Public 'entitled to know' why Lord Janner cannot stand trial, says judge


The public is "entitled to know" why Lord Janner cannot stand trial for a string of child sex offences, a senior judge has said.

The 87-year-old peer is accused of 22 sexual offences dating back to the 1960s against nine alleged victims, the majority of whom were 16 or under at the time.

Greville Janner, who is on bail, was excused from attending the Old Bailey today as the case was brought before the appointed trial judge, Mr Justice Openshaw, for the first time.

Updating him on progress, Eleanor Laws QC said the prosecution was "on track" but there would be thousands of pages of unused material relating to children's homes.

The date of December 7 had already been set to decide if the peer, who suffers from dementia, is well enough to stand trial.

Ms Laws said: "Both parties agree the defendant is unfit to plead and unfit to stand trial. There is no merit in putting off the determination."

Defending, Nicholas Purnell QC said he was keen to "preserve" all his client's rights but suggested there was no reason not to decide now.

However, the judge insisted that regardless of whether it was agreed between the lawyers, it was for him to make the ruling and the evidence should be aired with a "short opening" in court.

He said: "Plainly there is a public interest in these matters and the public are entitled to know the evidence on which the finding has been made.

"Should the medical reports be made available to the press - that is a question we will need to address on December 7.

"Are the press entitled to see the reports, what can the press report on the hearing and what in the fullness of time should the jury be told?"

The judge also agreed that today's hearing could be reported.

A provisional trial date has been set for February 22 2016 for a trial of facts, although a further possible date has been reserved for April 11.

Janner is accused of 15 counts of indecent assault and seven counts of a separate sexual offence against a total of nine alleged victims in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Twenty-one of the alleged offences relate to children who were aged 16 or under at the time.