Senior judge to consider future of Lord Janner child sex abuse case

Updated: 

The future of the child sex abuse case against the late Lord Janner could be decided later when it is brought before a senior judge.

Legal proceedings were left in limbo last month following the announcement that the 87-year-old peer had died.

This morning, lawyers will return to the Old Bailey to discuss the way forward with the allocated trial judge Mr Justice Openshaw.

Greville Janner was charged with 22 sexual offences dating back to the 1960s against nine alleged victims, who were mostly under 16 at the time.

He had already been declared unfit to stand trial due to his "deteriorating and irreversible" dementia and a "trial of the facts" was scheduled for April.

Following his death, the Crown Prosecution Service hinted at the possibility of pressing ahead with legal proceedings in what would be a highly unusual move.

In a statement, the CPS said: "When a defendant dies during criminal proceedings, it is usual that the case no longer goes ahead following formal confirmation of the defendant's death at a hearing before the court.

"However, we are considering the procedural implications of this specific case."

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Alison Saunders had originally decided that Lord Janner should not be charged with alleged child sex crimes because of his ill health.

But that was overturned by an independent review last April.

In a trial of the facts, a jury considers the evidence against an individual but there is no guilty verdict and the court cannot pass sentence.

All it can do is make a hospital order, a supervision order, or an order for the defendant's absolute discharge.

Former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald has suggested that the trial of the facts could still go ahead, although he expressed opposition to such a move because of Lord Janner's death.

There have been suggestions that the case could be considered by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse led by Justice Lowell Goddard.

Liz Dux, specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, who represents six of Lord Janner's alleged victims, has said their priority was for a judicial finding of facts either through the criminal proceedings or via the Goddard Inquiry as soon as possible.