Lord Janner’s lawyer bids for peer to face child sex abuse charges via video link

Lord Janner (right) with Eric Pickles. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Lord Janner (right) with Eric Pickles. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Archant

Lord Janner’s lawyer says he will try to “facilitate” an appearance in court by the former Labour peer to face historic child abuse charges.

But Paul Ozin said he would be applying for Janner, of Hampstead, to appear via video link.

The peer’s legal team lost a High Court bid yesterday to prevent him having to attend Westminster Magistrates’ Court this morning.

But there was no sign of Janner in the packed courtroom.

Defendants usually only appear in court via video link if they are in custody.

High Court judges ruled yesterday that an appearance by the 87-year-old former Leicester MP must take place because of “the obvious and strong public interest in ensuring those summoned to court attend when required”.

The judges said the public interest outweighed any personal distress that might be caused to Janner, who suffers from dementia.

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Janner faces 22 child abuse charges spanning a period from the 1960s to the 1980s.

A failure to appear in court could lead to an arrest warrant being issued against him.

Mr Ozin told Westminster Magistrates’ Court the options were a video link from Janner’s residence or a link from a court building, but he said arrangements have been made for Janner’s attendance in person if necessary.

But Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Louise Oakley insisted Janner must attend court and said appearing via link from home was not an option.

District Judge Emma Arbuthnot adjourned the case for 30 minutes so the defence team could see if moving the case to Wood Green Crown Court, nearer to Janner’s home, was a viable option.

Asking for a video link from Janner’s address Mr Ozin said: “His residence is where Lord Janner is least likely to suffer an adverse reaction or harm.

“Within a familiar environment he is reasonably comfortable.

“It would not require him to be moved if the link is to his residence. There is evidence that moving him carries with it a risk of an adverse reaction to him or other harm.”

He added that another alternative was for a video link from within the court because this would be “less intimidating” than the peer stepping into the dock.

However, Ms Oakley said that it was a legal requirement for Janner to appear in person and said that another option could be for the case to be moved to Wood Green Crown Court - closer to Janner’s home.

Mr Ozin said that he would need to take instructions as to whether that was possible, earlier telling the court: “Our approach today is to facilitate Lord Janner’s appearance before this court today, in one form or another.”