Complaint to the Crown Prosecution Service

I have made a complaint to the CPS about the way they have handled two cases. Their response to my complaint below is here.

September 11 2014

Complaints Dept.
Crown Prosecution Service
2 Rose Court, London,
London SE1 9HS

Dear Sir or Madam

I must regretfully make a formal complaint about the failure of the CPS to give due diligence to the matter of two alleged paedophiles who have both claimed that they are suffering from dementia and are therefore unable to face justice.

I am a retired General Practitioner of medicine and also a psychiatrist, with a current interest in the prevention of the widespread serious social, economic and medical problems caused by child sexual abuse. I am not directly involved in the cases of the two alleged paedophiles, but have been directly affected by the failure of the CPS in London to communicate with me in a reasonable way about this matter. I am also affected directly as a citizen since the CPS is not acting in the public interest by accepting these two claims of dementia uncritically and without seeking to check them by requesting second psychiatric opinions backed by special investigations including MRI scans.

I have been through the process of trying to find resolution of my complaint using the good offices of my local CPS office in Bristol.

The first case is that of Greville Janner, Baron Janner of Braunstone. The CPS holds the file of allegations against him.

The second case is that of Raymond Varley. On May 8th 2014 the Government of India requested in a Westminster court that he should be extradited to face charges of child abuse including sodomy. The court heard from Varley’s non-medical advisor that he was suffering from dementia, and decided on these grounds that extradition should be refused.

My complaint is that in both cases the CPS made no attempt to check the diagnosis of dementia by referring to psychiatric experts who would order psychometric testing and other appropriate investigations.

The Code for Public Prosecutors states that the grounds for prosecution are twofold: first, there is the question of the amount of evidence against the accused, and second, the question of whether it is in the public interest for the CPS to bring the case to court.

It is very much in the public interest that these two accused should face justice.

Child sexual abuse is very widespread. It affects approximately one fifth of female children before the age of 16 in the UK. and one sixth of males. The sequelae of child sex abuse are very wide ranging and complex, but can be summarised by the statistic that approximately two thirds of the population of both prisons and psychiatric institutions are occupied by survivors of child sexual abuse. In view of these statistics, and a large body of other evidence that points to causation of lifelong problems as a result of childhood sexual abuse, it is most clearly in the public interest that child abusers should face justice. This is even more important in the case of high-profile abusers, since there is a marked tendency of on the part of paedophiles to deny that their activities are in any way wrong or cause any harm. If they are aware that other paedophiles can easily avoid prosecution, especially those who are persons of public prominence, they will feel encouraged to act out their proclivities, with the result that child sexual abuse in the UK is even more prevalent.

In terms of the Code, it can be seen that the prosecution of high profile practising paedophiles satisfies all of the points of the decision to prosecute listed under the Public Interest Stage, namely 4.12 a) through to g).

It is noteworthy that in the Code, there is no direct reference to the physical or mental capacity of the accused to stand trial; in particular no mention of dementia. It may or may not be the case that these elements should be added to the Code, but as it stands, the decision to consider dementia, whether confirmed or unconfirmed, to be a reason to avoid prosecution stands outside of the current provisions of the Code.

You will be aware of the case of Ernest Saunders, one of the four Guinness fraudsters, who managed to cut short his period of imprisonment by claiming to be suffering from dementia, only to recover from dementia on regaining his freedom. The Saunders case makes it all the more important to check the validity of cases of dementia in accused persons, and it is all the more surprising that the CPS neglected to do so in the cases of Janner and Varley.

It is very clear that when dementia is raised as a reason to avoid prosecution, the diagnosis should be checked by the best possible authorities.

Dementia is a symptom that may arise from several causes, some of which are treatable. There is a depressive pseudo-dementia, and this should always be considered, since being accused and at risk of prosecution is itself a depressing event. Depression is of course treatable, although if it is entirely secondary to the situation of being prosecuted, the accused will simply have to live with the depression during the trial process, otherwise it would be universally employed as a defence and no prosecutions would be possible at all. Dementia may also arise commonly from untreated malfunction of the thyroid gland, or from a lack of vitamin B12. Even Alzheimer’s dementia, which is what people tend to think of first when dementia is raised as a possibility, can now be relieved to a certain extent, and for a time, by specific medication. If Janner and Varley do indeed turn out to be suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia, treatment with these medications should be considered in order to get them through the court process at very least.

To summarise, the CPS has accepted at face value the claim of dementia from two accused child abusers without taking due diligence by obtaining second opinions on their case from psychiatric experts who would commission special investigations to confirm or refute the diagnosis of dementia. In doing so, the CPS has not discharged its duty in acting in the public interest.

In your response to this complaint, I seek to know:
1. who made the decision not to prosecute in either case, and how he or she will be retrained.
2. that the CPS will review its decision in both cases, and will order a psychiatric review of both Janner and Varley along the lines given above.
3. that the CPS will seek a second opinion in all future cases where dementia is claimed as a means to avoid prosecution.

Finally, I must say that I regret being forced to make a formal complaint. As a professional I know that receipt of a complaint can be distressing. This complaint would not have been necessary had my emails to the CPS’ Special Crimes Division, and to Alison Saunders, been granted a substantive answer in the first place.

Yours faithfully

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