The procedures in Britain’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse have been denounced by Lord Campbell-Savours as “an affront to natural justice”, which have led to the “trashing of reputations” — particularly that of the late Lord Janner.
Lord Campbell-Savours, a Labour peer, tabled an unusual debate on the last day of business for the House of Lords on Thursday. With Lord Janner’s two daughters in the public gallery, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner and Marion Janner, OBE, Lord Campbell-Savours said that “justice had been stretched to breaking point” in the case of Lord Janner, who had been accused of child sexual abuse “by a man with a grudge” against him.
The peer said that the root of Lord Janner’s determination to help children wherever he could lay in his work with traumatised child Holocaust survivors in Belsen at the end of the war. “It accounts for his attitude throughout his life to help underprivileged children from broken homes”. Lord Campbell-Savours described Lord Janner as “an easy target” for his accusers, some of whom had a history of lying and sex offending, and said he almost perceived in the late peer “a gentle naivety”.
He said that while the aims of the child sex abuse inquiry were “all very laudable”, he had “a fundamental objection to the inquiry’s management”, which, he said, “gives credence to hearsay and allows an assumption of guilt in the court of public opinion”. He spelled out in detail the troubling background of those making the allegations against Lord Janner, and said the inquiry did not appear to be taking that context into account.
The fact that there remained a strand of the inquiry devoted to allegations against Lord Janner, was, Lord Campbell-Savours declared, “an affront to justice”.
Lord Finkelstein, who sits as a Conservative peer, said he had known Lord Janner and “I know and love his family”. Despite that acknowledgment of interest, he said he felt the decision to have a separate strand of the inquiry devoted to Lord Janner — “the only one on a person rather than an institution “ — as “a very odd one indeed”. He said: “The danger of a separate strand is obvious, we can all see it. If the inquiry simply airs allegations with out cross-examination, it will give the impression of guilt. It will put on the record charges without proper regard to whether they are true or not”. That, he said, could not be fair or right.
Others taking part in the debate were Lord Winston, Lord Paddick and Baroness Chakrabarti, who acknowledged that “minorities” tended to suffer more from such allegations of abuse.
Speaking after the debate, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner described the allegations against her father as “a modern blood libel. What a gift to antisemites. The claimants are not motivated by antisemitism, they appear to be motivated by greed for compensation. But these continued allegations against Jewish men like my father [and the late Lord Brittan] are the best Christmas present any antisemite can have”.