In 1991 Keith Vaz proposed a new law to protect the ‘innocence’ of his ‘friend’ and ‘neighbour’ Greville Janner because of the ‘lies’ that had been told about the now Lord Janner.
I particularly like this part given as a reason for such a law to protect the ‘innocent’:
“My hon. and learned Friend [Greville Janner], too, is a brave man in what he has done, said and endured over the past weeks and months. Every one of us should be grateful to him, because…what has happened to my hon. and learned Friend could happen to any one of us, so we should all be aware of it.”
Says it all really…
Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)
I first met my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) when, at his invitation, I came to the House with his son to see how Parliament operated. I would not have believed that a few years later I would have been selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for Leicester, East, and would be his neighbour.
I am delighted to be here today to give my hon. and learned Friend my full support. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall) cannot be here today because of his parliamentary duties in Northern Ireland, but he joins me in believing my hon. and learned Friend to be the victim of a cowardly and wicked attack by people who simply did not care what damage they did to him or to anyone else. I too wish to extend my good wishes to my hon. and learned Friend’s wife and family, and to all his friends, who I know have stood by him during these terrible months. They have shared that terrible burden.
My hon. and learned Friend is a distinguished Member for Leicester, West. His family in intertwined with the history of the city of Leicester. Before he was elected in 1970, his father was the Member for Leicester, West. The people of his constituency do not believe the lies. They are with him now, and they will be with him in the future, because they know of his unstinting service to anyone who approaches him, for whatever cause. He has vindicated himself, and all of us, in what he has said tonight.
I remember a speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short), who is another brave Member of the House who has suffered at the hands of a certain newspaper. I worked in the corridor where she had her office, and we Miss her in the west cloisters—especially her use of our fax machine. I recall that, just before her speech, my hon. Friend went through an agonising time wondering whether she should come before the House to tell it what she felt. Courageously, she did so—and struck a blow for every one of us in the House.
My hon. and learned Friend, too, is a brave man in what he has done, said and endured over the past weeks and months. Every one of us should be grateful to him, because, as the hon. Members for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Latham) and for Leicestershire, North-West (Mr. Ashby) said, what has happened to my hon. and learned Friend could happen to any one of us, so we should all be aware of it.
During the course of that terrible ordeal, I suggested to the Lord Chancellor that there should be a change in the law to provide for the protection of the innocent. The Lord Chancellor said that he would consider the idea. The Solicitor-General is here today, and I make him an offer. I came 18th in the ballot for private Members’ Bills. I know that that is not very high —and there are other subjects that I wish to raise. Nevertheless, I would happily introduce a Bill to cover the point if the right hon. and learned Gentleman would promise it a safe passage through the House.
We should not wait for another Criminal Justice Bill. There is parliamentary time, and we should get on with the job. I foresee that many unscrupulous people in this country would be prepared to do exactly the same thing again. If it is possible to do so, I will happily give the Solicitor-General my place.