Lord Janner of Braunstone, the Labour peer ruled too unwell with dementia by the prosecuting authorities to face child abuse charges, could face further police inquiries after the House of Lords confirmed that he signed an official document just eleven days ago.
A letter sent to the clerk of the parliaments that has been released to the Guardian shows Janner’s signature appeared on a request for a leave of absence from the House of Lords on 9 April.
A spokesman for the House of Lords said on Monday that the signature matches previous examples from the peer, and there is no reason to believe that it was signed by someone else.
The letter and the parliamentary authorities’ assessment of Janner’s signature raise further questions about whether or not the peer is fit to stand trial.
A spokeswoman for Leicestershire police said they will consider contacting the House of Lords about the letter as part of Operation Enamel, their ongoing investigation into Janner and other alleged paedophiles.
Last week, Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, ruled that the former MP for Leicester West would not face the courts because four separate doctors – two appointed by prosecutors and two by Janner’s family – ruled that he was unfit to plead or understand the court.
People with dementia have been prosecuted before the courts. But the decision over whether an individual is fit to stand trial is made by theCrown Prosecution Service on a case-by-case basis. Janner was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009.
At least 10 men with dementia have been convicted of child sex offences since 2010, including six in the past year.
Janner’s letter was addressed to David Beamish, the clerk of the parliaments, and arrived at his desk on 9 April.
The peer wrote: “I am writing to request Leave of Absence from the House of Lords for the duration of the 2015 Parliament. I understand that this will take effect on the next sitting day.”
The letter was signed by Lord Janner, but the signature has been blanked out by the House of Lords to avoid any risk of ID theft. Below, someone has printed “Lord Janner of Braunstone” on the bottom of the letter.
Asked whether Janner’s signature on the letter warranted further inquiries given the public outcry over whether he is fit to stand, a House of Lords spokesman said: “The signature on the form matches the signature of Lord Janner of Braunstone. There is nothing for the Clerk of the Parliaments to investigate.”
Janner also wrote to Beamish on 3 October to indicate that he wished to go on leave of absence, the spokesman said.
Campaigners said that the letter points to another reason why Saunders was wrong to drop the prosecution of Janner.
Simon Danczuk, the former Labour MP for Rochdale who has co-written a book about the Cyril Smith child sex abuse scandal, said: “The decision on whether Lord Janner is fit to stand trial should be resolved before the courts and not in a clandestine and quasi judicial way behind closed doors.
“If Lord Janner is incapable of answering questions and going before a court then how can he possibly remain a possible legislator in the House of Lords? It’s bringing the whole place into disrepute.”
In a highly unusual move, the DPP said last week there was sufficient evidence to charge the peer with 22 offences against nine alleged victims between the 1960s and 1980 – but it was not in the public interest to prosecute because of Janner’s ill health.
If a person’s mental state is a consideration, then their fitness to plead can be tried. If they are found unfit to plead, then the facts of the case are tried rather than the person, so the accused receives neither the same verdict nor the same sentence as an ordinary defendant.
Leicestershire police has criticised Saunders’ decision, as have a number of Janner’s alleged victims.
Hamish Baillie, 47, who was one of the nine people lined up to give evidence against Janner over child sex abuse allegations, said the decision not to prosecute the Labour politician “beggars belief”.
Waiving his right to anonymity, the father-of-three told the Daily Mail he was molested by Janner during a game of hide-and-seek in a park, when he was a 15-year-old resident of a children’s home in Leicestershire.
He said: “I don’t think anybody other than the victims and the police involved in the Operation Enamel inquiry understand how perverted a man Lord Janner is.”
It also emerged on Monday that Saunders sought advice on Janner from a CPS barrister who recently worked in the same chambers as the Labour politician’s son. Neil Moore QC, Saunders’ principal legal adviser, was based at 23 Essex Street chambers with Daniel Janner QC until late last year.
A CPS spokesman said: “Saunders made the decision not to prosecute on her own and Moore had told her he had been in chambers with Lord Janner’s son before discussing the case.”
A spokeswoman for the CPS said that any related further inquiries are a matter for the police. “Lord Janner is suffering from a degenerative dementia which is rapidly becoming more severe. He requires continuous care both day and night.
“His evidence could not be relied upon in court and he could not have any meaningful engagement with the court process, and the court would find it impossible to proceed. The condition will only deteriorate, there is no prospect of recovery,” she said.
Janner’s family said last week that he was entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.
“As the Crown Prosecution Service indicated today, this decision does not mean or imply that any of the allegations that have been made are established or that Lord Janner is guilty of any offence,” a statement said.