UK lord found unfit to face trial on child abuse charges
An 87-year-old British member of the House of Lords charged with child sex abuse offences dating back five decades is unfit to stand trial due to “advanced and disabling dementia”, a judge ruled on Monday.
The High Court judge cited a medical report that found Lord Grenville Janner, a former Labour lawmaker accused of a string of sex offences from between 1963 and 1988, could now “hardly speak” and was “often bewildered by simple requests”.
“Accordingly I find that he is unfit to plead or to be tried upon this indictment,” judge Peter Openshaw told the court.
The decision was expected as both the prosecution and defence barristers had previously agreed that Janner was not fit to take part in a trial.
Janner was granted unconditional bail and a “trial of the facts” is planned to take place in April, in which a jury would hear evidence and decide whether the defendant committed the alleged acts, but without the possibility of convicting the lord.
Janner is one of a number of high-profile figures to face historic sex abuse charges in Britain after BBC presenter Jimmy Savile was revealed as a paedophile after his death in 2011, leading to a rush of victims coming forward.
He was MP for the central English city of Leicester between 1970 and 1997.
Janner had been charged with 22 offences against nine alleged victims, eight of which were aged 16 or under at the time.
State prosecutors had initially declined to bring charges against Janner due to his condition, a decision that provoked an outcry and was later reversed.
In a hearing in August, Janner spent just 59 seconds in the dock.
He appeared in court wearing a soiled cardigan and using a walking stick, and said “Oooh, this is wonderful” as he entered the courtroom.
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