Thursday 11 December 2014

Sativex---------A Glimmer of Hope??

In my previous blog I mentioned that this week the States was to debate 3 cannabis related propositions. The outcome was predicable but it was the quality of the debate that was disappointing.

States Members have the ability of lodging propositions seeking States approval on a variety of issues. There are many Members who never do but fortunately there are a handful like Deputy Monty Tadier who do and he is to be complimented for lodging the 3 propositions which sought to improve the lives of those who through no fault of their own suffer pain and discomfort.

One of the propositions (P127) which can also be read below requested the Health Minister to take steps to make Sativex Spray available without cost to MS patients. The other 2 propositions were much more contentious because Deputy Tadier was seeking support to allow for cannabis to be prescribed for medicinal purposes.

Deputy Tadier decided to debate the Sativex Spray proposition first as it was relatively straight forward and I shall devote this blog to that matter. I will declare an interest because my wife has MS and when asked if she would be the petitioner to represent other MS sufferers she readily agreed.

Before Backbencher’s propositions are debated the relevant Minister normally lodges “Comments” indicating whether the proposition is supported, if it is not, reasons are given. Deputy Tadier lodged his proposition on 16th July. The Comments which are below were published on 8th September however the debate was deferred due to the impending elections. It should be noted that after the elections there was a change of Minister. However the new Minister Senator Green did not lodge his Comments until the 8th of December which was the day before the debate but his comments differed from the previous Ministers. 

Both Ministers opposed the proposition but it worth noting their reasons. The previous Minister Deputy Anne Pryke’s Comments could be summarised as follows.

Sativex can be supplied by any pharmacy, in accordance with the doctor’s prescription. It is, however, only available as a private prescription and costs have to be met by the patient.

Previous application from a consultant to make Sativex available via the Hospital pharmacy – in that case specifically for patients suffering with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) – has been rejected by the Hospital Drugs and Therapeutics Committee, based on assessment of clinical evidence and cost-effectiveness.

This decision has recently been corroborated by NICE in its draft revised guidance which does not recommend the use of Sativex for MS patients.

Current Health and Social Services Policy directs that the Department will not provide treatments at public expense where NICE has rejected that treatment. Final NICE guidance on recommended treatments is expected later this year and, should the advice on the use of Sativex for MS patients be amended, this position will be reviewed.

The issue within this proposition, therefore, is whether funding for a NICE non -recommended treatment should be met by taxpayers, at the expense of other treatments that are approved by professional, clinical expertise. The cost to the taxpayer of providing Sativex to any one individual patient would be in the region of £4–£5,000 per year.

There is no way to predict how many patients may subsequently be prescribed this treatment and, therefore, the potential overall impact on the Department’s already stretched annual drugs budget.

While it is available for prescription, Sativex remains a non-NICE approved treatment, and I cannot support a proposition for its supply to be funded by the taxpayer.

It is evident that the previous Minister could not support the proposition, because Sativex is not recommended by NICE, it is expensive even though Health does know how many people might need it but the Hospital Drugs and Therapeutics Committee, has already rejected the one application from a consultant based on assessment of clinical evidence and cost-effectiveness.

One is left to wonder whether the officer briefing Senator Green was the same who briefed the former Minister because it was not the information conveyed by Senator Green to States Members on Tuesday and confirmed by email to me.

Three weeks before the debate I wrote to Senator Green with a number of queries, unfortunately his answer below which was the information he gave to States Members was not sent to me until a couple of minutes after the vote had been taken. The following is an extract.

I am mindful that, ordinarily, Sativex is only available on private prescription. However, there is an existing mechanism in place for a recognised Consultant in an appropriate specialism, to make a request for public funding of such a treatment on behalf of a specific individual.

The treatment of patients must always be based on clinical assessment and professional expertise. But where clinical judgement can demonstrate that there are exceptional circumstances in an individual case, which would support the prescribing of this licensed product, a special request can be made for the cost of treatment to be met through public funding. To date, no application has been for exceptional consideration in such circumstances has been received. For these reasons, Monty’s petition is, to all intents and purposes, redundant and that’s why I do not intend support it.

Although the former Minister said there had been an unsuccessful application Senator Green says there have been none. If there have been none it would not be surprising because I doubt whether GP’s or their patients are aware of what appears to be a policy change introduced by Senator Green. I can confirm that my wife and her MS circle of friends are not aware of the policy change but know full well that if recommendations have to go via a consultant the whole process could take many frustrating months.

I mentioned above that the quality of the debate was disappointing and that was because apart from Deputy Tadier who proposed the proposition and the Minister responding the only other Member to speak was the newly elected Senator Dr Zoe Cameron who had made it known that she had been elected to try to get the health service fit for the future.

She had featured in the Jersey Evening Post that day in which she had expressed her dissatisfaction with politics mainly because she had not been given the Health Minister or even the Assistant Minister’s post. However on Tuesday she had the ideal platform to speak about the plight of MS patients, the merits of Sativex and informing Members whether she was aware that it was available albeit via the Consultant route. Also had she contacted Chemists she could have informed Members that the cost of Sativex in Jersey would be around £3000 and not the 4/5k as quoted in the Comments.

It is estimated that possibly one person in a thousand may have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). As there are around 100,000 residents in Jersey there could be around 100 people with MS who have various stages of the disease. Sativex is primarily to relieve spasticity which can be a problem for some people with MS. Although the number of people who would benefit from Sativex is unknown it is likely to be only a small percentage of 100. The reason why not exact figure can be given is because Sativex has only been available to those who can afford to purchase it.

Sadly it is evident that Senator Cameron did not pick up on the contradictions in the former Ministers Comments and the current Ministers speech. She had an opportunity of informing Members of how the current system is not working but failed to do so. Her short uninspiring speech added nothing to the debate, it was hardly the stuff of a potential Minister and she was one of the 29 Members who voted against the proposition.

The debate lasted less than 20 minutes and Deputy Tadier’s proposition received 16 votes which were around the same number he received for his other propositions. He might not have won the vote but he shook some branches in relation to the issue of Sativex because not withstanding the previous Minister’s Comments the current Minister says that Sativex can be freely prescribed if supported by a GP and Consultant. 

I have written to Senator Green asking what steps he is taking to ensure that MS patients and their GP’s are informed of his policy.

Readers might find this blog posted by Tony the Prof to be of interest---Please click here

Friday 28 November 2014

Jersey's Freedom of Information Law--A Lucky Break !!!

Last Tuesday the States debated an amendment to the Freedom of Information Jersey Law which will come into force in January next year. Before covering that matter I believe it would be helpful to mention that the States has taken almost 20 years to bring the Law to fruition.

The seeds to the Law were sown by former Senator Stuart Syvret who in early 1994 was appointed as President of the newly constituted Special Committee on Freedom of Information to examine the issues involved in establishing by law, a general right of access to official information by members of the public.The members of Stuart's committee were Senator's Nigel Quérée and Vernon Tomes, and Deputies Robin Rumboll, Jimmy Johns, Gary Matthews and me.

It has been a torturous route with every opportunity taken by those with vested interests finding every possible excuse to deny the public of information they are entitled to. If it had not been for Stuart's initial initiative, drive and persistence one wonders whether there would be a Law today.

I have lost track of the number of States Members who before being elected supported the principle of openness yet have failed to keep their promises. In the attached Comments the Council of Ministers/COM claims to strongly support openness and transparency in government yet could not give its support to a common sense set of amendments from Deputy Carolyn Labey of Grouville which sought to extend the Law to States-owned bodies. 

It is only in recent years that States-owned bodies such as Jersey Telecoms and Jersey Post have Boards comprising of non-States Members. It is only months ago that the States transferred the running of its housing stock to Andium Homes which will come within the Law's remit. Yet the COM opposed Deputy Labey's amendments which were in two parts/paragraphs. The first two which sought approval to extend the Law to include such bodies as Jersey Telecoms and secondly for law drafting to be completed as soon as practicable. 

Part/Paragraph (c) was even less testing because all it asked was for the Chief Minister to investigate the feasibility and desirability of further extending the scope of the Law to other entities that receive a majority of their funding from the States, and to report back to the States with recommendations within 6 months.

Unfortunately the same COM which claims to strongly support openness and transparency in government wasn't even prepared to investigate extending the Law. The usual red herrings of confidentiality intruding in business were recycled, however the Law will rightly have clauses to prevent such eventualities. 

I have attached Deputy Labey's proposition and her Report along with the COM 's Comments which are below. I have also attached the details of the two sets of votes which are worth reading.

The Chief Minister who is to be likened to a Dictator in that he now requires all his Ministers to fall into line and vote as he does was left with egg on his face. When one looks at the way Members voted it will be noted that all Ministers in Lemming fashion obeyed the call to duty. However the Chief Minister will have to do something about the dining habits and travel arrangements of Senators Bailhache, Farnham and Ozouf. 

The first two were unable to complete their lunch within the 90 minute luncheon break whereby they missed the vote which was taken soon after the luncheon break. Senator Ozouf's absence was because he was out of the Island on States business which turned out to be a blessing. This is because their absence meant that parts (a) and (b) of Deputy Labey's amendments were approved by 3 votes, 22/19 with 8 Members out of the Chamber. Had the Ministers been present the Deputy would lost because if a vote is tied the amendment/proposition is lost. 

When it came to voting for part/paragraph (c) even though it was opposed by the COM, Deputy Labey increased her majority to 28/12 with 9 Members absent. If one looks carefully at that vote it will be seen that the Education Minister, Deputy Rob Bryans broke ranks and actually voted according to his conscience.  One wonders whether he has been ordered to produce 100 lines promising to obey in future, or given a yellow card. 

Tuesday may have been a bad day for Chief Minister Gorst and his Ministers but it was a good day for the general public who will benefit from greater openness and transparency.  

Deputy Labey's amendment and the COM Comments can be read in full by clicking on to the links below. The two votes can also be read by clicking onto the relevant links.

Freedom of Information amendment P149/2014

Freedom of Information Council of Minister's Comments

Votes for Paragraphs  A and B

 Votes for paragraph C

Tuesday's States business was all over before 3pm. However I doubt whether it will end by 3pm when it next sits on Tuesday 9th December. On the Order Paper are 3 cannabis related propositions which were lodged last July by Deputy Monty Tadier. He is seeking approval for sufferers of multiple sclerosis to be prescribed Sativex Spray which is cannabis based, He is also requesting the Minister to use his discretionary powers under the Misuse of Drugs (General Provisions) (Jersey) Order 2009; to permit Bedrocan BV to be prescribed and thirdly to allow cannabis to be smoked for medicinal purposes.

There should be some lively debates.

Friday 21 November 2014

Jersey's Elections (5) -------No Honour, Integrity or Confidence, What's New?

Following a complaint lodged by Nick Le Cornu and Gino Rosoli the losing candidates in the recent election for Deputies in St Helier Number 1 District, the Royal Court has rejected their complaint relating to an error in the Nomination Paper submitted by Scott Wickenden (above).

The Royal Court may well be of the belief that the submission of an invalid Nomination Paper was technical and inadvertent therefore not a matter of substance.  But is that acceptable, are Elections not supposed to be serious matters therefore requiring the highest standards of honesty and integrity.

The Public is entitled to expect States Members to be competent, honest and honourable. It should also expect its Courts to act in a fair and consistent way and deliver justice. Perhaps it’s because I am old fashioned and principled that I am not enamoured by the Court’s decision or share the relief experienced by Scott Wickenden when he says he just wants to get on with his job. The following paragraphs will explain my reasons.

Nomination Papers are vital documents and it is the responsibility of candidates to ensure that their signatories are not only on the electoral role but live in the relevant constituency. 

Having stood for election several times I know how important the Nomination Paper is and always ensured that my signatories were valid. Mr Wickenden failed this simple task. The other five candidates did not.

I understand that Mr Wickenden submitted his Nomination Paper to St Helier Parish Hall before the Nomination Meeting. The Nomination Paper contained the name of a woman who lived outside Number 1 District thereby rendering the document invalid. However the Officer at the Town Hall failed to spot the error. 

Given that Mr Wickenden would have been canvassing for 3 weeks before the day of the election It is hard to understand how he did not discover that one of his signatories lived in a different district or those close to him did not discover that fact. This leads one to ask whether he did know but chose not to disclose the information.

Most signatories vote for their nominee. However it is evident that the woman could not vote for Mr Wickenden at the Town Hall because as she had discovered that she was registered to vote in Number 2 District she voted at the Springfield Polling Station and therefore could not vote for him. It seems inconceivable that there was no communication between the pair of them before or after the election. Unfortunately the Royal Court was not sufficiently interested to allow the complainants to call the woman to give evidence so we shall never know the truth.

It is also hard to accept that at no time during the post election celebrations that the mistake did not come to light or was not discussed.  However even if one is prepared to believe that Mr Wickenden knew absolutely nothing of his mistake until it was revealed the day after the election, it is evident that he was prepared to sit tight in anticipation that the matter would disappear which questions his honesty and integrity.

Elections are ordered by the Royal Court which appoints its Jurats as Returning Officers. A Jurat was appointed to oversee the above election yet it appears there is no provision for the Court or its appointees to play any role in addressing invalid Nomination Papers. This is left to the unsuccessful candidates who will be perceived to be bad losers by pursuing the matter. This was certainly the case with Nick Le Cornu. I am not defending his inappropriate remarks about a fellow States Member but his mistake should not have been used as a reason for some of the media to attack him but turn a blind eye to a “mistake” by another politician.

The Royal Court should be setting higher bench marks for those who seek high office, yet in this particular case it appears that the bench mark was set well below the norm because of who one of the complainants was. One wonders what action would have followed had Mr Le Cornu won in similar circumstances. 

We are all capable of making mistakes but it is how we handle them that we are judged. Mr Wickenden was seeking the high office of Member of our Parliament whereby his competence, honesty and integrity should be beyond reproach. The Court accepts that he is incompetent but sadly it seemed unconcerned about his honesty and integrity.  

It is not disputed that by receiving more votes than three other candidates Mr Wickenden was elected, however he was elected by an electorate who believed that he was efficient, honest and honourable. With the number of unanswered questions, could that now be said of him?

I saw Mr Wickenden's interview on TV last night and he was clearly relieved, however he offered no apology for his mistake or for the expense incurred by the taxpayers and others in addressing it. Perhaps an honourable member would have apologised for his mistake as soon as it came to light. If  the mistake was known only after the result was announced, which seems highly unlikely, then he should have resigned thus allowing for a re-election.

His action would have been seen as one of humility and honesty which I am sure would have seen his vote increased. As it is unless there are answers to my questions above there will always be question marks about his integrity and honesty.

I note that Mr Wickenden is now a member of the Public Accounts Committee chaired by Deputy Andrew Lewis. Given the concerns raised in my previous blog concerning Deputy Lewis it is evident that they are well suited so one can understand why there is so little confidence in our parliamentary and judicial system.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Independent Jersey Care Inquiry (6)----- Another Unhappy Anniversary

In my previous blog I wrote about the first anniversary of my meeting with Heather Steel who hardly acted like a Dame when breaking a promise to give me the transcript of our meeting. In that blog I also mentioned that we were approaching what will now be the 6th anniversary of the suspension of Jersey’s former Police Chief Graham Power.

I apologise if this blog is a little longer than usual but there is so much documentation to hand which has been collated to eke out the truth in what has been a disgraceful display of abuse at the highest level of government. This blog is intended to give an insight into the events leading up to and after the suspension and although lengthy there is still more which could have been included. 

Nothing can be done to undo the hurt inflicted on the former police chief and his family or to recover the million pounds plus incurred by Home Affairs and the States in paying for futile court cases and pointless one sided investigations whilst attempting to justify an unjust act. However those involved with the decision to suspend in the first place and those who did their utmost to cover up the truth and to deny the Chief Officer his natural right to answer the spurious allegation against him should not be forgotten.

The police investigation into the child abuse allegations came as a rude awakening to many Islanders who smugly believed that Jersey was immune from such claims. It is not disputed that the decision to implement Operation Rectangle was only taken after all the available evidence had been examined and was supported by senior officers from outside the Island. Given the weight of the information to hand, not to conduct a thorough search of Haut de Garenne would certainly have led to claims of cover ups. The police would be damned if they did not dig and certainly damned because they did, particularly as no bodies were found, although no explanation has been given for the collection of teeth that were found.

In recent months the Portuguese Police conducted a similar dig in the full glare of the world’s media for Madeleine McCann which apparently did not discover any evidence but I have not heard of the relevant police chief being suspended. What is evident is that it was the leadership of Jersey’ s senior politicians that was found wanting and having had their shortcomings publicly exposed some one’s head had to roll and it certainly was not going to be theirs.

I was a States Member at the time of the suspension which came as a complete surprise. I had been aware of concerns regarding the expense of the investigations but not of the professionalism of the police involved. I was surprised how quickly a Church Service was arranged for the victims when none had been identified. However the service was not at the behest of the police. I was also surprised at how quickly the investigation attracted the attention of the world’s media. However once in contact with several journalists it soon became evident that the principle of why let the truth get in the way of a good story prevailed. I was a serving police officer in Lambeth during the Brixton riots and there were times when I questioned the motives and integrity of the media who similarly sought to make mountains out of molehills.

The police chief was suspended on 12th November 2008 but because of the election the matter via a Minister’s statement could not be addressed until 2nd December. The Minister Andrew Lewis said it gave him no pleasure to read it. Given the evidence of Ministerial and Civil Servant collusion that later came to light it is not surprising it gave him no pleasure.

During the next three years there were well over a hundred written and oral questions asked by the likes of, Deputies Higgins, Tadier, Pitman, Wimberley and me as we sought answers from Ian Le Marquand, Terry Le Sueur and Philip Ozouf. Connetable Crowcroft in December 2008 lodged a proposition P182/2008 HERE requesting the Home Affairs Minister Ian Le Marquand to commission a compliance check on the suspension and report to the States no later than 1st March 2009.

It seemed such an obvious yet simple request, particularly as Ian Le Marquand was new to the States and should have stood back and given his support. Unfortunately it was not to be possibly because he had been briefed by his acting Chief Officer David Warcup who was heavily involved and conflicted as he would have taken his boss's job and salary. His participation in the suspension not only led to criticism from Bryan Napier but rendered him unfit to replace Graham Power. He resigned prior to seeking States approval for his appointment.

Having failed to accept Connetable Crowcroft’s proposition in 2010 I lodged P9/2010. HERE which sought approval to establish an independent panel to review the suspension. Again the States rejected that proposition but accepted Chief Minister Le Sueur’s proposal to appoint an independent commissioner to conduct an “in house Review.”

Senator Le Sueur sought my support but I would only give it if I was to be party to the appointment of the Commissioner and able to have sight of the draft report(s), this was agreed as were were the terms of reference. However they were altered by the Deputy Chief Executive Officer without consulting me or Senator Le Sueur. It is known that at least two drafts were produced without me having sight of them as was the “final” version which I don’t believe was as written by the Commissioner Bryan Napier. His Report can be read HERE.  Whilst Napier found people at fault it is difficult to understand how he could find no evidence of a conspiracy when his report provides so much evidence.

One person not interviewed was Wendy Kinnard who was the Minister for Home Affairs until mid October 2008. She would never have been party to disciplinary action therefore she was never party to any of the secret discussions which took place between Senator Frank Walker, Andrew Lewis who was Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, Chief Executive Officer Bill Ogley, David Warcup and the Law Officers so how could it be said there was no evidence of conspiracy?

During the in camera question period after Andrew Lewis had read his statement and before I was privy to any of the facts that later emerged, I said there was a nasty smell about the suspension. Knowing what I now know it is evident that Graham Power was “stitched up.”  Deputy Lewis had replaced Wendy Kinnard and like Kinnard and Walker he too was retiring from the States in early December. Therefore having been given a window of opportunity it called for swift action. The action taken was akin to "planting" which was a despicable act undertaken by "bent coppers" and did so much harm to the reputation of all police officers.

It was known that Graham Power was to take a short break over the week end of 7/10th November. It is evident that David Warcup had a "friend" in the Met Police who was attempting to obtain a report into the Jersey Police Force's handling of the child abuse allegation. The Report was never intended for disciplinary action and neither was it complete because important witnesses had not been interviewed. It is also evident that the "friend" could not provide the report until Monday 10th November. However letters relating to the pending suspension were typed on the morning of Saturday 8th November which made reference to the Met Interim Report which was still not in Warcup's hands. The letters were dated 12th November which was the day that Graham Power was to be suspended

The Interim Report without the Met Police logo was received by Warcup during Monday 10th and was deemed to be so sensitive that they were for police eyes only, therefore it was not seen by Lewis, Walker or Ogley, Yet this was the damning evidence which used to justify suspending a police officer with over 40 years distinguished service.

There is no longer any dispute about the drafting of the letters because having had his request for evidence to support that fact denied by the Chief Minister, Senator Terry Le Sueur, Graham Power made a successful application to the States Complaint's Board which found in his favour. The Board's finding via R115/2009 can be read HERE

The suspension was deemed to be a neutral act which was farcical claim because despite the evidence that came to hand the matter was allowed to simmer for almost two years at the cost of over a million pounds much of which was paid to the Wiltshire Constabulary whose officers made dozens of trips to Jersey trying to find evidence to level disciplinary charges. Although their report was submitted to Minister Le Marquand before Christmas it remained on his desk until Graham Power had retired the following summer. 

Bryan Napier presented his final Report on 10th September but Senator Le Sueur would not circulate it. He was minded to take disciplinary proceedings against the Chief Executive Officer Bill Ogley, but no doubt was advised not do so being fearful of what Bill Ogley would have made public. Somehow a way out was found whereby he was able to retire with a £500k parachute. The Napier Report was eventually published two months later but only after I had made it clear that I would publish my copy.

Napier made a number of recommendations such as to ensure that statements are preserved and not torn up as was the case with Bill Ogley. Therefore I lodged a proposition P166/2010 HERE which sought States approval to implement them. Also as Napier had found that Graham Power had been unfairly suspended I asked that he be given a formal States apology.

As with other propositions P166 was rejected and disgracefully the States rejected my proposal to apologize to Graham Power. In March 2011 after the former Senator Le Gresley had lodged P19/2011 requesting the Council of Ministers to reconsider its decision not to establish a Committee of Inquiry into Jersey’s historic abuse, I lodged amendments HERE seeking States approval to establish a Committee of Inquiry if the issues raised in R27/2008 HERE had not been not been resolved.

It is said that everything comes to he who waits and thanks to a U turn by some hard liners my amendment along with one from Deputy Tadier was approved. Paragraph 12 of the Committee of Inquiry’s terms of Reference is to determine whether the concerns in 2007 were sufficient to justify the States of Jersey Police setting in train ‘Operation Rectangle’. Not only must the concerns be reviewed but also the repercussions of that decision. 

The suspension was totally unjustified as was the cost incurred in to prevent the truth being disclosed. The Committee of Inquiry now has the opportunity of right a wrong. The Inquiry Chair, Frances Oldham QC, has promised a "robust and fearless" examination of what went wrong and to find answers for people who suffered abuse as children. In seeking answers to those issues she must also seek answers from those who abused their positions when suspending Graham Power because without his leadership there would be no investigation, no Committee of Inquiry and those abused and neglected would still be unheard.

P182/2008 Connetable Simon Crowcroft's request for a compliance check can be read HERE
R115/2009 The Complaint's Board Finding re date of drafting of suspension letters can be read HERE
P 9/2010 My proposition to request an independent public review of the suspension can be read  HERE
R.132/2010 The Napier Report can be read  HERE
P166/2008 which also contains Graham Power's Affidavit can be read HERE
P19/2011 amendment to establish Committee of Inquiry can be read HERE
R27/2008 Council of Ministers Report re possible of Inquiry can be read HERE

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Jersey's Dean----- An Unhappy Anniversary.

A year has passed since my infamous meeting with Dame Heather Steel and the publishing of my blog “The truth, the whole truth or nothing but a whitewash?

That blog reported on my meeting with Dame Heather which led me to believe that her proposed report would be a whitewash. The Blog can be read HERE and gives a useful background to the sorry saga which 18 months ago was described as a mess but unfortunately has now become an even bigger, financial and embarrassing mess.

A year ago I was promised a transcript of the meeting but despite several requests to Dame Heather and Bishop Dakin it has not, and because of Dame Heather’s incriminating comments is unlikely to be given to me.

A year ago Dame Heather told me that her report was almost complete. However we know that her final version was not submitted to Bishop Dakin until last May. One is therefore entitled to ask where is it and why has no public explanation been given for the delay in publication.  

It is no secret that if the report had been compiled by a truly independent and competent person it would contain details of incompetence by a number of senior clergy members and of collusion to dispose of the victim. Therefore it’s not surprising that the report has not been circulated. 

We are also nearing the 6th anniversary of the spurious suspension of Jersey’s former Police Chief Graham Power.

If the panel of the Committee of Inquiry into Jersey’s historical child abuse adheres to its Terms of Reference it will soon be calling witnesses and hopefully the truth into the suspension will be revealed and the real reason and those responsible for it will be disclosed.

There are similarities relating to the suspension of Jersey’s Dean and the former Police Chief, however unlike the Dean who had friends in high places; the police chief was in effect dismissed by stealth.

Like Winchester a review into the circumstances of the suspension was commissioned and parts of the report were leaked but the final outcome was never revealed. It was a costly affair and like Winchester those involved in instigating the review did not emerge with any credit which soon after led me to make the following comment;

“The Minister and Minister for Home Affairs have emerged from this saga with no disciplinary case, no chief officer, a pending report from a QC likely to be critical of the Island’s Government, and a bill for over a million pounds. They are not well placed to criticise the actions of others.”

The same could be said of the Archbishop and Bishop, what have they achieved and at what cost? However I suppose one thing that could be said of their appointment of Dame Heather was that it turned out to be a precursor to the equally unwise appointments of Baroness Butler-Sloss and Fiona Woolf to head other reviews.

If these people can’t remember who their relations and friends are or who they socialise with. then how can they possibly be expected to remember the faceless victims and what they have to say. 

The Gladwin and Steel Reviews have been expensive and divisive affairs and are yet unpublished. It might be helpful not let the birthday candles burn out until they have set fire to both Reports so their ashes may join those of the hundreds of thousands of pounds already gone up in smoke in paying for what has become a futile and embarrassing farce.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Jersey's Elections (4)--- The Party's Over

The party’s over and it’s now time to call it a day for 7 States Members in what was called Jersey’s first General Election but in name only, because until there is only one category of States Member elected in equal sized constituencies there will never be a General Election in Jersey.

The Referendum result was as expected although possibly the size of the victory wasn't. As most of the elected members have expressed their support for reform it will be difficult to see how any reform can be implemented unless there is only one category of States Member elected in equal sized constituencies.

The closeness in the result of the only Connetable’s election (6 votes) is the very reason why Connetable’s are overwhelmingly in support for their right to retain their automatic right to a seat in the States. By chance I spoke to two St Mary voters yesterday and asked why they were wearing “Vote Yes” badges and Deputy Le Bailly rosettes. They said they were opposing their Connetable because she was spending too much time on States work. Their response was surely a contradiction because one of the reasons given for paying States Members was because it was recognized that States work was a full time job. 

One of the reasons given for Connetable Jackson’s demise at the previous election was because of his time spent on States work. It would seem that “Yes” voters want their cake and eat it.

Whilst there were many personal victories and congratulation to all the victors, I hope they will press for a review of yesterday’s election because the real victor was apathy and endorsed the “Apathy Ahoy” title I gave to my first Jersey Election’s blog.

The actual % turn out is not available at present but I doubt if the overall turnout was over 45 % with some turn outs being under 30%.

Why did so many people decide not to vote? Was it because they are so disenchanted with the quality of the candidates, the obstacles placed in front of them such as voter registration, queueing to vote in the open as experienced by voters in Trinity yesterday, or the confusion caused by an electoral system which has three categories of States Members, 12 of whom are being paid to be part time members of the States and 17 elected unopposed.

Yesterday was another bad day for the ladies with two new faces but one out, and for candidates with an independent or questioning approach. In my first blog I drew attention to 3 candidates who were deserving support for their ability and seeking an Island mandate to enhance their chances of ministerial positions. I am pleased that 2 of the 3 namely Andrew Green and Zoe Cameron were successful but am really disappointed that the third candidate, John Young did not receive the support he deserved.

Three years ago former Planning Chief Officer John Young was elected for the first time. He chaired a Scrutiny Panel, regularly lodged questions and lodged twice as many propositions than the 12 Connetables put together. He also made some valuable contributions during States debates.  Possibly one of the reasons for his demise was his honesty by openly supporting the No Vote. He may have lost the election but his integrity remains intact. 

The same can be said of Sarah Ferguson who has been a formidable Scrutiny Chairman whose panels did keep a close eye on public spending and raised issues such as the grant to the bogus film company and the budget shambles. She could be likened to the Chief Minister of Scrutiny and her defeat will be another loss to the Island.

During last Friday’s "Election Call" on Radio Jersey I was asked whether there could be any upsets. I thought that Ministers Anne Pryke at Health and Rob Duhamel at Planning could be vulnerable. Ann just scrapped in by beating Hugh Raymond by 16 votes but Rob just lost out by 26 votes to Peter McLinton, one of the 4 successful media candidates.

We must also say goodbye to "Crusty" Gerard Baudans who used to sit next to me in the States and also to Nick Le Cornu who because of his “tweet” about a colleague was going to find re-election difficult.

One of the disappointing results was not that someone lost but was actually elected, that person is the former Home Affairs Minister Andrew Lewis. He was the man behind the controversial and unlawful suspension of the former police Chief Graham Power. Andrew Lewis is back but his role in the States will need to be closely scrutinised. He must surely be called as a witness before the Committee of Inquiry so that it can be established which of the two statements he gave to the States and to the Wiltshire Police is truthful.

Given that Senator Gorst topped the poll it will be seen as an endorsement of his position as Chief Minister. Therefore whilst it would be good if his position for Chief Minister was challenged, it will be difficult for any one to defeat him. He has lost the Ministers of Home Affairs, Planning, Education and Social Security, therefore he should be looking to a reshuffle of existing Ministers like Bailhache, Ozouf and Maclean who have an Island mandate, and give Ministerial posts to Farnham, Routier, Cameron and Green. 

It would be an insult to the likes of John Young and Sean Power who have lost their seats, if Deputies, some of whom were elected unopposed, are appointed to Ministerial positions.

In conclusion thanks must be given to the States Greffier Michael de la Haye and his staff for the publication of the Election Manifesto booklet and for the Vote. je website along with the video recordings of the Hustings. 

Readers who wish to see read the results from yesterday’s election will be able to do so by clicking on to the Vote.Je website HERE.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Jersey's Elections (3) The "Yes Vote" ---The Myth Exposed.

The Yes Campaign has posted the reasons for voting yes.

Below is my response


The loss of the Constables will weaken opposition to the current proposals for a centralised property tax. This proposal will cost Islanders more than the current rates system, and be set by the Treasury Minister, not Parishioners.
A yes or no vote will make no difference to what is only a proposal and thankfully is most unlikely to get past the starting post.
Parish Rates have remained steady for 10 years. Without an effective Parish Administration bureaucracy will increase, stifling business in Jersey, and increasing the burden on the individual Ratepayer.
A red herring. Parish Administration is good and the Connetables are to be complemented but there is no justification to claim that by voting No will lead to an increase in bureaucracy.  Parish Rates is down to the effective Parish administration and from close scrutiny by parishioners who have a direct say in parish expenditure at the annual rates meetings
If the Constables are removed from the States, they will either have to be paid by their Parishes or not at all. This creates an imbalance and without pay the only people who will stand will be those with the time and money to afford it. It also risks destabilising the whole honorary system should one office holder receive remuneration and the others not.
Voting No does remove the right of Connetables sitting in the States only their automatic right. It will be for the electorate to decide whether they think their Connetable is worthy of a States seat.
The Connetable is head of the HONORARY parish system where many parishioners give freely of their time. Whilst some already receive an allowance from their Parish if they feel they need to be paid for carrying out their duties then it will be for the Parishioners to decide.
Ask yourself how effective the administration of your Parish is compared with the States of Jersey, and would you want to remove this efficiency from your Government and Assembly?
The referendum is not about parish efficiency
Through their political role, the Constables can interact with Parishioners and work as part of a support network. The loss of the Constables in the States will undoubtedly lead to a significant weakening of the Parish system – as has been the case in Guernsey for many years.
Sadly Parish Assemblies are poorly attended so there is very little interaction. Apart from St Mary’s the other 11 Connetables have not had to contest an election yet not one of them has organised a parish meeting to discuss the Referendum. Where is the interaction?
Constables have been identified as the future for ‘e-Government’ interaction as well as care and the community. This cannot happen if they are not in the States Assembly.
Where is the evidence? Most of the Connetables are yet to master the art of uploading their manifestos on to the website.
Through the Parish Assembly, and being available at the Parish Hall, the Constable is uniquely placed to be able to understand the concerns of their parishioners. These concerns are taken to the States Assembly directly, through the political role of the Constable. This cannot be replaced.
Again where is the evidence to support this claim? There is however ample evidence to show how few questions, propositions and amendments have been lodged by the Connetables. What does not exist does not need to be replaced.
The Constables are continually accountable to the Parishioners through the Parish Assembly as well as the ballot box. No other type of States Member is. Parishioners, by the ancient law of Requête can force a Parish Assembly to be called.
The outcome of the Referendum will not change the present arrangement. Surely all elected members are accountable at the ballot box.
Most Deputies do not represent the Parishes in the States. Where is the evidence?
They are elected in their own districts, on the basis of their political views. Each Parish, as a corporate body, is represented in the States by its Constable similar to the way each Department is represented by its Minister.
I find the above to be an odd claim. As a former Deputy I considered my self to be a representative of my Parishioners in both Parish and Island affairs. I would have thought that principle applied to my Connetable as well.
The removal of the Constables has the potential to de-stabilise Jersey’s Government. The Finance Industry requires confidence in government. Radical changes in the structure of government could damage confidence at a time of economic uncertainty.
I can only repeat that the Referendum is to seek the public’s views as to whether the Connetables should have an automatic right to a seat. Removing the potential of the Connetable’s block vote might concentrate the minds of the Council of Ministers but that might be one of the positives from a No vote.
There is a suggestion that Constables have a “block vote”. While they may vote the same way, they do so as individuals bringing Parish concerns to the assembly. Statistics show that Senators vote the same way as Constables do, but this goes unremarked. It is worth noting that a Party System would be one in which Party members had to vote the same way and take the agreed Party line. That would be a real “block vote”.
The above claim is not supported by the facts.
Constables have proven they are reforming States Members. They led the way towards a single election day, a four year term and spring elections. They also removed their own policing powers. Without them reform becomes more difficult to achieve.
Quite an audacious claims where is the evidence to substantiate them? The policing powers were removed thanks to continual pressure from back benches.  It is worth noting that unlike the Deputies and Senators Connetables are not subject to the States of Jersey Law nor do they take the same oath.
The retention of the Constables IS compliant with the Venice Commission, which makes allowances for different jurisdictions: “The geographical criterion and administrative, or possibly even historical, boundaries may be taken into consideration.” Our Parish boundaries are both administrative and historical and thus meet these requirements.
The Venice Commission can be interpreted as above but is hardly relevant to the Referendum. I am pretty confident that many Connetables would be elected if they stood shoulder to shoulder with other candidates and this would enhance their status.  However voting yes will only perpetuate a system that is broken and will remain so for many years to come.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Jersey's Elections (2)-- The Facts Speak For Themselves

The election merry go round enters its second week and Hustings are now being held for Deputies as well as Senators. The one Husting for the only election for Connetable will be held at St Mary on Tuesday 7th October at 8pm.

The first Hustings for Deputies got underway last night and tonight there are 5 Deputies and 1 Senator’s Husting. I shall be chairing the St Helier Number 1 District Hustings at 7pm this evening at the Ommaroo Hotel at Havre des Pas and look forward to the occasion.

There is a rare Husting at Trinity this evening where the Health Minister Anne Pryke who was “elected” 9 years ago will be appearing before the electorate for the first time, thanks to Hugh Raymond throwing his hat into the ring. He is a well qualified candidate and it will be interesting to see how the pair perform at the Hustings and the support each candidate receives from what is expected to be a high turn out.

The fact that a candidate can be elected unopposed and become a Minister without facing the electorate is another example of how outdated our current electoral system is. Also this evening at St Lawrence there is a Senators Husting where the Connetable and the 2 Deputies were all re-elected unopposed. The two Deputies Noel and Le Fondre (who has not uploaded his manifesto) are both seeking Ministerial positions as is Deputy Kevin Lewis who if re-elected will be hoping to carry on as Minister of Transport and Technical Services.

Whilst I don’t support the continuation of the Senator's role it still exists and, as such I believe that candidates wishing to become Ministers should seek an Island mandate to give them credibility, It has been noticeable that some Senatorial candidates like Anne Southern, Zoe Cameron, Deputy Young and Green are seeking an Island mandate to enhance their chances of becoming Ministers. I wish them well and I consider that all are well in with a chance of being elected.

Some may say its surprising how little interest is being shown in relation to the referendum as to whether Connetables should retain their automatic right of a seat in the States Assembly. The referendum is half cocked and if it was not being held on the same day as the General Election there would be an all time low turn out.

It is interesting to see how Senator Bailhache says he supports reform when he has done so much to stifle it and continues to do so  by supporting the Connetable's right to an automatic seat. The Senator is also of the view that there needs to be a reduction in the number of States Members. Had he not ambushed the Electoral Commission there would have been a reduction and a genuine election where all the candidates would have to face the electorate and the public would have a genuine say in who represents them.

I have always supported the Clothier recommendation for a smaller Assembly which the Senator also wants but he stops short of the full Clothier recommendation of a one class of States Member. Having just read his leaflet which has come through my letter box it is evident that Senator Bailhache is unsettled by those States members who question what Ministers do, including those who are caught out reading confidential papers on aircraft. There is no Opposition Party in Jersey and true opposition is left to the ever decreasing number of Members who are prepared to make Ministers accountable.

Opposition can come via questions and propositions being lodged and it is evident that the outgoing House has hardly excelled its itself. In the House of 2008 to 2011, 1402 propositions and amendments were lodged. This outgoing House has lodged 848. That number would have been much reduced had the Plemont and Electoral Commission not been recycled at the behest of Senator Bailhache.

The same reduction can be found in the number of written and oral questions asked. The previous House asked 2359 written and 1049 oral questions. The outgoing House has asked 1892 written and 878 oral. I wont embarrass the Connetables by revealing the number of questions and propositions they have lodged because a number would have a zero figure. Therefore it is not surprising that Ministers wishing for an easy and unaccountable way of life seek the retention of Connetables remaining as ex-officio States Members.

Confirmation of the figures I have produced can be verified via the States Assembly website which be accessed by clicking HERE  

In my last Blog I commented on the number of Connetables who had failed to upload their manifestos onto the website. Having checked before publishing this Blog it is evident that only two of the re-elected have. One displays his website but on reading it I found that it had not been updated since 2011. What is particularly disappointing is among those who have not uploaded their manifestos are the two Connetables who have been elected unopposed. Therefore their parishioners have no idea what they stand for or what they hope to achieve during their term of office.   

In conclusion it is pleasing to note the States has taken a leaf out of the Voice for Children and Tom Gruchy book and is now videoing most of the Hustings via the Website. Whilst the visual and sound quality can be improved the recordings offer those unable to attend the Hustings with the opportunity of seeing the candidate and hearing what they have to say.

The website can be accessed by clicking HERE.

Monday 22 September 2014

Jersey's Elections (1) ------Apathy Ahoy??

Well that “was the Election Nomination Week that was” and the dust has now settled. However it is evident that the dust was not disturbed in several parishes as 17 candidates were “elected” unopposed. Whilst I accept it is not the fault of those successful and indeed lucky candidates that no-one opposed them, however they must take some responsibility for supporting a system which is archaic and undemocratic.  

My blog is read world wide and some readers from outside the Island and for that many on Island will marvel how an Island’s democracy can still operate where there is no party system, no formal opposition, has three types of elected States Member and where the unelected Dean, Solicitor and Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, Bailiff and his Deputy all sit in the same Assembly and have the right to speak.

It is now some 14 years since the late Sir Cecil Clothier published his report and one of my regrets during my 18 years in the States is that I supported the change to ministerial government based on the promise that we would immediately address the other Clothier reform recommendations. It is a fact that States Members, with the support of the Council of Ministers have reneged on the promises made some 12 years go.

We now have a parliamentary system that is controlled by members with vested interests and an old boy net work that even old Etonians would envy. Thanks to the States allowing itself to be ambushed by Senator Bailhache’s throttling of the Electoral Commission, the electorate is left floundering and with little or no say in who will be elected to the States and ultimately to the Council of Ministers.

At the last referendum the electorate were given the opportunity of voting for “Option A” which would have allowed for the Island to be divided into 6 electoral districts whereby the electorate in each district would be given the opportunity of voting for 7 members to the States Assembly which would be reduced to 42 members. The system would have removed the Connétables/Constables automatic seat in the States but would permit them to stand shoulder to shoulder with other candidates seeking election to the States.

“Option A” would have ensured that no member would be elected or re-elected unopposed and every member including Ministers and Connétables/Constables would be held accountable to a wider electorate. However it was not to be and we have a situation where 11 Connétables/Constables have either been elected or re-elected unopposed. Even more bizarre is that 6 Deputies have been elected/re-elected unopposed some of whom are hoping to become Ministers.

We also have a situation where Ministers would rather stand in their relatively safe parish or district seat than seek an Island mandate. It is a pity that they did not display the example of Deputies Green and Young and Dr Zoe Cameron who are seeking an Island mandate in their endeavours to become Minister. They will receive one of my votes not just because of their example but they have the credentials to be Ministers.

I hope to publish other blogs before the election on 15th October which is not only to elect members to the States but includes a referendum where the electorate will be asked “should the Constables remain as members of the States as an automatic right?” It might be a simple question but it requires an informed answer and I very much regret that votes will be cast on sentiment rather than knowledge.

I respect the role of Connétable/Constable and know most of the post holders however as sensible and mature people why were they sitting as a body at the Senatorial Nomination evening. Why were they there, who asked them and how could they justify being there?

Now that 11 of the Connétables/Constables will not have to knock at doors it is hoped that they will find time to upload their manifestos on to  and also organise Parish Assemblies to arrange for independent speakers to discuss the merits of voting “Yes” or “No” before the forthcoming Referendum.

Monday 15 September 2014

Jersey's Dean---Steel and Gladwin Reports---Update

It is now 18 months since Tim Dakin the Bishop of Winchester suspended Jersey's Dean Bob Key and announced that there would be an investigation into the Dean’s handling of a complaint against a Church Warden.

The suspension arose from the findings of report by Jan Korris who had in November 2011 been commissioned by the Safeguarding Panel for the Diocese of Winchester. What has never been established is why the Korris review was instigated in the first place? However is should be noted that Tim Dakin was not appointed Bishop until April 2012 so was unlikely to have played any part in that decision.

The Korris Report is dated March 2013 but must have been viewed by Bishop Dakin some time sooner because on 8th March he announced that he had suspended Jersey’s Dean.

At the time of the suspension Bishop Dakin said “Firstly I want to give my unreserved apologies to the complainant for her treatment. Protecting the vulnerable is at the heart of the Church of England's mission. With that comes a duty to ensure those in need are properly looked after. It is vital that robust safeguarding policies are in place and, above all, that they are properly implemented."

“This Independent Report suggests that, put simply our policies were not implemented as they should have been. I am particularly disappointed that the Dean of Jersey refused to cooperate with the review and I have now ordered an immediate and thorough investigation. In the wake of the report, difficult but necessary and decisive actions are required to ensure that, in the future, procedures will be followed properly.”

18 months on it is worth looking to see if there is an outcome of the “difficult but necessary and decisive actions.” On 26th March last year it was announced that John Gladwin the former Bishop of Chelmsford would head a Visitation/Inquiry whereby woolly Terms of Reference were published. This eventually led to the Inquiry being separated with John Gladwin looking into the complicated Constitutional issues and Dame Heather Steel being appointed to investigate the Dean’s handling of the complaint against the Church Warden.

It goes without saying that Bishop Dakin soon sailed into troubled and uncharted waters and was quite unaware of “The Jersey Way” of handling matters particularly if it affected establishment figures or constitutional matters. Soon after the former Bailiff but now Senator Bailhache wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury protesting at the Bishop’s handling of the matter whereby the Dean’s suspension was lifted.

The process had all the hallmarks of a “done deal” because the Dean offered a meaningless apology for failings in his administration. I may add that the Archbishop of Canterbury had also offered public but not personal apologies to the victim.

Given the importance of the matter let alone the obscene cost one would have hoped that by mid September 2014 the Gladwin and Steel Reports would have been published. It is worth reminding readers that last November Bishop Gladwin announced that Dame Heather was finalising her Report but based on her findings no disciplinary action was being taken against the Dean and the other clergy member.

I have always maintained that the Steel Report would be worthless for a number of reasons, such as she did not interview the two main witnesses, she did not, as recommended by Jan Korris address the issue of the complainant’s deportation from Jersey and being left destitute in the UK. Dame Heather is a former colleague of Senator Philip Bailhache a well known supporter of the Dean and in a 3 hour meeting with me she was less than complimentary to the victim and displayed a bias in favour of the Dean. It should be noted that Dame Heather reneged on a promise to provide me with the transcript of the meeting.

In May this year the Bishop informed Jersey’s Bailiff that Dame Heather had sent him her Report and that she had informed him that it was her final report. One gets the impression that Dame Heather had submitted a number of “final” reports and had got fed up with continually making amendments at the Bishop’s behest.

The Bishop made some further but very relevant points in that he was forwarding the Report to Counsel in London to look at defamation and confidentiality but hoped to publish the Report shortly. He had also assembled a small group of suitably qualified professionals to carry out an Impact Assessment to consider the likely impact on the person at the heart of the matter.

The Bishop went on to say that the Report highlighted a number of significant concerns about safeguarding in Jersey, including some which were directly connected with the Canons and the laws of Jersey.

We are now in mid September and one is perfectly entitled to know what is going on at Winchester and ask why the Reports have not been published and what if any steps have been taken in relation to the Impact Study and addressing the significant safeguarding concerns in the Island which were also raised by Jan Korris in March 2013.

I have tried to get answers from Winchester and Canterbury but needless to say I have not received replies. If 18 months ago Bishop Tim was of the view that it was vital that robust safeguarding policies are in place and, above all, that they are properly implemented it would be helpful if he, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Dover who now has oversight for Jersey or the Dean would make it publicly known what new safe guarding policies are in place and that when someone makes a complaint against a Church Official they wont end up being deported and left destitute in the UK.

At the same time it would also be helpful for the Bishop to announce that he will not be publishing the Steel Report as it has been so redacted it is now as meaningless as his apologies.

Today the Dean has announced that the Church is to seek the views of Islanders in relation to same sex marriages. It makes one wonder where the Church’s priorities are.