Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Dpp: I Was Right Not to Charge Janner on Child Sex; EXCLUSIVEin Her First Interview Alison Saunders Issues Defiant Response to Critics of Her Decision to Let Peer Escape Trial

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Dpp: I Was Right Not to Charge Janner on Child Sex; EXCLUSIVEin Her First Interview Alison Saunders Issues Defiant Response to Critics of Her Decision to Let Peer Escape Trial

Article excerpt

Byline: Martin Bentham Home Affairs Editor

BRITAIN'S top prosecutor today robustly defended her decision not to charge the former MP Lord Janner with child sex crimes -- and defiantly told her critics to "challenge me in court".

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said she was "not afraid" to have her ruling tested by judges in public and remained convinced she had made the "right decision" over the Labour peer's case because he is said to have dementia.

She rejected calls for her resignation, saying that "making the decision is not a resigning issue", and dismissed claims that her leniency to Lord Janner was the result of an Establishment cover-up.

Her comments came in an interview with the Evening Standard in which she also disclosed that a "completely independent" person -- potentially from outside the Crown Prosecution Service -- will be asked to review her decision if one of the peer's alleged victims asks for the case to be reassessed.

They follow a barrage of criticism of her ruling Continued on Page 4 You can challenge my decision but I am not resigning, says Saunders Continued from Page 1 last week that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute Lord Janner despite sufficient evidence to justify charges over at least 25 allegations of historical child sex abuse. One senior MP has responded by describing her as "the worst DPP in modern times", while other critics have called for her to quit. Victims' representatives and police have also reacted angrily to the decision.

Today Mrs Saunders said she has paid a "heavy price" for her decision but insisted she had been right to avoid the "easy option" of sending the case to court for a judge to throw out.

She added that it was not the "DPP's role to duck the difficult decisions" and went on: "If somebody wants to challenge my decision I'm not afraid. The proper way to challenge it is through the right to review or a judicial review.

"I'm confident that if they want to do that my decision will stand up. I thought long and hard before making it and I'm confident I got it right. My job is not to be populist. It's not to make decisions on the basis of what people want. It's about making the right decisions. Sometimes that means it won't be popular but if I'm fulfilling my duties as DPP that's the right thing to do."

Mrs Saunders, who took over as DPP in 2013, said evidence by four medical experts convinced her that the peer, whose alleged offences took place over several decades of his parliamentary career, would not be fit to stand trial.

Today she admitted being "frustrated" he could not be brought to justice.

"This was not an easy decision," she said. "I understand how frustrated and disappointed the complainants must be about it. I share their frustration. …

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