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Greville Janner: background to Labour peer child abuse case

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

On Tuesday, the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) found that institutions, including Leicestershire police, had failed to properly investigate allegations against the late Labour peer Greville Janner. Here we explain the background to the case.

Who was Greville Janner?

Janner was a Labour MP for Leicester from 1970 to 1997 when he was ennobled and joined the House of Lords. He also served as president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

What was he accused of?

At the time of his death in 2015 he had been charged with 22 offences of indecent assault and buggery relating to nine separate complainants. The incidents were said to have taken place between the mid-1960s and late-1980s, when the complainants were aged between eight and 16 years old. At the time of his death the prosecution had indicated it was seeking to add 12 further counts relating to three additional complainants.

When were allegations against Janner first made?

During Operation Magnolia, launched by Leicestershire police in 2000 to investigate whether there was evidence of physical or sexual abuse of youngsters at two children’s homes, two complainants alleged that Janner had abused them. However, the IICSA panel found that police dismissed the complainants’ credibility and failed to investigate properly, including not submitting the pair’s witness statements to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The panel said there was a “culture of disbelief” among some officers.

Were there other police investigations into Janner?

In 2005 Operation Dauntless began in response to allegations by another complainant that he had been sexually abused by Janner. As with Operation Magnolia the peer was never arrested.

Officers became aware of the earlier complaints from 2000 and 2001 but the IICSA panel found that Operation Dauntless failed to investigate the earlier allegations “as fully as it should have done, knowing that those allegations had not been properly investigated previously”.

Some investigating officers believed that Janner was being treated differently from the “man on the street”. The panel said it could not say whether this was true but there were clearly failings. The report also criticised the CPS for the “perfunctory” decision not to arrest, interview or charge Janner, saying it should have recommended that further inquiries be carried out.

When was Janner arrested?

In 2012 Leicestershire police began Operation Enamel, which investigated previous allegations as well as evidence from new complainants. In 2015 the CPS reviewing lawyer recommended that charges be brought, but the director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, said the severity of Janner’s dementia meant it was not in the public interest to prosecute him, as he was neither fit to stand trial nor posing a continuing threat. However, after an independent review, in June 2015, Saunders announced her earlier decision had been overturned. But Janner, who denied the allegations, died in December of that year.

Is the report critical of other institutions beside the police and CPS?

Although there is nothing to suggest Leicestershire county council was aware of allegations of sexual abuse, the panel said staff were “aware of, and had concerns about, Lord Janner’s association with a child in its care, such that further inquiries about the nature of the association were necessary”. Local Labour party members were said to have tried unsuccessfully to raise allegations at a national level, partly because there was no appropriate mechanism at the time. The panel said “it was not enough” for Labour to have left the matter to the police and CPS.

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