UK prosecutors drop sex-abuse case against late Jewish politician

UK prosecutors drop sex-abuse case against late Jewish politician

Ex-Labour MP Greville Janner, who died in December, had been found unfit to stand trial on child sex abuse charges due to dementia

Lord Greville Janner speaks to al-Jazeera in 2007. (YouTube, al-Jazeera)
Lord Greville Janner speaks to al-Jazeera in 2007. (YouTube, al-Jazeera)

Victims of childhood sexual abuse said Friday they were disappointed that prosecutors had dropped a sex-crimes prosecution against late British Jewish politician Greville Janner, who died before court proceedings could begin.

Janner, a former Labour Party lawmaker and peer, died December 19 aged 87. At the time he stood accused of 22 offenses in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, most involving boys in children’s homes in his central England constituency. Eight of his nine alleged victims were aged 16 or under at the time.

His family denied all the allegations.

Janner also served as president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews — Anglo-Jewry’s main representative organization — from 1978 to 1984, and was a vice president of the World Jewish Congress until 2009.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam told a judge Friday that before Janner died, prosecutors had applied to introduce more charges. But he said the law “makes no provision for posthumous proceedings” so the prosecution is now over.

Liz Dux, lawyer for six of Janner’s alleged victims, said her clients were “devastated.”

“They understand the reasons why but that doesn’t make up for the real travesty — that many gave their statements decades ago and have been denied justice through a failure to prosecute earlier when Janner was alive and well,” she said.

Police and child abuse victims expressed outrage last year when prosecutors announced they would not charge Janner, although there was enough evidence to do so, because he had advanced Alzheimer’s.

The Crown Prosecution Service later reversed the decision and said a judge and jury would conduct a “trial of the facts,” which considers evidence but does not issue a verdict or pass sentence. It had been scheduled to start in April, without Janner present.

Britain’s judge-led inquiry into institutional child abuse said Friday it would consider the claims against Janner as part of its investigation.

In a hearing in August 2015, Janner spent just 59 seconds in the dock. He appeared in court wearing a soiled cardigan and using a walking stick, and said “Oooh, this is wonderful” as he entered the courtroom.

The politician was one of a number of high-profile figures to face historic sex abuse charges in Britain after BBC presenter Jimmy Savile was revealed as a pedophile after his death in 2011, leading to a rush of victims coming forward.

JTA, AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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