Dementia peer who's 'too ill for sex abuse trial' signed letter to Lords 12 days ago saying he wanted to remain as a peer
Lord Janner signed a letter saying he wanted to remain a peer just a week before he was ruled unfit to face child sex charges.
Abuse campaigners last night angrily questioned why the suspected paedophile was able to remain in the House of Lords if he was too frail to be brought before court.
The Crown Prosecution Service has faced widespread criticism since announcing last week that Janner would escape prosecution over child sex allegations because he has Alzheimer’s disease.
But now it has emerged that the peer was apparently well enough to sign his name in an April 9 note to Lords authorities.
The former Labour MP, 86, claimed more than £100,000 in parliamentary expenses and allowances in the four years after he was diagnosed with dementia in 2009. He has not attended the Lords since detectives raided his North London home in December 2013. Last October he took a formal leave of absence from Parliament, allowing him to resume his duties after giving three months’ notice.
New rules which came into effect last May provide a way for peers to retire permanently while keeping their titles and certain perks. But Janner requested an extension of his leave of absence instead of offering to stand down in the letter sent to a senior Lords official 12 days ago.
A House of Lords spokesman confirmed the alleged paedophile signed the note himself, but could not confirm whether the handwriting below the signature was his.
Simon Danczuk, the Labour politician who exposed the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith’s horrific abuse of boys, said it was not right for Janner to stay in the Lords yet avoid court.
‘If you are putting yourself forward to remain a legislator, then surely you are fit enough to be tested before the law,’ he said.
‘If he has got a leave of absence from the Lords, that implies that he may get well. Why isn’t he retiring? It makes a mockery of it all. He is bringing the House of Lords into disrepute almost single-handedly.’
The Crown Prosecution Service faced widespread criticism after announcing that Janner (pictured) would escape prosecution over child sex allegations because he has Alzheimer’s disease
Pete Saunders, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, added: ‘He couldn’t have signed this letter if he was non compos mentis.
‘But if he isn’t compos mentis, there’s no way he should be anywhere near our legislature. How can they say he’s not fit to stand trial for the most serious of crimes when he himself has argued that age should not be a barrier to prosecuting Nazi war criminals?
‘It stinks of the Establishment covering up and ensuring he doesn’t have to take the stand in public. This is a cover-up, there can be no question about it.’
Janner’s alleged victims have accused him of preying on boys at care homes around his former Leicester West constituency.
He was suspended by Labour after the CPS ruled last Thursday that there was enough evidence to charge him with 22 sexual offences against children dating from 1969 to 1988. But Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said he would not be prosecuted because his deteriorating dementia means there could be no criminal conviction.
Allegations against the peer were first made public in 1991 during the trial of Frank Beck, a manager of Leicester children’s homes accused of abusing more than 200 boys.
After Beck was jailed, many other politicians spoke out in support of Janner in a Commons debate led by Leicestershire North West Tory MP David Ashby.
Mr Ashby, 74, who stood down from Parliament in 1997 after being caught up in the Major government’s sleaze scandals, appeared to repeat his backing for the peer yesterday. ‘Of course I didn’t know anything at the time,’ he said from his home in South-West London.
‘The man has dementia and should be left alone.’
Aide to Dpp Alison Saunders Worked with Janner's Son
Prosecutors were forced to defend a senior legal adviser yesterday over fears of a conflict of interest in the Janner case.
Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said she was aware of potential links between a key aide and the Labour peer’s QC son.
Neil Moore, who was based at the 23 Essex Street chambers where Daniel Janner works, was consulted by Mrs Saunders before she concluded not to prosecute.
Senior police officers have privately raised concerns with her about Mr Moore’s involvement in the decision-making process.
But a spokesman for the UK’s top prosecutor said she made the decision alone and that Mr Moore informed her of the connection before any discussions took place. She said Mr Moore was a barrister of the highest integrity and had not spoken to Mr Janner for two years.
The potential for a conflict of interest is unhelpful for Mrs Saunders as she tackles the aftermath of her controversial decision.
Last week it was revealed she over-ruled an expert in child abuse cases by deciding not to charge Janner. Eleanor Laws QC recommended a ‘trial of the facts’ in the defendant’s absence to ‘get to the bottom of the allegations’.
A CPS spokesman said: ‘It is the DPP’s job to make these extremely difficult decisions, and that is what the DPP has done.’