A bombshell report by a police watchdog suggests senior police officers may have “influenced decisions” on inquiries into alleged child sex abuse by Lord Janner.
The late Labour peer died in December 2015. Eight months earlier the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided that he was unfit to stand trial owing to dementia. His family deny the allegations.
Now a damning preliminary report submitted to an inquiry into historic child sex abuse by the director-general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) suggests that senior officers may have stepped in on enquiries into Janner.
The IOPC says it has been handed information during the course of its investigation that suggests a senior officer “may have committed a criminal offence” in relation to the Janner investigation, adding: “Police documents may have been inappropriately modified.”
While a final report is yet to be made, the watchdog raised the prospect of an imminent referral to the Crown Prosecution Service over illegality by the unnamed officer, which will provide succour to alleged victims, who have long suspected an establishment stitch-up.
The IOPC report was submitted to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) on 22 March and published on the IICSA website this week. It was posted as part of an update explaining why a preliminary hearing into “institutional responses” to allegations against Janner has been delayed from 23 May to 24 September.
Janner, an eminent barrister, was an MP in Leicestershire from 1970 to 1997. He was investigated by Leicestershire Police three times – in 1991, 2001-2002 and 2006-2007 – but never charged, and only interviewed once.
This week, listing a series of “concerns,” the IOPC revealed that even in 1990 – long before Janner was first investigated – police records showed that there were already “a number of references to a relationship, including a sexual relationship, between Lord Janner and a child”. The IOPC found no evidence of a police investigation at that time.
A year later, Frank Beck, a children’s care-home directed, was put on trial for sexually abusing children. During court proceedings, Beck accused Janner of sexually abusing a child. A witness at the trial also accused Janner of abusing him when he was in care.
The force then interviewed Janner – a co-founder of the Holocaust Educational Trust, president of the Board of Deputies and vice-chair of the Jewish Leadership Council – but did not charge him. The IOPC said “lines of enquiry… appear not to have been carried out,” adding: “There is an indication that senior officers may have influenced decisions regarding the enquiries.”
The IOPC added: “There is an indication that senior officers and/or senior investigators may not have believed the allegations, leading them to investigate to only a limited extent.”
The second investigation – Operation Magnolia – was launched by Leicestershire Police in 2000 in order to investigate allegations of child sex abuse at children’s homes in Leicestershire.
Although Janner was alleged to have abused victims at those children’s homes, he was not interviewed by the force. The IOPC said: “Those allegations do not appear to have been investigated to any degree.” Again, no charges were brought.
The IOPC says no senior officers have said they knew of any allegations against Janner, but that this is “contrary to document references and witness accounts indicating that the Senior Investigating Officer would discuss matters in relation to Lord Janner with senior officers”.
Raising further concerns about document tampering, the IOPC said “documented results of investigative actions regarding Lord Janner appear to contain information that could be interpreted as misleading and/or inaccurate”.
After a witness came forward with new allegations against Janner, Leicestershire Police launched its third investigation – Operation Dauntless – in 2006. Again, Janner was not interviewed and no charges were brought.
The IOPC said one of its many concerns was “the apparent failure to investigate or act upon allegations that had been made against Lord Janner, despite indications that these had not been investigated during the course of Operation Magnolia”.
In 2014, the then Chief Constable of Derbyshire Police described how he had been a Detective Sergeant with Leicestershire Police at the time but had been “ordered to limit his enquiries into Greville Janner”.
While the IOPC said final judgements on matters of possible illegality would be made by the end of July, “referral to the CPS is self-evidently possible”.
However, the CPS may face its own accusations, given that the IOPC report twice lists concerns over “the interaction between the CPS and the police in respect of [the 2001 and 2006 investigations] and related decision-making”.
Lord Janner’s son Daniel Janner said the IICSA should not have published the IOPC report and has complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
“That was meant to be a private document,” he said, calling the IICSA “a beleaguered investigation… acting in an underhand and sly way or, being charitable, it’s another fine mess”.
He added: “The reason why the police dismissed these allegations in the past was because they were ludicrous false allegations. My father was never convicted. He died an innocent man.”