Top barrister to review controversial decision not to charge Labour peer Lord Janner over historic sex abuse allegations
- Director of Public Prosecutions had claimed peer was too ill to face trial
- But the decision was slammed by abuse victims and campaigning MPs
- Crown Prosecution Service announced today that an independent review of the decision not to prosecute Lord Janner would be carried out
- The decision could see the 86-year-old Labour peer dragged to court
A senior barrister has been brought in to review the controversial decision of Britain's top prosecutor not to charge Lord Janner over alleged child sex crimes.
In a move that could see the Labour peer dragged before the courts, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that the unnamed QC had been hired to give an independent assessment of the case.
The barrister - who has had no previous involvement with the case – will decide whether or not it is in the public interest to charge the former Labour MP because of his increasingly severe dementia.
Police investigations in 1991, 2002 and 2007 had uncovered sufficient evidence to charge Lord Janner with sexual offences, but the peer - who is suffering from Alzheimer's - is now considered too ill to face prosecution
The move comes after victims challenged the decision of Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, not to proceed with the case because of the peer's illness.
Ms Saunders has insisted that her decision was justified because Lord Janner - who is suffering from Alzheimer's - is too ill to stand trial. The peer is also said to be too unwell to face any meaningful sentence if he was prosecuted.
But if the review rules that Ms Saunders' decision was wrong, the peer will face the prospect of a trial over the alleged sex crimes committed over several decades.
Ms Saunders announced last month that she believed police investigations in 1991, 2002 and 2007 had uncovered sufficient evidence to charge Lord Janner with sexual offences.
She said it was a matter of 'deep regret' the police evidence was never tested in court but said it was not in the public interest to prosecute him now.
The 86-year-old peer's family insists he is innocent of any wrongdoing.
Campaigning Labour MP Simon Danczuk 'cautiously welcomed' the decision to review the case.
He told MailOnline: 'I'm still of the view we should come up with a way of prosecuting Lord Janner for the alleged sex crimes. I hope the independent QC reached the right decision.'
Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions (left), has been slammed by MPs - including Simon Danczuk (right) over her decision not to proceed with the case against Lord Janner because of the peer's illness
Announcing the decision to hire the QC, who is not being named until after their assessment of the Janner case is completed, the Crown Prosecution Service said the move was in line a 'right to review' policy introduced in 2013.
It allows any alleged victim to request a review of a prosecution decision not to charge the suspect in their case.
A CPS spokeswoman said: 'The CPS Victims' Right to Review scheme was set up to give complainants the ability to ask the CPS to review its decisions – usually when there has been a decision not to prosecute.
'The CPS has been asked to invoke this process in the case of Lord Janner and that review is now taking place. This review would normally be done by the CPS Appeals Unit. However, due to the unique circumstances surrounding this case, the CPS has instructed external counsel instead.'
CPS guidelines say that such reviews should normally take around 30 days, but that longer could be required in more complex cases.