and be innocent himself).The expert evidence would also be tested and since it is the duty of both prosecution and defence Counsel to promote justice, they would presumably not hold back in their questioning of the experts, including questioning them about how they came to be instructed and what was the ambit of their instructions. It is the DPP’s view that it is not in the public interest to prosecute but one can equally make a case that it is in the public interest. If he is unfit and there is a trial of the facts then at least the public will be able to see that the utmost has been done to establish whether or not the actus reus of any offences took place; the jury presumably has to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt. If the actus reus is proved or not proved then all the evidence has been tested and that is surely justice? That he may receive a discharge should not weigh heavily in the decision not to prosecute, since the legal system permits a finding of facts in relation to an accused who is unfit to plead and therefore clearly it cannot be not in the public interest per se not to prosecute if the likely result is a discharge. The DPP has to weigh all the factors but in this case I think she is wrong. The accused will not feel injustice because he can’t ( due to his illness) understand what that means. As for his family, surely they want to know what the evidence is and what he is accused of? The only thing I can think of which is not totally satisfactory is if the accused has alibis for the alleged offences which no one else knows about; however, it shouldn’t be too difficult for the defence to produce alibi witnesses if they exist and are still alive. To that extent the case is no different to many where there are false accusations but the accused has no alibi and his defence is simply that he didn’t do it.
Also, it is quite an assumption to make that a person who may be guilty of sexual offences, but is unfit to plead, is not a danger to anyone just because he has dementia/Alzheimers and is elderly. I can only conclude that the DPP has met Greville Janner recently and is convinced that he is effectively incapable of doing anything very much, either mentally or physically. I have seen a medical opinion in which the patient was said to have dementia and went around spitting at her carers and making sexual physical advances, so dementia patients can be a danger to others. Why is it a foregone conclusion that the accused would not receive some form of detention in a mental hospital? I know I haven’t seen the expert’s reports but surely the issue should be tested in Court? Can we all see the medical reports under freedom of information?
Interestingly in an interview on TV the other night (I forget the programme) the DPP said she had not met Janner, but just relied on the reports of the doctors. Also, she side-stepped answering the question as to whether the doctors knew of his recent activities in the house of lords.
I really think that this needs to be brought into the open, as a minimum by publishing the full medical reports, or better still by taking it to court where the effect of his dementia can be subjected to public scrutiny, and then the relevant action taken.
I couldn’t agree more.
Some further questions about the risk to the public: does Janner have access to children, for example, members of his family? If the allegations against him are true, and if he is demented, then is it possible that the dementia might further disinhibit him and make further offending behaviour more and not less likely?
In what manner is Janner supervised, if he ever is allowed access to children and other vulnerable people?
Unless there is an objective hearing of the facts, how are his carers to know what steps should be taken to protect the vulnerable?
If his family are certain that Janner is innocent of the allegations, and yet are mistaken in this, are they as a result of this mistaken belief exposing vulnerable children to the risk of abuse by him?
There is good reason to allow the independent tribunal to make a public examination of these questions and an objective determination of the facts of Jenner’s alleged offending and any continuing risk.
Interesting to read the comment that children who have been abused should manage the abuse and get on with their lives. The problem being that memories come back to bite you in the bum and that is something that some people cannot control even after a considerable time. It looks like the abusers really know the law.
This ex-policeman Kelvyn Ashby has publicly stated that he had evidence enough to arrest Janner twenty years ago but was warned off because of high-up political pressure. He even made it to the TV screen this evening,
Please don’t tell me that he is being paid to tell lies because the suggestion is far from plausible.
Paid for lies—truth or whatever. Media pays for stories and if that policeman chappy has his story in the Daily Mail then he is likely been paid. Story true or not the paper does not care as long as it has a good story.
The one thing I read here in the comments someone mentioned there was a video. Looking at the dates of most of the charges I do not think video recording was common but I was interested to hear. As most of these historic cases true or not evidentily are very shaky. People forget they actually start with the senario of like a murder with no body or missing person. That is no evidence of a crime. Someone else stated about collusion. Well collusion if there were similar stories that needed it can start immediately after or even before a crime so decades!!! If individauls decided to put their hand in with Slater and co yes collusion, though haven’t seen much maybe be a little in the Max Clifford crowd. I guess that will be next on the aggenda as this whole thing is a fraudster dream
Well Janner defence team has lost their fight for him to not be taken to court and that I say is the correct decision. The barrister that runs this sight seems to have NO consideration for victims or victims families maybe god forbid if his family had lived through abuse he would take a different line. I find many in the legal profession to be arrogant, think they are a cut above the rest and always know better well you dont and one must question your moral compass the law as we know is often an ass and whilst the law is required in a civil society that does not mean all laws are equal or do not need changing far to much protection is afforded the guilty and barristers & lawyers hide behind such laws to siut their ends.
The rest of us would instantly have an arrest warrant issued for failing to appear in court.
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