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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

Part E: Conclusions

1. While this report is constrained in what can be publicly reported, based on the evidence we saw and heard, the complainants in two police investigations (Operation Magnolia in 2000 and Operation Dauntless in 2006) into child sexual abuse allegations made against Lord Janner were let down by institutional failings. In relation to both Operations, complaints were not properly investigated by Leicestershire Police. At the outset of the public hearing, it was said on behalf of Leicestershire Police:

“The chief constable would like to reiterate his wholehearted apology on behalf of Leicestershire Police to any complainant whose allegations during earlier police investigations were not responded to as they should have been by police and other institutions.”[1]

2. In 2012, Leicestershire Police commenced Operation Enamel to examine whether there was any evidence which had not previously been considered by the earlier police investigations, and whether there was an opportunity for the Crown Prosecution Service to review the previous decisions not to bring charges. New evidence emerged and additional complainants came forward. In June 2015, Lord Janner was charged with 22 offences of indecent assault and buggery relating to nine separate complainants. The acts were said to have taken place between the mid-1960s and the late 1980s, when the complainants were all aged between 8 and 16 years old. These accounts formed part of a total of 33 complainant accounts that this investigation considered (see Annex 3).

3. In December 2015, Lord Janner died, bringing the criminal proceedings to an end. At the time of his death, there had been no criminal or civil findings that he had committed any of the acts of child sexual abuse which had been alleged against him. Given that the focus of this investigation is on the institutional response to the allegations, it is not part of our remit, even if it were possible to do so, to determine whether the allegations made against him were true.

Conclusions in relation to Leicestershire County Council

4. Leicestershire County Council has a sorry record of failures in relation to the sexual abuse of children in its care in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Almost all of the complainant core participants in this investigation were residents of Leicestershire County Council’s residential care system which, between April 1974 and December 1980, had approximately 490 children in its care. This was a significant number of children who should have been protected from sexual abuse whilst in public care. Leicestershire County Council accepted that in the 1970s to 1980s it received “numerous[2] complaints that children within its children’s homes were being physically and sexually abused by individuals including children’s home staff. Many of those complaints reached senior management and yet Leicestershire County Council’s procedures for detecting and responding to those allegations were “inadequate”.[3] Investigations into allegations were carried out on “an ad hoc[4] basis. Leicestershire County Council operated an adult visitor scheme (also referred to as a befriending scheme) but there was no formal policy in place and no standardised vetting system, which “left children exposed to risk”.[5]

5. In relation to Lord Janner, a number of Leicestershire County Council’s staff were aware of, and had concerns about, Lord Janner’s association with a child in its care, such that further enquiries about the nature of the association were necessary. This association was facilitated by the informal visiting arrangements that were in existence at the time.

Conclusions in relation to Leicestershire Police

Adequacy of police investigations

6. The police investigation in Operation Magnolia insufficiently investigated JA-A19 and JA-A6’s complaints. The police were too quick to dismiss JA-A19 as someone who lacked credibility, and put too little emphasis on looking for evidence that might support his allegations. JA-A6’s complaint was shut down without any proper investigations being carried out. The decision not to submit JA-A19 and JA-A6’s statements about Lord Janner to the Crown Prosecution Service was a significant and unjustifiable failing.

7. The allegations made by JA-A8 in Operation Dauntless were carefully investigated by the investigation team. It was they who uncovered the fact that JA-A19 and JA-A6’s statements in Operation Magnolia had not been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service. However, the investigation was inhibited by decisions made by the senior investigating officer (SIO), Detective Superintendent (D/Supt) Christopher Thomas, who showed little enthusiasm to fully investigate the allegations. When the file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service, D/Supt Christopher Thomas treated the investigation as though it had been completed, when it was clear to him that the investigating officers considered that there were outstanding enquiries that could be pursued. In addition, the police could and should have revisited JA-A19 and JA-A6 (whose statements were found in the bottom drawer of a police desk) to ascertain whether they had any additional information that might assist the Crown Prosecution Service in deciding whether charges should be brought.

8. In addition to considering the institutional response of Leicestershire Police in Operations Magnolia and Dauntless, the Inquiry heard evidence relating to another police investigation into non-recent allegations of child sexual abuse made against Lord Janner. Lord Janner faced no charges as a result of that investigation. We concluded that:

  • the investigation of the Janner allegations was pursued by the officers concerned without prejudice towards children in residential care;
  • the decision not to charge Lord Janner was not an unreasonable decision, given the law that existed at the time and the factual complexities of that particular investigation. One witness described the criminal justice system at the time as being “fairly brutal in relation to victims making allegations of child sexual abuse”;[6]
  • while there were some procedural errors in the prosecutorial decision-making process, these did not affect the overall decision not to bring charges; and
  • there was no improper influence or pressure brought to bear on Leicestershire Police, Leicestershire Crown Prosecution Service or CPS Headquarters in the decisions they made in this investigation.

The impact of the backgrounds of complainants

9. The Foster report (1993) concluded that, from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, Leicestershire Police too often disbelieved children from children’s homes who reported that they had been abused. Some officers “even openly expressed” their disbelief and generally showed insufficient compassion towards the children. More generally, the evidence in this investigation suggested that this cynical attitude was not confined to the police but included some children’s social care staff and some social workers.

10. The evidence in Operation Magnolia suggests that, by 2001, there were still some members of Leicestershire Police who perpetuated that culture of disbelief. The police did not look beyond the often troubled backgrounds of the children. The accounts of JA-A19 and JA-A6 were dismissed by investigating officers, who demonstrated undue scepticism towards both complainants. The Crown Prosecution Service meeting in November 2001, which considered the evidence in respect of allegations of abuse by children’s home staff and not the Lord Janner allegations, focussed too much on the credibility of the complainants and not on the other evidence that might have supported a prosecution.

11. The Crown Prosecution Service advice in Operation Dauntless stated that issues surrounding inconsistencies in JA-A8’s evidence affected his credibility and meant that there was no realistic prospect of conviction. There is no evidence that prejudice towards JA-A8 and his background in care led to the decision not to charge Lord Janner.

Decisions regarding arrest

12. Insofar as Operation Magnolia was concerned, we have seen no arrest policy in respect of Lord Janner in the policy book of the SIO, Detective Superintendent (D/Supt) Graham Thomas (now deceased). It does not appear that the Crown Prosecution Service was asked to advise on whether Lord Janner should be arrested but in the absence of any evidence from D/Supt Graham Thomas it is not possible to come to any conclusion about the reasons why Lord Janner was not arrested in 2001.

13. By the time D/Supt Christopher Thomas decided not to arrest Lord Janner in Operation Dauntless (January 2007), the police were aware of previous complaints by JA-A19 and JA-A6. Despite this, no further investigations were carried out. D/Supt Christopher Thomas told us that he intended to “pause” the investigation whilst he sought advice from the Crown Prosecution Service.[7] 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. Nevertheless, the decision to “pause” the investigation was premature given that further enquiries could and should have been carried out, after which the decision on whether or not to arrest should have been revisited.

14. Having established that JA-A19 and JA-A6’s allegations against Lord Janner had never been properly investigated, Leicestershire Police had an ongoing responsibility to investigate their allegations, and there is no good reason why those investigations should not have continued whilst advice was being awaited from the Crown Prosecution Service. Any developments could then have been provided to the reviewing lawyer, Mr Roger Rock, for consideration alongside the advice file that had been submitted.

Prosecutorial decision-making

15. It is not disputed that, in 2001, Leicestershire Police failed to submit JA-A19 and JA-A6’s statements to the Crown Prosecution Service. Whilst the focus of Operation Magnolia was on alleged physical and sexual abuse by children’s home staff, that in no way explains or justifies the withholding of those two statements. The notes of the meeting at the Crown Prosecution Service to discuss what charges, if any, might be brought against the staff, make no reference to Lord Janner. Two of the witnesses from whom we heard positively asserted that Lord Janner was not mentioned.

16. The reason for this may lie in the fact that, as one officer told us, “there may have been” a positive instruction not to discuss the Lord Janner allegations at the meeting.[8] Whatever the reason behind that decision – whether complacency, incompetence or undue deference to a prominent public figure – in failing to inform the Crown Prosecution Service about JA-A19 and JA-A6’s allegations about Lord Janner, the Crown Prosecution Service, the complainants and the public were deprived of the opportunity of having the Crown Prosecution Service advise on the case. This was a serious and inexcusable failure by the Operation Magnolia team at Leicestershire Police.

17. When JA-A8 made his allegations in Operation Dauntless in 2007, the police file in Operation Magnolia was sent to Leicestershire Crown Prosecution Service, and included JA-A19 and JA-A6’s statements. Leicestershire Crown Prosecution Service correctly but belatedly forwarded the file to CPS Headquarters, who then returned the case. CPS Headquarters should have retained conduct of the file. It was not until December 2007 that the Crown Prosecution Service advised that Lord Janner should not be interviewed. Almost a year had passed since the investigation had been paused – on any view, an unacceptable delay.

18. The reviewing lawyer, Mr Rock, accepted that his written advice was not as detailed as it ought to have been. The cursory way in which the advice was drafted is indicative of a malaise that, in our view, was brought to bear by D/Supt Christopher Thomas and, to a lesser extent, by Mr Rock. Mr Rock’s advice also failed to recommend that further enquiries should be made into JA-A19 and JA-A6’s allegations against Lord Janner, even though it had been established that these had not been properly investigated during the course of Operation Magnolia. Our overriding sense is that D/Supt Christopher Thomas was uninterested in this investigation, and his decisions to limit the enquiries undertaken appeared to be reflective of a wider failure to pursue the investigation with the rigour it deserved, rather than being motivated by a wish to protect Lord Janner or show him undue deference. The decision-making of both D/Supt Christopher Thomas and Mr Rock was unsound and strategically flawed.

Recommendations

19. Much has changed in law and practice since the events considered in this investigation, including the practice of the institutions directly involved, such that we do not think it is necessary to make any specific recommendations in this report. However, themes emerging in this investigation have also arisen in others. Such themes include deference to powerful individuals or to superiors, the barriers to reporting faced by children (particularly those in care) and the need for institutions to have clear policies and procedures setting out how to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse. These and other matters will be considered further in the Inquiry’s Final Report.

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