Lord Janner’s mental state affected abuse claim probe, lead investigator says

Police investigating historical allegations against Lord Janner decided not to question him after being advised that his mental deterioration would scupper the value of his evidence, an inquiry has heard.

Former Temporary Detective Superintendent Nigel “Matt” Hewson said officers had planned to call the Labour peer in for interview, following a search of his home in December 2013.

But by this stage a police medical expert warned that Lord Janner, who had Alzheimer’s, would only be able to provide evidence of “questionable” worth, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse heard.

Historic sex abuse allegations
Historic sex abuse allegations

Mr Hewson, who was the senior investigating officer leading Leicestershire Police’s Operation Enamel into historical allegations of abuse against Lord Janner, said he decided the threshold for arresting the ex-Leicestershire MP had not been met.

Jacqueline Carey, assistant counsel to the inquiry, said: “You told us that in November 2013, you made the decision not to arrest Lord Janner. There was a search of his home address on December 16 and 17 2013, and at that stage you were planning to invite Lord Janner for interview, but at that stage you discovered he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease?”

Mr Hewson replied: “That’s correct, yes.”

Ms Carey said: “Indeed a police surgeon had advised that Lord Janner’s cognitive function was poor, and that the value of any answers – if he chose to answer questions – would be questionable?”

Mr Hewson replied: “That’s correct.”

He said police later conducted a search of Lord Janner’s parliamentary office in Westminster in March 2014.

Lord Janner, a Labour MP from 1970 until 1997 when he was made a peer in the House of Lords, died in December 2015 while awaiting trial for 22 counts of child sexual abuse offences, relating to nine different boys.

His last public appearance, a 59-second hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in August 2015, was characterised by Lord Janner’s apparent inability to register what was happening.

He denied the allegations, while his family said he “became a target” for a number of reasons, including “his particular public profile and being financially comfortable in his later years”.

Mr Hewson said a man known as “Nick” came forward to the Metropolitan Police in late 2014, claiming to have been abused by Lord Janner.

However, his evidence was deemed by Mr Hewson to be of little use.

Mr Hewson told the inquiry of Nick’s evidence, presented to Leicestershire Police in the form of a transcript: “The allegations were so minimal, although it mentioned Lord Janner’s name it didn’t go into any detail whatsoever.

“There was minimal detail about the alleged conduct of Lord Janner, there was no timing, no place – anything else, really.

“Literally it was two or three lines within that document (interview transcript), there were no immediate lines of inquiry.

“You could almost say it was struggling to establish that it was a complaint in any event.”

Nick, later revealed to be fantasist Carl Beech, was not considered useful as a potential prosecution witness against Lord Janner and his claims were dismissed by the force, Mr Hewson said.

Beech was jailed for 18 years in 2019 for what a judge called his “cruel and callous” lies against politicians he claimed abused him.

The three-week inquiry into institutional responses to historic abuse allegations against Lord Janner opened on Monday.

The inquiry has already heard that children in care homes allegedly abused by Lord Janner did not immediately contact police because they felt “fear, shame, embarrassment and confusion”.

Large sections of the inquiry are being held in private due to concerns that evidence may identify alleged victims of sexual offending, who receive automatic anonymity.