Much has been whispered about the timing of the CPS announcement regarding Lord Janner. The police had begun their exhaustive investigation almost two years ago and the CPS had the criminal file for nine months before they announced that they would not be prosecuting Lord Janner. The DPP chose to make the announcement after Parliament had been prorogued.
Nine months seems like a great deal of time for CPS consideration given that they were presented with “credible evidence” and nine months seems like a very long time to consider medical evidence.
The upshot of this fortuitous delay is that by the time the announcement was made there were officially no members of parliament, only candidates and no forum for elected representatives to raise their concerns and ask questions.
Nevertheless, regardless of this happy timing and despite the natural interest in one of the closest general election campaigns ever, this scandal has refused to be buried. The press have continued to ask extremely awkward and embarrassing questions, PPCs (prospective parliamentary candidates) have added their own names to calls for a review of the DPP’s Janner decision. In other words societies natural checks and balances have continued to act even at a time when some might have hoped they’d be temporarily redundant or focused elsewhere.
The intervention of the NSPCC’s chief Peter Wanless is another significant blow for Alison Saunders because Peter Wanless is establishment through and through. As a former senior civil servant he was trusted enough to investigate the Home Office’s missing child abuse files. His intervention carries a great deal of weight.
Wanless wrote to Alison Saunders:
‘Given the exceptional historical mistakes in this matter, I would like to understand why you did not deem it in the public interest to have a trial of facts, given this legal mechanism exists to enable the alleged victims to present their evidence in court and have a decision made as to whether Lord Janner carried out the alleged acts.
‘The decision by the CPS enables the disparity in the public arena between the position of the alleged victims and those of Lord Janner’s family to exist in perpetuity.’
He went on: ‘With victims of child sexual abuse, it is the very fact of being able to give evidence in court and have a decision made on the allegations which is so crucial.
‘The courage required to come forward when you are or have been a victim of child sexual abuse should not be underestimated.
‘We are concerned as to the unintentional consequences the situation could have on encouraging other victims of child sexual abuse to come forward, particularly if the accused sits in a position of influence or power.’
Public interest is not an easy thing to calculate but surely it can not be in the public interest to have the entire justice system thought of by the the public at large and victims of crime in particular as dealing with establishment figures differently from everyone else. Lord Janner may not pose a risk of re-offending but a failure to have a ‘trial of the facts’ might cause even more damage.
Public Interest is served by a ‘trial of the facts’