Wednesday 25 February 2015

Independent Jersey Care Inquiry (7) Mounting Cost-- The Cost of Success?

The Independent Panel enquiring into child abuse in Jersey is coming to the end of its first year and it is quite clear that it is far exceeding the estimated cost. It is now evident that the estimated cost of £6 millIon was very much a poor guesstimate and Panel Chairman Frances Oldham made the Council of Ministers aware of the potential costs in May last year. Please see pages 24/25 of proposition 20/2015 which can be opened by clicking HERE.

It is evident that little attention has been given to the COI’s progress or resultant cost and it is only now that Chief Minister Senator Gorst has lodged a proposition asking the States to agree that up to a further £14 million should be made available in order to provide additional funding to allow for the Committee of Inquiry to complete its task.

One of the difficulties in setting a cost for the Inquiry was that no one really knew of the extent of the abuse or of its covering up. What is becoming abundantly clear is that as confidence in the Panel has grown further witnesses have come forward. That in itself is a success; however it comes at a cost.

What should be noted is that the Committee of Inquiry (COI) has yet to get its teeth into the Terms of Reference relating to Operation Rectangle whose spiralling costs were so heavily but unfairly criticized and was one of the excuses given for the unprecedented suspension of our police chief. As confidence in the police grew more witnesses, information and evidence became available and like the COI is now experiencing, this led to spiralling costs.

Sadly certain irresponsible and mischievous sectors of our community took pleasure in ridiculing the police investigations by questioning the cost of flights and menus of some of the inquiry team rather than expending their energy on supporting the police and encouraging witnesses to come forward. Fortunately the COI has not yet suffered that indignity however it does not mean that it has a licence to print money.

In her response to Senator McLean’s concerns about the spiralling cost Mrs Oldham quite rightly reminded him “of the extremely serious matters relating to the history for care of children in Jersey which must be explored and addressed if the victims and indeed the whole Island is to move on from what has been a very negative experience over recent years.” Mrs Oldham is clearly not enamoured by the Minister’s protestations nor will she be diverted from her goal. 

Goodness knows how much money was spent on covering up allegations of abuse and malpractice and those costs are now coming to haunt us. Whilst I abhor wanton waste and a tight reign must be kept on expenditure, particularly legal fees it is not acceptable for the Chief Minister to attempt to put a cap on the cost of establishing the truth.

It is interesting to note that Senator Bailhache who did not vote in support of the Committee of Inquiry is now suggesting that the final bill could be in the region of £50 million. Whilst I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t have a hidden agenda either and to curtail the Inquiry or to pull the plug on it because it’s getting expensive would be nonsense. There are some who might think that citing cost and putting caps on expenditure is not only scare mongering but another attempt to stop getting to the truth.

I note that the Chief Minister is proposing that the Inquiry and the States publish jointly on their websites details of their expenditure on a monthly basis. It was my understanding that that proposal had been agreed at the outset so the sooner more sets of eyes are looking at the costs the better.  

As mentioned above the proposition relating to the request for future funding is P20/2115 which also be reading by clicking HERE.

Voiceforchildren has recently published a blog on the funding and can be read by clicking HERE


  1. Hi Bob,

    Glad to see that the error in the title of your blog :

    "Independent Jersey Care Inquiry (7) Mounting Cost-- The Cost of Success?"

    is partially corrected in the first line:

    "The Independent Panel enquiring into child abuse in Jersey..."

    Not sure about the word "Independent" though.

    If it were Independent and fit for purpose, surely Daniel W's questions would have been reasonably answered.

    Historically British inquirers have (or at least the first ones) have been set up and constrained as a politicians damage control exercise.

    What a waste!

    1. I can understand your pessimism, but this COI is the only Inquiry we are going to have so we have got to get behind it, but it should address the concerns raised by Daniel.

  2. What price justice Bob ? Justice in Jersey is now for the very wealthy and well connected.We sold our souls and our heritage to these parasites and con artists over the last Thirty years,that said we owe it to the victims to at least finish the inquiry however much it has been "state managed".

    1. As in most Inquiries it is the Lawyers who get the most out of it.

  3. Hi Bob
    The cap of £14million is probably going to be their happy medium. But do you think that extra amount of money will get us to The Operation Rectangle stage? And more importantly the inquiry completion and conclusion of this most important stage?

    1. It would be a travesty of justice if the Inquiry was ended because States Members agreed to cap the cost. If that is the case then an application should be made to the UK for the funding.

  4. Hi Bob,

    I have already made a response on VFC's blog, but I will say that as I see it the Inquiry is showing that it is 'fit for purpose' after the initial bedding in period, and this is an Inquiry for the victims and the truth, not to appease the rather suspect wishes of Sir PB. He should NOT be involving the public, or interfering either.

    This phase is almost complete. I doubt the next phase will take as long and then we have Operation Rectangle which should be very interesting and enlightening.

    Bring it on I say.

    1. Yes I saw your comment and it is good to see that you remain positive. The COI has given a number of witnesses the opportunity to recall their experiences, some of whom enjoyed their time in care which gives some balance.

      I too have a feeling that the COI is moving to the next phase and as you say; bring it on.

  5. Bob, people like Mario Lundy and Anton Skinner and others have been accused of various things during this inquiry, what happens about them now?

  6. Hopefully they will be given the opportunity to comment/respond to the allegations. In her letter Mrs Oldham made reference to the accused being given the opportunity and it will be interesting to hear what they have to say, unless the money runs out.

  7. Bob.

    E-mail sent from Deputy Montfort Tadier to media.

    Dear All,

    I am very concerned by these latest attempts, clearly led by Senator Bailhache, to close down the committee of inquiry. He was never a supporter of it, in fact, he consistently used his influence to try not to have one at all. This does not surprise me.

    However, what does surprise me is that we were told by the Chief Minister that the Committee of Inquiry must be allowed to do its job - and that States Members should stand back and let them do this.

    Senator Bailhache is trying to fan the flames of populism by asking a question that seems to invite an obvious answer: should we spend £50m on an inquiry to make lawyers rich?

    I would ask the 2 questions: should we let the Committee continue its work and bring those perpetrators of some of the most heinous crimes against children to task, including holding former Attorney Generals, politicians and staff to account - as per the agreed terms of reference?

    Should we say to the UK - Jersey has run out of money. We would now like your Committee of Inquiry to extent to Jersey and we will give you free access to come over to do that?

    Kind regards,

    Deputy Montfort Tadier.

    1. Monty is right to raise the matter. I did make reference at 2030 yesterday about applying to the UK for funding. It would make us a laughing stock and be humiliating for the Council of Ministers and it makes one wonder if the COM has really thought the matter through.

      If the States agrees to cap the costs and it falls short of the amount required to complete the Inquiry than there will be no alternative other than for a States Member to lodge a proposition asking that the Island requests funding from the UK. If approved it would no doubt be incumbent on our Minister of External Affairs to be tasked with the job of going go to the UK with a begging bowl.

      Not sure who the Minister is, can some one remind me.

    2. It should be Senator Ozouf, but isn't he the Minister With out Responsibility?

  8. All said and done its a complete waste of money and will cost every tax payer in Jersey a fortune.
    God help us if this goes to £50 Million.

    1. Perhaps you would like to us why its a waste of time.

    2. @13:44
      Off the JEP website

      "User Pays
      These people who cynically wrap themselves in the flag of public service and nationalism while advancing their interests behind the scenes and misdirecting millions into their own projects .....they rarely use their own money if they have access or influence over the public's funds.

      Perhaps the bulk of the cost of the inquiry into child abuse should be billed to the Bailache family. They are the architects of most of the failures heaped on failures."

    3. Dear Mr. Hill,

      Sorry I lied @20:45

      That comment was NOT off the JEP website as claimed.
      Please excuse my feeble attempt at irony; the JEPaedo never allow meaningful criticism of Jersey's Royle Family.

      The comment was lifted from a REAL news and comment site:

      Is "Sorry I lied" something we can expect Sir Phil to be saying any time soon?

  9. Bob, I totally agree that tabs should be kept on the inquiry spending, and I also think that Sen Bailhache and Sen Ozouf should submit 6 monthly reports on their expenditure during their trips to London etc and also explain their actions on these trips and explain what good has been gained for the Island, when I served in a local uniformed service, even when I attended a week course I had to produce a report as to what I had gained through the course along with expenditure. Or are these two politicians not accountable.

  10. I know about what you mean about submitting reports, but the Senators are probably making States related visits, Whether they are necessary is another issue but their visits will be recorded.

  11. I know about what you mean about submitting reports, but the Senators are probably making States related visits, Whether they are necessary is another issue but their visits will be recorded.

  12. Bob.

    Letter to Treasury Minister from Chair of Jersey Child Abuse Inquiry FRANCES OLDHAM QC.

  13. The inquiry is doomed, Bailache is probably wineing and dinning the panel.

  14. I don't share your pessimism.