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Lord Janner re-appointed to law committee despite ‘dementia’

Labour peer went back on group to consider complex legal issues following police raids

By Alex Varley-Winter and David Hencke | 22 May 2015

Lord Janner re-appointed to law committee despite ‘dementia’

Former Labour MP Lord Janner was re-appointed to a parliamentary committee last June despite being “too ill” with dementia to be interviewed by police.

Exaro has established that the peer was re-appointed to Parliament’s joint committee on consolidation bills – which deals with complex issues around bringing acts of Parliament together – six months after detectives raided his home in London during their investigation into allegations against him of sexually abusing boys.

It was also three months after detectives searched his office at the House of Lords, and shortly after police sought advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) because Janner’s lawyers were claiming that he was in no state to be interviewed because of dementia.

One member of the committee, which is made up of peers and MPs, told Exaro that he was baffled as to why Janner was re-appointed.

A separate source in the House of Lords, who has a role in recommending which peers should sit on a range of parliamentary committees, said that he was surprised by the re-appointment because he and colleagues understood that Janner was suffering from dementia by then.

The source said: “Appointments to the consolidation committee is a rubber-stamping exercise, and the names are supplied by the whips to be officially appointed.”

The disclosure of the re-appointment comes after Exaro revealed last week how Janner had voted 203 times in the House of Lords after granting power of attorney over decisions about his health to two of his children in April 2009 and despite a diagnosis of dementia that year.

In addition, he attended the House of Lords on 634 days during that time, claiming £104,365 in allowances.

Reacting to those disclosures, Peter Garsden, president of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, said: “The two different scenarios do not appear to agree with each other, hence there seems to be a conflict of evidence.”

Janner signed a further power of attorney to all of his three adult children, covering his property and financial affairs, in November 2011. Acting under that power of attorney, Janner’s children passed ownership of his home, valued at around £2 million, to themselves in March last year, the same month that police raided his office at the House of Lords.

Parliament’s joint committee on consolidation bills brings together existing acts on the same subject without changing the law, although they may make “minor corrections and improvements”.

As the Law Commission, which makes recommendations to government on reforming laws, notes in guidance: “Consolidation work can be exceptionally difficult.”

“Technical substantive changes to the law are often required in order to produce a satisfactory consolidated text.”

The claim of Janner’s dementia raises a question about why he was re-appointed to the committee after the Queen’s Speech in June last year.

Janner first went on the joint committee in 1974, four years after becoming a Labour MP. Since 1978, he has been re-appointed to the committee every year, although he last attended one of its meetings in 2002.

Tony Blair, soon after becoming prime minister following a Labour landslide at the general election in 1997, appointed Janner as a peer.

Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions (DPP), provoked fury last month after announcing that the CPS would not prosecute Janner or pursue a “trial of the facts” over 22 counts of sexually abusing nine boys because of his ill health.

Janner always denied claims that he was a paedophile.

The CPS has appointed a barrister, as yet unnamed, to review the DPP’s decision following a request on behalf of complainants.

Janner took leave of absence from the House of Lords last October. He formally remained a member of seven parliamentary all-party groups at the point of dissolution in March, including those for Australia and New Zealand, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iraq and United Arab Emirates.

Just a week before the DPP’s announcement that Janner would not be charged, the House of Lords received a letter signed by him to request an extension to his leave of absence.

Labour has suspended Janner’s party membership.

Meanwhile, on Monday, an abuse survivor from Kincora boys’ home in Northern Ireland, Richard Kerr, told Exaro how he was first taken to the notorious Elm Guest House by a retired judge.

Related Stories : Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread.

By Exaro News

Exaro News investigates matters of public interest and seeks to uncover the truth.