Alison Saunders under renewed pressure over her dropping of case against Labour peer
By Mark Watts, Mark Conrad and Alex Varley-Winter | 9 May 2015
Nearly 80 MPs elected or re-elected in Thursday’s general election are calling for the case against Lord Janner to go to court.
They were among 393 candidates who agreed with a cross-party demand for a reversal in the decision by Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions, not to prosecute the former Labour MP or to pursue a “trial of the facts” over allegations of child sex abuse.
In total, 82 of those candidates have been announced as winning their seats in yesterday’s election. Out of a total of 428 candidates who at least expressed concern about the DPP’s decision, 96 have been elected.
The DPP faces fresh criticism when Parliament returns. While Saunders accepts that there is sufficient evidence to charge Janner on 22 counts of sexually abusing nine boys, she said in a statement last month that he was too ill from dementia to be prosecuted.
Simon Danczuk, Labour MP, told Exaro: “I believe that it was very cynical for the director of public prosecutions to make this decision while Parliament was dissolved.” Danczuk has been at the forefront in Parliament of exposing Sir Cyril Smith, the former Liberal MP who died in 2010, and other “VIP paedophiles”.
The high strength of feeling among MPs means that the DPP’s controversial decision is bound to be raised on the floor of the House of Commons soon after the return of Parliament.
Danczuk, who led an initial group of 12 MPs to make the cross-party call for a reversal of the DPP’s decision on Janner, said: “Now that we have a significant number of MPs who believe it to be wrong that justice is not being seen to be done in a case as serious as this, I hope that Janner’s case will be debated as soon as possible when Parliament returns.”
He was pleased to see the large number of MPs who joined the cross-party call, thanks mainly to being asked by a small group of Exaro’s Twitter followers.
Danczuk told Exaro: “It is encouraging to see a widespread view in Parliament that the decision of Alison Saunders to deny justice to those who were allegedly abused by Lord Janner was wholly wrong and that it is damaging public confidence in the justice system.”
Saunders has told her critics – including Leicestershire Police, which carried out the investigation into Janner that resulted in the halted case – to challenge her in the courts if they believe that she made the wrong call.
Some of the complainants are already formally asking the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to review the DPP’s decision, raising an issue about who can conduct a genuinely independent re-assessment.
Danczuk and 11 other MPs, or election candidates as they then were, wrote in a letter to The Times:
We were encouraged last year by the commitment from the director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to pursue justice for sexual abuse victims whether their cases were “30 days or 30 years old”. She stated the public would be horrified if she did not do this – yet she has decided not to put Lord Janner of Braunstone on trial for alleged historic child abuse. Have we learnt anything from the mistakes of the past?
As long as justice is not seen to be done and the greater public interest is not served, the public will see attempts to investigate establishment figures involved in historic child abuse as a whitewash.
The CPS has acknowledged the case against Lord Janner passes its evidential test, and there are established precedents in proceeding with cases against defendants with advanced dementia. Defendants have been charged with child abuse and found guilty in their absence. One man’s ill health cannot be a barrier to the greater public interest.
Clearly this is damaging public confidence. Mrs Saunders must recognise this and immediately reverse her decision – or look at other routes to providing justice.
The breakdown of the 82 MPs who back the call for the DPP to reverse the Janner decision is: 29 Conservative, 2 Liberal Democrat, 33 from Labour and 12 Scottish Nationalist as well as 6 from other parties. Of the 82 MPs from all parties, 28 were newly elected and 54 re-elected.
In addition, Theresa May, home secretary, Jeremy Hunt, health secretary, and Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, were among at least 14 other MPs/election candidates who expressed concern about the DPP’s decision, making a total of 92 who have misgivings.
Among elected/re-elected MPs who have expressed concern, including those who called for a review, are: Graham Brady, Therese Coffey, Richard Graham, Nigel Huddleston, Alistair Burt (Conservative); Greg Mulholland (Liberal Democrat); Keith Vaz, Toby Perkins, Yvonne Fovargue, Justin Madders, (Labour); Michelle Thomson (Scottish National Party).
This is the full list of MPs who have backed the call (with the initial 12 underlined, with their tweets or other comments, mostly in response to being asked whether they support the call for the DPP to reverse her decision. We have also preserved, as a matter of record, the full list of election candidates who supported the call.
Jake Berry tweeted: “yes it’s wrong! and needs a review.”
James Berry: “Absolutely”
Bob Blackman: “yes,” and, “In my view a judge should rule on fitness to stand trial after hearing appropriate arguments.”
Steve Brine: “Yes, absolutely. Also need an investigation into how it was the case didn’t get considered earlier by the CPS.”
Neil Carmichael: “yes, I think the Lord Janner case needs to be revisited. Evidence should be properly tested in the public interest.”
Philip Davies: “Yes – absolutely. Have been in touch with @SimonDanczuk to offer my support to him”
David Davies: “yes”
Flick Drummond: “yes you can. No one should get away with any abuse of vulnerable people.”
Kevin Foster: “Should be for a judge to decide if fit to stand trial not DPP.”
Liam Fox, former defence secretary: “I think that what should happen is that it goes before a court, in terms of fitness to plead, and then you can try the evidence.”
Rebecca Harris: “yes! No problem. How?”
Simon Hoare: “yes you may. A terrible decision not to prosecute”
Andrea Jenkyns: “Yes definitely”
Boris Johnson, mayor of London, said that the DPP’s decision on Lord Janner was “disgraceful and regrettable”, adding that a trial of the facts “would be good”.
David Jones: “certainly; the issue of fitness should be determined by a judge”
Simon Kirby: “yes the decision needs to be reviewed”
Charlotte Leslie: “yes definitely”
Tim Loughton, former children’s minister: “me too”
Jason McCartney: “Absolutely, the decision needs to be reviewed!”
Caroline Nokes: “yes – I certainly do”
Henry Smith: “yes.”
Julian Smith: “yes”
Royston Smith: “absolutely”
Gary Streeter: “you may”
David Warburton: “Yes. It seems to me to be entirely wrong – fitness to plead should go before a court.”
Norman Lamb, health minister: “This matter should not be concluded by the DPP and should be brought before a court.”
Mark Williams: “yes I would”
Tom Blenkinsop: “yes & there’s precedent.”
Paul Blomfield: “Yes The decision must be reviewed to provide justice.”
Dawn Butler: “yes”
Sarah Champion: “Absolutely! Justice is so important for survivors to have closure”
Ann Clwyd: “Yes I think the decision needs to be revisited for a second opinion in open court so we have transparency”
Natascha Engel: “of course”
Robert Flello: “Yes, I will indeed add my name if re-elected to the call for a review of the decision on #Janner”
Paul Flynn: “It’s a difficult but the interests of the alleged abused trump the interests of the alleged perpetrator Janner. Day in Court RIGHT”
Lilian Greenwood: “yes”
Sue Hayman: “yes I’m happy to support.”
Rupa Huq: “Yes decision should be reviewed, badly handled. Happy to add my name to this.”
Diana Johnson: “Yes absolutely agree need 4 a review. Much better if decision made in open court with a jury – transparent decision making.”
Barbara Keeley: “Yes, I agree with the need for a review and that the decision should be taken in open court with a jury.”
Liz Kendall: “yes of course”
Emma Lewell-Buck: “Yes of course, Emma
Seema Malhotra: “yes – I absolutely agree there needs to be a review. And that victims voices are heard.”
Rachael Maskell: “Janner must face justice. All those who are accused of violating the law, let alone another person must face justice.”
Liz McInnes: “Yes, I will. The evidence should be heard.”
Grahame Morris: “Yes of course. How do I do that,” and, “Yes please add my name to the letter seeking a reversal or even a review of the DPP decision on Lord Janner”
Ian Murray e-mailed to say: “Happy to sign.”
Albert Owen: “Yes”
Teresa Pearce: “yes where do I sign”
Jess Phillips: “gladly”
Steve Reed: “yes!” And, “it’s right that politicians don’t make these decisions but this particular decision does seem highly questionable”
Barry Sheerman: “Yes!”
Jo Stevens: “decision on fitness to plead should be made in open court.”
Wes Streeting: “Please do.”
Stephen Twigg: “yes I will.”
Tom Watson: “yes of course.”
Catherine West: “yes. Very sad case but victims need to come first in our justice system.”
Iain Wright: “I certainly will.”
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
Jeffrey Donaldson: “yes”
Scottish National Party (SNP)
Ian Blackford: “Yes”
Alan Brown: “yes – regardless of the situation there should always be justice for victims.”
Douglas Chapman: “Absolutely !”
Martin Docherty: “certainly will!!!”
Martyn Day: “yes, happy to support”
Margaret Ferrier: “I have already put my name forward.”
Drew Hendry: “Absolutely. Victims and relatives deserve the respect and justice demands the examination”
Angus MacNeil: “yes”
Paul Monaghan: “Of course. Done.”
Roger Mullin: “Please do. The victims must be heard, and justice must be done.”
John Nicolson: “I think the evidence needs to be examined in court – and believe the victims deserve to be heard.”
Tommy Sheppard: “Will be more than happy to add my name to this.”
Jonathan Edwards: “yes”
Liz Saville Roberts: “Yes.”
Hywel Williams: “You certainly can! Happy to support this.”
Additional research by Ben Stupples.
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