Three years after the States approved P19/2011 as amended to establish a Committee of Inquiry into allegations of abuse by young people in States care, a Preliminary Hearing was held at the St Paul's Centre this morning.
The fifty plus attendees received a very slick and professional 50 minute presentation from the Chair of the Inquiry, Frances Oldham QC who was accompanied by fellow members Alyson Leslie and Professor Sandy Cameron along with their legal team and administrators.
The presentation was filmed and it can seen on HERE along with the transcript. The website also displays a number of documents including Inquiry Protocols relating to Legal Representation, General Procedure, Media Conduct, Providing Evidence to Inquiry and Protective Measures. Would be witnesses and other interested people are recommended to read the protocols because there are time restrictions for those wishing to partake in the Inquiry.
Given the lengthy presentation which included going through the Terms of Reference one would have hoped that Mrs Oldham would have allowed for a short time to answer questions, however it was not to be. Much was made of the Inquiry being truly independent and that it had been set up to establish what went wrong in the care system over many years and to find answers for people who suffered abuse as children. I hope that the inquiry will interpret the care system as including educational establishments such as
The Inquiry will be known as “Independent Jersey Care Inquiry,” had there been time allowed for questions I would have like to have asked how independent the Committee was going to be. It is hoped that unlike those involved with the Bishop of
Visitation the Panel will not be having coffee with the Chief Minister,
biscuits with the Bailiff and cocktails at Government House.
Who is the Committee accountable to, who will it present its report to, will be the report be published without redactions and when presented will it be in the public arena and time allow for questions?
During the 50 minute presentation I was interested to hear that in 1970 Haut de la Garenne was inspected by two UK Home Office Children’s Department Inspectors. Later in 1981 a similar inspection took place into other child care establishments. This is the first time I had learnt of the visits and one wonders why they were not mentioned by Ministers during the States debate to establish a Committee of Inquiry when they worked so hard to oppose the proposition.
Mrs Oldham said that the panel will examine the visits and establish whether recommendations were in fact implemented. Given that many allegations were made from victims who were in care during that time, one wonders whether the recommendations were implemented and was this why no reference was made to the visits during the debate.
It is as a result of a lot of hard and persistent work by a small but dedicated group of people that the Committee of Inquiry has been established. This morning was just the beginning and it is evident that the Panel has already started its work.
I have previously published blogs on the Establishment of the Committee of Inquiry and related matters which can be found below;
30th October 2010 Savile, Skeletons in the cupboard
6th November 2012 Jersey Historic abuse Inquiry One small step
28th November 2012 Jersey Historic Abuse Inquiry Possible Amendments
1st March 2013 No stone left unturned.
15th March 2013 The Nelson Touch