Friday, 15 January 2016

Lord Janner ~ Criminal proceedings are at an end

Update - see 19th January addendum below

At a hearing before Mr Justice Openshaw, it has been accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service that criminal proceedings against the late Lord Janner are at an end - Statement from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) 15th January 2016.  This is entirely in line with the long-standing and basic rule of criminal law that proceedings end with the death of the accused individual.  In fairness to the CPS, the court would have required formal evidence of the death though it is unclear why this could not have been presented earlier.  The CPS statement also states:

"In April 2015, the Director of Public Prosecutions commissioned an independent inquiry into the handling of past allegations of sexual abuse by Greville Janner. Now that criminal proceedings have concluded, we will publish the findings of Sir Richard Henriques’ inquiry at the earliest opportunity."  When this inquiry was announced it was said by the CPS that it was to be held in order to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice and to seek to learn appropriate lessons.

In a previous post about Janner of 21st December 2015, it was commented:

"A decision on whether the proceedings will be discontinued will be made in January.  The arguments for and against are summarised in this Guardian article where the views of Lord MacDonald (a former DPP) are set out.  Whilst those claiming to be victims will be upset, there is surely little point in continuing with this matter given that the court cannot impose on a dead man any of the orders permitted by the legislation."

It was quite astounding that a former Director of Public Prosecutions thought that there was a credible case for continuing the proceedings against Janner despite his death.   There is no provision in the relevant legislation for continuance of proceedings toward a "trial of the facts" in such circumstances and it would have been a legal obscenity to have proceeded.   Over the course of history there have been trials of dead people such as John Wycliffe, Joan of Arc and Thomas a Becket.  An interesting, and much more recent example, turned out to be the trial at Nuremberg of Nazi Martin Bormann.  However, at the time of the trial it was not known whether he was dead so, strictly, the trial was held in absentia.   Remains of Bormann were discovered and, confirmed by DNA analysis in 1998.

The Law Commission has issued a paper on Fitness to Plead - see previous post.

This may not be the last we have heard of Janner.  If any civil proceedings have been issued then they are able to continue against his estate.  Also, it may be that the Goddard Inquiry (previous post) will examine his case along with others.  

Addendum 19th January:

The report by Sir Richard Henriques - referred to above - has been published - HERE.  



  1. 'It was quite astounding that a former Director of Public Prosecutions thought that there was a credible case for continuing the proceedings against Janner despite his death.'

    Well, in snooker, you will often see a player miss a pot because he is distracted by what he wants to do with the cue ball. Commentators will say 'he took his eye off the pot.' I suspect that this former DPP was distracted by pressure from the press and other third parties.

  2. Joan of Arc was not tried after her death. Her conviction was overturned. More like Derek Bentley's case.

    As for civil proceedings, if any, I hope the executors plead section 33 and win. This is not like the Rapist Who Won The Lottery. Janner was there, with some means, and reachable to be served, for years after the complainants reached majority and they should have sued during the three years allowed. It would be an abuse to let them sue now when they can all sing from the same hymn-sheet and he can't answer.

    The same, by the way, except as regards not being able to answer, applies to Rolf Harris. Limitation laws are there for a reason.

    1. Yes - Joan of Arc was exonerated after a "procedure" (often referred to - probably very loosely - as a "trial" or "retrial") which was held on the order of Pope Collixtus.