LONDON: Senior British politician Lord Greville Janner, who suffers from severe dementia, was made to appear in court in person Friday to face a string of child sex abuse charges.
The 87-year-old’s lawyers had tried throughout the week to avoid him having to turn up, but, threatened with swift arrest, he was driven from his London home to Westminster Magistrates’ Court in the city.
The member of parliament’s upper House of Lords spent 59 seconds in the dock.
Wearing a soiled cardigan and using a walking stick, he entered the courtroom saying: “Oooh, this is wonderful.”
He looked around the room before being asked if he was Lord Janner.
He replied: “Yes.”
The peer was escorted into the courtroom by a minder and woman who said to him: “We’re going to go home and have an ice cream,” before they left.
Janner was released on unconditional bail. The next hearing was set for the higher Southwark Crown Court in London on September 1.
If it is decided that Janner is unfit to enter a plea, a so-called “trial of the facts” would take place, where a jury simply decides whether the defendant committed the acts alleged. There is no decision on guilt or innocence, or possible conviction.
On Thursday, Janner’s lawyers lost a High Court bid to prevent him having to attend, with judges ruling that the public interest outweighed any temporary distress he may suffer.
At Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday, Janner’s legal team argued that he should be allowed to appear via video link from his home.
But judge Emma Arbuthnot said: “Even if I have to have him arrested I am going to resolve this matter today.
“Let’s not waste time.”
Janner is accused of 15 counts of indecent assault and seven counts of a separate sexual offence, against a total of nine complainants, all but one of them aged 16 or under, between 1963 and 1988.
Following revelations about the BBC presenter Jimmy Savile after his death in 2011, a series of high-profile defendants have since faced charges of historic sexual abuse.