Lord Janner child sex abuse charges: Making peer attend court would breach his human rights, lawyers argue

Lord Janner's lawyer has argued that requiring him to appear in court would go against the dementia-sufferer's right to a private and family life

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The Independent Online

Lord Janner should not appear in court to answer charges of child sex abuse because it would be a breach of his human rights, his lawyer has argued.

The 87-year-old peer, who suffers from dementia, is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday for a brief hearing.

But his lawyers have launched a High Court challenge, arguing that requiring his attendance at the hearing would amount to a breach of his Article 8 right under the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to a private and family life – because it would cause him “considerable distress and harm”.

Paul Ozin, defending Janner, told Westminster Magistrates' Court: “We have heard medical evidence that Lord Janner is a particularly vulnerable person likely to suffer an extreme reaction to an environment which is unfamiliar.

”Steps taken to get Lord Janner to court would undoubtedly cause distress for Lord Janner's family... which would be wholly unnecessary if the High Court concludes the decision of this court is unlawful.

“If his family are required to take steps which will undoubtedly cause Lord Janner considerable distress and harm, that is a violation of his Article 8 rights.”

The High Court hearing will take place on Thursday and, if unsuccessful, the former Labour peer will have to attend court the following day.

Judge Howard Riddle, the chief magistrate, has demanded Lord Janner attend court and said a number of arrangements would be made for him to ensure the experience would not cause Lord Janner distress, including allowing him to enter the court through a side entrance.

He said Lord Janner may be subject to a warrant if he fails to appear.

“If the requirement remains for Lord Janner to attend and he does not, I will be expecting the Crown to make their suggestions as to how best to proceed,” Judge Riddle said.

“If that is by application of a warrant, then the judge sitting on that occasion will want to know what special arrangements have been made by the Crown to enforce the warrant.”

Lord Janner did not appear at a hearing last Friday to do with the 22 charges he faces, spanning the 1960s to the 1980s, with his lawyers saying that his dementia was reason for him to be excused from having to attend. 

But Mr Riddle said he did not require special treatment and his presence was required by law after hearing from two psychiatrists who had recently assessed him.  

The Crown Prosecution Service announced in April that it would not be prosecuting Lord Janner for alleged child sex abuse after deciding it would not be in the public interest to pursue the allegations against him.

This decision was overturned in July following widespread criticism.