A high court judge is to investigate whether child sexual abuse allegations against Lord Janner were the subject of an establishment cover-up. Justice Lowell Goddard, the chair of a major independent inquiry into child abuse ordered by the home secretary, Theresa May, will seek evidence from the Labour peer’s alleged victims and may even summon the 86-year-old to give evidence.
The New Zealand judge has also asked Britain’s top prosecutor, Alison Saunders, to hand over all the prosecution files against Janner as part of an “exhaustive and critical examination of the institutional decision-making processes” in the case. She said she would scrutinise three missed opportunities to prosecute Janner by the police or the CPS in 1991, 2002 and 2007 and “whether any inappropriate influence was brought to bear in any effort to shield Lord Janner from prosecution”.
Despite being the subject of allegations for 25 years, Janner has only once been interviewed by police. On that occasion – in 1991 – he answered “no comment” to detectives’ questions.
Saunders has already announced a judge-led inquiry into the CPS’s handling of the Janner case, but Goddard’s inquiry will go much further and scrutinise a number of public bodies, including Leicestershire police and Leicestershire county council, which ran a children’s home where the politician allegedly abused his victims.
This is a good test for Goddard. It is a recent case and involved both the CPS and the Police. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long for her report.