Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Trial of Greville Janner

Is it possible to not be surprised yet be shocked at the same time? If it is, that's what I felt this morning when the news came through that Lord Janner, the former Labour MP for Leicester West would not be charged. Shocked because the testimony and evidence is compelling, not surprised because of the crippled, senile old man Janner has become. The Crown Prosecution Service concluded that it would not be in the public interest to follow through with a prosecution and, as much as I wish it was otherwise, this decision is the right one.

"As a Labour Party member he would say that." Well, no. As someone interested in justice being seen to be done, I am saying that. Anyone following the Janner case will have their opinion about his guilt or otherwise. I certainly have my views, and they're not a million miles away from the sentiment that's been gushing like a torrent on Twitter all afternoon. Yet we still - just - have the right to innocence until proven otherwise, and that applies to those accused of the most disgusting crimes. So where the evidence is concerned, let's just say there is a compelling case to answer. And on this point the CPS agrees.

Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is this. When Thatcher died, the truth was the woman who inspired admiration and hatred in equal measure had been killed by her dementia many years previously. All that was left was a flailing body scarcely aware of the passage of the day, let alone knowledge of who she once was. The same goes for Janner too. I haven't got access to his medical records, and neither has anyone else. Though one fully expects the CPS have, and took the trouble to examine them thoroughly. I think we can be reasonably confident that Janner's legal team haven't pulled an Ernest Saunders, who secured an early release from prison after being diagnosed with senile dementia, only to make a remarkable recovery after several months of freedom. Though, of course, the concealment of these records from public view are likely to fuel the notion this is the establishment covering for one of their own.

Ultimately, the question comes down to this. Ideally, should Janner have his day in court? Most certainly, and it is appalling that allegations made previously were brushed under the carpet and ignored. But what justice can possibly seen to be done by putting a dribbling invalid on the stand who is incapable of answering the charges and following proceedings? We do not hold trials in abstentia for defendants who no longer possess the capacity to understand what's happening to them, which is the only possible "equitable" solution under these circumstances.

It is awful that Janner's accusers can never confront him. But his figure is tainted, his reputation trashed, and trial by media well underway. Justice wasn't done, but Greville Janner has been crucified before the public all the same.


Anonymous said...

"We do not hold trials in abstentia for defendants who no longer possess the capacity to understand what's happening to them"

Oh, yes we do.

Western Morning News
Man found guilty of abusing six under-age girls
By This is Devon | Posted: May 15, 2010

A DEVON man has been found guilty of abusing six under-age girls in a trial held in his absence at Exeter Crown Court.
Jurors yesterday unanimously found that Michael Collingwood, now 69, of Tedburn St Mary, near Exeter, committed 23 sex offences, including raping one girl.
Judge Paul Darlow instructed the jury to formally enter not guilty pleas to the other six sex offence allegations. Jurors heard the trial in Collingwood’s absence after being told he suffers from severe dementia.
The jury forewoman, giving her verdicts, was required to say she found Collingwood “did the act charged” rather than being “guilty”, due to him not standing trial.
They were told, after the verdict, that he is currently in hospital under a Mental Health Act order, and his future will be decided at a further hearing.
He repeatedly abused six under-age girls in the 1980s and 1990s.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Wendy Fuller said after the verdict: “I want to pay credit to the immense bravery shown by the victims in coming to court and reliving the most traumatic experience of their childhood and beyond.
“I sincerely hope the result at court today will help them to somehow repair the considerable damage this depraved individual has caused.”
The court heard police investigated allegations involving four of the girls, in the 1990s, but the case was not brought to court.
A fresh investigation was launched last year after allegations were brought to light involving two other girls.
Collingwood called the rape victim a “good liar”, during that investigation.

Phil said...

That's interesting. In that case, it would be enlightening to know on what grounds the CPS decided to pursue the case above.

Phil said...

Here's an excellent comment on the CPS decision and previous precedents set by preceding cases. Very useful.

Gary Elsby said...

Then why can't we give Janner the full Jimmy Saville treatment regardless of the slight hindrance of an unfair public trial due to him being dead.

Messrs Clifford, Glitter and Harris are quite right to shake their heads in disbelief for one law for us and another for Labour.