Janner lawyers in new bid to prevent abuse charge court appearance


Lawyers for Lord Janner today launch the latest round of their battle to prevent him being forced to attend court to face child abuse charges.

The former Labour peer and MP has been ordered to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London tomorrow in relation to 22 charges spanning a period from the 1960s to the 1980s.

But his legal team is taking the case to the High Court, arguing that forcing the 87-year-old suffering from dementia to attend court in person is unlawful.

They say Janner, who has Alzheimer's Disease, will suffer "considerable distress and harm" from his court appearance, which will violate his rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

They are expected to ask High Court judges to order that tomorrow's hearing should not go ahead to give him time to apply for a judicial review of the decision that he must attend.

Paul Ozin, defending Janner, told the last hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court: "We have heard medical evidence that Lord Janner is a particularly vulnerable person likely to suffer an extreme reaction to an environment which is unfamiliar.

"Steps taken to get Lord Janner to court would undoubtedly cause distress for Lord Janner's family ... which would be wholly unnecessary if the High Court concludes the decision of this court is unlawful.

"If his family are required to take steps which will undoubtedly cause Lord Janner considerable distress and harm, that is a violation of his Article 8 rights."

Janner did not have to attend that first hearing in the case after his lawyers said he was too ill to attend and argued he may suffer a "catastrophic reaction" if made to appear in future.

Senior District Judge Howard Riddle, chief magistrate, said Janner was still expected to attend Friday's hearing despite his lawyers' application to the High Court.

"I'm not prepared to adjourn the hearing," Judge Riddle said. "The hearing will remain listed in this court at 10am on Friday morning. As things stand, Lord Janner is expected to attend."

The judge said two alternative settings for the hearing - Wood Green Crown Court, which is closer to Janner's home, and another room at Westminster Magistrates' Court - had not been accepted by Janner's lawyers.

He added that court staff would now make arrangements for Janner's appearance and the hearing was "likely to take less than a minute".

"I'm satisfied the journey to this court is reasonable and arrangements can be made for the defendant to come into court with as little distress as can be expected in view of his condition," he said.

Judge Riddle told the court that Janner can be accompanied at the hearing by a member of his family, a professional nurse and a member of his legal team.

Greville Janner was Labour MP for West Leicester for 27 years from 1970 to 1997 before becoming a peer when he left the Commons. He was suspended by the Labour Party in April.

An independent review in April overturned the original ruling of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Alison Saunders that Janner should not be charged for alleged child sex crimes because of his Alzheimer's.

She is the first DPP to have a major prosecuting decision reviewed and overturned through the new policy.

Janner's family strongly denies claims he used his power as an MP to abuse vulnerable young boys at a local children's home.