Decision not to arrest Greville Janner in 1991 – then Attorney General and DPP need to answer questionsPosted: August 8, 2014
[PLEASE NOTE: In no sense does this post imply any guilt or innocence on the part of those against who abuse allegations have been made. It is simply about questions needing to be answered so that public can have confidence that allegations of abuse involving politicians and other VIPs are treated just like those involving less prominent persons]
A report by Sean O’Neill in today’s Times alleges that in 1991 a last minute decision was made not to arrest then Labour MP Greville Janner, now Lord Janner of Braunstone, over allegations of child abuse:
Greville Janner, now Lord Janner of Braunstone, was interviewed by appointment in the company of his solicitor as part of a major investigation into the abuse of boys at homes in Leicestershire in 1991.
A number of sources with knowledge of the case have confirmed that officers had wanted to arrest the Leicester West MP, which would have given them the power to search his home and offices. Legal advice was sought on taking the rare step of arresting an MP and it is understood that the advice from senior counsel was that it was an appropriate course of action. At the last minute the planned arrest was blocked.
Arrangements were made instead for Lord Janner to attend a police station by appointment with his solicitor, Sir David Napley.
The decision-making process is being re-examined by Leicestershire police as part of Operation Enamel, which is looking into allegations against Lord Janner and others.
Kelvyn Ashby, the retired officer who was senior investigator on the original case, confirmed that he was in contact with the Operation Enamel team but declined to comment further. (Sean O’Neill, ‘Police ‘told not to arrest MP over abuse claims”, The Times, August 8th, 2014).
In May and July I blogged an extensive series of reports from the Frank Beck Trial and its aftermath. In that trial, a woman, herself alleging abuse by Beck, reported hearing an argument between a boy and Beck about visiting ‘a man called Greville Janner’ (Craig Seton, ‘Woman and two men accuse care officer of sex abuse’, The Times, September 27th, 1991). The boy apparently boasted that that he was a rent boy (Ian Katz, ”Abuse victims’ tell of their childhood torment’, The Guardian, September 27th, 1991). Beck then alleged that Janner had ‘buggered and abused’ one boy ‘for two solid years’ (‘MP Janner abuse child, says sex case man’, Press Association, October 30th, 1991; ‘Home boss says MP abused boy’, The Times, October 31st, 1991; ‘Man in sex trial accuses Greville Janner of abuse’, The Independent, October 31st, 1991). Beck said ‘I had spent two years putting right the damage that man had done to that boy and he (Janner) had the bloody audacity to complain to me because the boy had been down to London and met him accidentally. I was incensed’, that Janner had written to Beck, and the letter had been put on the boy’s social services file (”I wrote to MP over abused boy’ – children’s home chief’, Press Association, October 31st, 1991; ‘Sex trial man ‘wrote to MP over abused boy’, The Independent, November 1st, 1991; Ian Katz, ‘Home chief says he wrote to MP about abused boy’, The Guardian, November 1st, 1991).
Beck then denied in court attempting to blackmail Janner over the relationship, and that he had tried to bring Janner and the boy together in 1989, claiming instead that Janner had sent the boy £50 (‘Children’s home head denies trying to blackmail MP’, The Guardian, November 2nd, 1991). A few days later, Beck claimed that the police were hiding an affair between the boy (identified as aged 15 at the end of the affair) and Janner, about who the police had told him they knew, that the boy had stayed with Janner in the Holiday Inn in Leicester, that Beck wrote to Janner after the boy had married and become a father, thinking that Janner might feel guilty enough to help the boy find employment. Throughout, Janner’s lawyers made clear that they had advised him not to comment during the trial (‘Police covered up MP’s sex with boy, ex-children’s worker alleges’, The Guardian, November 5th, 1991). Mr A (aged 30 at the time of the trial), who was the boy at the time, appeared in court and alleged that Janner had indeed abused him from when he was 13, saying he had been fondled when he slept at Janner’s home after meeting him at the House of Commons, and had been buggered in a double bed in a hotel in Janner’s constituency and twice during a lecture tour in Scotland. Janner was also claimed to have ‘simulated sex’ five or six times during the period he knew the boy, who said in general, when asked if he liked what happend, ‘No, I did not, and I tried to stop it’. He said Janner had given him money, toys, clothing and concert tickets, and taken him to expensive restaurants. One Christmas present of a 10-speed racing bicycle had been returned by Beck after Janner had allegedly sent it to Mr A. Mr A claimed to have first met Janner when staying at a children’s home in Wigston, Leicester, when he was a volunteer for a community project that Janner had launched. He also affirmed Beck’s allegation about having met Janner often at the Holiday Inn, and that they would use the hotel swimming pool, with the agreement of the management, when it was supposed to be closed, sharing naked showers, washing each other down. Mr A said he had stolen money from Janner’s wallet as revenge, after which Janner had warned that he would stop seeing him if he did it again; there were said to have been no more sexual incidents after this. Beck claimed to have reported the relationship between the boy and Janner to Dorothy Edwards, the then Director of Social Services for Leicestershire. Mr A claimed that weekly trips had been arranged for him to the MP’s London home and to the Holiday Inn by Barbara Fitt, then Officer-in-Charge of Station Road children’s home, Wigston, Leicester, though conceded that this would have been impossible with the first visits, as Fitt had only taken over the home four months before he left it. Mr A also said that his own behaviour had deteriorated, and he had sex with both boys and girls there, and often ran away, before moving to Ratcliffe Road home (which was run by Beck). Beck had claimed that he had rescued the boy from abuse by Janner and prevented further contact; Mr A himself said that Beck had put him on the right path as a teenager, counselled him over his relationship with Janner, and stopped him seeing him. (Craig Seton, ‘Former boy in care says Labour MP sexually abused him’, The Times, November 9th, 1991; Jack O’Sullivan, ‘Man tells of sex sessions with MP while in care’, The Independent, November 9th, 1991; ‘Abuse care witness tells of sex with MP: Beck ‘rescued boy from affair with Greville Janner’, The Guardian, November 9th, 1991).
A letter was produced in court by Mr A, signed ‘Safe journey, Love Greville’, dated July 7th, 1975, when the boy was aged 13, allegedly after they had slept together; he said that he had kept other letters during their relationship. Mr A said that he had written to Janner after Beck’s arrest, affirming ‘I believe Mr Beck to be innocent and should not be treated in the way he is being treated, and Mr Janner may have been able to help him in some way.’ There was however some confusion over whether he recalled staying at Janner’s house one or two times (‘Witness in abuse trial ‘kept letters from MP”, The Independent, November 12th, 1991; ”Janner letter’ in court’, The Guardian, November 12th, 1991).
Peter Joyce QC, for the prosecution, told the jury that the claims of abuse by Janner, which he referred to as the ‘great Janner diversion’, were meaningless, and an attempt to ‘divert attention’ from Beck (‘Abuse claims against MP ‘a red herring”, The Independent, November 16th, 1991; ‘Abuse claim against MP ‘red herring’, The Guardian, November 16th, 1991). John Black, for the defence, asked the jury to decide whether Mr A knew Janner, visited Janner’s house, and so on, emphasising the importance of the letter, and asking them to consider whether Beck had really put a stop to the relationship (‘MP’s letter to boy ‘extraordinary’, The Guardian, November 19th, 1991).
Beck was found guilty of multiple charges of sexually and physically abusing boys and a girl in his care during a 13-year period (Craig Seton, ‘Children’s home head guilty of sexual abuse’, The Times, November 27th, 1991; Jack O’Sullivan, ‘Beck found guilty of sexual abuse of children in care’, The Independent, November 27th, 1991; Ian Katz, ‘Head of home guilty of abuse’, The Guardian, November 27th, 1991; Craig Seton, ‘Social worker raped teenager’, The Times, November 28th, 1991; Jack O’Sullivan, ‘Children’s homes head convicted of raping girl in care’, The Independent, November 28th, 1991; Ian Katz, ‘Head of children’s homes guilty of rape: Abuse case jury’s third night in hotel to ponder charges’, The Guardian, November 28th, 1991; ‘Five more verdicts on Beck’, The Times, November 29th, 1991).
On November 30th, 1991, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (who was then David Gandy***), announced that they were to take no action against Janner, but also that Janner had been interviewed by Leicestershire police at his own request over the allegations made by Mr A, a file had been sent to the DPP, and that other sources had also indicated that no evidence had been found by police that would substantiate the allegations (Craig Seton, ‘DPP has no case against Janner’, The Times, November 30th, 1991). However, another report indicated that the Crown Prosecution Service were then still deciding whether launch proceedings, and would make a decision the following week (Jack O’Sullivan and Judy Jones, ‘Head of children’s homes jailed for life, five times; Inquiries ordered into Britain’s biggest sexual abuse scandal ‘involving 200 victims”, The Independent, November 30th, 1991). But no charges were brought, and Janner affirmed his innocence in the House of Commons on December 3rd, 1991:
As the House knows, Frank Beck of Leicester was convicted of a series of filthy and most serious crimes and received what must be a near record sentence—five life terms and a total of 24 years’ imprisonment. He called Paul Winston as a witness. Long ago, when Winston was a deprived youngster living in a Leicestershire children’s home, my family and I tried, unsuccessfully, to help him. Soon after, he was placed in a home run by Beck. After 15 years of Beck’s influence—including a period when Winston lodged in Beck’s private home—and after I had refused to provide Beck with references and shortly before Beck’s trial was due to begin, they combined to make disgraceful, contemptible and totally untrue allegations of criminal conduct against me.
Their motive was made blazingly clear by a letter that I received only yesterday from a former cellmate of Beck’s. I do not know the man, but he took it on himself to communicate with me. He writes that Beck told him that he—Beck —was going to frame me. According to Beck, that would take the light off him. To that end, Beck had enlisted the help of Winston. The former cellmate also wrote that the police knew that he was willing to give evidence to that effect if the Crown thought it necessary to call him. In the event, it did not, but the allegations against me were precisely as the prosecution alleged in Beck’s trial —an attempted diversion from the reality of Beck’s guilt. Both verdict and sentence showed—happily—that the attempt failed totally.
226 However, is it not horrendous that Beck and Winston were able to make such terrible and lying accusations against me in court and that the media could, and with honourable exceptions did, report these falsehoods, all under the cloak of absolute privilege? I had effectively no legal rights in the matter, and I was not allowed even to nail the lies. No wonder many people were mystified by my uncharacteristic silence —it was imposed by the cruel operation of the rules on contempt. (see the transcript from the proceedings in Hansard)
Janner was roundly defended by Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East (neighbouring Janner’s constituency of Leicester West), Gwyneth Dunwoody, then Labour MP for Crewe and Natwich, Merlyn Rees, then Labour MP for Morley and Leeds South, Patrick Cormack, then Conservative MP for Staffordshire South, Alex Carlile, then Liberal Democrat MP for Montgomery, Ivan Lawrence, then Conservative MP for Burton, and various others, as well as the then Solicitor-General, Sir Nicholas Lyell, in a debate on contempt of court. Whilst no change to the contempt laws occurred as a result, the house appeared united in accepting that the allegations against Janner were entirely false and that he had been unjustly smeared in court; there were cheers in the Commons in support of him (Alan Travis, ‘Janner cheered in Commons’, The Guardian, December 3rd, 1991). On December 7th, it was definitely confirmed that police were to take no action against Janner (‘Janner: Police confirm no action’, Press Association, December 7th, 1991).
Beck, who had received five life sentences and a further twenty-four years in prison, protested his innocence to the last, and died in prison, apparently of a heart attack, in 1994; there were some who claim that he was murdered by other prisoners, though at present I have not had chance to check the sources of these claims.
More recently, as part of Operation Enamel, Janner’s house was searched in December 2013 (Paul Peachey, ‘Police investigating child abuse search peer Greville Janner’s home’, The Independent, December 20th, 2013) and also his offices at the House of Lords (Ben Endley, ‘Child abuse detectives raid Labour peer’s office in House of Lords’, Daily Mirror, June 21st, 2014).
In order for there to be confidence that proper procedure was followed in 1991, the then Attorney General Sir Patrick Mayhew (now Baron Mayhew of Twysden) and former Acting Director of Public Prosecutions David Gandy (and his predecessor Sir Allan Green), need to answer the allegations raised in O’Neill’s piece today. The suggestion that pressure was placed not to arrest a prominent MP (as in the case of the late Cyril Smith) is most disturbing, and should not be left unanswered, whether or not new charges are brought.
***On October 3rd, 1991, Sir Allan Green resigned as DPP after having been found kerb crawling. (Francis Gibb, ‘Green’s fall from grace shocks legal profession’, The Times, October 4th, 1991). His successor, Barbara Mills, was not appointed until February 1992 (Claire Dyer, ‘Top woman to replace Sir Allan Green as DPP’, The Guardian, February 7th, 1992); in the interim period, David Gandy, Green’s deputy, served as acting DPP (‘DPP Post advertised for first time’, Press Association, November 10th, 1991).
I have posted an extensive series of press reports relating to the trial and conviction of Frank Beck, an officer in charge of several children’s homes in Leicestershire, in 1991. These go from the beginning of the trial, through the conviction, subsequent reaction and inquiry, up until Beck’s death in prison in 1994. This does not dwell upon the subsequent debate between on one hand Mark D’Arcy and Paul Gosling, in their book Abuse of Trust: Frank Beck and the Leicestershire Children’s Homes Scandal (London: Bowerdean Publishing Co, 1998), and Richard Webster on the other, in his article ‘Crusade or witch-hunt’, Times Literary Supplement, January 22nd, 1999, as to whether Beck was responsible for an earlier murder, and wider issues of the nature of extent of his guilt or otherwise. Simply these contain as many articles as possible detailing the course of the trial, and in particular the allegations concerning then Labour MP Greville Janner.
In the 1991 trial of Frank Beck in Leicestershire, the judge in the case, Mr Justice Edwin Jowitt, intervened to prevent ‘people in high places’ being named. Here are reports from the time. All names of victims, printed in the original articles and reproduced on Nexis, have been redacted.
Who were the ‘people in high places’ being protected? I will add further articles relating to Greville Janner and his claims that Beck was trying to frame him, later.
September 30, 1991, Monday
SEX ABUSE CASE JUDGE STEPS IN OVER ‘TOP NAMES’
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A judge intervened in the Leicestershire child sex abuse trial today to prevent names of “people in high places” being revealed. A former social worker was about to name a man said to have had homosexual contact with a boy in care when High Court judge Mr Justice Edwin Jowitt stepped in. He told counsel representing former children’s homes head Frank Beck, who faces 29 charges of physical and sexual abuse: “Are names relevant? “Allegations are made, not necessarily by the people who know, and repeated second-hand against people who are not here to defend themselves. “Counsel have a responsibility not to drag in names of people who are not here to say anything about it.” Mr Francis Sheridan, one of two barristers defending Beck, replied he would continue the questioning “in another way”. Former social worker Mr D, 39, had said he was the care officer of a youth in care named as Mr A [name redacted] who had boasted of being a rent boy. Mr Sheridan asked: “Did he boast of having friends in high places?” Mr D replied: “Yes.” Mr Sheridan asked: “Did he tell you who those were?” At this stage the judge intervened. Mr Sheridan later asked Mr D: “Did you talk about one person in high places or more than one?” Mr D replied: “One. He just knew him and had contact with him.” He said that Beck knew about the relationship and he had raised it with him. Sheridan said: “Did he not make it clear he would raise it with the director of social services, Dorothy Edwards?” “Yes,” he replied. “I think most of the conversations which took place at that time were between Paul and Frank directly.” He said of Beck: “He was certainly going to make sure that action was going to be taken to sever the contact.” Mr D also said the person in question turned up at the children’s home, with a bicycle as a present for the boy. He said the incident happened sometime in mid-1977. Sheridan asked: “And he was sent packing by Frank Beck who told him bluntly no more contact?” Mr D said: “I wasn’t present when the person arrived but that was my understanding when Frank Beck reported back to team meetings.” Mr D earlier alleged he was sexually abused by Frank Beck. Beck, 49, formerly of Braunstone, Leicester, is in the dock alongside former social workers Peter Jaynes, 42, and George Lincoln, 39. Jaynes, of Chatham, Kent, denies three offences of physical and sexual abuse and Lincoln, of Sudbury, Suffolk, denies an allegation of buggery. The offences were allegedly committed between 1974 and 1986. The trial at Leicester Crown Court was adjourned until tomorrow.
October 1, 1991, Tuesday
Child case judge halts naming of ‘abuser’
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A High Court judge intervened in the Leicestershire child sex abuse trial yesterday to prevent the names of ”people in high places” being disclosed.
A former social worker was about to mention he name of a man feared to have had homosexual contact with a boy who was in care when Mr Justice Jowitt interrupted, asking: ”Are names relevant? Allegations are made, not necessarily by the people who know, and repeated second-hand against people who are not here to defend themselves.”
The judge told defence lawyers: ”Counsel have a responsibility not to drag in names of people who are not here to say anything about it.”
Francis Sheridan, one of two barristers representing Frank Beck, a former head of a children’s home who faces 29 charges of physical and sexual abuse, replied that he would continue his questioning ”in another way”.
Mr Beck, aged 49, formerly of Braunstone, Leicester, is charged along with two social workers, Peter Jaynes, aged 42 and George Lincoln, aged 39. Mr Jaynes, of Chatham, Kent, denies three charges of physical and sexual abuse and Mr Lincoln, of Sudbury, Suffolk, denies a charge of buggery. The offences are alleged to have been committed between 1974 and 1986.
The trial at Leicester crown court continues today.
The Independent (London)
October 1, 1991, Tuesday
Judge prevents naming of ‘people in high places’
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A JUDGE intervened in the Leicestershire child sex abuse trial yesterday to prevent the names of ”people in high places” being revealed.
At Leicester Crown Court, a former social worker was about to name a man said to have had sexual contact with a boy in care when Mr Justice Edwin Jowitt stepped in.
He told counsel representing Frank Beck, 49, a former children’s homes head, formerly of Braunstone, Leicestershire, who denies 29 charges of physical and sexual abuse: ”Are names relevant? Allegations are made, not necessarily by the people who know, and repeated second-hand against people who are not here to defend themselves.
”Counsel have a responsibility not to drag in names of people who are not here to say anything about it,” he said.
Francis Sheridan, one of two barristers defending Mr Beck, replied he would continue the questioning ”in another way”.
Mr D, 39, a former social worker, had said he was the care officer of a youth named as Mr A, who had boasted of being a rent boy.
Mr Sheridan asked: ”Did he boast of having friends in high places?”
Mr D replied: ”Yes.”
Mr Sheridan asked: ”Did he tell you who those were?” At this point, the judge intervened.
Mr Sheridan later asked Mr D: ”Did you talk about one person in high places or more than one?”
Mr D replied: ”One. He just knew him and had contact with him.” He said that Mr Beck knew about the relationship and he had raised it with him.
Mr Sheridan said: ”Did he not make it clear he would raise it with the director of social services?” ”Yes,” Mr D replied. ”I think most of the conversations which took place at that time were between Paul and Frank directly.”
Mr D said the person in question turned up at the children’s home in mid-1977 with a bicycle as a present for the boy.
Mr Sheridan asked: ”And he was sent packing by Frank Beck, who told him bluntly ‘no more contact’?”
Mr D said: ”I wasn’t present when the person arrived but that was my understanding when Frank Beck reported back to team meetings.”
Also charged are Peter Jaynes, 42, of Chatham, Kent, who denies three offences of physical and sexual abuse, and George Lincoln, 39, of Sudbury, Suffolk, who denies an allegation of buggery. Both are former social workers.
All the offences were allegedly committed between 1974 and 1986. The trial continues today.
The Independent (London)
October 4, 1991, Friday
Home head ‘humiliated social worker’
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A SOCIAL worker yesterday told the Leicestershire child sex abuse trial how he was ”humiliated and degraded” by his boss during so-called supervision sessions.
Mr K [name redacted], 40, told Leicester Crown Court how former children’s home head Frank Beck, 49, subjected him to repeated sexual assaults culminating in buggery.
Mr K, now a child care officer in Scotland, said he had ”felt degraded, debased, humiliated, de-humanised”. He told the jury trying Mr Beck and two other social workers how Mr Beck would organise ”supervision sessions” at the Beeches children’s home in Leicester.
Mr K, who began his social work career at the home aged 28, said these soon turned into homosexual sex sessions.
He said ”personal growth therapy” soon began to be dominated by questions of sexuality. ”It was hugging initially, fondling . . . It ended up with either one or both of us in a state of undress.”
Mr K said the sessions began to include masturbation. ”It developed, if that’s the correct phrase, into a period of oral sex.”
Peter Joyce QC, for the prosecution, asked why Mr Erskine became involved in the sex acts.
Mr K said: ”He used threats, physical assault and I felt he used his ability to manipulate the staff and residents to make life in work rather difficult for me.” He said he was threatened by Mr Beck with having his social work probationary period revoked.
The witness said he was slapped by Mr Beck in front of both other staff and children at the home.
He said once he tried to resist Mr Beck, but ”he physically took my clothes off, put my genitals in his mouth and bit very hard”.
Mr Beck denies 30 charges of physical and sexual assault against children in his care and other staff. Two former deputies, Peter Jaynes, 42, and George Lincoln, 39, deny a total of four charges.
The trial continues.
The Independent (London)
November 12, 1991, Tuesday
Witness in abuse trial ‘kept letters from MP’
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THE LABOUR MP Greville Janner sent a 13-year-old boy a letter after they allegedly slept together, the Leicestershire child sex abuse trial was told yesterday.
The letter – signed ”Safe journey, Love Greville” and dated 7 July 1975 – was produced in court when Mr B [name redacted], now 30, was giving evidence.
Mr B said he had kept other letters from the 63-year-old MP for Leicester West during their two-year affair.
Leicester Crown Court was told by Mr A that he was sexually abused by Mr Janner, a QC, over a two-year period while he was in the care of social services.
Mr B said he twice stayed at Mr Janner’s home in London, and that various sexual acts took place there and at hotels around the country.
He was giving evidence on behalf of former children’s homes chief Frank Beck, 49, who has denied 27 charges of physical and sexual abuse on children and former members of staff.
Mr B, who was transferred to a home run by Mr Beck after the alleged abuse by Mr Janner, said he was never ill- treated by Mr Beck.
He was asked why he had written to Mr Janner after Mr Beck’s arrest for a reference for the defendant.
He replied: ”I believe Mr Beck to be innocent and should not be treated in the way he is being treated and Mr Janner may have been able to help him in some way.”
Also accused are Mr Beck’s former deputy Peter Jaynes, 42, who denies three offences involving children, and George Lincoln, 39, who denies one charge.
The trial was adjourned until today.