Wednesday 22 January 2014

Jersey's Dean----- Press Release, No Peace, No Reconciliation, What's New?

The rumour that an arrangement was going to be put in place whilst the impasse between Jersey’s Dean and the Bishop of Winchester was resolved has now been confirmed via the following Press Release issued from Lambeth Palace earlier today.

“The Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, is to assume interim episcopal oversight of the work of the Church of England in the Channel Islands on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, delegated the oversight of the Islands.

The interim arrangement, which has the fullest support of the Bishop of Winchester, will be in place within a matter of weeks. The reports commissioned by the Bishop of Winchester, being conducted by Dame Heather Steel and Bishop John Gladwin in relation to safeguarding issues, will be completed in due course.

The Bishop of Dover is a former Bishop of Basingstoke in the Diocese of Winchester, and therefore has significant knowledge of the Islands. He and the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, undertook a pastoral visit to the Channel Islands in December, during which they met local church leaders and Island authorities from both Deaneries.    

The interim arrangement is also entirely separate from issues to do with the Islands’ formal relationship with the Church of England. The Archbishop intends to appoint a Commission to look at the relationship between the Islands, the Diocese of Winchester and the wider Church of England.”


It is now 10 months since the saga was first made public; it has been described as a mess where its origins began in the summer of 2008 when an allegation of sexual abuse was unsatisfactorily dealt with by Jersey’s Dean for which he has subsequently apologised. It is hard to estimate what the allegation has cost the Church of England not only to its purse but to its reputation. What is again evident is that the victim known as HG is not mentioned in the Press Release nor any safeguarding issues.

What is unknown is how long the interim arrangement will last and what arrangements are in hand to end the impasse between the Dean and Bishop. What is evident is that after 10 months, the Archbishop has felt it necessary to make an interim arrangement because two of his senior Clergy are unable to resolve their differences.

Church goers are entitled to expect their leaders to set examples and to practice what they preach. However we have two senior clergy who are unable to work together, where is the peace and reconciliation? How can they and fellow clergy espouse the virtues of peace and reconciliation as advanced by the likes of Nelson Mandela when two of its senior clergy are unable to practice what they should be preaching?

The Press Release states that the interim arrangement has the fullest support of the Bishop of Winchester and that the reports he commissioned, the Steel and Gladwin will be completed in due course. It should be recalled that when I met Dame Heather Steel at the end of October she would not see HG on the grounds that her report was almost complete, there was nothing that HG could add to it which she was due to submit to the Bishop at the end of the month. If the report is not complete is it because steps are being taken to interview the Church Warden and HG.

What is also of interest is that not withstanding that former Bishop John Gladwin is investigating the Constitutional relationship, the Archbishop intends to appoint a Commission to look at the relationship between the Islands, the Diocese of Winchester and the wider Church. Has John Gladwin found insurmountable obstacles during his investigation and how much will the Commission cost and who will foot the bill?

Bishop Dakin has circulated a letter to his Clergy in which I am told he has apparently stated that what began as an important safe guarding matter has steadily become complicated by a range of political and legal issues but the safe guarding investigations will continue. It would be interesting to know what investigations are in hand. However what must now be evident to Bishop Dakin is that the short strip of water between Winchester and Jersey is not only hazardous but also shark infested and it must come as a relief that he is being released from an unenviable responsibility. 

Thursday 16 January 2014

Senator Gorst And His Double Headed Coin.

Deputy Duhamel and Senator Gorst.

On Wednesday 8th January the Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst lodged a proposition which can be read here P2/2014 seeking States approval to dismiss Deputy Rob Duhamel his Minister for Planning and Environment.

In his report he says "I do not bring this Proposition lightly. To call for the dismissal of a Minster is a serious
matter, but I do so because it is the right course of action." His report then sets out examples of the ways in which the Deputy had failed to discharge his Ministerial duties and obligations. Senator Gorst claims to have explored these issues in depth and has ensured that the Minister has been provided with opportunities to be heard and to respond.

However Senator Gorst was not satisfied with the Deputy's account and neither he nor his fellow Ministers believed that Deputy Duhamel should continue to hold office, but what is the substance to that claim and does the evidence justify the allegation let alone a verdict.

The issues Senator Gorst claims to have explored are in summary Deputy Luce's asbestos concerns which led him to lodge his vote of no confidence in Deputy Duhamel P148/2013 and can be read HERE .The Co-op and JEC Planning applications and failing to conduct a timely review of the Island Plan. However Senator Gorst really twists the knife by accusing Deputy Duhamel of failing to be open and honest with the Council of Ministers, States Members and the public. If Deputy Duhamel is in the dock why is he alone?

It is no secret that Senator Gorst and other Ministers have been travelling the world in their endeavours to portray Jersey as a paradise and a paragon of virtue. It would appear that on their travels they have trodden on the road to Damascus and have been converted to honourable, virtuous and upstanding fellows who will no longer be economical with the truth and will only give straight and honest answers to questions. I can hardly wait for next Tuesday's Question Time.

Senator Gorst and his Ministers are so squeaky-clean that they cannot work with some one like Deputy Duhamel whom it can be said has often ploughed a lone furrow and is not one of the greatest of team players, however does that make him a bad Minister? From a personal view I think his decision to permit a new school to be built on its existing playing field was illogical because there was a better alternative site. However it is the system that is wrong and one that Deputy Duhamel inherited from former Minister Freddie Cohen.

One could ask why the Chief Minister has not sought to change a practice which allows one Minister so much control/power in Planning matters with little or no affordable appeal system. To an outsider it could be perceived that the Co-op and the JEC are using their influence to remove Deputy Duhamel so he can be replaced by a Minister who will give consent to their planning applications. Deputy Duhamel's failure to support Senator Corst's Plemont proposition must also grate.

It is all very well for Deputy Steve Luce to seek Brownie points over the long standing asbestos concerns. but most people are unaware of the asbestos and that can only been down to the failure of the Trappist States Members who have failed to raise the matter during question time. If the matter was so serious why has so little been done to raise awareness? Had Deputy Luce the courage of his convictions he would not have withdrawn his proposition at Senator Gorst's behest.

The asbestos matter is in hand but can that be said of the extending waiting list at the General Hospital or a malfunctioning incinerator purchased at exorbitant cost, the re-location of the police station, tenancy legislation, updating Jersey's Licensing Law and many other long standing issues?

It can be said that the pot is calling the kettle black as far as the review of the Island Plan is concerned. Senator Gorst and many fellow Ministers opposed my amendments to establish a Committee of Inquiry into Jersey's Child Abuse. They have been dragged kicking and screaming to the wire and it has taken three years for the Inquiry to get under way..

Senator Gorst is feeling hard done by in that he does not have the power to hire and fire Ministers. If he feels that way why has he not sought to change the Law to give him that right. However I doubt whether enough States Members would be that stupid to give so much power to one person. It has been reported that the Chief Minister cannot select his Ministers, that is incorrect, he can select but it is down to fellow Members to approve his nominations. It should be remembered that Senator Gorst nominated Deputy Duhamel warts and all but only narrowly defeated Deputy Eddie Noel who opposed him for the position.

I was present on 11th September 2007 when the States debated P117/2007 which was the proposition lodged by the former Chief Minister Senator Frank Walker seeking support to dismiss the former Senator Stuart Syvret. The proposition contained 82 pages compared to the 39 paged Gorst proposition. Interestingly on page 22 of the Walker proposition is a letter signed by all the Ministers with the exception of Senator Kinnard who abstained, calling for Senator Syvret's dismissal. Senator Gorst's proposition does not contain a similar letter.

I was one of the 19 who voted against the proposition with 30 members in support in what was a very acrimonious debate. When comparing the 2 propositions, the latest is pretty flimsy and certainly not worthy of success. However the States like God moves in mysterious ways and some Members are likely to support the proposition to enhance their political position rather than consider it on its merits. Very importantly they should also compare Deputy Duhamel's overall performance with other Ministers including the Chief Minister's.

As mentioned above I believe that Deputy Duhamel's decision to approve the application to build on St Martin's School Field was illogical but that is not one cited by the Chief Minister who could have quite easily have saved the field had he accepted my nomination for it to be Jersey's Diamond Jubilee's Playing Field. Unfortunately Senator Gorst not only ignored my nomination but he failed to conduct the selection process in a proper and timely manner where not only was the playing field lost but Jersey does not have a Diamond Jubilee field.

Senator Gorst has accused Deputy Duhamel of dishonesty and by implication being dishonourable but is he being hypercritical? It is apparent that he wants his cake and eat it too. He is tossing a double headed coin so that what ever way it falls will result in him remaining as Chief Minister. This is because it has been reported that he will not resign if Members do not support his proposition. Surely if his relationship and confidence in Deputy Duhamel is so strained that he wants him removed, how can he work with him should his proposition fail?

Dismissing a Minister is a very serious and divisive matter but should be the last and not as in this case the first option. Senator Gorst has pressed the nuclear button but his report does not provide any evidence of relationships being so bad that the end of the road has been reached which clearly it has not. This is evident by the fact that Senator Gorst does not have unanimous Council of Minister's support and is prepared to work with the Deputy if his proposition fails.

This being the case Senator Gorst should show Leadership by withdrawing his proposition thus preventing a debate which will leave only losers, will weaken his position and the credibility of an already lack lustre Council of Ministers, will bring the Island into disrepute and at the cost of valuable States time and public expense.

Post Script

On the day before the debate Senator Gorst withdrew his proposition because he claimed that he and Deputy Duhamel had met and in affect had kissed and made up after Deputy Duhamel had apologised. At the States Sitting next day Senator Gorst would not get drawn into explaining when or where the meetings were held and/or witnessed. Given that he had accused Deputy Duhamel of being dishonest no one knows why he was still willing to work with him.

Deputy Duhamel has not made a statement or publicly commented on the reason for the u turn, however according to Senator Gorst, Deputy Duhamel will not meet applicants unless accompanied.

Thursday 2 January 2014

A Reflection on 2013

During 2013 I published 33 blogs and in common with other Bloggers have seen an increased readership. Whilst a large proportion of my posting have been in relation to the Dean's handling of HG's complaint I have covered other topics. I shall devote this blog looking back on some of them and will also take the opportunity of updating readers.

In January drug dealer Curtis Warren was still very much in the news and so he remained throughout the year as the Authorities were determined to make his life as difficult as possible. I have no time for drug dealers but it appears that every possible step was taken to ensure that Curtis Warren remained behind bars for as long as the Authorities could justifiably do so.

There was an ongoing battle to either get some of his ill gotten gains or to keep him locked up. He was due to be released this month but was ordered to pay back almost £200m or face a further period behind bars. Following the Court's ruling a statement from Jersey's Law Officers' Department read; 

"The Royal Court of Jersey has today ordered that £198m be confiscated from Curtis Warren. It is believed to be one of the largest ever confiscation orders made in the British Isles and Europe.
"The confiscation proceedings are the result of several years of extensive investigation into the criminal career and financial affairs of one of Europe's most notorious organised criminals." 
I did not attend any of the Hearings but from reports I have read it was reported that during the Hearing it was alleged that Warren was laundering £10m to £15m a week from smuggling drugs. It was also revealed that from his cell at Jersey's La Moye prison while awaiting trial between 2007 and 2009, Warren was alleged to have used several illicit mobile phones to contact a network of associates in an attempt to continue his drug trafficking empire. Some 35,000 calls across 41 countries between March 2008 and October 2009 involving Warren's mobile phones were analysed during the investigation.
If the above occurred one wonders who knew about it, why was it permitted, how many people have been arrested and if none, why not? When one also considers the controversy over the way evidence was obtained to convict Warren where no drugs came into police hands nor the drug supplier arrested, it ‘s not surprising that he has lodged another appeal. He might well be asking who guards the guardians or who watches the watchman?
Interestingly one the judges involved with one of the earlier appeal Hearings was certain Dame Heather Steel.
In February I published a blog about a film company called Canbedone Productions who having originally asked for £2m settled for £200k to film in Jersey. The Blog has received a considerable number of visits throughout the year and I am sure that readers will be looking with interest as to whether the promised filming actually gets under way later this month.
I am much saddened every time I pass St Martin’s School’s former playing field which is very much a building site because of the construction of the new school.The new parish Deputy, Steve Luce was a leading light in support of building the school on its field rather than on its existing site. I had hoped Deputy Rob Duhamel would have remembered that he is also Minister for Environment as well as Planning and would have saved the field but it was not to be. It is therefore amusing to read that Steve Luce lodged a proposition claiming that he has no confidence in Deputy Duhamel. It is said that one has no friends in politics.
I posted a Blog reporting on the lot of many of the Island’s immigrants who have little protection in respect of the deposits they are required to leave with land lords. The promised legislation still has not been lodged but I am informed that it should be lodged in the near future.
The States continued to make a pig’s ear of Reform and as long as it remains in Member’s hands, apart from the odd tweaking nothing substantial will be forthcoming. The one regret I have is that I voted in favour of Ministerial Government way back in 2001. I believed that reform in line with Clothier would immediately follow but it certainly has not been the case.
It was my proposition that established the Carswell Review into the role of the unelected Members of States. These include the Bailiff, the Deputy, the Attorney and Solicitor Generals, the Dean and the Lt. Governor. One of the recommendations to come from the Review was that the Bailiff’s dual role should end.
Connetable Crowcroft has lodged a proposition requesting the States to agree that the Bailiff should cease to act as President of the States and the States should elect their own President either from within or from without the ranks of their members.  I have always been relaxed in relation as to who presides at States Sittings but my main concern is that who ever it is, that person should be accountable and there should be a right of appeal against decisions made by that person in relation to the lodging of propositions and questions from States Members.
I devoted three blogs in which the former Bailiff was able to able to act in a partial and conflicted manner and yet not be accountable to anyone.
The debate on the Bailiff is due on 4th February and it seems ironic that a Connetable is lodging a proposition to remove the Bailiff from the States in line with the Clothier recommendation yet the Connetables are totally ignoring Clothier's recommendation to remove them selves from the States.  
In March it will be 3 years since the States agreed to establish a Committee of Inquiry into Jersey’s Historic Child Abuse. I published a couple of Blogs relating to that topic but it this Blog on Jimmy Savile published in 2012 which is still receiving a large number of visits. I am looking forward to the Committee actually getting under-way.
As mentioned above I have devoted a considerable amount of time to the Dean’s handling of HG’s complaint. As is so often the case it is not what was done at the time but what was not done that leads to problems. This could be said in the Dean’s case where sadly his handling of the complaint has caused a tremendous amount of distress not only to him and his wife but to HG which was also life changing.

Much time and expense has been given to investigating the matter and it is already evident that there will be no winners. The two Reports are due to be published some time in the near future but I doubt whether either will really put an end to the affair and will probably pose more questions than answers, but Bloggers will ensure that questions are asked.

Finally may I wish all readers a safe and healthy 2014 and ask that if you are minded to make a New Year's resolution you might consider one I made at the millennium and still keep. When ever possible use the stairs rather than the lift. Its good for your heart and spirit, try it even for a month and see if it makes a difference, I am sure it will.