Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Jersey's Dean---Did the Punishment fit the Crime?

Readers who have followed my Dean Blogs will know that from the very outset I raised concerns about the circumstances which led to HG being “deported” from Jersey and left destitute in the UK. I questioned whether the agencies with responsibility with dealing for people like HG had the competence and resources. Having read and re read the Korris Report, Senator Bailhache’s letter and documentation provided by HG my concerns have not been allayed but have increased. On Page 41 of her Report Jan Korris states “The decision and manner of HG’s deportation requires investigation. It is clearly a matter of concern that a vulnerable adult in such a distressed state could be removed from Jersey with no thought of her imminent needs.”

I agree with Jan Korris and although I have repeatedly requested the Chief Minister to instigate an investigation, his failure to even respond can only indicate that he will not to agree to my request. The arrest is not included in the Visitation Terms of Reference and it is unclear whether the proposed investigation into the Dean’s handling of HG’s complaints will come within its remit.

However the purpose of this Blog is to allow readers an insight into the circumstances that led to HG’s arrest and removal from Jersey.

It is evident that HG had made complaints to the Dean, the Bishop and the States Police. It is also evident that whilst there was some substance to her complaint against the Church Warden, the police did not have sufficient evidence to level criminal charges. In page 40, Korris states “it is debatable once the police case had been settled whether HG’s abuse complaints remained a Safeguarding issue. However as soon as HG started to make complaints against Officers of the Church in December 2008 it may have been helpful for the task of investigating this to have changed hands.”

Unfortunately the same people tasked with addressing HG’s abuse complaints then addressed her complaints against them for abuse of process. This seems extraordinary given that HG had informed Lambeth Palace of her complaints. I understand that the Church of England has access to a wide range of agencies with the relevant expertise including Autism yet it is apparent that little or no contact was made for advice or assistance.

HG had a double grievance, her allegation against the Church Warden and also against the Church Officers, their wives and the Safeguarding Officer who in HG’s eyes was not acting impartially. This grievance lasted (and still does) from December 2008 until September 2010. It is apparent that in seeking justice, HG sent hundreds of emails to the Dean, Bishop and the Safeguarding Officer Jane Fisher which were often copied to various other people. To remedy the problem the States Police were eventually contacted and apparently suitable words of advice were given along with a Harassment Order which HG denies receiving.

It appears that on Sunday 26th September 2010 a church service was due to take place in which both the Dean and Bishop would be attending. It is alleged that HG made a telephone call in the late afternoon of Saturday 25th September in which she was rude and threatened to disrupt the church service. Although Korris (page 25) states that the Bishop made a statement at the Deanery on 26th September the statement was taken some hours AFTER HG had been arrested and not before as reported by Korris. Korris goes on to state that the Bishop’s statement was made with the expectation that this would enable the police to keep HG from disrupting the Service that day. Was he that naïve? Statements were also taken that afternoon from the Dean and Mrs Key.

One would have assumed that at the time the statements were being taken all 3 were aware that HG had been in custody for some hours. It is not known whether any of the 3 asked of the purpose for the statements but one might have assumed that they knew their statements would be used as evidence against HG.

What is evident is that earlier at around 930am two States Police officers had called at HG’s home and arrested her on suspicion of harassment. It appears that HG was arrested and the evidence to justify the arrest and detention was obtained some hours after the arrest and HG was charged some 11 hours after her arrest and well after the Church Service.

What is also evident but deemed irrelevant is the fact that on the Sunday morning HG was getting herself ready to lend support at a charity event. She was arrested from her home; she was in full employment and of good character. If she was arrested to prevent disrupting the Church Service, why was she not bailed after the Service and warned to attend the Magistrate’s Court the following morning?

HG was held in custody overnight and taken by prison van to the Magistrate’s Court on the Monday morning. Legal Aid in Jersey is not as advanced as in the UK; however HG was seen by a duty advocate who advised her to reserve her plea and to apply for bail.

HG did not appear before the Magistrate until almost lunch time. The Court Transcript records the Magistrate twice stating that the matter was not an ordinary run of the mill case, yet no explanation is given. What he did say was in normal circumstances with a case such as this, conditional bail would be quite normal. Yet it is apparent that he sought excuses to deny bail. HG’s Advocate stated that HG had somewhere to live, had been living there for 6 months and gave details of her current employment; if she did not turn up that day she might lose her job. HG also understood that any breach of bail would lead to her arrest. However despite the facts and assurances HG was remanded in La Moye prison for two weeks.

HG appeared at the Magistrate’s Court two weeks later where the two original charges were dropped but replaced by a third. It will be for others to take me to task but it appears that there was a great deal of behind the scenes activity to find the most expedient way of dealing with a touchy and sensitive situation. The rationale for the change was that the original charges included the Bishop and Jane Fisher who lived in the UK. On page 24 Korris mentions Jane Fisher writing to the Bishop on 14th August 2010 expressing concerns as to how harassment to which they were being subjected, could be handled. Adding that if a court case was involved she felt the Diocese would be rather exposed, saying “I don’t think we have written evidence to support any investigation into her complaints against us at all” worrying that the Diocese’s competence could be questioned, “Particularly in light of the internal debate- well documented-about an independent review.”

By removing the Bishop and Jane Fisher from the charges it paved the way to bind HG over to leave the Island on the grounds that she was homeless and unemployed and could no longer harass the Keys. However it should be recalled that only two weeks earlier HG could not be bailed because she was allegedly homeless and unemployed. HG has stated that she feared that if she did not agree to be bound over she would be subjected to a further period in prison.

However where was the logic in binding HG to leave the Island where she would be destitute and a possible risk to the Bishop and Jane Fisher, but logic did not play a part in the Court’s thinking. Like Pontius Pilate the Magistrate washed his hands of the matter. After being sentenced arrangements were made for a flight later that day. HG was held in custody until she was placed in a police car to be transported to the airport. She pleaded with the officers to allow her to collect her belongings from her home which was on the way to the airport. Her plea was respected but rather than allow her to enter her home to collect her property she had to remain in the car whilst a police officer rummaged through her belongings selecting various items to be taken on the plane.

HG arrived in the UK on a dark October night with no means of support, homeless, unemployed and with criminal record. On page 25 Jane Fisher is reported as saying that "she was shocked that HG was bound over and summarily deported from the Island for 3 years and put on a plane with no-one to meet her. No planned accommodation and no accommodation." I wonder whether the Dean and the Bishop were also shocked.

Last Thursday the now re-instated Dean led the 68th Liberation Day Service to celebrate the ending of 5 years of the Nazi Occupation of Jersey. 70 years ago the Occupying Nazi's gave many Jersey families very short notice to report at the harbour to be deported to Germany. They were more fortunate than HG because they were given the opportunity of choosing what they could put in their suitcase. Some small consolation I suppose, but did HG’s punishment fit the crime, did she deserve to be deported and have we learnt nothing from the past?



25 comments:

  1. There is nothing new under the sun - especially on the shady side of the Royal Square.
    The Prison Board case of the 19th century was a landmark challenge to the Jersey system but thousands of tides have come and gone and the beach washed clean so it just looks so perfect until the next time...
    Barrie Cooper came up against the same polluted administration in the 1960s and is still challenging the system seeking "justice". He complained to such an extent that he was locked up too - firstly by "lettre de cachet" of the St Helier Constable and then by order of the AG. In between he was granted a Royal Order in Council that declared he had been wronged and should be given an "ex gratia" payment by way of compensation.
    This was only achieved after he sought the help of lawyers in Bristol - but the Jersey system still carried on abusing him and he recived - and still receives- virtually no support from elected reps or others.
    When John Rothwell presented a personal petition to the States seeking redress even Rothwell voted against it! Such is the "Jersey Way".
    So, by all means get steamed up by the latest outrage and do everything that you can to help the wronged young woman - but realise that there are very fundamental reforms and changes that must be made to the whole system. It can survive nibbling at the edges with no difficulty and will continue so to do for a very long time unless a coordinated and resolute campaign is organised.

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    1. Thanks for your Comment and I think we know that seeking justice in Jersey is very much an uphill battle, but its better nibbling at the edges than doing nothing. Who knows some one out there might be listening.

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  2. I think we have learnt nothing from the past - Graham Power's case comes to mind. Clearly there was some sort of conspiracy here. Reading VFC's Blog, I notice Dep Mike Higgins is considering bringing a vote of No Confidence in Ian Le Marquand as Dep Higgins is investigating police corruption. Would you be able to tell me who is on the Jersey Police Complaints Authority and whether, in your opinion it would help lessen police corruption if it was based outside Jersey? I'm not stupid enough to think that police corruption can be completely stamped out but to my way of thinking, a small island where people tend to mix in the same social circles encourages it.

    As for nibbling at the edges of the problem, remember David and Goliath!

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    1. I don’t think there is any suspicion of police corruption in the HG case. It appears that the Bishop, Jane Fisher, the Dean and his wife lodged a complaint of harassment against HG. Acting on the evidence to hand, HG was arrested, charged and then bound over to leave the Island for 3 years.

      It is only when one looks at the finer details that the cracks appear that is why I want an investigation.

      Mike Higgins would be wasting his time with a confidence vote unless there was a secret vote even then I don’t think he would succeed. It is very difficult dislodging Ministers.

      With reference to your comment regarding the Police Complaints Authority. In any small community it is always difficult to establish really independent bodies. The people who are generally appointed are middle of the road conservative and not likely to rock the boat.

      The latest Police Complaints Authority Report was lodged on 11th March this year and can be found in the States of Assembly website. Look for R17/2013.

      The current membership is below.

      Members of the Authority who served during 2012
      Debbie Prosser – Chairman – appointed 1st January 2013
      Dr. John Birtwistle
      Jane Martin
      Bruce Ridley
      Thomas Slattery – (retired as Chairman 31st December 2012)
      Anthony Beaumont (retired 31st December 2012)
      Andrew Cornish (retired 31st December 2012)

      There are 3 vacancies, so if you are interested why not apply?

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    2. John Birtwhistle from the education department? NUFF SAID!

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    3. I am not casting any aspersions on any member of the Police Complaints Authority but there are three vacancies and should you or any other reader be interested in becoming a member it is open you to apply to fill the vacant positions.

      Why not apply and let us know how you get on.

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    4. The police certainly did some things wrong in the HG case, but those are not recorded.
      Also regarding the 'David and Goliath' comment above. HG said to the Dean that he might be Goliath and she might be David, but she would take a stand against him.

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  3. Bob, like you I am a Jersey man, and if I were younger I would leave the Island for good, I am ashamed at the way our government is run, and the Island people being treated with contempt.

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  4. Bob
    I have been very concerned about the whole Dean/Bishop/HG issue since first hearing about it. Your simple objective analysis in this latest post reinforces my concern. It is so frustrating that no one appears to be able to 'light a fire' under this in order to ensure that the truth is aired publicly.
    I suppose we will have to wait and see what the church investigation produces but I'm afraid that the eventual report will fall far short of complete disclosure of full evidence and objective conclusions. I hope I'm wrong.
    I wonder how many people believe Sir Philip's version of his in flight reading. In truth, not many I suspect. But my guess is that the majority would rather support his claim that that person who complained in the first place was acting maliciously. After all, how could the so-called 'establishment' survive if it were proved that Sir P had firstly been indiscreet and then brazenly lied about it?????

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    1. Thanks for your Comment and you are right to be concerned and welcome to the club.

      The Bishop of Winchester appears to have lost his way. He offers a public apology but not to a personal one. He withdraws the Dean’s Commission under dubious circumstances and then re-instates him. He has instigated a Visitation but its TOR will not include investigating the Dean’s handling of HG’s complaint against the Church Warden nor against the Dean and Bishop. Apparently this will be addressed by another panel, but no one has been appointed to it nor the Terms of Reference agreed.

      I don’t know how the clergy are promoted; is it on their ability to preach a good sermon or their leadership and/or management skills?

      It is interesting to see how Senator Bailhache is allowing himself to be drawn into an unsavoury squabble which does little for his credibility. I was not on the plane but if he was reading documents which contained the names of the leading players why deny it because the documents may well have been given to him by the Dean, Bishop or anyone else involved with HG’s case.

      I hope the passenger will have the courage to come forward to clarify what he/she has seen.

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  5. My feeling about the phone calls that HG made, In which its alleged she had (threatened) or notified, for want of a better word, and without having heard the phone call, to disrupt a service. Was possibly her last resort.

    What else could she do? given the situation she was in, and the attempts she had made to deal with the allegation and the non action she received in return.

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    1. It does appear that HG was getting pretty fed up with being ignored and was taking what ever steps she could to get the justice she sought.

      From the evidence available arresting her before the Service seemed heavy handed, detaining her after the Service just added salt to the wounds.

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  6. Bob.

    "What is evident is that earlier at around 930am two States Police officers had called at HG’s home and arrested her on suspicion of harassment. It appears that HG was arrested and the evidence to justify the arrest and detention was obtained some hours after the arrest and HG was charged some 11 hours after her arrest and well after the Church Service."

    Cast your mind back to September 2009, Graham Power QPM and Dr. John Day. The above paragraph smells of NOBLE CAUSE CORRUPTION

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    1. Thanks for both Blogs.

      When I was drafting my Blog above, my mind took me back to the Graham Power suspension. The "evidence" to suspend Mr Power was non existent and it cost around £1m to gather the evidence via Wiltshire Police which was then put into the dustbin bevause it would have been laughed out of court if Home Affairs had decided to waste even more money by establishing a Disciplinary Hearing.

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  7. Deputy Trevor Pitman14 May 2013 at 21:19

    Another good piece, Bob.

    Sad thing is you only have to look at the attitude displayed by Senator Bailhache today; this regarding a member of the public highlighting how they could identify HG and the alleged abuser from carelessly handled paperwork, to know nothing will change unless it is forced.

    The response - calling the person's concerns 'malicious' and 'fictitious' just what kind of message does this send to the public? Some in government need to wake up to the fact that we answer to the public and are not their masters.

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    1. Thank you Trevor and well done with your questions regarding Senator Bailhache's plane trip.

      States Members are privy to a great number of documents some of which are confidential and if these are going to be read in public, States Members should ensure that they are for their eyes only.

      Senator Bailhache has stated that he was reading the Korris Report which is the public domain. (it is in my Blog above) The names of the Church Warden and the lady are referred to by the initials EY and HG. If the passenger saw the names of EY and HG on the Senator’s documents then it is highly unlikely that he was reading the Korris Report.

      Senator Bailhache is entitled to dispute the allegation but verbally abusing those who question his integrity is not Statesmanlike.

      In a Comment submitted by a Jersey man at 1636 above he says he is ashamed at the way our government is run and the Island people being treated with contempt. Senator Bailhache’s comments are just an example of the contempt that some States Members have for their electorate.

      No wonder the Jerseyman wants to leave the Island.

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  8. Who was the magistrate concerned? That piece of information must be on public record and may well tell a tale.

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  9. The Magistrate at the first Hearing was Mr Peter Harris. At the second was Mr Richard Falle.

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  10. hi bob , thank you for your blogs. just read on channel online they have signed up heather steel to investigate the church what a joke!!!!!!! she was in the real jersey gangsters pockets on the court of appeal 5 years ago and I really do not think things have changed. how can they appoint her. there is only one outcome and we all know what that will be.

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  11. Yes I too am aware that Dame Heather Steel is heading the panel. I know nothing of her past but am far from impressed to see that she is being advised and assisted by the States Police.

    As they say "You could not make it up."

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  12. "calling the person's concerns 'malicious' and 'fictitious' "

    If this is an example of how the ex-Baliff and now 3rd in command chief minister, speaks about the expressed concerns from a member of the public, it raises the question of what may have been said behind closed doors about HG, was she considered to have made a 'malicious' and 'fictitious' claim! These are the type of words that can well drive someone to extremes to get people to believe them.

    The rules of the elite, is if you lie, make sure you check your facts and be sure nobody can prove you wrong, then attack the integrity of the person. What are the odds that Bailhache already knows who the person is and where they live and work, as every air ticket is marked by name etc..

    I bet the person who saw the data wishes they had used a mobile phone video camera to support their claim.

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    1. Shooting the messenger is a common occurrence in Jersey.

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  13. You just got that in before me:

    "Dame Heather Steel will also be advised and assisted in her inquiries by States of Jersey Police."

    Who will no doubt be advised by the AG.

    So another waste of time..

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    1. Yes, Game, set and match methinks.

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