Investigation into institutional responses to allegations of child sexual abuse involving the late Lord Janner of Braunstone QC
The Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has ruled that it will continue its investigation and will proceed to a public hearing on the adequacy of institutional responses to allegations of child sexual abuse involving the late Lord Janner QC, who was a Labour Member of Parliament for 27 years.
Professor Alexis Jay ruled that the Inquiry would hold some closed hearings leading to a partly closed Investigation report in order to protect the absolute right to anonymity asserted under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 by certain complainants who accused Lord Janner of having sexually abused them.
Nick Stanage, representing 14 such complainants, successfully argued that Counsel to the Inquiry, and the Janner family (including Daniel Janner QC) were wrong to argue that the investigation should be discontinued and hearings abandoned.
The Janner family had asserted that the continuation of the investigation and any hearings would be a disproportionate and unlawful interference with their 'right to grief' under Article 8 ECHR.
Rejecting that and all their other assertions, Professor Jay ruled that there remain 'too many unanswered questions about institutional responses to the allegations made against Lord Janner. Those allegations were extremely serious, and they span a period of decades. For most, and perhaps all, of the complainant core participants, this Investigation represents the last opportunity to get answers to those questions. There is also a public interest in pursuing those answers. I agree with the submissions made by Mr Stanage in this respect, which were in keeping with my thoughts on this matter'.
Nick had submitted that it remains necessary to pursue an effective investigation into how and why public institutions (police, CPS, the local authority) apparently failed in their responses to the allegations. The ruling quotes him as follows:
First, let it be said that Lord Janner, described this morning as a devoted public servant, died while awaiting trial at the Central Criminal Court on 22 charges of sexual offences against children (…)
The first question that our clients ask is: how did such a prominent person, known to have easy access to children in care, repeatedly, and for decades, escape prosecution and, therefore, accountability? Another factor that cannot be ignored and that leads me to my second question is this: there were apparent failures in institutional responses for decades. Those apparent failures deprived our clients and all other complainants of three things: dignity, justice and redress. Those three things are now available only from this inquiry. The second question, therefore, is: if not now, when?
The ruling by the Inquiry follows well-publicised multi-media opposition by the Janner family and in the House of Lords, one of whose Members went so far as to say in debate that 'IICSA is not listening to Parliament'.
The public hearing is due to commence on 12 October 2020. The ruling is here and the full transcript of the hearing is here.
The case is covered in The Times, The JC, and the BBC here and here.
Since pupillage on the legal team representing Doreen and Neville Lawrence at the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Nick has specialised in claims against the police and public authorities and in inquests and public inquiries. He has been Counsel to the Inquest. He is presently instructed in the Undercover Policing Inquiry. Internationally, he was instructed by the United Nations to advise the Truth and Dignity Commission on its handling of 65,000 complaints of torture inflicted by Tunisian police and State forces since 1956. For the Tunisian Ministry of Justice he then advised all judges appointed to the Special Courts in which perpetrators were to be prosecuted for the crime of torture.