Lord Macdonald said yesterday he would have given the historic allegations his “close attention” had Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers chosen to refer the case to him in 2007.
Former Leicester West MP Lord Janner, now 86 and suffering from dementia, was investigated in three police inquiries between 1991 and 2007. He is accused of using his position as MP for Leicester to abuse vulnerable boys at a local children’s home in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
Earlier this week, the current DPP, Alison Saunders, who is head of the CPS, said there was now enough evidence to bring charges against the former Labour peer, but his dementia meant he was too sick to stand trial.
Police are threatening legal action to overturn the decision after the CPS admitted it was “wrong” not to prosecute Lord Janner in the past.
Lord Macdonald, DPP from 2003 until 2008, told the BBC the case involved a “prominent person” and so it should have been handled from London rather than the CPS locally. He said: “It was apparently a serious police investigation, and it should have been absolutely clear to the lawyers in Leicestershire that this case should have been sent to London.
“I would have undoubtedly taken a look at it personally, and would have undoubtedly myself have considered the question as to whether or not Lord Janner should be charged.
“The greater regret... is that this matter was not dealt with before when Lord Janner was fit to stand trial. Not just for the sake of the alleged victims, but also for his sake so he could have the opportunity to clear his name.
“Now we’re stuck in a limbo with the allegations having been made and no prospect of them ever being resolved as they might have been in 2007 had the correct procedures been followed.”
Yesterday, David Cameron sympathised with those who feel “frustrated” that Lord Janner will not face charges over alleged child abuse.
Speaking at an election campaign event in Wales, Mr Cameron said: “I have enormous sympathy for anyone who has been the victim of crime or abuse, of sexual abuse, whoever has carried them out, wherever they’ve happened in our country.”