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Infirm peer too ill to stand trial on sex abuse charges - judge

Lord Greville Janner arrives with his daughter Marion at a house after appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, Britain August 14, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall

LONDON (Reuters) - An 87-year-old member of the House of Lords is too ill to face trial on charges of serious child sex crimes, a judge ruled on Monday, after months of legal argument over the peer’s mental health.

Greville Janner, a former Labour member of parliament and ex-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, is accused of 22 offences in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. He has denied the charges.

But his lawyers have long argued that Janner, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, is not fit to stand trial, prompting a judge to order him to appear at a hearing earlier this year after he refused to attend.

Judge Peter Openshaw said in a written judgement on Monday that the state of Janner’s mental health meant it would not be suitable for him to face the charges in a normal court process.

“The inevitable and irresistible conclusion is that the defendant had advanced and disabling dementia , which is deteriorating and irreversible; accordingly I find that he is unfit to plead or to be tried upon this indictment,” Openshaw wrote.

A “trial of the facts” will take place in his absence in April, when a jury will decide whether Janner did in fact commit the abuse, but with no finding of guilt or conviction.

Reporting By Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison