Monday, 20 June 2016

Is Goddard going beyond the inquiry`s terms of reference ?

by Joshua Rozenberg

"As its terms of reference make clear, the purpose of [the Goddard] inquiry is to consider the extent to which institutions have failed in their duty to protect children from sexual abuse in the past and to identify action needed to protect children in the future."

"Under the Inquiries Act 2005, she must not ‘determine any person’s civil or criminal liability’ although an inquiry panel ‘is not to be inhibited… by any likelihood of liability being inferred from facts that it determines or recommendations that it makes’..."

"And in her opening statement last year, Goddard claimed that ‘the naming of people that have been responsible for the sexual abuse of children… is a core aspect of the inquiry’s function’. That seems pretty close to breaking the ban on deciding liability..."

"Perhaps frustrated by the Janner family’s entirely understandable decision to take no part in the inquiry, Goddard made a formal request for information to the solicitors acting for his estate. In a 29-page response, Michael Pether, from the insurance specialists BLM, told Goddard her inquiry was ‘akin to prosecuting a dead man’."

"What Janner’s children knew of their father’s professional and personal life totally contradicted the allegations against him, Pether said. They unequivocally believed that the allegations were false."

"There was also a risk that Goddard’s findings of fact might prejudice civil claims against the estate, Pether said. Many, if not all, of the complainants were seeking damages; although no claims had been received until last summer, when Janner’s dementia was so severe that he could no longer respond..."

"Pether claims that Janner was framed by Beck and another man, who is still alive. Shortly after Beck’s conviction, Janner told his fellow MPs that Beck and the other man had colluded to ‘make disgraceful, contemptible and totally untrue allegations of criminal conduct’ against him."

"Janner named the man at the time. He was also named last year, perhaps unwittingly, by the Daily Mail. But because he says that he was the victim of a sexual assault, I am not allowed to identify him. He is referred to by the Goddard inquiry as witness A31 and by Sir Richard Henriques, in a report to the DPP earlier this year, as complainant 1."

"Janner said in parliament that he and his family had tried to help complainant 1 in the mid-1970s, when he was a deprived youngster living in a Leicestershire children’s home. Pether told Goddard that Janner’s family saw this ‘as a continuation of his track record of outstanding and admirable, possibly naive, hospitality, befriending and endless generosity’."


In response to Anne Wade who wanted to know why Janner was not prosecuted 25 years ago:

Rozenberg says: "The answer may have been an establishment cover-up, as she says. Equally, it may have been that prosecutors did not think that the available evidence would stand up in court."

"If Goddard can find out which it was, fine. I don't suppose that the answer will protect children from abuse in the future but it's certainly within her terms of reference."

Perhaps determining whether or not the establishment covered up child abuse 25 years ago might give clues as to the extent of cover-ups today ?

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