Monday 26 May 2014

Jersey's Dean--They Have learnt Nothing and Forgotten Nothing

In my previous blog I made reference to a report published on the Channel TV website which said that it could reveal that the Bishop of Winchester Tim Dakin had received the Steel Report, he had formally informed Jersey's Lieutenant Governor that he was not taking any disciplinary action against the Dean of Jersey, Dame Heather had been investigating how Jersey's Church looks after vulnerable parishioners and he had set up an Impact Assessment Group to suggest ways in which the Steel Report can be published without causing harm to HG.

It is possible that the information on the Channel Website came from a letter from Bishop Dakin to the Bailiff of Jersey because that letter contains much of the same information. However the letter contains additional information because the Bishop has said that the Steel Report highlights a number of significant concerns about safeguarding in Jersey including some which are directly connected with the Canons and the laws of Jersey.

Those who have read the Jan Korris Report which was published 15 months ago will have noted her concerns and of the confusion arising from the Church of England's Safeguarding Policy and the Jersey Canon Law. The Bishop now lets on that Dame Heather Steel has also come up with that conclusion yet it is only made known 6 months after he announced that no disciplinary action was being taken against the Dean. 

What is now evident is that when it comes to priorities the welfare of people like HG, the vulnerable and the general public are not as important as looking after the clergy particularly those responsible for ensuring that policies are not only implemented but complied with.

I am told that the letter goes on to say "I know that we share a common desire to ensure that safeguarding in the Church of England in Jersey is of the highest standard. I trust that we will be able to work together, with the Visitation team and the Archbishop’s Commission, to ensure that safeguarding in the Island is as good as it can be."

This leads one to ask why was the Bishop writing to the Bailiff who is our unelected Speaker and the Island's Chief Judge who should not be involved in politics. As the matter is now very much political should the letter not have been sent to the Island's Chief Minister who has been questioned on the matter several times in the States. It also leads one to ask who in Jersey is responsible for ensuring that safeguarding in the Island is as good as it can be?   

This is very pertinent question because If the Bishop is saying that the Steel Report highlights a number of significant concerns about safeguarding in Jersey but the Dean is not being disciplined then where does the buck stop?

When one looks under the thin Church carpets it is not difficult to find an organisation that has not only failed itself but has lost its way.  An organisation devoid of leadership and anachronistic. An organisation which has lost touch with the ordinary church goer and still believes it can overcome problems by praying for divine intervention rather than accepting that it is the cause of the problems.  

The Church of England is in trouble simply because at the outset its officers were of the belief that their and the Church Warden's status outweighed the complainant's who was dismissed as a trouble maker. Fortunately the public is no longer gullible and have learnt that the likes of Savile, Hall, Clifford and other obnoxious characters not only get exposed but so too the organisations who have protected them.

It was Talleyrand who is credited for the quotation; "They have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing." That could be said of the Church of England as it continues to fail to practice what it preaches and is more content on looking after their own rather than their congregation. 

HG may not have her day in court, but she is very much the winner because she has exposed the Church of England's hypocrisy who having failed her in 2008 has used her to settle an unseemly spat between Jersey's Dean and the Bishop of Winchester which has cost the Church of England hundreds of thousands of pounds and immense loss of public confidence.

To make matters worse the fall out from the Dean/Bishop spat continues as we now learn that complaints have been lodged against the Bishop for being beastly to the Dean who at least was not deported and left destitute in his pyjamas. Perhaps who ever is addressing the complaint might also address HG's complaint about the Dean because that issue is still outstanding. 

The Dean's supporters are hell bent on having sight of the Steel Report which has been compiled by one of its friends. The Bishop has stalled its circulation apparently because of a legal challenge and that the Report was incomplete. We know that there are significant safeguarding concerns in Jersey but no disciplinary action is being taken again the Dean and the Report will harm a person who has not been interviewed. Is anyone listening at Canterbury or is it is a case that no-one really cares?

These are indeed dark days for the Church of England and it could be said that "You just could not make it up," sadly the facts speak for them selves.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Jersey's Dean--The Steel Report--Fit for the Waste Bin

At the States Sitting yesterday Deputy Le Fondre again asked when the Steel Report was being published. For the benefit of new readers Dame Heather Steel was commissioned by the Bishop of Winchester (Tim Dakin) to investigate the Jersey Dean's handling of an abuse complaint made against a Church Warden by a lady known as HG.

There is a view that the Terms of Reference were too narrow and that Dame Heather a former colleague of Senator Bailhache was conflicted. Senator Bailhache who apart from being a former Bailiff was also a Judge and has been one of the Dean's staunchest supporters.

Prior to Dame Heather beginning her investigation it had been agreed by John Gladwin the former Bishop of Chelmsford who had been appointed to head the overall Visitation that HG would receive some tangible support and all communications in relation to the Visitation would be directed through me, thus preventing HG further distress. Dame Heather claims not to have been aware of that arrangement. The failure to abide with that arrangement is unforgivable and unprofessional because it has led to HG suffering extreme trauma and understandably complete loss of faith in the Church of England.

Dame Heather has refused to interview HG but last October she did eventually interview me, however before the interview it had been agreed that I would receive a copy of the transcript. Following the interview Dame Heather made a number of excuses to avoid providing me with a copy. However she has since refused point blank to provide me with a copy and we both know why. The reason being that Dame Heather knows that she made a number of unprofessional remarks about HG.

For the past few months I have been emailing the Bishop of Winchester and copying them to a number of interested parties such as the Bailiff, Chief Minister Gorst, John Gladwin and members of the Safeguarding panel. I have been asking for a copy of the transcript and what promised tangible support for HG was being considered. I have also made it clear that there was no way that the Steel Report can be published because HG has not been interviewed and of Dame Heather's unprofessional comments which can be found in the  transcript.

Needless to say, my emails have been ignored, however I continue to send them. Last week I heard that Dame Heather was apparently giving her Report to Bishop Dakin and also questions relating to the report were being asked at this week's States Sitting. I was also aware of HG's serious concerns as to what the report might say about her. Therefore in my latest email which I sent on our Liberation Day last Friday I asked what provision was being made to assist HG who was likely to be further traumatised when the report is published.

My email is below

"Dear Bishop Tim,

With reference to my previous emails requesting the transcript of my meeting with Dame Heather and for tangible assistance for HG. As yet I still wait a reply let alone action.

I have heard that there is movement regarding the Steel Report and I write to ask what action you are proposing to take to assist HG who may well be further traumatised by its contents. You know that she has not only been deeply affected by the arrest and deportation from Jersey at the behest of the Dean, his wife and the former Bishop, but also from the ramifications of your decision to commission Jan Korris to investigate the matter and the events that have followed. I include the promises made by John Gladwin and Christine Daly but have been broken.

69 years ago today Jersey was liberated from the German Occupation and on that day I went with my father to what was the Weighbridge to meet the British troops. Today is a Bank Holiday and there will be the usual Special States Sitting where our Chief Minister Senator Gorst will be giving the Address. Afterwards there will be the usual re-enactment in which the Dean will play a prominent role and no doubt will be speaking about freedom and justice. All or most of the Island's clergy will also be in attendance.

I will not be attending the event and I know that my absence will not be noticed but I feel I cannot be in the presence of people who proclaim to be Christian but do not practice what they preach, have not lifted a finger nor have voiced any concern about HG's welfare.

Whilst you were not party to HG's arrest etc you are in a position to right a great wrong. I know that you too have become a victim of the consequences of your decision to commission the Korris review however it is in your gift to right the wrong inflicted on HG and in light of the Archbishop's recent Radio Jersey interview, I await with interest of the action you are proposing to take."

I have not received a reply, however this morning on the Channel TV website the following can be found.

" A report into the way abuse allegations are dealt with by Jersey's church is being delayed so that its impact on an alleged victim can be properly considered.

ITV News has learned the Bishop of Winchester is seeking advice on the best way to publish it without causing the woman harm.

He's set up an "Impact Assessment Group" to suggest ways the report by Dame Heather Steel can be made public.

She's been investigating how
Jersey's church looks after vulnerable parishioners.

We can today (Wednesday) reveal the Bishop of Winchester, Tim Dakin, has formally informed
's Lieutenant Governor that he will not be taking any disciplinary action against the Dean of Jersey who was originally suspended from office when details emerged of the way he handled an allegation of abuse involving a parishioner.

Bob Key was subsequently reinstated.

ITV News understands the Lieutenant Governor has been told by Bishop Dakin that he is unable to give a specific timetable for when the report will be out but it should be within the next few weeks."

I have no reason to doubt the website's contents, therefore if that is the case I really question why Bishop Dakin has set up an "Impact Assessment Group" when he and fellow clergy have not lifted a finger to assist HG or allow her to formally give her side of events. I also question whether Dame Heather has been investigating how Jersey's Church looks after vulnerable parishioners. 

If an "Impact Assessment Group" has been set up, is it because of my suggestion, if so why have I not been informed and more importantly why is HG not party to the proposal? Also does anyone really believe that Dame Heather has been investigating how Jersey Church's have been looking after their vulnerable parishioners. It is not within her TOR. Also this is a lady who has refused to interview HG or investigate HG's arrest and deportation, has made derogatory remarks about her and has refused to deliver a promised transcript which would confirm Dame Heather's bias.

One has to ask what new game is Winchester playing as it stumbles from one disaster to another. The Report is as meaningless as the apologies given to HG by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Winchester and Jersey's Dean, Bob Key.

Dame Heather's TOR in respect of what happens to her Report are as follows;

10. The Investigator shall deliver a copy of the report to the Bishop of Winchester. Upon receipt the Bishop of Winchester will supply a copy of the report to anyone against whom disciplinary action is recommended and to the Bailiff of Jersey, the Dean of Jersey and the Ministry of Justice.

11. The Bishop of Winchester shall, within a reasonable period of time, notify anyone against whom disciplinary action is recommended whether disciplinary action will be taken and the complaints which will be considered.

12. The Bishop of Winchester shall provide a copy of the report of the Investigation to the Commissary of the Visitation of the Parishes of the Deanery of Jersey, Bishop John Gladwin. The report of the Investigation may be used to inform the findings of the Visitation. 

13. The report of the investigation or a summary of its findings and conclusions will be published in due course, and / or after the conclusion of any recommended disciplinary proceedings. Where necessary the report may be summarised and / or redacted for legal reasons or to protect the identity of any person who features in the report or who has provided relevant information to the investigation.

As one can see the TOR allows for the Bishop to summarise and redact the report as he wishes and I am sure that there will be major redactions. No disciplinary action is being taken against the Dean, Winchester has now split from Jersey, I am not going to receive the transcript and whole sorry affair has been a night mare for HG and will continue to be as long as the Report exists. The best thing the Bishop can do is to bin the report because no good can come from it not only because of the harm already inflicted but because it will only bring further ridicule and discredit on all those involved in what has become a disaster for the Church of England hierarchy.

Monday 5 May 2014

Jersey's Dean --- Archbishop of Canterbury BBC Radio Jersey Interview

Yesterday morning BBC Radio Jersey broadcast an interview between Matthew Price and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. It is believed to be the first time that the Archbishop had spoken publicly on the fall out between the Diocese of Winchester and Jersey can be heard by clicking here

Thousands of words have been written since the Jersey Dean, Bob Key was suspended in March last year. Very few, if any of the main players have emerged with their hallos still in tact and having listened to the Archbishop I was not inspired. I understand that he was given sight of the questions with sufficient time to be properly brief yet he came across as remote, distant, ill informed and disinterested.

The Church of England has found itself in a mess simply because of its lack of leadership and having listened to the Archbishop it is easy to see why. He had the opportunity of putting the record straight and re-assuring Channel Islanders that the Church of England really cares for every one and in particular those who come to it when in need. It will be for readers to form their own opinion on the Archbishop's answers but the following are my thoughts.

The Archbishop described Bishop of Winchester Tim Dakin as outstanding and wonderful. I believe there are a number of people who might not support that view and that is why they welcome the news that a temporary arrangement is now place whereby the Islands are now within the Bishop of Dover's remit thus breaking a 500 year old link. We heard that it was a result of discussions between the Bishop and Archbishop but we heard nothing of any consultation with the rank and file members of the Islands' congregation.

We don't know how long temporary arrangement is or how long the proposed Commission will take as no time scale was given nor who will be commissioned to conduct it, but does seem that procrastination will be the order of the day. We know that Bishop Dakin commissioned Jan Korris to investigate the Dean's handling of a complaint by a lady known as HG but we don't know what his motivation was because the complaint was made in July 2008. However we know that the fall out has caused great distress particularly to HG, hundreds of thousand of pounds have been spent (wasted) on the subsequent Visitation and a break from Winchester yet no one is accountable.

Some readers may find it surprising that the Archbishop has met Dean Bob Key only once but he has no reason not to have confidence in him. Given the shenanigans that have arisen over the past 15 months one wonders why the Archbishop has not taken the trouble to be better informed or meet the Dean because it is evident that he is in close contact with Bishop Dakin. Often more than two sides to a story but it appears that he has only listened to one side.

The Archbishop says that he stands by his apology to HG and accepts that the Church has let her down. He can keep saying that until the cows come home but it is quiet evident that he has no interest at all in HG yet he adds insult to injury by saying that he has to make sure that she is receiving "pastoral care" If he really cared and practised the spiritual love he talks about he would have personally apologised to her and ensured that she received the tangible support promised by Bishop Dakin last June.

It was also interesting to hear how he sidestepped the question about the Dean claiming he had been exonerated because he has been put back in post. Readers who have been following my and other Blogs will be well aware of the pressure put on the Archbishop by Senator Bailhache and others to reinstate the Dean, therefore he should have given an honest explanation as to why the Dean was reinstated and stated that whilst no disciplinary action is being taken against the Dean, he has apologised for the mistakes made in his handling of HG's complaint so therefore cannot be exonerated of all blame.

The Archbishop should also have been aware that the report he spoke about ( the Dame Heather Steel) has not been published and cannot be published because of Dame Heather's conflict with the Dean supporters and her bias against HG which can be found in the transcript of my meeting with her last October which neither she nor Winchester will let me have. Thus breaking a promise made before the actual meeting.

In my view the Archbishop did little to allay any fears for the future and it is a case of not doing what I do but as I say. Its no wonder why Church attendances are falling.

I thank BBC Radio Jersey and Matthew Price in particular for his interview and for providing me with a copy of the interview which can again be heard by clicking here.

Thursday 1 May 2014

Jersey's Bailiff--- The Times are a Changing

States Members have just spent over a day debating the future role of the Bailiff. It could be said that the matter is an old chestnut but has been too hot to handle because people’s fingers would be burnt if they picked it up. This was proven to be the case as Connetable Crowcroft and fellow States Members discovered yesterday.

Connetable Crowcroft had lodged his proposition P160/2013 last December and asked the States “to agree that from the date of retirement of Sir Michael Birt as Bailiff of Jersey, Recommendation 2 of the Review of the Roles of the Crown Officers (the ‘Carswell Review’), namely that “2. 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” should be implemented.

The current Bailiff is to retire at the end of this year and Connetable Crowcroft obviously thought it would be a good time to bring about change, however the Proposition was doomed from the outset and completely wrecked by the lodging of amendments by Senator Bailhache and Deputy le Herissier relating to a referendum to be held during the October Elections.

It was back in 2000 when Sir Cecil Clothier’s Machinery of Government Panel recommended that the Bailiff should cease to act as president of the States or to take any political part in the Island’s government and the States should also elect their own Speaker. The Panel made no recommendation as to who the Speaker should be.

It was also recommended that the Chief Minister should be the direct link to the Home Office in London. And the office of Bailiff should continue to be the highest in the Island. Apart from an unsuccessful proposition lodged by former Deputy Shona Pitman a few years back the matter has not been addressed.

Because of my concerns about the lack of the Crown Officer’s accountability and the States having no appetite to address the issue of the Bailiff’s dual role I lodged P 5/2009 which asked the States to agree that an independent review be conducted into the current roles of the unelected members of the States, namely the Bailiff, the Lieutenant-Governor, the Attorney General, the Solicitor General and the Dean. Very importantly I also requested that the means of achieving that goal should be via the Council of Ministers and Privileges and Procedures Committee (PPC).

This was approved and eventually led to the Carswell Review which again reported that the Bailiff’s dual role was untenable.

In his report Connetable Crowcroft stated that the Privileges and Procedures Committee, of which he once was its chairman, had been working on the matter, but because the present Bailiff was retiring at the end of 2014 he thought it would be a good time to address the matter. I believe the Connetable was being unrealistic because not only was the time scale too short but so was his report too short of detail which was a matter shrewdly picked up by Senator Bailhache.

As mentioned above Senator Bailhache lodged an amendment which stated that if the Crowcroft proposition was approved the matter should be included in a referendum to be held at the same time as the elections on 15th October. The public would be asked if they wanted the Bailiff’s role as President of the States to end. Deputy le Herissier’s amendment made the result of the referendum binding.

It soon became evident that if the amendments were approved there would be insufficient time for PPC to draft the necessary legislation before the October election. Also if the public was to be asked for their view then surely they needed to be consulted but who would be responsible particularly as time was so short.

I listened to parts of the debate and it became evident that sentiment over logic became the order of the day. I heard one Connetable state that if it’s not broke why fix it and parishioners were asking why the Bailiff was being kicked out of the States. The comment was certainly an own goal because one the reasons why Connetables claim their role in the States is so important is because they are the direct Parish link to the States. If that is so, how many Connetables arranged Parish meetings to discuss the proposition or other propositions for the matter? I stand to be corrected but I doubt whether any parish meetings were held to discuss the matter.

Senator Bailhache whose main election platform is supposed to be States reform which seems anomalous given his support for Connetables remaining in the States, quickly reminded Members how important the Bailiff’s role was at Liberation Services, other civic occasions and meeting dignitaries but steered well clear of explaining the Bailiff’s lack of accountability or that in other democracies (apart from Guernsey) the Speaker is subservient to the House.

It was left to the likes of Deputy Sam Mezec and Senator Ozouf in excellent speeches to remind Members that what the Bailiff does outside the Chamber is one thing but what he does in the Chamber is another and has no place in the 21st century. Unfortunately the wise words went unheeded. The world is changing and so too in Jersey which is not as it is once was but some die hards are hanging onto the belief that pomp and ceremony can over ride the need for democracy and accountability.

The late Sir Cecil Clothier wrote “Change can be uncomfortable but it is inevitable. The proper attitude to change is not to resist it but to try control its direction.” These are wise words which should not be ignored.

Sir Cecil Clothier rightly stated that the Bailiff’s role should not be political, with this I concur because the Bailiff’s role as President of the States is political. It is he who approves or rejects propositions submitted by Members and also their amendments and questions. The Bailiff as Speaker has a critical role in deciding when a Member is called to speak during a debate or ask supplementary questions.

The Bailiff is appointed by the Crown and his office is high and honourable and ancient. In ancient times Bailiffs played a significant part in government but this was when there were no parliaments, no elections and no appreciation of accountability. Speakers must be accountable to their Parliament and that should be the case for Jersey.

Surely no one should hold or exercise political power or influence unless elected by the people to do so. Who has elected the Bailiff and for that matter the Dean, Attorney and Solicitor Generals? None of them are entirely non political and all have the right to speak in the States. The Bailiff as Speaker should be a servant of the Assembly but can’t be unless he is elected to that post?  Also as he is appointed by the Queen’s Letters Patent to the high and ancient office how can he hold an office to which he should be subservient to the States?

Connetable Crowcroft’s proposition was lodged on quicksand and soon began to sink. To his credit he correctly realised that his proposition was wrecked and even he could not support it as amended so when the States resumed yesterday morning he sought support to with draw it. However Members rejected his request which was then confirmed by 27 votes to 23 when put to the vote. This led to a full morning and early afternoon being spent on recycled speeches which did nothing for Member's credibility. When finally the vote was taken on the proposition as amended, it was heavily defeated.

The matter will not go away but it needs more than a back bencher to address it. However unless there is a will and leadership from the Council of Ministers supported by a genuine desire from all States Members to bring Jersey into the 21st Century the Bailiff's dual role will be untenable and if change does not come from within it will be imposed upon us from outside the Island.