Greville Janner, Baron Janner of Braunstone

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Janner of Braunstone
QC
Lord janner.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Leicester West
In office
18 June 1970 – 1 May 1997
Preceded by Barnett Janner
Succeeded by Patricia Hewitt
Personal details
Born (1928-07-11) 11 July 1928 (age 86)
Cardiff, Wales
Nationality British
Political party Labour (suspended)
Religion Judaism

Greville Ewan Janner, Baron Janner of Braunstone (born 11 July 1928) is a British politician, barrister and writer.

A QC since 1971, he was a Labour MP from 1970 to 1997; since then he has been a member of the House of Lords. He is associated with a number of Jewish organisations including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, of which he was chairman from 1978 to 1984, and he has been prominent in the field of education about the Holocaust.

In April 2015 the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Janner would not be prosecuted over allegations relating to the indecent assault of minors and buggery. The CPS said it would not be in the public interest as Janner was suffering from dementia, which is incurable and progressively worsens, and a case for the defence could not be made at a trial.[1] In normal circumstances, the evidence against him would have merited prosecution, the CPS said in a statement.[2]

Early life

Janner was born in Cardiff, Wales, to Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) parents, the son of Sir Barnett Janner, a former Chairman of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain, and Elsie Sybil, née Cohen.[3] Educated at St Paul’s School, London, Janner was evacuated to Canada during the war and attended Bishop's College School, Lennoxville, Quebec. At the age of 18 he joined the British Army, where he served in the War Crimes Investigation Unit near the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in occupied Germany, and worked on cases of killings at Stalag Luft III. Later, Janner studied Law, attending Trinity Hall, Cambridge where he was President of the Cambridge Union Society in 1952, and Harvard Law School, which he attended through both the Fulbright and Smith-Mundt Act awards.[4]

He became a barrister in 1954 and was appointed a QC in 1971.[4]

Public career

Having unsuccessfully fought Wimbledon in the 1955 General Election, Janner represented Leicester North West (until February 1974) and then Leicester West in the House of Commons from 1970 until his retirement in 1997.[4][5] His predecessor in the seat was his father, Sir Barnett Janner, a former Chairman of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain. He was succeeded by Patricia Hewitt.

Janner was president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the main representative body of British Jewish community, from 1978 to 1984,[5] and was a prominent campaigner in the efforts to gain reparations for victims of the Holocaust.[4] He was also a vice-president of the World Jewish Congress[4] until 2009 and of the Jewish Leadership Council.

Janner "has devoted his life to educating the next generation about the horrors of the Holocaust". He co-founded the Holocaust Educational Trust with Merlyn Rees in 1988 which successfully persuaded the British government to add teaching about the Holocaust to the National Curriculum in 1988.[6] Janner stood down from the role in 2012. He is a founding patron of the Trust. The Lord Janner Scholarship provides funding for ten schools to take part in the Trust's educational programme’s each year.[7]

Janner sought to foster good relations between different faiths and religions and wrote about this issue in his book One Hand Alone Cannot Clap. He co-founded (along with Prince Hassan of Jordan) the Coexistence Trust, a charity to combat Islamophobia and antisemitism.

Janner wrote a number of books on public speaking and business communication, including On Presentation. In addition, he has written extensively under the pen-name Ewan Mitchell. He is a former member of the Magic Circle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians.[8]

House of Lords

Janner was created a life peer as Baron Janner of Braunstone, of Leicester in the County of Leicestershire in 1997.[9] He was President of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism,[10] and chaired the All-Party Britain-Israel Parliamentary Group.[11]

In 2006, Janner was struck by Lord Bramall, a former head of the Armed Forces, during a heated row over the Middle East.[12] Janner was hit in one of the rooms close to the House of Lords chamber. Janner later sought the advice of fellow peers about how and whether to make a formal complaint against Lord Bramall, before deciding to accept an apology.[13]

He has been on leave of absence from the House of Lords since 13 October 2014.[14]

Child sexual abuse allegations

Statements to the Commons in December 1991

In 1991, the director of a children's home in Leicestershire, Frank Beck, was convicted of child abuse and sentenced to five life terms. During the trial, Janner was accused by Beck of having abused a child and a witness claimed to have been one of Janner's victims while he was in care.[15][16] Janner was unable to comment publicly until after the trial because it would have been in contempt of court.[17][18]

Janner received cross-party support in the House of Commons after Beck's conviction. In a Commons statement, delivered on 2 December, he said there was "not a shred of truth" in the claims which had been made against him.[15][19] In a debate on 3 December on the issue of contempt of court and third-parties being potentially defamed in court cases, Janner said he had received a letter from Beck's former cellmate who had written that Beck was intent on implicating Janner as being responsible for criminal acts after the MP had slighted him by refusing to provide a job reference and had "enlisted" the witness, Paul Winston, in an attempt to "frame" Janner.[18]

Earlier police investigations and CPS decisions

Janner was interviewed by the police in 1991 in the first of three previous investigations which did not lead to a prosecution.[1] The 1991 interview was the only time Janner was interviewed by the police. Accompanied by his solicitor, Janner has been reported as having replied "no comment" to the questions put to him.[20]

Further police investigations took place in 2002 and 2006; documents relating to Janner were not passed to the Crown Prosecution Service after the 2002 investigation.[1] The former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Macdonald, told The Guardian in April 2014 that the penultimate CPS decision not to prosecute Janner in 2007 was actually made by officials in Leicestershire who did not contact head office in London about the case.[21]

In September 2014, The Times reported that Mike Creedon, currently the Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabulary, claimed that in 1989, whilst he was serving as a Detective Sergeant, senior police chiefs severely limited his enquiries into paedophilia allegations against Janner, despite 'credible evidence' that warranted further investigation.[22][23]

Final investigation and CPS decision

In 2013 and early 2014, Leicestershire Police searched Janner's home in north London and his offices in the House of Lords in connection with an enquiry linked to historical child abuse allegations. Janner insisted on his innocence.[12][15][24] A file of evidence against Janner was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service, but he was not interviewed by the police.[25][1]

On 16 April 2015, the Crown Prosecution Service issued a statement indicating that they would not charge Janner owing to his poor health.[26] During Leicestershire Police's Operation Enamel more than 20 men were interviewed who claimed Janner had abused them before they were adults.[27] The Crown Prosecution Service stated that the case met their evidential test for prosecution and they would have otherwise have prosecuted on 22 counts of indecent assaults and buggery, which are alleged to have occurred between 1969 and 1988.[1]

However, they decided that it failed the public interest test, as Janner was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2009 and the associated dementia had progressed to a point where he could not engage with the court process, and his evidence could not be relied upon. This meant that a court case could not proceed.[1][26] Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, stated that the previous investigations had been fundamentally flawed.[1][28] A retired High Court judge, Sir Richard Henriques, has been appointed to carry out an independent investigation of all matters involving the CPS which relate to the case.[1]

On 16 April 2015, a few hours after the CPS decision, the Labour Party suspended Janner from membership of the party.[26]

Subsequent developments

After the announcement, Leicestershire Police, blamed in the CPS statement for past failures in the investigations into Janner's activities, said it was considering a request for a judicial review into the CPS decision. Solicitors representing alleged victims have said that actions for damages against the peer are likely.[20]

Lord Macdonald, the former DPP, told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on 18 April that a decision over whether to prosecute Janner should have been taken in court by a judge, rather than by the CPS, to remove any doubt that the most recent investigation had been carried out properly.[29]

Personal life

In 1955 Janner married Myra Sheink, who was originally from Australia, and the niece of Sir Israel Brodie, the former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. The couple had three children; two daughters and a son.[30][31] Sheink died in 1996.[5]

Lord Janner's younger daughter is an ordained Rabbi. Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner was appointed National Movement Rabbi for The Movement for Reform Judaism in 2011.[32][30][31] She is married to a brother of the Israeli writer Amos Oz.[33] Marion Janner, his other daughter, was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to mental health in 2010.[34] Daniel, his son, is a barrister and QC.[35]

In 2009, Janner was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Its advancing severity means that he now requires round-the-clock care for his dementia.[26][1]

Books

  • (1978) The Motorist's Lawyer, Royal Automobile Club
  • (1979) Product Liability, Random House Business Books
  • (1985) Janner's Complete Letterwriter
  • (1986) On Meetings, Gower Publishing
  • (1989) On Chairing, Gower Publishing
  • (1989) On Presentation, Random House Business Books
  • (1991) How to Win Meetings, Gower Publishing
  • (1998) One Hand Alone Cannot Clap: Arab Israeli Universe, Robson Books
  • (2003) Janner's Speechmaker, Thorogood
  • (2003) To Life! The Memoirs of Greville Janner, Sutton Publishing (foreword by Tony Blair)
  • (2008) Jewish Parliamentarians, (with Derek Taylor)

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The decision not to prosecute Lord Janner - statement from the DPP". Crown Prosecution Service. Crown Prosecution Service. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Rajeev Syal "Lord Janner will not face trial over abuse claims", The Guardian, 16 April 2015
  3. ^ Michael Freedland "Obituary: Elsie Janner", The Independent, 21 July 1994
  4. ^ a b c d e Lord Janner of Braunstone QC; Honorary Vice-Presidents, World Jewish Congress, World Jewish Congress; accessed 26 July 2009
  5. ^ a b c Gregory Walton "Lord Greville Janner: Profile", Daily Telegraph, 16 April 2015
  6. ^ Jennifer Lipman "Britain is full of people fighting hatred. We are lucky to live here", The Jewish Chronicle, 7 September 2012
  7. ^ "Holocaust Educational Trust honours champions of Holocaust Education". Holocaust Educational Trust. 
  8. ^ Biography – Greville Janner – Lord Janner of Braunstone QC GrevilleJanner.org.uk
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 54933. p. 1. 29 October 1997.
  10. ^ Never Again | PCAA Foundation http://www.antisemitism.org.uk/never-again/
  11. ^ Greville Janner, Baron Janner of Braunstone | Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing - eBooks | Read eBooks online http://self.gutenberg.org/article/WHEBN0000316108/Greville%20Janner,%20Baron%20Janner%20of%20Braunstone
  12. ^ a b "Lord Greville Janner's home searched as part of child sex investigations, say police". The Telegraph. 20 December 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "War hero, 82, hits fellow peer in Lords". London Evening Standard. 27 August 2006. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "Lord Janner of Braunstone". UK Parliament. 
  15. ^ a b c Peachey, Paul "Police investigating child abuse search peer Greville Janner's home", The Independent, 20 December 2013
  16. ^ Marcus Dysch "Lord Janner ‘unfit’ to stand trial over child abuse allegations", The Jewish Chronicle, 16 April 2015
  17. ^ Andy McSmith "Greville Janner: How MPs rallied to defence of Labour peer 'unfairly put through hell by a wicked slur'", The Independent, 16 April 2015.
  18. ^ a b This issue was raised in a House of Commons debate about contempt of court and third parties (those not involved in court cases) on 3 December 1991. See "Contempt of Court", Hansard, HC Deb 3 December 1991 vol 200 cc223-42
  19. ^ This quote is from "Child Abuse (Leicestershire)", Hansard, HC Deb, 2 December 1991, vol 200 cc23-9,.24-25
  20. ^ a b Rajeev Syal and Sandra Laville "Police consider challenge to CPS ruling not to charge Janner over abuse allegations", The Guardian,
  21. ^ Rajeev Syal, Sandra Laville and Josh Halliday "Lord Janner child abuse allegations were not passed to me, former DPP says", The Guardian, 17 April 2015
  22. ^ O'Neill, Sean "Child sex inquiry into MP 'blocked by senior police'", The Times (subscription required), 25 September 2014
  23. ^ Geenwood, Chris "Police 'told to limit abuse probe into MP'", Mail Online, 26 September 2014
  24. ^ "Office at Lords is searched by police". Belfast Telegraph. 22 June 2014. 
  25. ^ "Lord Janner evidence considered in child abuse probe", BBC News, 30 April 2014
  26. ^ a b c d "Lord Janner will not face child sex abuse charges, CPS says", BBC News, 16 April 2015
  27. ^ "Child abuse case dropped against Labour peer for second time", The Telegraph, 15 April 2015
  28. ^ Sandra Laville "Lord Janner: CPS fails to take chance to atone for failures of the past", The Guardian, 16 April 2015
  29. ^ Damien Gayle "Lord Janner child abuse claims: 'trial was decision for court'", The Guardian, 18 April 2015
  30. ^ a b Doreen Wachman "Profile: Reform greeting for the new Chief Rabbi", Jewish Telegraph, 2012
  31. ^ a b Jessica Elgot "How Britain's Only Female Head Of Faith Took On The Religious Establishment, And Won", The Huffington Post, 17 November 2014
  32. ^ Rocker, Simon (28 July 2011). "Laura Janner-Klausner: Why I'm not the Reform rival to the Chief Rabbi". TheJC.com - The Jewish Community Online (The Jewish Chronicle). Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  33. ^ "Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner in the Times". Movement for Reform Judaism. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  34. ^ Robyn Rosen "Marion Janner (and Buddy) collect OBE", The Jewish Chronicle, 12 February 2010
  35. ^ Frances Gibb "Tax barrister stands for BNP", The Times (Laaw Central blog), 23 March 2010

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Barnett Janner
Member of Parliament for Leicester North West
1970–1974
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Leicester West
1974–1997
Succeeded by
Patricia Hewitt