Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, personally overruled senior lawyers to block a prosecution of the Labour peer Lord Janner on child abuse charges.
Lead counsel appointed to the case recommended that Lord Janner of Braunstone, QC, who has advanced dementia, should be charged with 16 sex offences against nine alleged victims spanning three decades from the 1960s. Until last month Leicestershire police, who investigated the case and interviewed 25 alleged victims, believed that the Crown Prosecution Service would press charges.
In an eleventh hour volte-face, Mrs Saunders decided that despite sufficient evidence to prosecute it was not in the public interest to go ahead because the severity of Lord Janner’s dementia meant that he would not be able to follow proceedings or instruct lawyers. The DPP’s decision was angrily condemned by alleged victims, who will seek a review, and the police, who have said that they are taking advice about a legal challenge. Any such move would increase pressure on Mrs Saunders, who is already facing criticism over her running of the CPS.