Tuesday 10 January 2012

Letter to JEP

It appears that the three topics in my last Blog are alive and kicking.

Re "Golden Handshakes"

I noted that in letters appearing in the JEP and in other Blogs that the authors were disappointed at Senator Gorst's stance and he had lost the opportunity of making it absolutely clear that the days of confidential golden handshakes are over. It is highly probable that confidentiality clauses were part of the latest deals so Senator Gorst's hands could have been tied, however it does not say a lot for those Minister's who allowed the clauses to be inserted in the first place. Hopefully that is a matter which Senator Gorst will address and the days of secret deals are over.

Electoral Reform.

PPC has met albeit with two members missing and Daniel Wimberley's proposition on the Electoral Commission was on the agenda. Given PPC's composition the outcome was pretty much as predicted as both Senator Ferguson and Connetable Norman had opposed the original proposition. I was amused to read that it was inferred that there that are no "intelligent" people outside the Island because so much time would be spent trying to explain how the Island works, explaining the history and explaining what a Constable is. If that is the case then one hopes that potential Commissioners are asked those questions and their answers made public. Does any one really know the answers?

I am sure that I will not be the only one waiting to read the proposed proposition which have to seek a recindment of the original proposition. Hopefully there will be sufficient "intelligent" States Members who will stand by the original decision and ensure that the Commission's composition is truly independent and excludes States Members.

Historic Abuse Inquiry.

Readers will be aware that Senator Le Marquand has published a statement which seeks to clarify his position on a number of points about the investigation which might have been confused by “exaggerated” media reports. However there was no mention as to why it was not a joint statement along with the Scrutiny Panel and why it was so late. One can understand why the Jersey Care Leaver Association is claiming that the statement is "too little too late."  

A report on the statement's release appeared in the JEP under the headline Historical Inquiry a "no brainer." Whilst there was no mention of the Inquiry in the statement it is apparent that the JEP reporter was of the view that Senator Le Marquand was implying that by attempting to put the record straight there was no need for an Inquiry. In an attempt to clarify the situation I submitted a letter to the JEP which it has kindly agreed to publish in today's JEP and also appears below.

"I am sure that those who have been following the Historic Abuse Investigation will have welcomed Senator Le Marquand’s very belated statement in which he wishes to clarify his position on a number of points about the investigation which might have been confused by “exaggerated” media reports.   I doubt that I am the only person who sees the Ministers recent statement as a carefully crafted attempt to shift the position of the Island’s leadership in relation to the Historic Abuse Enquiry, from one of seeming hostility to that of grudging acceptance.   No doubt that the prospect of a full independent Committee of Inquiry with a mandate to examine the role of Government has helped to focus minds.

There can be few people who would not agree that the media did send out mixed messages and some of the reporting was sensationalised beyond recognition. Not only was it harmful to those involved with the investigation but also to the Island as a whole. Readers will recall the “statements of condemnation” made by the former Senator Walker and Bailiff Sir Philip Bailhache in their 2008 Liberation Day speeches.

Whilst welcoming Senator Le Marquand’s one small step towards acceptance that the media had been unduly negative in particular to Mr Power and Mr Harper, it appears from the JEP report that the purpose behind Mr Le Marquand’s statement was to scuttle the proposed Committee of Inquiry as approved by the States last March. This is evident by the headline which reads Historical Inquiry a “no brainer.”

I have read Senator Le Marquand statement but there is no mention of the proposed Committee of Inquiry. Also in fairness to readers and Senator Le Marquand it should be noted that the proposed Inquiry was never intended to examine whether the historical abuse investigation should have been launched.

I will take issue with the Senator when he states that the definitive reports into the investigation were the two reports of the Wiltshire Police. Those reports were prepared for the sole purpose of building a case for disciplinary proceedings which the Minister himself abandoned without a charge being brought.  In the interest of natural justice they should never have been made public because neither Mr Power nor Mr Harper were able to defend the unsubstantiated allegations.

The two definitive reports are the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) reports which are in the public domain and the Metropolitan Police’s which was commissioned by Mr Warcup and Mr Power two months before his suspension. That report in particular sets out the justification for the investigation so therefore does not need to be included in the Committee of Inquiry and should not been seen as a reason to try to prevent the Inquiry going ahead as planned.   The Inquiry is about the victims and survivors and is intended to review the running of the Homes, their oversight and what if any action had been taken when allegations of abuse were made.

It might be unpalatable for some people but if it had not been for the professionalism and integrity of Messrs Power and Harper, the historic abuse cover up would have continued. Perhaps that is what some people would have preferred."

Given the degree of urgency being expressed at getting the Electoral Commission, one hopes that the same degree of urgency will be given to getting the Abuse Inquiry underway. Perhaps there will be questions lodged for the States Sitting on 17th January.



  1. Very well put Bob.
    It's so great to know you're not abandoning politics. You have so much to offer.

    Thank you.

  2. Excellent commentary. If I'd lived in Jersey I would have voted for you. Your words on this blog should be noted and quoted, especially your logical defense of Messrs Power and Harper.

  3. Oh what have you voted in St Martins electorate?