Police failed to prosecute Labour peer Lord Janner twice during his lifetime and did not provide further allegations that would have brought forward a third prosecution in 2002, an inquiry has found. Janner died in December 2015 after being declared unfit to stand trial for a total 22 sex offences dating back to the 1960s, many involving children under the age of 16, after suffering from dementia.
An independent inquiry commissioned by the Director of Public Prosecutions was set up last year to examine handling of past allegations of sexual abuse. The inquiry, headed by High Court Judge Sir Richard Henriques, was set up to examine the decisions made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) relating to Janner.
It found that the decision to not charge Janner over allegations by an individual who featured in the trial of child sex offender Frank Beck in 1991 was "wrong", as there was enough evidence against him to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for offences of indecent assault and buggery.
In addition, the inquiry found the police investigation was "inadequate" and no charging decision should have been taken by the CPS until the police had undertaken further enquiries.
The inquiry also found there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Janner in 2007 over allegations of indecent assault and buggery. In 2002, sex offence allegations were referred to the CPS by Leicestershire Police as part of Operation Magnolia, but apparently not those involving Janner and accordingly no prosecution was possible. The independent inquiry has ruled this warrants an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders said: "The inquiry's findings that mistakes were made confirms my view that failings in the past by prosecutors and police meant that proceedings were not brought. It is a matter of sincere regret that on three occasions, opportunities to put the allegations against Lord Janner before a jury were not taken.
"It is important that we understand the steps which led to these decisions not to prosecute, and ensure that no such mistakes can be made again.
"I have carefully considered the observations and conclusions made by Sir Richard Henriques. The inquiry acknowledged that the CPS has moved on hugely since these investigations and that current guidance and procedures would result in decisions that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute in all three cases considered in the report. However, we are also acting on his recommendations to make further changes and improvements in the handling of such sensitive cases."
Leicester Police said they were "aware" of the failures highlighted in the report. A spokesperson added: "During the course of his review Sir Richard spoke to a number of CPS staff in order to understand their role in those previous investigations into Lord Janner. We would have welcomed the opportunity to assist Sir Richard in a similar way and are disappointed not to have been asked to do so.
"During the most recent (Operation Enamel) investigation by Leicestershire Police into Lord Janner, the quality of which is praised by Sir Richard, we became concerned about aspects of those previous investigations and voluntarily asked the Independent Police Complaints Commission in 2014 to launch its own, independent investigation into the matters. The IPCC's investigation is on-going, and in order not to prejudice its work we feel it would not be appropriate to make comment on the conclusions reached by Sir Richard until the IPCC reports its own findings."
Legal proceedings against Janner were dropped on 15 January after the CPS confirmed he will not face a "trial by facts" whereby a jury can determine if he committed 22 abuse allegations, but cannot pass a verdict of guilty, following his death.
Janner was investigated alongside Beck in 1991 over allegations of abuse at children's homes in Leicester. He was cleared by the CPS in December 1991, a month after Beck was sentenced to five life terms after being convicted of a string of child sex offences.
After proceedings were dropped in January, Janner's family denied the accusations against him, describing the peer as a man of "great integrity and "entirely innocent" of the charges.