Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Independent Jersey Care Inquiry (3) ----A Myth Exposed.



It is now almost a month since the Committee of Inquiry got under way and on 23rd July I published a Blog on that first Hearing. In that Blog whilst being supportive of the Committee of Inquiry (COI) I registered some concerns which had not been addressed.

I will start with the 13 questions that the former Deputy Daniel Wimberley had submitted including some relating to the Terms of Reference, (TOR). Daniel who was a leading player in getting States approval for the COI is concerned that it may only be looking into abuse in Care Homes and not in other establishments such as Victoria College and the Jersey Sea Cadets. I hope the COI is looking because among the exhibits I have submitted with my statement is the Sharp Report into the abuse at Victoria College.

Daniel is also seeking assurance that the TOR includes the issues surrounding the suspension of the former Chief of Police Graham Power. Again I hope that matter is included because I have submitted a number of documents in relation to that matter. The COI relies on the goodwill and co-operation it can engender from people like Daniel and should be building bridges and not walls therefore not only does he require an early answer but it must be placed in the public domain.

Daniel's questions can found in theVoiceforChildren Blog published on 21st July and can be read by clicking HERE

I am also disappointed that my other two concerns have not been addressed as witnesses are not being updated and neither is the COI website. However having reported on the negatives I want to concentrate on the positives and in particular on the witnesses who appeared before the COI yesterday.

It takes courage to appear before any public body and yesterday we saw that courage displayed by two witnesses now well into their 70s who not only suffered at the hands of those entrusted to care for them but had to wait for over 60 years to be publicly heard.

Yesterday the two elderly pensioners exposed the myth that everything in the Jersey garden was rosy. They put to shame those States Members and the media which ridiculed the professionalism displayed by Graham Power and Lenny Harper in implementing Operation Rectangle and those who opposed the establishment of the COI. Sadly but predictably the perceived great and the good were no where to found. No doubt they will say that what happened 60 years ago would not happen today.

They may well be right however I am sure that as more witnesses come forward we shall again hear that such events would not happen today, but things will only change because of the shame of what has happened and of its denial. Both witnesses said they came forward in the hope that what they endured will not happen to others. Their small but positive and brave step will go a long way in ensuring that their suffering was not in vain.

We heard how they were placed in the Boys and Girls Homes as orphans if in a Victorian Age. There was no mention of a Mr Bumble but it is evident that there were many bumbling bureaucrats who allowed acts of brutality and neglect to occur. It was interesting to hear two people who were unknown to each other recalling incidents which were not dissimilar. It was very helpful that a former resident from the Girls Home had come forward as its residents have been silent victims for too long.

The Jersey Home for Girls was situated in Grouville and its residents attended Grouville School some half mile away. It was demolished to make way for a housing estate.There was an amalgamation with the Boys Home which became known as Haut de la Garenne. The residents at the Home for Boys were educated at the Home until July 1946 when the senior boys were transferred to St Martin's Elementary School.

The witnesses claimed that they treated like criminals and made to feel like second class citizens because of where they resided. I made a number of notes and at times felt a sense of empathy because I attended St Martin’s School from 1947 to 1955 along with around 60 boys from the Home for Boys. In those days school life was difficult and the cane, ruler and pencil were a regular form of punishment, however unlike the boys from the Home we had a home to go to after school.

Among my notes was how one witness described how she felt when the Island was liberated from the German Occupying Forces. Although the Island was being liberated she did not feel that she was because she had to remain in the Home and then be sent as in servitude to work as a domestic without pay in a large house not many miles away.

By coincidence on the bus yesterday morning I sat along side a former Home for Boy who had told me that on leaving school he had to work on a farm without pay for 3 years. As a former inmate he had to be grateful that someone would house and feed him whilst learning how to fend for himself.

It was a sad but illuminating day and will have given the COI much food for thought. As an aside I believe the Panel should be a bit more probing as to why the witnesses were incarcerated in the first place and who was responsible. Also it was evident that the members of the COI still do not understand the difference between a Senator and Centenier or the States or Honorary Police or a Connetable and Constable. If blame or praise is to be apportioned it is imperative that the Lawyers and COI know the difference so that a true account is recorded.  

As mentioned above it takes courage to appear before any public body, but to their credit both lawyers were considerate and helpful when taking the witnesses through their evidence. Also when asking questions they allowed ample time for the answers. If there are any would be witnesses still doubting whether their evidence is relevant I ask that they make contact with the Inquiry Team via freephone 0800 735 0100 or email  info@jerseycareinquiry.org

A transcript of yesterday's hearing will be available on the Care Website which can accessed by clicking Here There is no Hearing today but a witness will be appearing tomorrow at 10am.

17 comments:

  1. One strange aspect of this Inquiry is that it has stressed that the central concern is about things that happened "in care" institutions of one sort or another. Yet a great deal of evidence is being heard about the background to the whole matter of child welfare etc and associated issues such as the role of the police (States and Parish), Social Services, the "Law" and "Regulations"...in other words it is a very far ranging Inquiry which will have the potential to uncover defects way beyond the structures of "care homes". Yet I am still encountering people who have suffered "abuse" - outside of a care institution - and have tried to complain about it - but the "system" has failed to respond or help them. Their experiences are just as important to this current Inquiry - but they are discouraged because the title and TOR emphasise "in care" as the qualifying feature.
    In my view ALL people with experiences of ill-treatment as children should be encouraged to come forward otherwise the true picture will never be revealed. A personal experience of being abused by a parent or local vicar and the response of the Jersey Establishment is just as valid as the (very useful) testimony of an expert such as Prof Bullock and suchlike who have only studied the subject from an academic distance...the message is simple, if you have any information or experiences of ill-treatment in Jersey then make contact with the Inquiry team.

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    1. Thanks for your comment and there is little that one can disagree with. I don't think the COI appreciates how difficult it was to get the Inquiry in the first place and it will be doing no one any favours if it fails those children who were abused in schools and other insitutions within the States Education and Health Departments remit.

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  2. I just get the impression that the people who have banging a drum to get this COI started like yourself for so long have just trashed it ever since. Stuart Syvret who claims to know so much yet never tells anybody what he knows is daily on Twitter doing nothing but slag it all off.
    Who really has something to hide? Is it that lies made by the controversialists is about to be uncovered?

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    1. People like Stuart and Daniel are aware of this inquiries limiting scope and that it structurally doesn't meet the necessary inquiry format. And if it follows the outcome of many UK inquiries, it won't lead to the truth but will instead become a state version of the truth- there is a difference.

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    2. Thanks for your comment which a good response to the reader's comments at 1037 above. A great deal of money is being spent to reveal the whole truth and along with Stuart and Daniel I don't want to see the public and more importantly the victims short changed.

      It would be helpful if the COI addressed Daniel's concerns.

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  3. Has anything changed. What will the Jersey shysters not abuse?

    St Helier voters to have the dubious opportunity of voting for St. John reject Andrew Lewis?
    http://tonymusings.blogspot.com/2014/08/why-andrew-lewis-wants-to-stand-in-st.html


    http://planetjersey.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,3658.msg55328.html
    Did Andrew Lewis Lie to fellow politicians, if not why the secrecy ?


    http://tonymusings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/government-behind-closed-doors.html

    That brings us to the question whether, in an "in camera" session of the States, Deputy Lewis was being "economical with the truth". Certainly what he appears to have said contradicts what he later told Brian Napier. It relates to the "Interim Met. Report" which was in the possession of David Warcup:

    The Napier Report states that:

    As previously has been noted, neither Mr [Andrew] Lewis nor Mr Ogley saw the Interim Report. Neither did they seek to see it. The reason given was the nature of the information that was contained therein. It was, said Mr Ogley, a police document and it was inappropriate that he (or anyone else) should have access to it.

    But the "in camera" minutes, as leaked, have him saying say this:

    "As far as the accusation you raise about the Metropolitan Police, when I saw the preliminary report I was astounded. So much so that my actions, I believe, are fully justified. If the preliminary report is that damning, Lord knows what the main report will reveal. So my successor will have an interesting time. The report that I was shown gave me no doubt at all."



    Luckily the truth (and lies) can be read here:
    http://ricosorda.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-transcript-of-in-camera-debate.html

    Not a little white lie. This is government by "the usual suspects"

    The government which you may, or may not, deserve.

    If you don't like cover-up, child abuse and the hijack of the island institutions like the island's police force ......... then don't vote for it !

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    1. I think Andrew Lewis will have difficulty in defending his suspension of Graham Power and it is likely to have a detrimental affect on his chances

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    2. If Andrew Lewis has to publicly defend his suspension of Graham Power, that would mean bringing up all the deceit, spin, taxpayer funded waste, and related embarrassments for the oligarchy. Do they really want him to risk that in a run for office?

      Elle

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    3. Makes absolutely no sense. Is there something deeper going on here?

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    4. Mike Higgins is in Number 3/4 District and as readers know is one of the lone voices left in the States who is prepared to ask difficult questions. I hope the voters in that District will not desert him in favour of some one with baggage.

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    5. Andrew Lewis: "when I saw the preliminary report I was astounded" (the report which Lewis told the Napier investigation that he did NOT see ....the hamstrung Napier investigation with the disappearing ToR's)


      Now do I recall that when suspended Police Chief G.Power complained about the misuse of the "Interim/Preliminary Met. Report" it was revealed that it CONTAINED NO CRITICISM OF HIM WHATSOEVER ?

      So Lewis/Ogley/Walker etc. suspended Jersey's Chief of Police to halt and undermine the investigations into child abuse and planning corruption.

      Suspended on a lie .....justified with more lies and secrecy ....kept suspended until after retirement by Le Marquand while Ogley and Polard "negotiated" about 3/4 million in golden handshakes!

      Health Minister Syvret lifted the lid on the decades of child abuse and the ONGOING inhumane treatment of children and he was sacked and remains a "non person" to the jersey media and their vast swathe of gullible readers/listeners/viewers.

      Stand up against corruption and child abuse in Jersey and the shysters will make sure you are history.
      This could only happen inside the bubble. Anyone else would feel aghast
      ...and rather sick.

      Yet more cover up can only cause further damage to Jersey's reputation and increased risk to the island's children.

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  4. Andrew Lewis will not carry out his threat to stand as a candidate. He has misjudged completely the attitude the public has regarding the suspension and silencing of the ex police chief. I hope he does see sense, or he has some difficult and embarrassing questions coming his way at the hustings.

    Giving the reading a report, as the reason for your actions only works if you have read the report which he obviously had not, that is just the opener for Mr Lewis, other questions will be asked by the public who are in no mood to be lied to again.

    Might I be right in thinking he is an establishment plant to try and unseat the excellent and honest Deputy Mike Higgins ?

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  5. As mentioned above Mr Lewis will have to address his part in the suspension. There will be a number COI Hearings before the election and I am sure that the suspension issue will come up and with it the truth, which will show that Mr Lewis is not all that he says he is.

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  6. Thanks for another excellent Blog. I was touched by your reference to the Liberation and how the poor lady felt. Sadly those responsible for her incarceration are long gone and can not be made to account for their actions.

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  7. I found this blog by accident, and am so glad I did. I was in the Jersey Home for Girls from the age of three. (1950) Before that I was in the Westaway? Creche in St, Helier. There were many, many things wrong with the Home for Girls. I remember (and I was about 3 1/2 ) that a trip was organised to visit a ship of sailors in the Harbour. I was sexually abused by the Sailors. Who on earth in their right mind would organise a visit for very young children on a Ship without Supervision. The Sailors were even invited to visit the Home, which they did. I spent my time in the toilet petrified. I remember a girl named Betty, who committed suicide by jumping out the dormitory window. That memory has stayed with me forever. Also the beatings from a girl named Jackie who was a former resident and who chose to stay on as a carer. She used to beat me everyday. Instead of love, there was only hatred, and us poor Girls were made to feel low and despicable. We had no one whom we could turn to. We were treated like scum. Each day was a misery. The Matron was an Irish woman - Matron Courtney. Yes - to this day I still remember all their names. The only one I had respect for was Sister Richards, who didn't stay too long.

    I wish I had found this inquiry earlier, I would have gladly been part of it.
    I am 68 years of age, and now live in South Africa.

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  8. Thank you for sharing your sad experiences with us. It is my understanding that the Inquiry Team is still gathering evidence so if you would like to contact them, they could advise you.

    If you have any problems in contacting them, you are welcome to contact me at bobps91@yahoo.co.uk

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