OPINION: “Greville gave thousands their freedom”

OPINION: “Greville gave thousands their freedom”

Lord Janner, who died in December. He faced historic sex abuse allegations but did not face trial due to dementia.
Lord Janner, who died in December. He faced historic sex abuse allegations but did not face trial due to dementia.
Lord Janner faces a 'trial of the facts' over child sex claims
Lord Janner

Greville Janner was my parliamentary pair and my friend. He fought for Israel and the Jewish people, writes John Marshall, former Conservative MP for Hendon South and incumbent councillor for Hampstead Garden Suburb. 

He was one of the staunchest  defenders of Israel in the House of Commons and later in the Lords. When he was speaking up for Israel he was often heckled by his ‘colleague’ Andrew Faulds who would sit close to him. However Faulds failed to distract him from his cause.

In the autumn of 1991 Greville asked me to go to accompany him on a visit to the Yemen. He explained that he believed that the Yemeni authorities might be willing to allow those members of the by then very small Jewish community who wished to leave to do so.

In the event Greville was accompanied by the late Peter Archer QC, Martin Brandon Bravo and myself. The initial reaction was non committal. However, by the end of the visit, we were given the green light. The Yemenis said that they did not monitor the movements o9f those who left their country. Direct flights  were out but London was a convenient alternative. Within weeks the first family arrived in London. Eventually all who wanted to leave were able to do so. They now enjoy freedom instead of the chaos which has engulfed that unfortunate country.

During the Bosnian conflict Greviile was invited by World Jewish Relief to raise the plight of various individuals with the Home Office. We saw Charles Wardle, who was then a Junior Immigration Minister. Greville did the bulk of the talking and was as ever the master persuader. The Minister was amenable. As a result, lives were saved.

Greville was for ever scarred by the Holocaust. He and his sister had spent part of the War in Canada. After the War he was a War Crimes Investigator. These experiences  led him to be a bitter opponent of racism. They also led him to be one of the leading lights behind the campaign which culminated in the War Crimes Act. The Act had two purposes. It reiterated this country’s abhorrence of the Nazis and ensured that those who had been accomplices of the Holocaust were no longer immune from persecution .

He believed that it was important that future generations should learn the lessons of the Holocaust and was the founder of the Holocaust Education Trust. Holocaust education, which was neglected for too long, is now recognised as being of immense importance.

Greville and his wife Myra were staunch supporters of the Soviet Jewry campaign of the 1980’s which eventually secured the freedom of many hundreds of thousands.

I cannot comment on the allegations which blighted his final days. However, there are many in Israel and elsewhere who owe their freedom to the campaigns Greville led.

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