Lord Janner inquiry: Blair defends granting ex-MP peerage

Lord Janner inquiry: Blair defends granting ex-MP peerage

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has defended granting a peerage to a Labour politician accused of child sex abuse.

Greville Janner, Leicester West MP for 27 years, was given the peerage in 1997 after he was initially investigated.

He was not prosecuted until 2015, shortly before he died.

Mr Blair told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) he was aware of the allegations but it was not “a bar” as Lord Janner had denied them and there had not been any charges.

“In 1997 I would have known of allegations (against Lord Janner), the police inquiry, Lord Janner’s denial and the fact that no charges were brought,” a statement from Mr Blair said.

“It was public knowledge. I would have expected such allegations to be considered as part of the process.

“In view of his denial and the fact that there were no charges, I do not consider those allegations to be a bar.”

The Prime Minister had nominated Lord Janner in his capacity as leader of the Labour party.

He said as part of the procedure, the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee (PHSC) was required to advise him on the suitability of all nominees and whether they were considered “fit and proper persons” to recommend to the Queen for peerage.

He said he would expect the PHSC would consider any allegations made against a nominee.

The investigation also heard that Lord Janner had been recommended for a knighthood in 1992, but that was turned down – although the reasons for this were not known.

On Monday, the inquiry heard that Ratcliffe Road children’s home in Leicester burned all its records when a paedophile ex-employee was arrested.

Former senior policeman Mick Creedon, who ran the investigation, said he was “haunted” knowing runaways were sent to the home, described as a “hell-hole” and sexually abused.

He also described being “disappointed” when refused permission to arrest MP Greville Janner.

The home was “immediately closed down” when they arrested a prime suspect, and a senior worker at the home “immediately burned all the files”.

Mr Creedon said several people he spoke for the investigation had killed themselves, and three former residents eventually said they were also abused by Lord Janner.

Mr Creedon told the inquiry he was refused permission to arrest the politician in the 1990s and instead of arresting the MP he was invited to Leicestershire Police’s headquarters to be interviewed.

However, his home was not searched and he answered “no comment” to questions, so the case was dropped.

Jeremy Ball, East Midlands social affairs correspondent

The inquiry’s asking whether a prominent politician received preferential treatment, but these hearings have shone new light on an old children’s home scandal in Leicestershire.

That’s because allegations against Lord Janner first emerged during a huge investigation into abuse by care workers in the 1970s and 80s.

We’ve heard that Lord Janner was seen as a distraction. Under-resourced detectives were told to focus on the job in hand.

By the time he was charged, years later, he was too ill to stand trial.

Mr Creedon denied going too easy on Lord Janner and said one account that questions were sent in advance “categorically didn’t happen”.

“I still think there was a justifiable case for his arrest,” he said.

The inquiry continues.

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