The family of Lord Janner this week stepped up their staunch defence of their father as barristers said a “culture of deference” towards the late Jewish peer had contributed towards errors in investigating claims of child sex abuse.
It came as police officers told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse about their aborted investigation into the former MP who died in December 2015 while awaiting trial for 22 counts of child sexual abuse relating to nine different boys.
Janner, who visited children’s care homes in Leicestershire, always denied the allegations, first levelled in the early 1990s. This week his claims of innocence were reiterated by his daughter Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, a senior figure in the Movement for Reform Judaism, who is stepping down this autumn.
“We have listened carefully to all the serious accusations, and believe as totally in our father’s innocence today as we always have”, she said, adding that the family believed their father had “become a target” for different reasons, including “his public profile and being financially comfortable”.
Large sections of the inquiry are being held in private due to concerns that evidence may identify alleged victims of sexual offending, who receive automatic anonymity. Among his known accusers to-date has been known fantasist Carl Beech.
The three-week inquiry into institutional responses to historic abuse allegations against Janner opened on Monday, hearing that alleged victims of his did not immediately contact police because of “fear, shame, embarrassment and confusion”.
Brian Altman QC, counsel to the inquiry, said complainants were worried they “would not be believed”, with social care staff “very dismissive” of their concerns. One alleged victim said it felt like “poor children are on a conveyor belt to abuse, and that nobody seems to believe them”.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Janner-Klausner traced the family’s nine-year ordeal to the death of children’s entertainer Jimmy Savile and the subsequent investigation into his serial abuse. “I knew what Savile’s death meant,” she said. “I knew they were going to look at dad.”