Criminal justice system was ‘fairly brutal’ to alleged child abuse victims, inquiry told

The criminal justice system was “fairly brutal” on alleged victims of child sexual abuse at the time Lord Janner was accused of historic offences, an inquiry heard.

Retired senior police officer Tony Butler denied telling others at Leicestershire Police not to arrest the former Labour MP following a series of allegations he abused boys in care homes dating back half a century.

The allegations first emerged publicly in the early 1990s, although the Sir Richard Henriques report in 2016 found that failures by police and prosecutors meant three chances were missed to charge Lord Janner, in 1991, 2002 and 2007.

In a closed session of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse on Thursday, Mr Butler denied there was a “cover-up”, but said there were “a lot of other issues that may have led to the fact that Lord Janner wasn’t prosecuted”.

The latest strand of the inquiry, examining institutional responses to allegations against the late Lord Janner, is being held largely in private due to concerns about protecting the anonymity of alleged victims.

Lord Janner, who had Alzheimer’s, died in December 2015 while awaiting trial for 22 counts of child sexual abuse offences, relating to nine different boys, dating back half a century.

He denied the allegations.

A short summary of Thursday’s closed hearing contained testimony from Mr Butler about the culture of the criminal justice system in the past, which he described as being “fairly brutal in relation to victims making allegations of child sexual abuse”.

No further detail about when this happened was given.

Mr Butler explained that such cases involved “very substantial cross-examination, going into lots of detail, confusing children in the witness box and also using any opportunity they could to trip the child up”.

The officer also referred to the practice of defendants using “background information as a way of discrediting them” and “lots of applications by defence for disclosure of background files, particularly if they were in care or been involved in the social services”.

Earlier this week, another former detective described how Lord Janner was given “preferential treatment” due to his status, resulting in him not being arrested despite “plenty of evidence to do so”.

The latest strand of the inquiry is due to last until the end of the month.

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