Lord Janner 'sexually assaulted up to 30 children', inquiry hears

Lord Janner ‘sexually assaulted up to 30 children including young girl he raped before saying he could make her next Prime Minister’s wife’ as police, prosecutors and social workers failed victims, inquiry hears

  • Lord Janner was charged with 22 counts of child sexual abuse offences in 2015
  • He died with dementia that year while awaiting trial; he denied all the allegations
  • Now a damning inquiry has concluded that children who reported sexual abuse by the late Labour grandee were ‘let down by institutional failings’

Lord Janner was charged with 22 counts of child sexual abuse offences, relating to nine different boys, in 2015. He died with dementia later that year

Lord Janner sexually assaulted up to 30 children and told one victim he could help her become ‘the next prime minister’s wife’, an inquiry has heard. 

The Labour grandee, who was an MP from 1970 until 1997 when he was made a peer in the House of Lords, was charged with 22 counts of child sexual abuse offences, relating to nine different boys, in 2015. 

He died with dementia later that year while awaiting trial, and always denied the allegations. 

Now a damning inquiry into police, prosecution and social services responses to their allegations has concluded that children who reported sexual abuse by Lord Janner were ‘let down by institutional failings’.

The inquiry did not examine whether or not the allegations against Lord Janner were true. But it found ‘crucial statements’ in 2000’s Operation Magnolia police investigation were ‘brushed under the carpet’.

Lord Janner died in 2015, awaiting trial for a string of child abuse offences. He always denied any involvement. In one case, an alleged victim said she was raped by Lord Janner, who then told her he could ensure she became the next prime minister’s wife. 

Tim Betteridge, one complainant to waive his anonymity, claimed he was sexually abused by Lord Janner on two occasions, including once in an allotment and once in a mobile unit.

The inquiry heard Mr Betteridge raised the alarm but was told by staff at the care home that ‘nobody would believe him because he was just a brat in care’.

Another 13-year-old allegedly abused in the 1980s claimed he was forced to perform a sex act on Lord Janner, after which he was given two 50p pieces. He confided in staff but no action was taken, said Christopher Jacobs, representing some of the complainants.

Leicestershire Police officers investigating decades of abuse claims against Lord Janner regularly ‘did not look beyond the often troubled backgrounds’ of the alleged victims, who said they were abused in children’s homes in the county between the early 1960s and the late 1980s.

Professor Alexis Jay, chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) accused Detective Superintendent Christopher Thomas, who led Operation Dauntless, the third police investigation into Lord Janner, of being ‘uninterested’ in the allegations, while colleagues were ‘quick to dismiss’ some testimonies.

More than 30 complainants were involved in the inquiry, with their lawyers describing how poor children in care were on a ‘conveyor belt to abuse’.    

Professor Alexis Jay, who is chairing the wide-ranging abuse inquiry, said: ‘Despite numerous serious allegations against the late Lord Janner, police and prosecutors appeared reluctant to fully investigate the claims against him.

‘On multiple occasions police put too little emphasis on looking for supporting evidence and shut down investigations without pursuing all outstanding inquiries.’

She also said Leicestershire County Council had a ‘sorry record of failures’ relating to abuse at children’s homes dating back to the 1960s.

The report described the decision-making of both Mr Thomas and Roger Rock, reviewing lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, as ‘unsound and strategically flawed’.

Prof Jay added: ‘This investigation has brought up themes we are now extremely familiar with (across the whole inquiry), such as deference to powerful individuals, the barriers to reporting faced by children and the need for institutions to have clear policies and procedures setting out how to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse, regardless of the prominence of the alleged abuser.’

More than 30 complainants were involved in the inquiry, with their lawyers describing how poor children in care were on a ‘conveyor belt to abuse’.

They alleged being seriously sexually abused in a range of locations, including schools, a flat in London, a hotel, Lord Janner’s car and the Houses of Parliament.

The report was particularly critical of Mr Thomas, the senior investigation officer in 2006.

It said: ‘Our overriding sense is that Det Supt Christopher Thomas was uninterested in this investigation, and his decisions to limit the inquiries undertaken appeared to be reflective of a wider failure to pursue the investigation with the rigour it deserved, rather than being motivated by a wish to protect Lord Janner or show him undue deference.’

The inquiry did not examine whether or not the allegations against Lord Janner were true.

But it found ‘crucial statements’ in 2000’s Operation Magnolia police investigation were ‘brushed under the carpet’.

And it claimed police and prosecutors ‘appeared reluctant to progress’ the subsequent Dauntless investigation.

Allegations against the former Leicestershire MP first emerged in the 1990s, although the Sir Richard Henriques report in 2016 found that failures by police and prosecutors meant three chances were missed to charge Lord Janner, in the 1990s and in operations Magnolia and Dauntless.

The inquiry also said Lord Janner should have been subject to scrutiny when he was nominated for a peerage by then-prime minister Tony Blair weeks after sweeping to power in 1997.

Previously, the investigation into MPs, peers and civil servants working at Westminster found political institutions ‘significantly failed in their responses to allegations of child sexual abuse’.

But it said there was no evidence of a ‘Westminster paedophile ring’, following allegations which kickstarted the multimillion-pound inquiry and later resulted in the prosecution of fantasist Carl Beech.

The final IICSA report, taking in all 19 strands of the inquiry, is expected to be laid before Parliament next year.

A CPS spokesman said: ‘The CPS has acknowledged past failings in the way allegations made against Lord Janner were handled.

‘It is remains a matter of sincere regret that opportunities were missed to put these allegations before a jury.

‘We have co-operated fully with the inquiry and will carefully consider its conclusions.’

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