According to a report, police investigations into child abuse allegations against a former congressman were marred by “a series of failings”.
The Independent Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry (IICSA) said Leicestershire police officers “closed” the investigation of Lord Janner “without continuing all investigations”.
He also criticized Leicestershire County Council’s “record of failures” for abuse.
The former MP died in December 2015.
Professor Alexis Jay, chairman of the investigation, said police and prosecutors “seemed reluctant to fully investigate” the allegations against Lord Janner despite “numerous and serious allegations”.
“On several occasions the police have placed too little emphasis on finding supporting evidence and have closed the investigation without carrying out any pending investigations,” he said.
“This investigation brought to light issues we now know very well, such as deference to powerful individuals, the barriers to reporting faced by children and the need for institutions to have clear policies and procedures that determine how to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse. .. “
Lord Janner’s family has always maintained his innocence.
His son Daniel said the investigation “does not question the innocence of our deceased father” and “offers no evidence of guilt”.
The investigation heard reports from 33 complainants, with allegations of abuse spanning three decades.
In 1999, Leicestershire Police Operation Magnolia examined the allegations made against the politician, but the investigation found that “apparently involved a deliberate decision on the part of [the force] to withhold key statements “from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which he described as” grave and unforgivable “.
Operation Dauntless was established in May 2006 following further allegations by another alleged victim, with the report criticizing the decisions of the police and CPS not to pursue the investigation as “incorrect and strategically flawed”.
In 2012, a further police investigation, called Operation Smalto, was set up to examine evidence that may not have been considered in previous investigations.
After further evidence and further complainants came, Lord Janner was charged with 22 crimes, including indecent assault and sodomy, which date back to the 1960s and 1980s.
At the time of his death, Lord Janner was facing a trial for the allegations made by nine complainants, with the charge seeking to add further charges.
“The police mocked my statements”
In October 2020, the investigation gathered evidence of Lord Janner’s alleged victims.
None of the complainants were called to testify in person, as they focused solely on the state’s responses to their allegations, rather than the authenticity of the claims.
Christopher Jacobs, who represented some of the complainants, described the case of Tracey Taylor – who gave up her right to anonymity – who was entrusted to a 14-year-old in the 1970s.
“She said she was raped by a man who said his name was Greville Janner, he said he was an MP and he could make her the prime minister’s next wife,” Jacobs told the inquiry.
“She told the police about the abuse, but she was never believed due to her mental health problems. On a few occasions, the police mocked her statements, calling her Crazy Tracey.”
Tim Betteridge, another complainant who has renounced anonymity, said he was sexually abused by Lord Janner on two occasions, including once in a vegetable garden and once in a mobile unit.
The investigation heard that Mr. Betteridge sounded the alarm, but was told by the nursing home staff “no one would believe him because he was just a brat being treated.”
Analysis: Tom Symonds, BBC correspondent for home affairs
This report found no evidence of a conspiracy to protect a local lawmaker, but its officials believe what they found was actually more serious.
Adults who grew up in orphanages were not taken seriously when they came forward to make accusations, due to their past.
One prosecutor’s claims were dismissed because he may have had a history of mental illness. However, subsequent police investigations examined his medical records and concluded that this was not the case.
This investigation is not the only one in which the investigation has seen evidence that alleged crimes against children have been dismissed prematurely.
Its final report will have to provide recommendations to prevent this from happening again.
The investigation also revealed that “a number” of Leicestershire County Council staff members were concerned about Lord Janner’s association with a child in care.
The report stated that “undue deference” had been shown to the politician, who had “unrestricted access” to the child, with “little or no thought given to any child protection concerns.”
No inquiries into staff concerns were made and the board accepted that it “did not take adequate measures in response” to them.
The investigation also looked into the Labor Party’s response to the allegations, saying it was not enough to leave it to the police and the CPS due to Lord Janner’s “privileged and powerful position”.
David Evans, the current secretary general, told the inquiry that new systems are now in place in case of allegations against a deputy in office.
The investigation also said that Lord Janner should have come under scrutiny when he was nominated for a noble title by then Prime Minister Tony Blair, weeks after he came to power in 1997.
Mr. Blair had previously told the investigation that he was aware of the allegations, but they were not a “bar” as Lord Janner had denied them, and there had been no allegations.
Leicestershire police said police will study the report “closely and review it for action or improvement.”
Police Chief Simon Cole said: “I would like to reiterate the sincere apologies I gave in February 2020 to any complainant whose allegations during the previous police investigation into Lord Janner have not been answered as they should have.
“It is fair and correct to say that the allegations could and should have been investigated more thoroughly and Lord Janner could and should have been prosecuted before 2015”.
Leicestershire County Council leader Nick Rushton said the authority accepted the report’s findings.
“The council at the time simply didn’t do enough to keep the children in its care safe and for that, I’m sorry,” Rushton said.
A spokesperson for the CPS added: “The CPS acknowledged past failures in the way the allegations against Lord Janner were handled. It remains a matter of sincere regret that opportunities have been missed to bring these allegations to a jury.”
Richard Scorer, a lawyer for Slater and Gordon – who represented 14 complainants in the investigation – said: “Had the investigation been conducted correctly, it is clear that Lord Janner could have been prosecuted during his lifetime.
“Unfortunately the clock cannot be turned back and the criminal trial of Lord Janner that could and should have taken place will never be possible.”
The case of Lord Janner
- Lord Janner has been the subject of allegations of child sexual abuse dating back to 1955.
- Three police investigations took place in the 1990s and 2000s, but no charges were brought.
- Following a fourth investigation, he was charged in 2015 with crimes against nine alleged victims. Police say 40 people accused him of abuse.
- The peer, suffering from dementia, was declared ineligible to plead and died at the age of 87 before a trial on the facts could take place.
- An independent investigation in 2016 found that the three previous investigations were “missed opportunities” to prosecute him.
- Nine of Lord Janner’s accusers have started the process to sue his estate for damages.
- Three dropped their cases in March 2017 and the remaining six two months later.
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