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Lord Janner abuse: ‘Culture of deference’ by institutions ‘let down’ alleged victims

Written by on 19 October 2021

Children who claimed they were being abused by the late Labour peer Lord Janner were “let down by institutional failings”, according a report.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) found children in the care of Leicestershire County Council were “not given the attention they deserved” and there were “multiple failings” in responses to child sex abuse claims against the politician.

Police officers appeared “reluctant” to investigate allegations, and “shut down investigations” without pursuing all outstanding inquiries, according to Professor Alexis Jay.

Lord Greville Janner died in 2015, aged 87 Image: Lord Greville Janner died in 2015, aged 87

The report said Leicestershire Police’s Operation Magnolia, which examined allegations against Lord Janner in 1999, was “insufficient” and seemingly involved a “deliberate decision” to withhold key witness statements from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

It said children in care were ignored because they were “distrusted”, the failure to pass on the statements was “serious and inexcusable” and crucial information was “brushed under the carpet”.

However the report said there is “no evidence” police were “unduly influenced or placed under improper pressure not to pursue the Lord Janner allegations”.

The investigation heard from 33 alleged victims, with allegations against Lord Janner spanning three decades.

It said Leicestershire Country Council had a “sorry record of failures” in relation to the sexual abuse of children in its care in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and a number of council staff had concerns about Lord Janner’s association with a child in its care.

The council told the inquiry it “accepts that it failed to take adequate steps in response to those concerns”.

The inquiry is not focusing on whether Lord Janner is innocent or guilty, but on the institutional responses to the allegations made against him and whether he was treated differently because of his public profile.

Lord Janner died in 2015, after being found unfit to stand trial over a string of sexual offences against boys dating back 50 years.

The former Leicester MP, who was suspended from the Labour Party, faced 22 charges of child sex abuse against nine different boys, alleged to have taken place between the 1960s and 1980s.

He consistently denied the allegations against him.

Lord Janner’s son, Daniel Janner QC, previously said: “My late father’s innocence is unchallenged in this report. It offers no proof whatsoever of guilt.

“He was himself the victim of institutional failings because he was denied the ability (in court) prior to his dementia to defend himself and challenge the false allegations.

“The fact that all the civil claims made against his estate were withdrawn or discontinued speaks for itself.”

The report does not make any specific recommendations but does says the inquiry raises issues around “deference to powerful individuals” and the “need for institutions to have clear policies and procedures setting out how to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse”.