How Keith Vaz and other MPs campaigned for change in the law after “wicked attack” on Greville Janner
After Greville Janner protested his innocence over child abuse allegations in
1991, Keith Vaz and 15 other MPs campaigned for laws to be changed to grant
anonymity to people accused of child abuse in court evidence
as a “great survivor” as he and other MPs campaigned for a change in
the law to protect him from child abuse accusations made in court.
represented since 1987, said in 1991 that Lord Janner had been “the
victim of a cowardly and wicked attack by people who simply did not care
what damage they did to him or to anyone else”.
Commons debate on the laws of Contempt of Court, arguing that people
accused of child abuse during court cases should be given the same right
to anonymity as rape victims if they were not themselves on trial.
at the trial of Frank Beck, a former children’s home supervisor who was
given five life sentences for abusing more than 100 children. Lord
Janner, who was not involved in the 1991 trial, was unable to rebut the
allegations until the end of the trial, because of the rules of contempt
When the trial finished he made a statement in the Commons declaring his innocence.
Lord Janner speaking in the Commons in 1991 (Source: ITN)
Today the Crown Prosecution Service said it had enough evidence to
charge Lord Janner with 22 sex offences dating between 1969 and 1988
involving nine alleged victims, but had decided not to prosecute Lord
Janner because he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and is unfit to
stand trial. His family say he has always denied any wrongdoing.
Paying a glowing tribute to his neighbour in the Leicester West seat,
Mr Vaz told the House of Commons: “The great thing about my honourable
and learned friend is that he is a great survivor. Almost alone in some
cases, he has taken up great causes and won them. I listened to one of
the greatest speeches that I have ever heard in the Chamber when [he]
spoke during the passage of the War Crimes Bill.
“He is a survivor, and I am sure that he will survive this great ordeal. I and colleagues will be with him.”
Mr Vaz, the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee for the past
eight years, has not so far responded to requests for comment.
Lord Carlile, the former Lib Dem MP, was also among those who spoke in praise of Lord Janner during the 1991 debate.
He said: “He is a man of determination and enthusiasm, whose integrity
and will power have crossed party lines. I for one value the friendship
that he has given me in the eight and a half years that I have been a
Member of the House, despite the fact that we are in different parties
and disagree on many issues.”
Lord Greville Janner pictured in 2010 (Heathcliff O’Malley/The Telegraph)
He declined to comment today.
David Ashby, the Conservative MP who introduced the debate in 1991,
claimed Frank Beck was trying to “blackmail the establishment” by making
up allegations about Janner.
Others who spoke in favour of Mr
Ashby’s campaign included the former Labour MP Clare Short and late
Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody, who said: “I know him not only as an
extremely upright, tolerant and charming man, but as a man who is
trusted by people in all walks of life. He is trusted not only in his
constituency and in the House, but by anyone in need of succour and
In a statement issued through lawyers, the peer’s
family said: “Lord Janner is a man of great integrity and high repute
with a long and unblemished record of public service.
“He is entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.
“As the Crown Prosecution Service indicated today, this decision does
not mean or imply that any of the allegations that have been made are
established or that Lord Janner is guilty of any offence.”
Following the CPS announcement Labour said it had suspended him from the party.
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