The director of public prosecutions rejected the advice of one of the country’s principal authorities on sex offences when she ruled that Lord Janner of Braunstone should not be charged with child abuse.
Eleanor Laws, QC, was leading counsel to Leicestershire police’s investigation into the veteran Labour peer and recommended that he be put on trial despite his age and dementia.
There is recent precedent — Michael Collingwood was convicted in his absence by Exeter crown court in 2010 of abusing six young girls. Like Lord Janner the defendant was suffering from advanced dementia.
Alison Saunders ruled this week that because of Lord Janner’s illness it would not be in the public interest to prosecute despite there being sufficient evidence to charge him with 22 offences against nine alleged victims over three decades.
Mrs Saunders’s decision, which was communicated to police at the start of the week, caused surprise and anger among complainants and detectives who had expected the case to go to court.
Ms Laws, who is also leading counsel to Operation Pallial, the country’s largest historical abuse investigation into children’s homes in north Wales, said yesterday that she was unable to comment because her advice to the DPP was the legally privileged property of the Crown Prosecution Service.