A prosecution lawyer involved in assessing historical sex abuse claims against the late Labour peer Lord Janner said the case “would have taken a totally different course” if he had known about allegations he said were known by police earlier.
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyer Roger Rock told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) on Friday that he did not hear about claims against Lord Janner until years after they were initially made.
The peer was facing 22 charges of child sexual abuse offences dating back to the 60s, which he denied.
Lord Janner, a Labour MP from 1970 until 1997 when he was made a peer in the House of Lords, was deemed too ill to stand criminal trial before his death in 2015.
Leicestershire Police’s Operation Magnolia, which began in 2000 following allegations of staff physically and sexually abusing residents at children’s homes in the county in the 1980s, was later widened to include allegations against Lord Janner.
Mr Rock confirmed to the inquiry that his advice not to pursue charges, including indecent assault and buggery ranging from 1963 to 1988, in September 2002 had the effect of bringing it to an end.
But he added that if he had known about alleged victims’ statements against Janner, the case “would have taken a totally different course” and he would have referred it to his superiors.
Allegations against the former Leicestershire MP first emerged publicly in the trial of disgraced care home boss Frank Beck in 1991, 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.
Mr Rock said when he heard about the statements years later it was “certainly a surprise” that police had not mentioned them – though he confirmed he did not ask officers to find out why the statements had not been produced earlier.
However, in an earlier hearing, retired detective sergeant James Wynne, who was among the officers involved in the investigation, did not accept that the CPS were not informed about the statements during Operation Magnolia – though he could not recall when.
Mr Rock told the inquiry that suspicions over allegations made against Lord Janner may have been prompted by potential compensation payments were “probably a bit of mine and a bit of the police’s”, but that the investigation was dropped because “there was no prospect of conviction” at that point.
Reflecting on Operation Dauntless, which was launched in 2005, he said: “I think I can accept that the advice (I gave) isn’t written as thoroughly as it should have been.
“I accept that there was a delay in dealing with it… all I can say really is that the two lawyers I discussed the case with during 2007 took the view that … there was not a prospect of conviction.”
The former head of crime at Leicestershire Police, Alistair Helm, also told the inquiry that no concerns were raised with him about any allegation which was not pursued by the force – though he was not in the post by the time of Lord Janner’s arrest in 2007.
The latest IICSA strand, which is examining institutional responses to allegations against the former Leicestershire MP, is being held largely behind closed doors in an attempt to limit illegally identifying alleged victims of sexual abuse.
The hearings are due to conclude at the end of next week.