A veteran peer will not stand trial for historic sex abuse allegations because of his dementia.
The move has sparked anger and Leicestershire Police are threatening legal action against the Crown Prosecution Service to challenge the decision not to charge Lord Greville Janner.
More than a dozen people came forward to claim Lord Janner, now 86, abused them during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the CPS said.
He is alleged to have used his influence as a Labour MP for Leicester to prey on vulnerable young boys at local children’s homes.
Despite admitting there is enough evidence to prosecute the peer for 22 alleged sex offences against nine people, the CPS said it is not going to pursue the case because of the “severity of his dementia”.
But in a statement issued through lawyers, the peer’s family said: “Lord Janner is a man of great integrity and high repute with a long and unblemished record of public service.
“He is entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.
“As the Crown Prosecution Service indicated today, this decision does not mean or imply that any of the allegations that have been made are established or that Lord Janner is guilty of any offence.”
Following the CPS announcement Labour said it had suspended him from the party.
Leicestershire Police, who have led the latest investigation against the peer, branded the decision extremely worrying and said they are considering taking legal action to overturn it.
Assistant Chief Constable Roger Bannister of Leicestershire Police, who has overseen the investigation named Operation Enamel, said he believed the decision was “the wrong one”.
He said: “I am extremely worried about the impact the decision not to prosecute him will have on those people, and more widely I am worried about the message this decision sends out to others, both past and present, who have suffered and are suffering sexual abuse.
“We are exploring what possible legal avenues there may be to challenge this decision and victims themselves have a right to review under a CPS procedure.”
Lord Janner has been investigated by police on child sex abuse allegations four times over the past 25 years, but has never been charged.
In the latest police probe, Operation Enamel, the CPS found there was enough evidence to charge Lord Janner with 22 sex offences.
Today the CPS admitted it had made “mistakes” and there was enough evidence to charge the peer back in the early 1990s.
It said: “It is a matter of deep regret that the decisions in relation to the previous investigations were as they were.
“Had the previous decisions been to prosecute, as they should have been, Lord Janner would have had the opportunity to challenge the evidence and defend himself through the trial process, with a jury ultimately deciding on his guilt or innocence some years ago.
“Victims of the alleged offences have been denied the opportunity of criminal proceedings in relation to the offences of which they have complained.
“It is of obvious and particular concern that such proceedings did not take place as a result of what the CPS now consider to be wrong decisions.”
The CPS said it has asked retired High Court Judge, Sir Richard Henriques, to conduct an independent review into the CPS decision-making and handling of all past matters relating to the case.
They said if Lord Janner was well, he would be charged with 14 indecent assaults on a male under 16 between 1969 and 1988; two indecent assaults between 1984 and 1988; four counts of buggery of a male under 16 between 1972 and 1987; and two counts of buggery between 1977 and 1988.
The politician allegedly befriended a children’s care home manager to gain access to vulnerable youngsters who he abused.
The CPS said the claims against the peer are “extremely serious” and admitted his alleged victims are “understandably vociferous in urging the taking of action against Lord Janner”.
They said: “The children and young people in this case were vulnerable and in a situation where they should have been looked after and protected.
“The allegations in this case are thus extremely serious, with a number of alleged victims and allegations of multiple offending over a lengthy period of time.
“The core allegation was that Lord Janner, in a position of authority and trust as the local MP for Leicester West at the time, befriended the manager of a children’s care home to allow him access to children in order to allow him to perpetrate serious sexual offences on children.”
Lord Janner was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009 and requires round-the-clock care.
The CPS said that “but for medical considerations, it would undoubtedly have been in the public interest to prosecute” and the peer would be facing trial.
Peter Saunders, founder of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, branded the decision “bizarre and worrying”.
He said the CPS should apologise for the “catalogue of mistakes” it has made in the handling of the case over the past 25 years.
He said: “I’ve yet to meet anybody that hasn’t been astounded by this development and decision.
“I can’t begin to imagine the distress the many (alleged victims) will be feeling.”
Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders told the BBC’s World at One that “had it not been for the medical evidence, this is a case that we would have been prosecuting”.
She said the CPS were “wrong” not to prosecute Lord Janner years ago, and that police should have looked harder for evidence during their earlier investigations.
Ms Saunders said: “This is a case that has really only been thoroughly investigated in the current Operation Enamel investigation and previous decisions both by the police and the CPS have in my view been wrong.
“The investigations have not been as thorough as this current one has been, and the decisions we made not to prosecute in 1991 and 2007 were in my view wrong, we should have prosecuted then.
“The police made the decision not to pursue Greville Janner in 2002 which again we have looked at and in our view it was wrong.”
Asked if the police should have looked harder for evidence during these earlier investigations, Ms Saunders said: “There are real lessons to be learnt, and yes if we had the evidence we now have earlier, I think the position would have been very different when Greville Janner’s medical condition was not as it is today.”