Skip to main content

0800 917 1000   Open weekdays 9am-5pm

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Institutional responses to allegations of child sexual abuse involving the late Lord Janner of Braunstone QC Investigation Report

B.2: Operation Dauntless

Background

51. In November 2005, Leicestershire Police became aware that a complainant, JA-A8, had alleged that he was abused whilst in care. The police commenced Operation Dauntless, during the course of which JA-A8 was interviewed and made allegations that he had been sexually abused by Lord Janner on two or three separate occasions.

52. Following receipt of JA-A8’s complaint, Leicestershire Police held a ‘Gold Group’ meeting in May 2006. A Gold Group sets the strategic direction of an enquiry, including the investigative parameters, resource allocation and budget, and is attended by senior police officers from within the force. Shortly after the meeting, the Head of the Specialist Crime Department, Chief Superintendent (C/Supt) Alistair Helm, appointed D/Supt Christopher Thomas as the SIO for Operation Dauntless (not to be confused with D/Supt Graham Thomas).

53. D/Supt Christopher Thomas told us that, at the time of the investigation, he would have had responsibility for approximately 10 to 12 other major crime investigations. He said Operation Dauntless had an initial investigation team of six detective officers from the Major Crime Team, including DI Kevin Barrs as the Deputy SIO, DS David Swift-Rollinson and four DCs. The officers involved in Operation Dauntless also had other policing commitments.

54. DS Swift-Rollinson told us that the investigation was “sensitive” and needed to be carried out “discreetly” because Lord Janner was a current member of the House of Lords. He said this decision was not unusual and was in fact “normal, proper and professional”.[1]

Enquiries conducted during Operation Dauntless

55. DS Swift-Rollinson described the investigative tasks that had been allocated to him during the Operation. He said these had included reviewing the complaint made by JA-A8 and all associated evidential material, which included any earlier complaints made by JA-A8 about other individuals. JA-A8’s social services records were reviewed and were found not to contain any references to the allegations JA-A8 had made against Lord Janner. The investigation team also contacted and interviewed JA-A8’s former social worker, Ms Anne McCann. She told the police that, to the best of her knowledge, JA-A8 had never disclosed any allegations of sexual abuse to her. JA-A8 was re-interviewed, following which D/Supt Christopher Thomas identified a number of discrepancies in his account.

56. In mid-December 2006, DI Barrs visited a secure suite at Market Harborough Police Station and found a number of hardcopy typed statements in a drawer. These statements included JA-A19’s ‘S4C’ statement and JA-A6’s ‘S101A’ statement, prepared during Operation Magnolia and containing their allegations of child sexual abuse against Lord Janner. DI Barrs passed these statements to DS Swift-Rollinson, who had access to the Operation Magnolia material that had been entered onto the HOLMES database. DS Swift-Rollinson was unable to find any reference to statements ‘S4C’ and ‘S101A’ on HOLMES. DS Swift-Rollinson told us that JA-A19 and JA-A6’s statements also did not appear to have been provided to the Crown Prosecution Service during Operation Magnolia.

57. Emails between DS Swift-Rollinson, DI Keenan and DI Yates – officers from Operation Magnolia – confirmed that the statements had not been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service. DI Barrs also told us that he had spoken to DC Keenan and DI Yates, and that they had both been “very uncomfortable” about statements being in existence that were not entered onto HOLMES. He said that both officers had given him the impression that Leicestershire Police had not pursued any investigations into the allegations made in those statements. DS Swift-Rollinson described it as “wholly untoward” that the Operation Magnolia officers failed to investigate JA-A19’s allegations, to enter JA-A19’s statement onto HOLMES in a timely fashion or to pass the statement to the Crown Prosecution Service as part of their advice file.

58. DS Swift-Rollinson told us that, following confirmation that the allegations in statement S4C (which he referred to as the “unrevealed statement”) had not been progressed by Leicestershire Police or passed to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration, he discussed his concerns in detail with DI Barrs and they both raised the matter with D/Supt Christopher Thomas. D/Supt Christopher Thomas was provided with copies of the statements as he said that he wanted to assess whether they might provide ‘similar fact’ evidence (ie relevant and admissible evidence that suggested the suspect may on other occasions have behaved in a similar way to the allegation now made) in support of JA-A8’s allegations.

59. D/Supt Christopher Thomas told us that no investigations into JA-A19’s allegations were carried out by Operation Dauntless prior to providing the advice file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

60. Despite having identified that JA-A19 and JA-A6 had made allegations of child sexual abuse against Lord Janner, Leicestershire Police did not undertake any further investigation into their allegations. No check was made to ascertain whether JA-A19 and JA-A6 were still alive, whether any individuals that they had mentioned could be traced, or whether – importantly – they were able to provide any further evidence that might have been relevant to those allegations or which might support JA-A8’s allegations in Operation Dauntless. Even after the advice file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service, the results of such enquiries could have been forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service to be taken into account when considering their advice.

Decisions relating to arrest and interview

61. DS Swift-Rollinson told us that D/Supt Christopher Thomas decided not to arrest Lord Janner or to search his properties. Both he and DI Kevin Barrs thought Lord Janner should have been arrested. He said that he also thought that:

“someone who is accused, and accused of serious allegations, in their life should be allowed to account for them. They should be allowed to provide answers to questions and reasonable explanations, and, if necessary, assert their innocence”.[2]

62. He added that he and the investigation team all felt it was “incredible that an individual such as Lord Janner should be treated any differently by not interviewing him, not arresting and searching” his properties. He stated that the fact that Lord Janner “was not allowed the opportunity to dispel those allegations or provide a reasonable account is staggering, bewildering and disappointing”.[3]

63. DS Swift-Rollinson confirmed a view that he had expressed during a meeting with his DI and the SIO, that if the accused had been a “man on the street” then the police would have arrested him, searched his home and interviewed him. He added that it was “unorthodox” for an officer of his rank to express such strong views towards a senior officer, but he felt he had:

“a duty as a police officer to do [his] job correctly and to try and influence the SIO to gather evidence to either confirm or refute the allegations, to recover evidence, to look at important safeguarding implications … and a whole host of reasons that are obvious to this enquiry”.[4]

64. In relation to the decision not to arrest Lord Janner, D/Supt Christopher Thomas referred to a policy document (policy decision 13) which he said captured “an outline of [his] thinking”. He said that he was never put under any pressure not to arrest Lord Janner. He stated that he had “absolutely” informed senior officers and that there would have been no reason not to speak to them about it. He said that he felt that a search of Lord Janner’s property was “highly unlikely” to result in any corroborative evidence and that, due to the passage of time since the allegations, there was “very little opportunity” for “forensic or other supporting evidence”. D/Supt Christopher Thomas refuted the suggestion that it was unorthodox for a detective sergeant to challenge an SIO and said that, on other major enquiries, lower ranking officers had “raised issues” and that he believed he was “willing to listen” to such concerns. He stood by the decision not to arrest Lord Janner, as it was his view that the police were highly unlikely to take the case forward.[5]

Investigative steps taken by Operation Dauntless in relation to JA-A19 and JA-A6

65. DI Barrs said D/Supt Christopher Thomas specifically told him not to make any further enquiries in respect of JA-A19 until advice from the Crown Prosecution Service had been received.[6] D/Supt Christopher Thomas said that he did not take any further steps in relation to JA-A19’s allegations as he wanted to see whether the Crown Prosecution Service would advise that further enquiries should be conducted. He said that it was his view that they should “pause” the investigation and seek a legal perspective from the Crown Prosecution Service. He also said that he had no recollection of telling DI Barrs not to carry out any further investigations, and did not think he would have done so.[7]

66. During the IOPC’s investigation (see Part B.5 below), Chief Constable Baggott was shown statement S4C, which JA-A19 had provided to Operation Magnolia and contained the Janner allegations. He said that if the allegations within statement S4C were not investigated:

“this is not acceptable. Leicestershire Police had an ongoing responsibility to consider the allegation and to interview the named children. I would say this responsibility was primarily in 2000 during Operation Magnolia but did still exist in 2006/7.”[8]

67. DI Barrs told us that he considered that the decision not to interview Lord Janner, to seek early advice from the Crown Prosecution Service and not to investigate JA-A19’s allegations further were all failures of Operation Dauntless. He said that, in respect of each issue, his view had differed from that of the SIO and that he had informed him of those differences of opinion. He said that he did not think that Lord Janner was treated in the same way as another person in a similar position would have been. He commented:

“He was afforded the benefit of the doubt. If we’d have continued with those investigations, I could have removed that benefit of doubt.”[9]

68. We do not criticise D/Supt Christopher Thomas for his decision not to arrest Lord Janner in early 2007. On the evidence that was then available to the investigation, choosing not to do so was within the range of reasonable decisions open to an SIO, notwithstanding the strong views expressed by the officers under him. However, it was a decision that was made on the evidence then available, and that evidence was incomplete. As we have said, further enquiries should have been conducted into the allegations of JA-A19 and JA-A6, and the decision on whether to arrest should have been revisited in light of any evidence obtained. It is impossible to say what decision would then have been taken regarding arrest.

Crown Prosecution Service advice

69. On the same day that D/Supt Christopher Thomas decided that Lord Janner would not be arrested (30 January 2007), he also decided to seek advice from the Crown Prosecution Service about a prosecution. His policy log entry provided the rationale for this decision. The advice file sent to the Crown Prosecution Service contained not only allegations made by JA-A8 but also those that had arisen in previous investigations, including the allegations made by JA-A19 and JA-A6 in Operation Magnolia. In his cover letter to the advice file, D/Supt Christopher Thomas stated that the police had conducted “a full investigation”. He requested advice:

“(1) On prosecuting Greville Janner for the allegations made by [JA-A8] …

(2) On whether the evidence around the previous allegations against Greville Janner would support a prosecution, or on its relevance to [JA-A8’s] allegation”.

70. We heard that a police report accompanying the advice file identified certain inconsistencies in JA-A8’s account and had questioned whether those should be considered and advice obtained from a forensic psychologist. DS Swift-Rollinson said that a forensic psychologist’s advice was not obtained. He did not know the reasons for this. He confirmed that the advice file had referred to medical evidence which did not support the complainant’s account. The cover report also asked the Crown Prosecution Service whether further enquiries should be undertaken in a “final attempt” to influence the Crown Prosecution Service to recommend that further police investigations should be carried out.

71. DI Barrs told us that he felt the timing of the SIO’s decision to seek advice from the Crown Prosecution Service was “premature”, because “most … main lines of enquiry had not been completed”. He acknowledged that an SIO could choose when to seek advice so he would not criticise the SIO for that, but his criticism was that they “hadn’t provided the Crown Prosecution Service with a full and thorough investigation”.[10]

72. Despite telling us that he intended to “pause” the investigation, D/Supt Christopher Thomas’s policy entry does not refer to any pause. It reads as a decision reached at the conclusion of an investigation. Although he might have considered further enquiries if these were recommended by the Crown Prosecution Service, it appears that, in the absence of such a recommendation, D/Supt Christopher Thomas treated it as though it were a completed investigation. In any event, even if D/Supt Christopher Thomas did intend to ‘pause’ the investigation, we consider that this interruption to the flow of the investigation was premature. There remained a number of further enquiries that could have been carried out, not least the investigation into JA-A19 and JA-A6’s uninvestigated allegations, and there is no good reason why the results of those further enquiries could not have been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service after the initial advice file had been submitted, for consideration alongside the other evidence that had been gathered.

73. Nevertheless, we also considered the evidence of Chief Constable Baggott to be instructive. He stated that it was sensible to seek early advice from the Crown Prosecution Service. Whilst different officers may hold different opinions about when advice from the Crown Prosecution Service should be sought, it is clear from his evidence that a decision to seek early advice is not one that would be criticised by more senior officers, and may indeed be supported. In light of this, we accept that D/Supt Christopher Thomas was entitled to seek advice from the Crown Prosecution Service when he felt it was appropriate to do so.

74. Our criticism, however, is that Operation Dauntless failed to investigate JA-A19 and JA-A6’s allegations against Lord Janner adequately, or as fully as it should have done, knowing that those allegations had not been properly investigated previously.

75. The advice file was received by the Crown Prosecution Service on 23 April 2007 and allocated to Mr Rock. In accordance with Crown Prosecution Service policies for dealing with cases involving an MP, the file was referred to CPS Headquarters. However, it was not sent to CPS Headquarters until August 2007. Mr Rock said that part of the reason for the delay was that he felt he needed to read the file before he referred it, and the pressure of work and court attendance meant he did not read the file until July 2007. He acknowledged that the delay was “too long” and agreed that, in cases involving sexual crime, in some instances going back years, every day was a day lost in terms of recollection, memory and perhaps a desire to cooperate. Asked whether he could have referred the file to someone else to read, he said, “there was no-one else to refer it to”. Mr Rock told us that he subsequently received a telephone call from CPS Headquarters informing him that the file would be returned and that he was to deal with it himself. CPS Headquarters should have retained the file. Mr Rock said that he was told that the prosecution was “going nowhere”, which he understood to mean that there was no prospect of conviction. Despite this, Mr Rock said that, when he received the file back some weeks later, possibly in early autumn, he reviewed it with an open mind and was not influenced by the view that had been expressed to him. He confirmed that he was not put under any pressure by CPS Headquarters to reach any particular conclusion, and that he certainly was not influenced by their view.[11]

76. On 19 December 2007, Mr Rock advised that Lord Janner should not be arrested and interviewed or charged. The advice stated that there were no further reasonable lines of enquiry to strengthen the case, that interviewing Lord Janner would not further the investigation and there were concerns about JA-A8’s credibility such that there was no realistic prospect of conviction.

77. Mr Rock accepted that it was within his remit to advise the police to take further investigative steps, which could have included recommending the re-interview of previous complainants or the instruction of a forensic psychologist. He accepted there was no reference to such recommendations in his advice, but said that he had spoken to the SIO on the telephone to discuss further lines of enquiry, and the SIO’s view had been that “there were no further lines of enquiry to follow”. Mr Rock said that he could not remember whether he discussed instructing a forensic psychologist with the SIO. He said that these conversations had taken place before he had provided his advice, but could not say exactly when. He also accepted that JA-A6’s allegations against Lord Janner, which had been referred to within the advice file from the police, were not referred to in his advice. He said that he did not think he saw JA-A6’s statement at the time and that if he did not, he had relied on what the police had said about it in their report. Mr Rock confirmed that he had concluded that JA-A6 “couldn’t be relied upon” based upon the comment in the police report that JA-A6 had “severe mental health problems and must be discounted as a witness”. He said that his advice was not “written in anticipation of a detailed forensic examination many years later, and, for that reason, it’s not as comprehensive as otherwise it perhaps should have been”.[12]

78. The advice was perfunctory and gave the impression of a complacent attitude and a lack of commitment to ensuring that all proper lines of investigation were pursued before a final decision was made. Mr Rock should have advised the police to contact previous complainants to ascertain whether they were willing to provide further evidence.

79. Mr Gregor McGill, Director of Legal Services at the Crown Prosecution Service, told us that the Operation Enamel reviewing lawyer in 2015 had found that the prosecutor in 2007 had given “disproportionate weight to matters that adversely affected the credibility of the complainant as well as to the delay in reporting the complaint”. He added that the rules on corroboration had changed and that, following changes to the law in 2003, there was the possibility for cross-admissibility for multiple allegations that should have been taken into account. Mr McGill confirmed that the Crown Prosecution Service stood by the view that mistakes were made in relation to the decision-making in 2007.[13]

80. Mr Rock accepted that at the time that he was considering Operation Dauntless, matters such as the fact that children in care may have more notes written about them than other children, and other issues around making further enquiries to corroborate the offence rather than the credibility of the offender, were not in the forefront of his mind. He said that he was “applying the processes that were relevant in 2007. They did change in 2013, and anyone looking at the case now would approach it in a totally different way”.[14]

81. We heard that both DI Barrs and DS Swift-Rollinson were disappointed with the Crown Prosecution Service advice not to charge Lord Janner, and that DS Swift-Rollinson had wanted to challenge the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision.[15] D/Supt Christopher Thomas said he felt frustrated by the advice but did not feel that he could invoke the procedure to challenge it, as he considered that it included consideration of matters of law which were not within his expertise.[16] Mr Rock said that D/Supt Christopher Thomas appeared to accept his advice. He explained that there was an ‘escalating’ procedure set out within the guidance on charging so if the police had wanted to challenge his advice, they could have done so and the complaint would then have been considered by his line manager, the Chief Crown Prosecutor.[17]

82. At the point when D/Supt Christopher Thomas sought advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, further investigations were possible, and when the more junior officers pressed for those investigations to be carried out, their views were sidelined. D/Supt Christopher Thomas appeared to treat the investigation as complete, and it appeared that he was seeking to ‘wind down’ the investigation.

83. Mr Rock should have recommended that further enquiries be carried out. He also should have taken greater care to consider the contents of the advice file and the potential for further evidence that such enquiries may have yielded. While his decision not to charge Lord Janner may ultimately have been a reasonable one, his failure to fully engage with the issues raised by the conduct of the investigation was unsatisfactory.

84. While it may have been possible for DS Swift-Rollinson and DI Barrs to have challenged Mr Rock’s advice directly themselves, it is apparent from D/Supt Christopher Thomas’s evidence that, in practice, this would have been viewed as “inappropriate” and is therefore not something we consider those officers could fairly be expected to have done.

85. Some of the investigating officers believed that Lord Janner was being treated differently from the man on the street because of who he was. On the evidence we heard, we are not in a position to determine whether this was the case. It is clear, however, that there was a failure properly to progress the investigation into the allegations against Lord Janner.

86. The 2015 decision to commence criminal proceedings against Lord Janner included charges in respect of JA-A8.

Back to top