Tuesday 6 November 2012

Jersey Historic Abuse Inquiry-- One small step

Some 20 months after the States approved the amended proposition to establish a Committee of Inquiry the Council of Ministers (COM) has today finally lodged its Proposition; P118/2012 COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY: HISTORICAL CHILD ABUSE.

As mentioned in my last Blog and in the many Comments that followed, the (COM) could not run nor hide forever, nor could it run the risk of cutting corners by having an in house Napier style review.

The COM has stated that before a public Inquiry can be considered it must pass the first test of being a’ definite matter of public interest’. I believe that test was passed in 2008 and it is a pity that it has taken the COM 4 years to recognise the obvious.

The COM has also stated that in general there are 6 main objectives of a public inquiry –

(1) Establishing the facts – providing a full and fair account of what happened.

(2) Learning from events – distilling lessons and preventing their recurrence through changing practice.

(3) Therapeutic exposure – providing an opportunity for reconciliation and resolution between different parties.

(4) Reassurance – rebuilding public confidence in whatever service or issue has been the subject of the inquiry.

(5) Accountability – holding people and organisations to account, sometimes indirectly contributing to the assignment of blame and mechanisms for retribution.

(6) Transparency – demonstrating that ‘something has been done’ or transparency in government.

There can be very few people who will disagree with those objectives and they form the basis of any Committee of Inquiry. However to ensure those objectives are achieved the COM has accepted that it is important that the members of the Committee of Inquiry come from outside the Island, have a legal/judicial background and have the stature and experience to act impartially to safeguard the interests of everyone involved.

Who those people are and how they are appointed is as crucial as the terms of reference therefore it is important that the appointment process is conducted in a transparent way. It is proposed that a small panel should be formed under the Chairmanship of the Greffier of the States to recommend a chairman and two Committee Members. The selection process will be overseen by the Jersey Appointments Commission.

Whatever way and whoever is involved with the selection process is always on a hiding to nothing and it is not an easy task. It is also evident that much time has already been lost therefore the sooner the COI is appointed the better as the COM wishes the Inquiry to be completed within a year of its commencment, so the appointment process must be prompt and transparent. I can recall that when the States approved my proposition to review the role of the Bailiff and Crown Officers the appointment process took months and it took another proposition from me to speed it up. This must not happen again.

Having worked with the Greffier of the States for some years, I know him to be a man of integrity, efficient, widely respected and he has my full support. I am confident that he, along with his colleagues will submit names of people for appointment that will be acceptable to States Members, the victims and the general public. Should States Members be concerned about the nominees or the Terms of Reference (TOR) it will be open to them to lodge amendments.

The TOR is in line with Verita and I believe allows the Committee to look at issues such the suspension of the police chief and was he suspended to end the abuse investigation. However that is a matter that needs clarification before the proposition is debated.

Today is one small step but one in the right direction taken by Senator Gorst and the COM. There are some who will rightly say that it has taken a long time and the COI has not come about following a display of leadership from the COM or rigorous calls from the media. It has come about because of the lead taken by a small number of States Members ably supported by the Bloggers who have published the truth and repeated it and whose Blogs are reaching a far wider readership than is given credit.

Hopefully the Proposition will also be a small step in addressing the concerns of the most important people of all, that being the victims who have been the forgotten people in the whole sorry saga of concealment.

Unfortunately due to procedure P118/2012 cannot be debated until Tuesday 15th January, however that should give sufficient time to properly digest its contents and any ambiguities clarified. It will also, if deemed necessary, allow for amendments to be drafted and lodged.

Your comments will be welcomed.


  1. As you say, one small step. Let us hope that this apparently independent inquiry will not hide behind strict interpretation of terms of reference as the Waterson inquiry in North Wales did in order to protect powerful offenders. I see that the Chairman and two members will be selected by the Greffier of the States and two non local independent people, overseen by the Appointments Commission. This is good. The current Greffier has an excellent record of being a consummate professional who values his independence from political influence and from the civil service. So there is hope!

    On a related matter, I was horrified to see the JEP report on this issue tonight where they yet again drag up the coconut allegation. I posted the following comment well over 2 hours ago but it has not yet appeared. Maybe it will eventually -

    "Why do you keep raising the so-called coconut? As you should well know, this whole issue is shrouded in uncertainty. As far as I am aware, the UK scientists never said officially that it was coconut. Indeed, this was simply a comment made by a laboratory technician.
    In any case, surely the main story is that Jersey is, at last, embarking on a proper inquiry into a matter that should have been investigated independently and thoroughly a long time ago.
    You should concentrate your efforts on the need for victims of abuse to be given the simple courtesy of being believed and ensuring that such horrors cannot be repeated. It’s time to stop taking cheap shots at the original investigators and start supporting wholeheartedly efforts to achieve justice for the victims."

    1. Thank you for your comment and it is pleasing that you share my opinion of the Greffier.

      As mentioned in my Blog above, the media can take no credit in getting the COI established and it does the JEP no credit to dwell on trivia when it should be seeking the truth.

      I note that the JEP has not yet included your comment.

    2. Thanks Bob.
      I submitted my comment at around 4.30. I see that, as at 9.30, there is only one innocuous comment on this article. I suspect that there will be no more and then the story will fade into the void until the States debate. I might be wrong.
      The fact that the Greffier is so clearly identified as playing a key role is cause for optimism and I would ask your "world-weary" reader to share this optimism. Mr de la Haye will most certainly not allow his demonstrated independence and objectivity to be tarnished by any funny business.
      I also hope that Trevor Pitman and others will continue to press the Chief Minister in the forthcoming debate for assurances that the proposed Committee of Inquiry will be fully inclusive. That is to say they should consider all matters that might come up in the course of their deliberations and report on all such matters, whether or not they fall within the strict interpretation of the final terms of reference. Waterhouse (sorry I previously referred to him as Waterson)clearly used this excuse in the Welsh inquiry in order to protect high profile criminals. You also tried valiantly to get to the bottom of mysteriously changing terms of reference for the Napier report only to be fed a complete load of nonsense about clerical mistakes etc. The shame is that Napier chose to hide behind the restricted TOR.
      I guess that the present position is as much as we could expect in the circumstances. We now need those assurances from the Chief Minister and the rest of the COM and then wait to see whether the independent COI does its job thoroughly. There are no doubt some very nervous people in Jersey at the moment - i.e. those who have something to hide in relation to child abuse directly or indirectly by allowing such abuse to happen and continue and then to cover it up. It will no doubt cause great consternation locally and there will be cries of damage to reputation and waste of money etc. but, as I have said before, what price justice and a clear conscience?

    3. It is interesting to see that the JEP has highlighted the cost of the Inquiry at £6m. The high cost will only be because of the legal support for witnesses and one wonders why witnesses need a lawyer to help them with their evidence?

      Napier was a disappointment and it does look as though he took his money and ran away. I am not sure if that is the case, his TOR was changed and I am pretty certain that his report was amended. I was supposed to have oversight of the review but was denied the opportunity of seeing Napier's two draft reports. The fact that he did not come over to present his report leaves one to believe that he wanted nothing further to do with Jersey and its corruption.

      Even when my complaint against Mr Richardson was investigated the only two witnesses Mr Napier and Mr Power were not interviewed. therefore it is not surprising that my complaint got no where.

      I don't think we have any fears of any dodgy dealings from the Greffier.

    4. Certainly one critical element of the upcoming inquiry should be the fact that your expected Terms of Reference were mysteriously altered to water down the Napier Report. But I think we all know what really happened and why, and how no one will accept responsibility for preventing Mr Napier from looking deeper. For an effectively robust inquiry, you should be invited to contribute your input, and the roles of Mr Richardson regarding Mr Napier should be re-examined. Without that, there is no sincere investigation into the blatant political interference already so obvious from the evidence.

      Above all, to be a credible inquiry, Mr Power and Mr Napier should be able to get all their views and statements made public. That will never ever happen as long as the Bailhache brothers have influence.

      I think the word "closure" says it all. They want to finally close down the search to establish what really happened, and as is being seen with the previous investigation into North Wales child abuse, a huge and terribly expensive inquiry is their one last chance to limit, spin, and finally manage the steady drip, drip, drip of sinister new allegations and factual accusations of continuing cover-up. To do so, they will admit to a few more mistakes, claim lessons were learned, and sacrifice a few dead celebrities and lower level, less well connected paedophiles.

    5. Thanks for a very interesting comment. Not sure how invitations to participate in the Inquiry will be handled, but I would have thought that the Committee will advertise its purpose and will invite people to participate. Having heard from some witnesses it may then invite other witnesses to attend.

      I do agree that the suspension of the former police chief is investigated because that should end the speculation as to the real reasons as to why he was suspended. Paragraph 10 in the TOR may allow for the Committee to investigate the matter.

  2. Mr Hill,

    At the risk of sounding too world-weary I am thoroughly convinced the governments of Jersey and in the UK are going to continue to do every possible thing to prevent the full exposure of high level paedophiles who have preyed on vulnerable children in care. Some may cite financial concerns and others will repeat the mantra of "time to move on," or express concern with exposing the accused to unfounded accusations, but the real fear must be the unknown nature of involvement by royals, powerful financiers, politicians of several parties, and entrenched governmental, judicial, care institution and media complicity. It touches all aspects of the culture.

    Failure of any currently proposed investigation to clarify and publish the full extent of institutional abuse will only result in vigilante justice through rampant rumour-mongering and international speculation on the internet. Innocent people may be named and shamed. Because the integrity of on-line independent journalism has, in Jersey at least, far surpassed that of the mainstream media, the internet will continue to be the source of information, whether coverage is accurate or not.

    The Powers-That-Be would do well to recognize this before risking all their shriveling shreds of credibility on an attempt to manage the information flow about these abuse allegations. It will be apparent to all who look if the investigations plan to "sacrifice" a few lower-level perpetrators and ignore the implications of what has surely been high level police and political involvement in both systematic child abuse and cover ups.

    They should also remember that we, in most other countries, can shout "Super-Injunction" at the top of our lungs and have no limit on blogging about it. The days of censorship are truly over, no matter who is threatened with jail or worse. This is the last chance for authorities to investigate this thoroughly and properly, or they will surrender further investigative coverage to the unregulated internet, and that is a promise.

    1. Whilst it has taken some time to get the proposition lodged it will probably be another 18 months before the outcome is known.

      One thing that is certain is that via the Blogs there is now a greater chance of better coverage of the Inquiry and the Committee will under far more scrutiny from Bloggers than the media because of their independence. Today is a small step but we are still strides away from reaching the tape.

  3. the public will be watching intently every step of the way, and no amount of governmental obstruction or interference will be tolerated by the world weary good people of jersey. this represents a chance to rip out this evil root and branch and bring the possibility of real healing to the broken victims. no matter how deep this abomination goes it must be brought into the light and dealt with conclusively.

    1. It is certainly an opportunity for the victims and any one else to come forward and I hope the opportunity is not missed.

  4. I truly believe that the need for lawyers will become blatantly obvious the moment the hearings are underway. I don't believe for a minute that people will be allowed to speak freely. They will be stopped by the lawyers from naming names for a start. Well. We'll see. Will it be the farce that some of us have predicted it will be or will the states do the honourable thing for once and ensure that this inquiry is carried out as it should be? Only time will tell.

    1. It is likely that lawyers will advise their clients accordingly but as you say it will soon become obvisous that the client is hiding something. The procedure does allow for evidence to be heard in camera, which is only fair because I am pretty sure that some witnesses will be concerned for their own well being.

      I think the Committee will be to "street wise" to allow the Inquiry to become a farce as they too will be under close scrutiny from the public.

  5. Bob.
    I think you are right about the lawyers. If the COI is interviewing abuse victims I am sure that this will be done in camera. On the other hand, when those who might be involved directly or indirectly with actual abuse are interviewed, hiding behind lawyers will speak as loudly as if they spoke honestly.
    We should all be constructive now and hasten the setting up of the COI. I don't think that arguing over minute details of the COI will achieve anything other than further delay. Perhaps some of our leaders are actually counting on such arguments in that a delay is what they want.
    It also seems that the JEP is determined to hold its partisan line in supporting the cover up. The comment I submitted yesterday on their article has not been published. I wonder why a newspaper chooses to suppress comments that criticise it? I wonder how many other critical, non-abusive comments are suppressed? I wonder why the JEP is so determined to hold onto their untenable position - what are they afraid of?

    1. Its now Friday, don't think your comment is going to be published, but at least you tried.

    2. As you say, I tried. What a sad state of affairs.

  6. Hi Bob.

    Got up the Audio from today. You & your readers can Listen HERE


    1. Thank you,

      I heard the first hour and the gloves were off.

  7. Just heard John Humphrys on Radio 4 tearing his boss apart mercilessly – yes, he had George Entwistle, the BBC Director-General, on live and made him look like a complete idiot. He was entirely justified in doing so and I believe that Entwistle’s days are numbered.
    I gives me no satisfaction to see someone humiliated like this but JH did what all good journalists should do – he sought the truth from someone is a position of great trust and authority.
    Oh for someone with JH’s integrity (and ability) on the BBC Jersey staff! Instead we have to put up with Matthew Price attempting to stifle bloggers and critical contributors and “sucking up” to the Home Affairs Minister who, yesterday, was in a position where a half decent journalist could have driven a coach and horses through his feeble performance.
    The BBC has done great work for many decades in line with its Charter. We, the public, pay for the BBC from our licence fee and we demand open, honest, fair and balanced reporting. The top BBC management has, through a few crass and weak decisions, virtually brought the BBC itself to its knees.
    The public of Jersey cannot rely on the JEP or CTV to undertake proper investigative journalism. But we can, and should, expect the BBC to fulfil this function – otherwise, let’s just shut the BBC in Jersey down altogether and let the purely commercial interests of the JEP and CTV get on with it. The BBC currently adds no value whatsoever!

    1. I did listen to the first hour of yesterday's programme and it became apparent that it was left to Rico to challenge Sen Le Maquand and not Matthew who can be quite challenging when he chooses to be, but yesterday was not one of his better days and I got annoyed when Sen Le Marquand's replies which were not in line with questions were not challenged by Matthew.

      It was a repetition of the questions without answers which is permitted in the States. As mentioned in the comment above the public derserves something better.

  8. BOB, so a new school for st Martins,when will they ever learn and listen to the people? the minister has passed the plans,subject to something to do with solar panels, obviously to consider energy,etc, with that in mind I would have thought the school would be facing south not west as it appears to be in order to take advantage of the sun,= Heat, during school hours, west facing will take a lot of heating in the winter months.I wish I had taken a bet with HONEST NEV. best regards.

  9. I attended the meeting and spoke but it was clear that the decision to approve the application to buld on the field had been made well before yesterday.

    I have a few preesing matters to attend but hope to publish a Blog on the meeting shortly

  10. Great shame about the decision on the playing field. I think the tone is now set for Plemont, and other large scale planning issues As long as there is some tokenism to the green lobby, the developers will get their way.

  11. Thank you Voice,

    Yes today is the day of infamy and despite continual efforts to put the matter to bed and "move on," the matter will never go away.

    Mr Power is quite right to state "I would however simply for the record, remind readers what has been established from a number of credible and independent sources and disclosures. Namely, that my suspension was based on falsified documents, fabricated evidence, misleading information provided to States Members and the public by Jersey Ministers, and the testimony of a number of senior individuals who have since been publically discredited."

    The matter will have to be addressed by the COI and if it is not, the Committee's final report will not be credible.

  12. http://www.pm.gov.au/press-office/establishment-royal-commission-child-sexual-abuse

  13. There appears to be a fault with the website above, please could you re-submit with a site that will open.

  14. This is worth posting as it is..

    Establishment of Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse
    MON 12 NOVEMBER 2012
    Prime Minister

    Today I have announced that I will be recommending to the Governor-General the establishment of a Royal Commission into institutional responses to instances and allegations of child sexual abuse in Australia.

    The allegations that have come to light recently about child sexual abuse have been heartbreaking.

    These are insidious, evil acts to which no child should be subject.

    The individuals concerned deserve the most thorough of investigations into the wrongs that have been committed against them.

    They deserve to have their voices heard and their claims investigated.

    I believe a Royal Commission is the best way to do this.

    The proposed terms of reference and proposed Commissioner will be submitted to the Governor‑General in due course, pursuant to the Royal Commissions Act 1902.

    I will speak with relevant Premiers and Chief Ministers in coming days to discuss how the Royal Commission should relate to any current inquiries into similar matters currently proposed or underway in their jurisdictions. Discussions will also take place with victims’ groups, religious leaders, and community organisations.

    The Attorney-General and the Minister for Families will co-ordinate this work on behalf of the Government in coming weeks.

    Further announcements, including the proposed Commissioner and detailed terms of reference, will be made in coming weeks.

    I commend the victims involved for having the courage to speak out.

    I believe we must do everything we can to make sure that what has happened in the past is never allowed to happen again.

  15. Thank you for submitting the comment above. I have managed to locate the website and as you say the posting above will suffice. As we know child abuse and cover ups is world wide and until Governments really get on top of the situation the problems will persist. At least Australia seems to be addressing the problem.

    PM Gillard always gives the impression that she is a no nonsense leader and not one to condone cover ups.

  16. Tom Watson MP has said, “A narrow-down investigation is the basic building block of a cover-up.” It's what they do everywhere to keep the lid on.