Jury to hear molestation charges against ex-leader of British Jewry

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — The former head of a Jewish umbrella group in Britain will go on trial for the alleged molestation of children over two decades, prosecutors said.

On Monday, the Crown Prosecution Service overturned a decision not to try Lord Greville Janner, 86, a former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews who is accused of committing 22 offenses in the 1970s and ’80s, The Independent reported.

Three months ago, the director of public prosecutions had decided against charging Janner, who served in the House of Commons for 27 years, due to his advanced dementia. He and his family have denied the allegations.

The trial envisaged by the service will likely result in neither a conviction nor sentencing of Janner, according to The Independent report, but will aim to establish the facts around the actions attributed to him in keeping with the demands of his alleged victims. He would not be required to make a plea and likely will not be present at the trial, the report said.

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Still, a jury will hear evidence against Janner, who is considered too ill for a full trial.

Janner, who served as Board of Deputies president from 1978 to 1984, also was a vice president of the World Jewish Congress until 2009.

Simon Danczuk, a lawmaker from Janner’s Labor Party who has campaigned on behalf of child abuse victims, said the news that Janner will now be prosecuted was the latest in a “catalogue of errors from Alison Saunders,” the public prosecutions director, who he said had “brought the criminal justice system into disrepute.” He called on Saunders to resign.

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