Following the suspension of the Dean last March a number of his friends rallied to his support, published letters, called for it to be lifted and claimed that he was victim of gross injustice. I don't have a problem with friends giving their support to the Dean but regretfully when doing so they made derogatory remarks about the real but forgotten victim who is a young lady known as HG.
It is also evident that apart from apparently having no interest in HG's well being they have no appreciation of the difficulties she has to encounter every day of her life. The supporters claim to be Christian but readers might have a different view and I will be interested to learn of them.
Below is an open letter which HG has written in response to remarks made by some of Dean's supporters.
Dear Bruce Willing, Philip Bailhache, Gavin Ashenden and others,
I thought I would write in response to what I see as a smear campaign against myself by you in response to the Korris report that assesses the Dean of Jersey to have done wrong. I have silently endured your very unchristian response to the Korris report for a long time
I am deeply dismayed by your approach to the matter.
I am first and foremost very sad to see how far behind the rest of the world Jersey is with regards to attitude to mental health. You claim me to be mentally ill and you use that against me not only in a way that criminalises me but in a derogatory way that puts your view across in a way that makes it look as if you are removing credibility from all people with mental illness. I have several comments on that, firstly ‘mental illness’ covers a very wide range of illnesses, from mild forms of depression and anxiety/phobia to the more severe forms of psychosis and schizophrenia.
It is important to remember that even people who are seriously mentally ill are still human and have a side to things, and that the attitude you are showing is simply that ‘people with mental illness are not credible’, sadly it is people with mental illness and people on the autistic spectrum who are most vulnerable to abuse, because they are isolated, need care and are vulnerable, can be misunderstood and often isolated lacking in voice and effective advocacy or interpretation.
I am dismayed that you, in your positions, are not enlightened on the subject of mental health, to the point where you are using my supposed mental health condition to scapegoat and vilify me and remove my credibility.
The damage you have done to me by scapegoating me in your efforts to clear the Dean and clergy in Jersey of misconduct is pretty horrifying, firstly because, hopefully you would know better than to scapegoat and verbally bash someone who has a physical disability, I do not understand why you feel that the equivalent is not the case with mental illness but that you feel that you should further hurt someone who is already suffering illness in order to achieve your own aims.
Also, Mr Willing, calling me a ‘poor unfortunate woman’ is the kind of terminology that belongs in the dark ages, it really shows up how Jersey has not moved forward with the rest of the world in understanding mental health, autism and other conditions.
To conclude on mental illness, I am diagnosed as free from it. not only was I diagnosed as free from mental illness in a psychiatric report done in La Moye prison, but again in Winchester five months later, again in Sussex a few months following, and again in a comprehensive report from my current clinical psychologist who specialises in autism and trauma and has been in practice for 20 years.
You need to stop excusing the wrongdoing of the Dean and Church in Jersey by using mental illness that I do not suffer, and if you insist on proceeding to use my ‘mental illness’ as an excuse for the wrongdoers, you need to name my mental illness and back it up not only with clinical proof but with reasons why it is an excuse for the Dean and church’s misconduct.
Most mental illnesses can strike at any time and anyone can suffer rich or poor, believer or non-believer, I ask you, do you expect to lose your own credibility and rights if any of you were to be struck down with mental illness of any kind, be it mild depression or any other form of illness? In this day and age, even though Jersey is a long way behind most of the developed world in many issues such as mental health, human rights and equality, it astounds me that you are, in the media and in front of the world, behaving in this severely prejudiced way. I don’t know how to put this politely but ‘shafting Jersey to the rest of the world’ comes to mind.
And especially in the case of Gavin Ashenden making statements about mentally ill people being demon possessed and driving demons out during services, it is understandable why he was chosen as a Jersey clergyman, and his letters and statements about me when he doesn’t know me and only knows one side of what happened between me and others, he isn’t just showing how unenlightened he is about mental illness, or just how much an investigation into safeguarding in Jersey is needed, he is also showing that despite being an ordained Priest, he does not understand the basics of Christianity.
I am diagnosed as mildly autistic, suffering severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and severely psychologically damaged by my experiences not only of a very damaging upbringing but also of what happened to me in Jersey and the Diocese of Winchester. Those things are not so easy for you to use as excuses I guess.
Let’s move on to the subject of the Church.
Bearing in mind that I did not ask for this hugely disastrous visitation with its conflicts and PR Firms and reports that omit the views of key witnesses, I am astounded at just how unchristian the Deanery of Jersey has been in their smear campaign against me. Even if I did make a complaint, it was five years ago, was disregarded and could have been dealt with in private.
Let’s go back to the very basics of Christianity the ones that are hard for the older, more wealthy and influential people to swallow. Jesus said ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone’, is any clergyman or lay church worker in Jersey who has maligned me at Deanery meetings and in the press without sin? No, and no doubt in their own personal lives and histories, there are sins and skeletons, and yet they forget Jesus’ teaching, or, more horrifyingly, they do not know it or feel that, in this case, they can excuse themselves. Focusing on defending themselves or others who have done wrong.
When I left Jersey, I continued to suffer, mainly because I was condemned by the Church, until the day I was befriended by Catholics, and it was their words that saved me.
My dear Catholic friends, who remain dear to me two and a half years after I met them, taught me these simple things:
We are all accountable to God, the Church members who hurt me may have done wrong but it is between them and God, and I may have done wrong in retaliation but that is between me and God, and ultimately it is between me and God for me to confess my sins and be forgiven, and it is also up to the people who hurt me to confess before God and be forgiven by Him.
And there is no-one in Jersey who hurt me, who I have not forgiven, this does not mean that I am not deeply dismayed by their past and current behaviour.
I confessed my sins, and was provisionally Baptized a Catholic in order to be confirmed, as it was not possible to safely get my Baptism record from the Church of England, and in Baptism, all past sins are forgiven, and since my Baptism I have returned to confession with my sins and struggles regularly, and I love that integrity before God.
I can see that in Jersey no-one who has done wants to admit to their wrongdoing, and instead they are metaphorically stoning me, and using mental health as a rock to throw, which is, although they don’t realise it, tarnishing their image as Christians and certainly leaving them with a lot of wrong between themselves and God.
And I hope and pray that all of this can change, and that these people, Philip Bailhache, Gavin Ashenden and Bruce Willing will have a change of heart, come back to the basics of Christianity and cease to use the Church in incorrect ways.
I have an image of Jesus arriving in Jersey and going to these churches, homeless and unqualified, ‘different’ and saying things that people like Senator Bailhache and Bruce Willing do not like, I have an image of them rejecting him and yet not being able to get rid of him, I have an image of them venting their wrath on him, I have an image of my own experience of Jersey, and I have an image of the crucifixion of Jesus at the hands of the Pharisees, and you know something? Those three images tell the same story.
Senator Bailhache has never met me, and no matter what he is told about me, that is hearsay and he should know better, as a church member and as a representative of the States of Jersey, but especially as a church member who presumably professes to be a Christian, than to judge and condemn someone he doesn't even know.
As I said earlier, I know Jersey is behind the times, but Senator Bailhache shows just how seriously behind the times he is, as well as showing just how much wrong there is between himself and God.
Hopefully Senator Bailhache’s new promotion to Foreign Affairs Minister for that tiny Island of Jersey will ensure that his travel and liaison with other, less insular countries will broaden his mind and bring Jersey, and himself, a bit more up to date on courtesy, balanced judgements and mental health.
He has really showed himself up and done himself a disservice in running a campaign that harmed me in order to try and clear the Dean of misconduct that the Dean did commit.
Senator Bailhache makes me out to be a troublemaker and an abuser despite never having met me and acting only on what he has heard, this shows very plainly why Jersey’s Deanery needs a visitation, it also shows him as unprofessional, a judge who judges someone he doesn't know? Writes libellous letters about them to all and sundry and has such letters published as fact and with claims to represent the whole island? Islanders protested about this, but because of the tremendous power that Senator Bailhache has, his was the voice which was heard.
Even the Bishop and Archbishop were made to give way and reinstate the Dean without an enquiry, on the grounds of Senator Bailhache using his political position, his signature as ‘Senator Bailhache’, despite later stating that he was acting as a member of the church and thus had every right to support the Dean.
Let me return to how this fits in with the Church and God, if this behaviour by Senator Bailhache is endorsed, commended or acceptable to the Church, then the Church is not following Jesus and is not of God.
If Senator Bailhache describes himself as a Christian, then he needs to stop and look at what he is doing and has done, and he needs to realise that not only is he behaving in a very unchristian way and very displeasing to God, but he is also tarnishing the Church’s name, image and purpose, and should choose between continuing his unchristian behaviour and leaving the Church or considering how to achieve his aims, including supporting the Dean, in a proper, reasonable manner, without the unspeakable wrong of abuse of power in his political position while calling himself a Christian or his hate campaign against someone he considers to be ‘mentally ill’ in order to clear someone who has committed misconduct against that same person.