The silence of Greville Janner

Francis Carr Begbie


If Britain’s leading law officer thought she was putting an unfortunate episode to rest when she tried to quietly drop her most difficult case then she was in for a rude shock — people are in no mood to let the child rape charges against Lord Greville Janner go unanswered.

The explosion of outrage at this inexplicable decision has ensured that, for once, it will not go unchallenged. The injustice is too overwhelming, the double standard too glaring and the incompetence is too blatant.

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecution, admitted that there was evidence to charge the former President of the British Board of Jewish Deputies  on 22 counts of indecent assault and buggery over decades dating back to 1969 but that her department had botched the case. She said dementia — diagnosed by four doctors — meant that a fair trial could not go ahead.

The scale of the — alleged — depravity takes the breath away. It is said that Janner was at the center of an organised child sex ring that passed around  dozens of children from council care homes. And that he used his position as a prominent politician to give him indemnity.

Ms Saunders has achieved something she cannot have predicted — she has united a whole range of voices against her. They include the Home Secretary, the investigating police force, the police and crime commissioner and even her own immediate predecessor.  That is not including the voices of the victims.

(It should be pointed out that one noticeable exception to this chorus of condemnation is Allan Green, who is also Jewish, and was the Director of Public Prosecutions when Janner was first investigated in 1991. He has chosen not to comment on the matter.)

Readers of the Occidental Observer will be interested in the ethnic dimension to this whole tale and that is fascinating, but first we must set out the background and a good place to start is with the Director of Public Prosecutions herself, a no-nonsense Scottish feminist called Alison Saunders.

From the beginning of her tenure she has had an unswerving goal of increasing the numbers of convictions of men for sex offences and has not been too fussy about how she goes about it. She wants the law changed so that future rape suspects will have to prove a victim said yes.

Her office had already been enthusiastically behind a police sweep called “Operation Yewtree” in which White male suspects, many from the world of show business, have been prosecuted for offences from decades ago. The most lurid accusations centred on a DJ called Jimmy Savile who was conveniently deceased. But other entertainers ended up in prison.

At the same time there has been a slew of stories about paedophile sex rings in high places. Victims have come forward with serious accusations about senior politicians such as Liberal Democrat Cyril Smith and Leon Brittan, a former Conservative — and Jewish — Home Secretary. Like Savile, both are also deceased.

So that is the background, and it is here that the law of unintended consequences kicks in. For in this new climate, victims found themselves being listened to. And as new accusations triggered new investigations, it has inadvertently brought others back to life. This is where we return to Greville Janner.

As with Jimmy Savile, rumours had abounded about Janner for years but as with Savile, he seemed so well connected as to be untouchable. Janner’s alleged role first emerged more than two decades ago, during the 1991 trial of a director of a children’s home in Leicestershire called Frank Beck.

During the trial, Beck made a sensational accusation. He said “One child has been buggered and abused for two solid years by Greville Janner.” Another witness also told the court that Janner “regularly sodomised” him when he was in care, aged 13.

Up till then the Leicestershire MP was held to be above reproach. He was a married father of three, a pillar of both Anglo-Jewish life and the Labour Party. He was a past president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, vice president of the World Jewish Congress. He was also president of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism, and chaired the All-Party Britain-Israel Parliamentary Group.

A product of one of Britain’s finest private schools Janner went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge and was elected President of the Union.  He attended Harvard Law School before effectively inheriting his father’s Labour constituency in Leicester. The crowning achievement of his career was the founding of the Holocaust Educational Trust for which he was ennobled by Tony Blair in 1997.

However the evidence was persuasive. A letter was shown to the jury that was sent from Janner to the boy. The boy was able to describe Janner’s home, the bedrooms they shared and personal details of Janner’s habits. In addition another boy told the court that Janner, a member of the Magic Circle, would groom boys who had been impressed by his magic tricks.

The accusations were dismissed and Janner was welcome back to Parliament to huge cheers from his parliamentary colleagues.

But in today’s climate of more scrutiny for sex abuse allegations, it has now emerged that two investigations in 1991 and again in 2007 into Janner were mysteriously dropped. The former Chief Constable of Derbyshire police, an investigating detective in Leicester at the time, told The Times newspaper that that there had been “credible evidence” against the MP but the case had been stopped on the orders of higher ups.

When the prosecutor decided that Janner should not be prosecuted because in 2009 he had been diagnosed with dementia, it seemed to go against not only precedent but the facts of the matter.

It would certainly be interesting to know when Janner’s diminution of faculties set in.  He looked fine when he made a long complicated speech in the Knesset a year after his diagnosis, and has since voted 210 times and spoken eight times in the in the House of Lords making a lengthy speech there — about Israel — in late 2013.

In fact this might be his undoing. Campaigners are reportedly demanding full details of Lord Janner’s recent written letter to the House of Lords indicating he did not wish to step down as a serving peer.

“I don’t see how you can sign a document relating to membership of the House of Lords if you have dementia,” said one MP.

Not everyone believes the accusations against Lord Jenner.  His own family stand loyally by him. Fellow barristers such as Jonathan Caplan QC have written to The Times questioning his treatment, and his own community have stuck by him. He still makes  charity appearances for Jewish causes.

Yet in ensuring that Janner is not prosecuted, the Director of Public Prosecutions seems determined to exercise a degree of fastidiousness that has been noticeably lacking in her anti-rape crusade.

There are also many precedents — a man was convicted in his absence in Exeter in 2010 of abusing six young girls. Like Lord Janner the defendant was suffering from advanced dementia.

It is also interesting here to compare the parallels with the case of Jewish billionaire  and child sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein and the accusations against Alan Dershowitz. One wonders if that case too will ever come before a jury.

The evidence against Janner seems at least as strong as that against Savile — so why do we assume Savile was guilty and Janner is innocent.

Frank Beck, who was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for essentially the same crimes that Janner is accused of, died three years after the verdicts. Some of the alleged victims have died or disappeared.

For Lord Janner the whole affair has cast a shadow over a life filled with achievement on behalf of the Jewish community. No-one has worked harder in seeking financial restitution for Holocaust victims. And it is his creation of the moneyspinning Holocaust Educational Trust that has earned him the everlasting gratitude of his community.

Two years ago and four years after the dementia diagnosis he was fit enough to travel to Israel to receive his ultimate accolade from his people — the opening of a kindergarten named after him, The ceremony was attended by the British Ambassador.

Lord Janner once said in respect of accused Nazi war criminals that there are some crimes so horrendous that the passage of time can do nothing to diminish them. So when a 90-year-old man said to be a former concentration camp guard called John Demjanuck was sentenced to life, Lord Janner expressed grim satisfaction.

Demjanuck was convicted on the testimony of 11 concentration camp survivors who identified him after 70 years. Surely the testimony of the remaining 20 of Janner’s — alleged — victims, after 20 years, are just as credible.

Perhaps the last words should go to an  alleged victim. This young man told the Sunday Mirror “They say he can’t stand trial because he can’t defend himself and he will not understand what is happening. As  children, we could not defend ourselves and did not understand what was happening. It did not stop us from being abused.”

Go to Francis Carr Begbie’s “The Friends of Greville Janner

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