A former Law Society president has joined an onslaught of criticism of the decision not to prosecute Labour peer Lord Janner over alleged child sex abuses.
Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, ruled last week that Lord Janner would not face trial for alleged child sex crimes dating from the 1960s to the 1980s, due to the ‘severity’ of his dementia.
But Linda Lee (pictured), a former Law Society president, and now chair of Voice, which represents victims and witnesses, said that although Saunders may have been right that Lord Janner is not fit to stand trial, this was not for her to decide.
‘The matter should be brought before the courts so that the evidence may be tested in accordance with the law,’ The Times quotes Lee as saying.
‘For years [victims of abuse] were denied access to the courts by unaccountable public servants. Even now when it is accepted that there is sufficient evidence to charge they are once again refused that first step of a hearing to decide whether or not Lord Janner is competent to stand trial.’
Her comments came as senior politicians urged Saunders in a letter to a national newspaper to immediately reverse her decision, which they said was ‘damaging public confidence’.
‘As long as justice is not seen to be done and the greater public interest is not served, the public will see attempts to investigate establishment figures involved in historic child abuse,’ a cross-party group of politicians coordinated by Labour MP Simon Danczuk said in a letter to The Times.
The Crown Prosecution Service says that it has enough evidence to prosecute Lord Janner over 22 sex offences against nine people, but Saunders said that Janner’s condition rendered him incapable of instructing lawyers or entering a plea.
Liz Dux, head of the London abuse department at national firm Slater and Gordon, told the Gazette that the real failings in this case date back to 1990, but criticised the latest decision for denting public confidence and removing the opportunity for victims to give their evidence in court.
‘I accept that the DPP had a difficult decision to make but it is vital that the public have total confidence in our judicial system and that rumours of institutional coverups are addressed,’ she said. ‘In these circumstances, it would have been better for a judge to have made a decision regarding the fitness-to-stand-trial issue.’