Lord Janner: justice delayed is no justice at all for Victor Nealon and Sam Hallam
Lord Janner of Braunstone is to to be prosecuted over child sex abuse claims.
Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, was wrong. Leading lawyer David Perry QC reviewed the facts and found that Janner should be charged with historical child abuse offences.
The move means Saunders is the first DPP to have a major decision reviewed and overturned. She is toast. She might also see herself as a victim of the times.
But what does it all mean?
It means Lord Janner could face a trial of the facts, in which a jury hears the evidence against an individual considered too ill for a full trial. This is expected to cover 22 offences allegedly committed in the 1960s, 70s and 80s by Janner, who now has dementia.
A statement from the CPS said the case against Janner would begin with a hearing at Westminster magistrates court on 7 August.
By then another month will have rolled by. Lord Janner is 86. He’s ill.
It will be the first time that allegations against Janner – which have been the subject of three failed police investigations – will be aired in a courtroom.
Will we get to know why the police “failed”? And what did they fail to do? They either investigated fully and found no cause for arrest and a criminal chrage – and that we must assume; or else they did not investigate fully and ignored the evidence – which seems to be implied by the word ‘failed’?
The Guardian than adds:
The 86-year-old peer’s family strongly denies claims he used his position as an MP to abuse vulnerable young boys at a children’s home.
His family speak on his behalf. Will they be allowed to do so in court?
Saunders said in April that Janner would have been charged with a string of sex offences against children, but it was not in the public interest to do so because he had been diagnosed with dementia and was unfit to enter a plea.
Janner still has dementia.
It later emerged that she had rejected the advice of the sex offences expert Eleanor Laws QC, who suggested that he should be charged.
Cue that other expert, this one self-styled:
Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP who first named Cyril Smith as a paedophile in parliament, told the Guardian the DPP should step down. “Alison Saunders has brought the criminal justice system into disrepute. She did not take into account the alleged victims in this case.”
Smith was dead when Danczuk made his claim.
And as for the criminal justice system being in disrepute, can we all wonder when it was in good repute? The justice system persecutes anyone who does not pay their TV licence. It’s not paedo-hunting, I know, but stick with it. If you are poor and cannot afford to pay the BBC’s TV tax, you are sent to court. If found guilty, you are ordered to pay a £55 fine, £20 victim surcharge, £120 prosecution costs (what can be reduced on the discretion of the Beak) and the £150 court charge. If you plead not guilty, and the magistrate rejects your plea, your court costs soar to £520. Around 200,000 people were find last year for non-payment of their TV licence. And they are all criminals. Non-payment of your TV licence is a criminal offence (unlike, say, payment of your gas bill).
And get a load of this from June 2015:
Two men who served long sentences before their convictions were overturned have lost High Court actions in their fight for compensation. Sam Hallam, from London, served more than seven years for murder, while Victor Nealon, from Worcestershire, served 17 years for attempted rape.
Both men were set free after appeal judges ruled that fresh evidence made their convictions unsafe.
Two innocent men who served time for crimes they did not commit. The BBC reports (we do pay, so here’s the full story that anyone in the world can read for free):
Victor Nealon was freed in December 2013 as a result of new DNA evidence Victor Nealon’s lawyer said the judgment was “wrong legally and morally”, while lawyers for both men confirmed they would appeal.
Paul May, chair of the Sam Hallam Defence Campaign, said: “This is a sad day for justice and the presumption of innocence. The callous refusal of the Ministry of Justice to compensate this innocent man is truly shameful.”
The pair asked two judges to rule that UK law is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights because it wrongly restricts compensation in miscarriage of justice cases.
Their judicial review challenges were the first to be brought against the coalition government’s decision in 2014 to narrow eligibility for an award.
A person who has been wrongfully convicted can now only get a payout if it is proved “beyond reasonable doubt” they had not committed the offence.
Sam Hallam was jailed in 2005 for life with a minimum term of 12 years in connection with the murder of Essayas Kassahun in 2004.
But in May 2012, appeal judges decided the conviction was unsafe.
They ruled that new evidence, in the form of timed and dated mobile phone photographs, dramatically undermined accusations that Mr Hallam had deliberately concocted a false alibi.
But the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) rejected his application for compensation for miscarriage of justice in August 2014 on the grounds that the phone evidence had been partly, if not wholly, attributable to Mr Hallam himself. The MoJ said the new evidence did not show “beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Hallam did not commit the offence”.
Victor Nealon served 17 years of a life sentence for the attempted rape of a woman in Redditch in 1996. His conviction was quashed in 2013 after a DNA test pointed to “an unknown male” – not Nealon – as being the likely assailant.
But in June 2014, the Ministry of Justice rejected his application on the grounds that the DNA analysis “did not show beyond reasonable doubt that the claimant did not commit the offence”.
Lord Justice Burnett and Mrs Justice Thirlwall dismissed their compensation cases.
Janner, the former MP for Leicester West, will face charges related to alleged offences of buggery and indecent assault committed against children between 1963 and 1988.
That’s 25 years. That’s a long time. It’s now 2015. And he’s old and ill.
The youngest alleged victim was an eight-year-old boy at the time. Janner is charged with indecently assaulting him between 1969 and 1970, and of buggery against him between 1963 and 1969. Another alleged victim was nine, while the others were aged between 12 and 16.
The allegations are ugly. But, still, justice will out, right?
It is still possible that a judge could throw out the case against Janner if his lawyers successfully argue against a trial of the facts, halting any need for evidence or testimony from his alleged victims. Lawyers for Janner will be able to contest the evidence before a ruling as to his guilt or otherwise is made. A finding of guilt could be but a conviction is unlikely because of Janner’s health.