Monday, 17 November 2014
Report to the Police: Suspected perversion of the course of justice by Mr. Justice Jowitt
At a preliminary hearing child abuse allegations were made against the then MP, Greville Janner.
Mr.Justice Jowitt sought to prevent reporting of the matter at Frank Beck’s trial.
A news agency successfully challenged Mr.Justice Jowitt’s ruling regarding reporting restrictions.
During the trial Mr. Justice Jowitt intervened to stop one or more witnesses naming names with respect to child abuse allegations by important people, a term which included Greville Janner.
Today I reported to Leicestershire Police my suspicion that Mr.Justice Jowitt perverted the course of justice or misconducted himself in public office.
So far as I’m aware no judge has been successfully prosecuted for either of those offences.
Seen from the point of view of a layman Mr.Justice Jowitt’s actions were disgraceful.
Will Leicestershire Police charge the now Sir Edwin Jowitt with perverting the course of justice or misconduct in public office?
Time wil tell.
Below is the text of my letter sent eaelir today to Chief Constable Simon Cole:
17th November 2014To:Chief Constable Cole, Leicestershire PoliceDear Chief Constable,Mr Justice Edwin Jowitt (now Sir Edwin Jowitt)Suspected perversion of the course of justice and/or misconduct in public office.I write to report to you as a constable what I suspect to be the criminal offences of perversion of the course of justice and/or misconduct in public office by Mr. Justice Jowitt during and around the 1991 trial of Frank Beck.In my assessment Mr Justice Jowitt, as he then was, perverted the course of justice in relation to allegations of child abuse regarding the then MP Greville Janner.Alternatively, Mr. Justice Jowitt appears to have committed the common law offence of misconduct in public office.Allegations of child abuse regarding Greville JannerIn legal proceedings prior to Frank Beck’s trial in 1991 Greville Janner was named as being a child abuser.I make no assessment in this letter of the validity or otherwise of the allegations of child abuse regarding Greville Janner.The allegations were made and whether or not those allegations prove to be soundly based it was wholly improper for Mr. Justice Jowitt to behave as he did. At least that is my view.Events surrounding the trial of Frank BeckThere are significant difficulties in my accurately reconstructing the full sequence of events relating to the allegations regarding Greville Janner and Judge Jowitt’s actions in relation to that.The following is my best attempt at reconstructing the relevant events. It is stating the obvious to say that the media reports on which I rely may not be fully accurate. No doubt my interpretation may also be subject to careful examination.In the early months of 1991 Greville Janner attended a Police station to give a statement.It appears from media reports in 1991, and more recently, that a Police investigation into Mr. Janner’s conduct had begun before Mr. Janner voluntarily attended the Police station.Later in 1991 Mr. Justice Jowitt attempted to impose reporting restrictions on the trial, the precise expression of which I have not found easy to establish. It is widely suggested that the purpose of the reporting restrictions was to prevent or minimise public awareness of allegations of child abuse regarding the then MP, Greville Janner.Those reporting restrictions were challenged in a higher court and were overturned, reportedly being deemed “unlawful”.Notwithstanding the decision of the higher court Mr. Justice Jowitt then proceeded during the trial of Frank Beck to prevent free answers by one or more witnesses with respect to evidence relating to “people in high places”.The purpose of the interruptions by Mr. Justice Jowitt appears to have been to prevent or minimise the naming of Greville Janner (and possibly others) as an alleged abuser of children.CPS Guidance Perverting the Course of JusticeIt seems to me that Mr. Justice Jowitt’s actions satisfy the criteria laid out in the relevant Crown Prosecution Service guidance with respect to perverting the course of justice.A police investigation had begun at the time of the acts by Mr. Justice Jowitt.There were “acts” by Mr. Justice Jowitt not merely omissions. He attempted, unlawfully, to impose reporting restrictions.Then, after such reporting restrictions were declared to be unlawful, he sought to prevent witnesses giving their evidence.The intended effect of Mr. Justice Jowitt’s actions was to suppress awareness of allegations of child abuse by the then MP Greville Janner (and possibly others).I appreciate that a judge has discretion to intervene during examination of a witness.The key point, I believe, was the intent of Mr. Justice Jowitt.He can have been in no doubt that the attempted reporting restrictions would prevent any further victims or witnesses of Mr. Janner’s alleged child abuse being aware that allegations had already been made.Nor, I suggest, can Mr. Justice Jowitt have been in doubt that if such further witnesses of child abuse by Mr. Janner existed then his actions would reduce the likelihoof of their reporting any corroborative allegations (should such exist). to the Police.For a judge to interfere so as to wholly or partly suppress public awareness of serious allegations of child abuse is an immensely serious matter in my estimation.On the basis of the facts as I can reconstruct them I conclude that Mr. Justice Jowitt perverted the course of justice.CPS Guidance: Misconduct in Public OfficeAn alternative formulation based on the facts is the common law offence of misconduct in public office.I have read the Crown Prosecution Service Guidance with respect to possible charging relating to Misconduct in Public Office.Misconduct in Public Office is a Common Law offence.It is, I think, self-evident that a judge is a holder of a public office, although it would not surprise to me learn that there is no case law, in this context, to confirm what seems to me to be obvious.Given Mr. Justice Jowitt’s interventions during witness testimony it seems to me to be beyond doubt that his seeking to suppress child abuse allegations was wilful. To suppress child abuse allegations seems to me to be misconduct. I conclude therefore that Mr. Justice Jowitt wilfully conducted himself.The public, I believe, would expect a judge to seek the truth, not least where serious allegations such as allegations of child abuse exist. I conclude that Mr. Justice Jowitt’s conduct amounted to an abuse of the public’s trust in Mr. Justice Jowitt as a judge.The final element in the CPS Guidance is whether or not there is a reasonable excuse for Judge Jowitt’s behaviour.Given that I have not had the opportunity to speak to him this is a point on which I can offer no specific comment beyond the following.I have considered a variety of reasons (or pretexts) for Mr. Justice Jowitt’s interventions but can identify no reasonable excuse for them, given my assumption that the Public would expect a judge to seek the truth and would be disturbed to learn that a judge actively sought to suppress public awareness of serious allegations.An unprecedented situation?I am aware of only one successful prosecution of a judge for perverting the course of justice, that being the conviction of Constance Briscoe in connection with the prosecution of the former MP Chris Huhne.However, to the best of my understanding there is no case where a judge has been prosecuted for allegedly perverting the course of justice or for misconduct in public office for actions or omissions while sitting as a judge.It therefore seems to me to be likely that an appropriate consideration of the suspected offences will raise novel issues of Law.That being the case it seems to me that such issues should be decided by a Court in open session rather than some agreement between, say, the Police and Crown Prosecution Service behind closed doors.DistributionThis letter is a public document.Given the general interest of the matters I raise with you I anticiapte that I will place a copy of the letter on my blog: UK Child Abuse Inquiry located atActions requested of youI ask that you promptly acknowledge receipt of this letter and that you confirm that you will carefully assess the matters which I am bringing to your attention.I appreciate that a careful assessment will be required of you which could take some time.I would appreciate it if you would keep me informed of progress in your consideration of this matter and any decision you may take.Yours sincerely(Dr) Andrew Watt