Wednesday 28 November 2012

Jersey Historic Abuse Inquiry- Possible Amendments?

Three weeks ago the Chief Minister lodged P118/2012 relating to establishing a Committee of Inquiry (COI) into Jersey’s Historical Child Abuse. States Members and the public will have had time to read and study the proposition. Hopefully States Members will have compared Verita’s recommended Terms of Reference (TOR) with those published in the proposition. It is also hoped that interested parties will have considered whether the proposed TOR are sufficient.

Deputy Monty Tadier has correctly asked two Oral questions of the Chief Minister seeking clarification as to whether the proposed TOR will enable the COI to address the suspension of the former Police Chief. The answers received have been “woolly” in that the Chief Minister has stated that it will be down to the COI to determine whether the matter needs to be addressed.

In P118/2012, the Council of Ministers (COM) state that Verita’s recommendations had been used as the foundation for its TOR, however it does not explain why for instance it has omitted two of Verita’s recommendations which can be found on page 29 in P118/2012.

They are:

•Determine whether the concerns in 2007 were sufficient to justify the States of Jersey Police setting in train Operation Rectangle.


•Review what actions the government took when concerns came to light in 2008 and what, if any, lessons there are to be learned.

It is apparent that the COM is not willing to address concerns relating to the Police investigation. Given the cost of the investigation, along with the criticism of the Deputy Police Chief and his Chief who was subsequently suspended and in all reality dismissed by stealth one can understand why Verita included the matter in its recommendations.

It is also apparent that Verita considered that political oversight should extend beyond that of the Education and Health Departments’ oversight before 2008. Once the investigation got underway the COM’s political oversight had been likened to a “headless chicken” approach with no one knowing who politically was in charge. Also whilst the Police PR was the subject of much criticism, one could hardly say that the COM's approach was a shining example of good practice.

Quite rightly the COI will be looking at how Children’s Homes were run, what procedures were in place to address concerns, the recruitment and monitoring of staff and Health and Education’s officer and political oversight. However if the Inquiry is to be of any value it must extend to the investigation, the suspension and political oversight.

Those who have followed the investigation since 2008 will know that the decision to set in train Operation Rectangle with the subsequent “dig” at Haut de la Garenne was not taken lightly or in isolation. Establishing the truth is often costly and should always be justified. Can the expenditure of near £1m in suspending an officer who was due to retire be justified? Cheap snipes at the cost of a meal in London’s West End have overshadowed the dedication and hard work of resolute officers who would not be sidetracked because of what may be revealed or was causing embarrassment.

Did the investigation warrant the criticism and did it justify the suspension of the police chief? Even though questions can rightly be asked about the credibility of the Napier Report, it never the less did expose Ministers' shortcomings and those allegedly advising them. However questions remain as to why the Police Chief was suspended. Was it because he upset certain Ministers and the Chief Executive, was it because he and his former Deputy were getting too close to exposing certain people in high ranking positions or was it to safeguard alleged prosecutions in train?

As for political oversight, who was really in charge, if the Home Affairs Minister was conflicted why was she not replaced? Where was the chain of command, what was the Chief Minister’s role? Are proper procedures now in place to ensure that matters are handled more professionally in the future?

These questions deserve answers and the place to ask them is at the Inquiry, however it will be down to States Members to ensure that the necessary amendments to P118/2012 are lodged in good time.


  1. Bob.

    To address one of your very valid points, both the (politicised?) Royal Court and Napier both criticised the suspension of the Former Police Chief Graham Power QPM, yet nobody has YET been held to account.

    You raise a number of interesting, and important points in this posting and seeing as the State Media will not wish to bring any attention to an alternative to the State Line would you be willing/able to give me an interview so the subjects you raise here can be explored a little deeper?

  2. Hi Voice,
    Thanks for the invite will be pleased to assist.

  3. You ask some important questions that must not be over looked in respect to the COI. Somehow I'm not all that optimistic about the current states members taking them on board (Pitman and Tadier excluded).
    I don't have confidence in Jersey's COI. It will never reveal the real truth while it is controlled by the establishment. Look at North Wales, Hillsborough. It's all the same. The state will manipulate it to limit damage and where possible, make it appear 'not their fault' when it was, and always has been. We teach our children not to hide from the truth and yet Jersey government, like the UK gov. and many other governments do it all the time.

  4. Hopefully the amendments will be lodged then the first test will be to see whether States Members have the bottle to support them. The problem is that if the States don't support the amendments will the COI take it upon itself to look into the issues I have raised.

    COI have a history of bottling out by trying to please everyone and not offend or embarass people in high places.

    If the COI is to have any credit it must look at the issues before and after the Historic Abuse investigation, only time will tell.

    You may recall Frank Walker saying that no stone will be left unturned. Cameron had also make a similar remark about the Leveron inguiry, but as he is unhappy about the findings he is doing a U turn. "Men of straw methinks"

  5. You provided a very good interview on VFC's Blog. It was reasonable, well informed, understated and could be devastating to those who wish to "put it to bed," as you say, if they only intend to do that by hiding it under the bed. "It is time to come clean," indeed.

  6. Thank you.
    As mentioned above, hopefully amendments will be lodged to ensure that ALL matters are finally put to bed and we are not left with some matters staying under the bed.

  7. More Questions than answers. Chief Minister, Ian Gorst avoids a simple, but difficult question on Child Abuse: HERE

  8. ThaNks for your Link and for another excellent Blog. It is well worth reminding readers that steps have been taken to encourage the Chief Minister to work with a small group of interested people to lodge amendments suggested in my Blog above.

    It is apparent that from the answers you are getting from the Chief Minister that he is hoping that certain matter will continue to be kept under the carpet.

    The next thing we shall hear is that there is not enough money to allow for a full Inquiry. Strange that time and money can be found to finance the purchase of Plemont, it is a pity that some of that time and money could not be found to progress the COI.

  9. Hi Bob.

    Just put up the Audio from today's Questions without Answers If you & your readers can be Bovered they are HERE