Revealed: how Lord Janner lobbied for Israel as backbench MP
Peer at centre of paedophile storm privately pressed PM Margaret Thatcher over PLO
By Nick Fielding | 9 June 2015
Former Labour MP Lord Janner personally pressed India’s prime minister Indira Gandhi to open up diplomatic relations with Israel, Exaro can reveal.
It was part of how the backbench MP helped promote Israel’s interests in behind-the-scenes lobbying in London and overseas.
Janner has been at the centre of a storm since Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions (DPP), provoked fury in April after announcing that he would not be prosecuted over 22 counts of sexually abusing nine boys because of “severe” dementia.
Janner always denied claims that he was a paedophile.
One British businessman, who saw Janner at work during his many trips to India, said: “He would mesmerise the Gandhi residence with complicated card and other table tricks. He proclaimed himself to be member of the Magic Circle.”
From 1970 to 1997, Janner was a backbench MP. But, although he never rose to ministerial rank, he was far more influential than most backbenchers. He was a leading member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews for many years.
One example of Janner’s influence was how he helped to lobby Indira Gandhi on the Israel issue since she became prime minister of India in 1980 until her assassination in 1984.
“From what I know, he spent a lot of time in India,” the businessman said. “He was extremely close to Mrs Indira Gandhi, and often took a meal as a guest at the prime minister’s official residence in New Delhi. I met him there twice during that time.”
“I was a bit surprised to see a Labour MP there at such a high level, but Mrs G had some friendly link to Michael Foot [late Labour leader]. She also liked Thatcher, but not America or its president, Ronald Reagan.
“Janner was well in on a personal and private basis as a sort of in-house guest who was doing tricks with cards.”
Janner’s friendship with Indira was repeated, according to the source, in his relationship with her son, Rajiv, who succeeded her as prime minister following her assassination.
India had initially voted against Israel’s admission to the United Nations in 1949, although it did later recognise it as a nation.
India did eventually open full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1991. Since then, the countries have developed strong business ties, and India became a large customer of Israeli-made arms.
Meanwhile, in London, Janner was also lobbying the UK’s prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, to press causes on behalf of Israel.
For example, notes archived by the Margaret Thatcher Foundation record how Janner asked Thatcher at a meeting of the Board of Deputies of British Jews in 1979 whether, in the wake of the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, Britain would be able to supply oil to Israel.
She doubted whether she could help on this.
Janner later asked what was the government’s attitude to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).
Thatcher said that the government never recognised it and saw it as linked with terrorism.
The notes record: “Mr Janner said that the Board of Deputies appreciated the government’s stand in respect of the PLO within Europe and within the EEC.”
Referring to Jim Callaghan, the Labour politician who was her predecessor as prime minister, Janner is noted as saying: “It mirrored the position that Mr Callaghan had taken in the past, in the teeth of strong opposition, especially from the French.”
Janner and other officers of the Board of Deputies wrote to ask Thatcher in 1980 for assurances that Britain would not recognise the PLO.
She sought to reassure them in response. “There is no question”, she said, of official recognition of the PLO by Britain “in present circumstances”.
According to a briefing for Thatcher, she gave a speech to a meeting of the Board of Deputies, and sat between Janner and the then chief rabbi, Immanuel Jakobovits.
In 1997, Tony Blair, as prime minister, made Janner a Lord.
Meanwhile, on Friday, Exaro revealed Richard Kerr’s account of how he and another boy from Kincora boys’ home in east Belfast were taken to be sexually abused by guests at the Europa hotel.
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