Unproven allegations would not have barred Janner from peerage, says Blair

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Tony Blair would not have deemed allegations of child sexual abuse involving former Labour MP Greville Janner a reason to prevent him being appointed to the House of Lords, an inquiry has heard.

The former prime minister said he “would have known” about the claims made against Lord Janner when he put forward his name for a peerage in 1997, weeks after he swept to power.

But he told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) that he was also aware that the allegations had been investigated by police and that Lord Janner himself “vigorously denied” them.

Lord Janner died in 2015 facing 22 charges of historical sexual abuse.

Religion Blair Hannukah/leaders 2
Tony Blair nominated Greville Janner, left, pictured with Mr Blair and Eldred Tabachuk in 1998, for a peerage (Owen Humphreys/PA)

In a statement read to the inquiry on Tuesday, Mr Blair said allegations against Lord Janner would have been examined by the committee which vets nominees for political honours.

He said: “As regards the nomination, I would expect such allegations to be considered (by the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee) as part of that process.

“In the circumstances of Lord Janner’s vigorous public denial, a police investigation, and charges not being brought, I do not believe the allegations would have been investigated further beyond confirming those facts, nor that I would have considered them a bar to the nomination.

“At this distance, I am unable to specifically identify any particular failing or shortcoming that I was personally responsible for in my capacity as leader of the Labour party or as Prime Minister.”

He added: “In those circumstances, and without the further information we have now, it is not clear how the process in 1997 could have reached a different position.”

Mr Blair said that the PHSC was required to certify that the individuals were considered “fit and proper persons” to recommend to the Queen for a peerage.

He was unable to be questioned on his evidence as the statement was read during a closed session to protect the anonymity of sexual abuse complainants.

Earlier, the hearing was told how Downing Street wrote to the Home Office in July 1992 saying it had received a recommendation that Lord Janner be included in a future honours list.

Historic sex abuse allegations
Historic sex abuse allegations

Lord Janner in 2015 (Jonathan Brady/PA)The letter stated the recommendation was “presumably for a knighthood to recognise his services to the Jewish community in Britain”, and asked the Home Office for its comments on the proposal.

Helen Ewen, from the Cabinet Office department involved in the honours process, said the Home Office was “supportive” but that Lord Janner did not receive the honour.

She said: “The Home Office I think replied to indicate they had no objection, they found no adverse reason not to proceed but no honour was given in the end.”

There was no evidence to suggest why the recommendation was not pursued.

The inquiry heard how Lord Janner’s name was later included in a list of potential life peers put forward by Mr Blair, two months after becoming prime minister.

The form, which states the recommendation is for “political and public service”, described Lord Janner as “a highly respected former MP”, a patron of many charities, and a regular contributor to radio and television.

The latest strand of the wide-ranging inquiry is due to conclude on Friday after three weeks of evidence about how the police, prosecutors and care home staff responded to historical allegations that Lord Janner abused vulnerable children.

A report in 2016 found that failures by police and prosecutors meant three chances were missed to charge Lord Janner, in 1991, 2002 and 2007.

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