Thursday 4 September 2014

Independent Jersey Care Inquiry (5) Not so Independent???

In my previous blog I wrote about the COI Panel’s decision to ban both me and Neil McMurray of the Voice for Children Blog from using the Media Room and had appealed to Frances Oldham. Having waited for over 2 weeks I can inform readers that the Panel has not allowed an appeal and has informed me that it is not going to alter its decision. It is not just the ban that leaves a nasty taste but the manner in which the decision was arrived at and the repercussions that is of real concern. If there is so little space to permit two local Bloggers then there cannot be room for any other applicant from wherever they come.

Also despite Frances Oldham stating that the Inquiry was exploring the provision of WiFi in the public areas, as far as I am aware no provision has yet been made. Therefore even when the Media Room is only half full, non accredited media personnel will not be able use it or have access to any other link facilities within the building. As interest in the Inquiry grows there will be applications from a number of the Media from outside the Island such as Sky, CNN and the UK and World’s Press but if the Inquiry Team has any integrity it will have to reject any future applications because there is no room.

The way the Inquiry Team has handled the accreditation is worth placing on record as it’s evident that from the outset the Panel did not know what to do when its first two applicants for accreditation were Bloggers.

On 3rd April after Frances Oldham had opened proceedings a number of Protocols were distributed which can found on the COI website HERE. One of the Protocols covers arrangements for applying for Media accreditation which was not defined.

Applicants applying for accreditation were told they would be informed within 14 days as to whether their application was successful. This was not to be because it was not until 14th May that Frances Oldham circulated a letter to the 5 applicants informing them that as only a small number of applications had been received no decision was necessary until it had received more applications. 

The letter included details of the applicants (for readers benefit I include the date of application) Voice for Children 3rd April, Bob Hill 4th April, BBC National Robert Hall, 9th April, The Jersey Evening Post 14th April and Channel TV 30th April.

It seems odd that accreditation was not given within the stipulated 14 days because accreditation should not depend on the number of applications but on the credibility of the applicant, particularly as the Protocol had made it clear that there was limited space in the Media Room and access would be on a first come first served basis and local media would be prioritised.

It should be noted that after the 14th May letter, Channel 103 applied on 15th May and BBC Radio Jersey on 16th June. Therefore why was there a further delay in giving accreditation? There were no further applications before the perceived overcrowding occurred on 12th August when Stuart Syvret and a reporter from the Bailiwick Express were in the Room, neither of whom had applied for accreditation. If it was known that space was limited why were they allowed in the room, the same could be said of Robert Hall of the National BBC who was in the Island on holiday and could well have sat in the area set aside in the Hearing Room for the media?

Although the room was a little crowded it could hardly be likened to a rush hour London tube and I left the room just before 11am to keep a blood donation appointment. When I returned the same number of people were in the room and I was not refused re-entry because of lack of space.

Whilst recording and social media updates are not permitted in the Hearing Room the Protocol does not have the same provision for the Media Room therefore there was no reason why anyone could not “tweet” or for anyone to submit live reports. Surely that is the purpose of it being there in the first place. It is apparent that the Panel and Media Team are still living in the Ark and are unaware that social media means tweeting, face book and blogging and are now very much the modern form of instant communication, therefore banning Bloggers from the Media Room is either through ignorance or prejudice.

After lunch a person entered the Media Room to inform everyone that tweeting was not permitted, again I ask why because the Protocol does not say that tweeting is prohibited and it has not been amended since.

It is evident that what went on in the Media Room on the 12th was discussed soon afterwards and a reason had to be found to ban the Bloggers. Without consulting us to identify our needs it was decided to ban us on the grounds that we did not require the electronic facilities listed. How could it make that assumption without enquiring of our needs. Did it ask the other applicants of their needs? However before anyone was informed Anna Averkiou of the Media Team contacted the Bailiwick Express the next day making it aware that it had not applied for accreditation and it was advisable to do so ASAP.

This is a copy of the relevant email.

From: James Filleul  Sent: 13 August 2014 14:59 To: Jersey Care Inquiry Press
Subject: Accreditation for Bailiwick Express

Hi Anna,
Thanks for your calls today. To confirm, we would like to be accredited to cover the Care Inquiry. The journalists involved will be either myself, Ben Queree, Natalie Jardine, Guy Le Maistre (freelance) or Julia Hunt (freelance). It’s most likely to be Guy. I am the main point of contact, and my number is xxxx or with my e-mail. My news editor is Ben Queree, on the same number or I will ask Guy to bring photo ID with him when he attends, as will any of the others names above. Please do let me know if you need any further info at all.
James Filleul,

If the “not so” independent Media Team had been even handed it would have also contacted Stuart Syvret offering the same advice however it is evident that the decision to ban Bloggers had been taken and the friendly call to the Bailiwick Express was to ensure that its application was safely in place before the letter from Frances Oldham was circulated the next day.

Whilst I am not happy at the way the Bailiwick Express was contacted the fact that it has been given accreditation lends support to claims of bias and discrimination.  This is because the Bailiwick Express can best be described as a Blog with adverts therefore if it can be given accreditation why can't other Bloggers? Blogs are very much part of daily life and read the world over and the likes ours and the Bailiwick Express are now seen as a threat to mainstream hard copy newspapers.

Regretfully, although I have again asked to meet Frances Oldham I don't expect a reply and the ban will remain in place. However it is evident that the mechanism used and the reason given to ban Bloggers does little to enhance the Inquiry's reputation. And before anyone accuses me of not giving the COI a chance to get going they should be reminded that the Inquiry is costing in the region of £6 million so taxpayers are entitled to receive value for money and an Inquiry Team which is efficient, transparent and fair minded in all its deliberations. 


  1. Could this be a blessing in disguise? Was this COI shaping up to be a planned whitewash, which in their treatment of you and online independent journalism, now is exposed before it's halfway through?


  2. The collusion between Anna Averkiou and the Bailiwick Express needs investigating doesn't it?

  3. It's very worrying. If they are behaving in such a prejudicial way in public, what are they doing in private and how will they slant their findings?

    They are either incredibly stupid or completely malicious, neither of which make for a fair and just outcome.

    1. No, it certainly does not inspire any confidence in their private behavior or in the chance of unbiased findings.


  4. I tell you what, I'll pay you a nominal £1 per year to carry on blogging, then you can say you're a PAID journalist :)
    After all, the money changing hands seems to be all it takes, as far as they're concerned, to make a journalist 'accredited' and trustworthy.
    I'm sure we can think of newspapers all over the world where that plainly isn't the case. but the inquiry don't seem to get it.

    And if they can't understand something so basic, it doesn't bode well for the rest of what they're supposed to be doing.

    1. Thanks for the comments above. What we seek is not special but equal treatment and what is now evident is that the COI is no knight on a white horse.

      I worked hard to ensure there was a COI in the first place and don’t want a Hillsborough or Stephen Lawrence outcome. Therefore I shall work as hard to ensure the public gets value for money so the truth is revealed.

      Like many innovations there is the fear factor from the old school who feels their domain is being attacked by amateurs. I am well aware of many unprofessional “professionals” and some very professional “amateurs.” Neil and I have tried to publish well researched blogs, question and when necessary expose professional’s failings.

      We don't need to be “accredited” to do our job in a professional way and readers can be assured that being snubbed by the COI will not deter us from our work.

    2. Bob,

      Thanks for the above and spoken like the true gentleman you are and congratulations to you and Ann on your Golden Wedding.


  5. Based upon what you have written above, Bob, it seems all too easy to infer plain deceit behind the words and actions of some COI personnel

    1. Thanks Nick,

      I can assure you that what I have published is an accurate account of the events and was relayed to the COI when I made the appeal almost 3 weeks ago.

  6. Bob.

    Do you feel as you can stand for the forth coming election, for the publics sake ? As well as to work as hard to ensure the public gets value for money in this COI?
    They go together, don't they?

    work as hard to ensure the public gets value for money so the truth is revealed.

    1. Whilst I think I am still capable, I think at my age I am now too old to make a return. What I do ask of the electorate is to look at the candidates and support those who are prepared to challenge when it is obvious that what is being proposed is flawed or deffective.

  7. Congratualations and wishing you both a very happy Golden Anniversary.
    Thanks too, for all your hard work, bravery and eloquence, not just in fighting for justice for victims of abuse, but also for the enviroment (thinking St. Martins Sch) and other injustices tied with the Jersey Way.

    1. Thank you for the two congratulations above. There are some people who think the brave one is Ann for putting up with me for 50 years.

  8. The hurried contacting (by Anna Averkiou of the Inquiry Media Team) of the Bailiwick Express blog and their emergency accreditation reveals that it is not so much "accredited media" and more SELECTED MEDIA

    The Bailiwick Express is staffed by Ex-JEP hacks of the very worst kind such as Ben Queree

    It is clear that the Inquiry team wish to obstruct independant reporting or they would have arranged additional Wifi, a bigger media room or a 2nd media room.
    It is not rocket science, it is plain obstructive.

    This has all the hallmarks of a very expensive Hilsborough style cover up which will be intensely damaging to the island WHEN it is investigated by an overarching UK inqury

    The Inquiry has rapidly lost credibility since it's failure to respond satisfactorily to Former Deputy Daniel Wimberley's 13 questions published at:

    It is with regret that I am rapidly coming to the view that all witnesses should WITHDRAW their evidence until such time as the Inquiry is re-formed with a new team under a new chairperson and without the (no longer secret)"guidance" of Jersey's social services who are be amongst those most under investigation.

    To be effective this withdrawal of confidence should be done en-block and in a coordinated fashion including the JCLA

    If the current Inquiry team is to regain credibility it needs to dramatically change it's pro cover-up attitude and obvious bias and DO IT VERY SOON !

  9. Whilst I think the Inquiry Team's handling of the situation is appalling and I can understand some people's frustration and being upset, However I would urge people not to withdraw because it plays straight into the hands of those who opposed the COI and s don't want it.

    Coming forward is the right and only way forward and I urge witnesses to be put off by the COI's indiscretions. If the COI is again found to be functioning in an underhand way, it will be exposed.

    1. The hijack or taxpayer's money
      My concern is that there is now sufficient evidence that the inquiry will deliver little more than the establishment narrative.

      Neither Former Deputy Daniel Wimberley's 13 questions nor the response to them have been published on the website and the whole thing is appearing to be heavily stage managed rather than these things being isolated problems.
      How much worse can it get? How much worse should it be allowed to get before participants are moved to consider effective action?

      A few witnesses withdrawing in dribs and drabs would indeed play into the hands of the cover up but I wonder if a very public withdrawal by all (or nearly all) survivor/witnesses would leave them in the embarrassing position of no inquiry and no credibility.

      Would they then have any option but to reconvene a proper inquiry, ideally under a new (& untainted) team.

      Does the JCLA have a view on this?

      Is there any point in collaborating with a Hilsborough style cover up?

      Perhaps a suspension of cooperation might be an interim measure to put pressure on this inquiry to get back on track before too much of the £6m budget gets absorbed by the lawyer team's exorbitant rates.

      All taxpayers should demand that this money is not wasted or paid to a "rent-an-outcome" lawyer team.

      Surely there is something more that can be done other than have an isolated moan an one travesty after another?

    2. Health Minister Syvret wrote an insightful piece on the use of restricted or steered public inquires as a means of further cover up and buying more time

  10. Congratulations to you and to Ann, pure gold.

  11. Can you please explain how bloggers being moved to the public gallery will make a blind bit of difference to the evidence being given?

    1. Hopefully it wont make any difference but it is the way and reason given for banning the Bloggers that is of concern. The ban is a knee jerk reaction to a very minor problem which would not have occurred had the Inquiry Team handled the matter in a professional way.

  12. Not all witnesses can come forward because they narrowed the terms of reference and have turned people away. This was never going to be transparent or independent and only focusing on people in care will not expose the extent of the depravity on the island. Media room or no media room - we knew then that this was going nowhere.

    1. A £6 million ticket to nowhere with -the Law offices laying down the tracks,
      -Children's Services Dept."guidance" operating the points (initially in secret, & a fundamental conflict as it is themselves under investigation)
      -and the rent-an-outcome legal leeches growing fat for manning the engine

      This train calls at Exclusion Central, Disappointment Embankment and Jersey Up-the-junction

      Legal representation is restricted to holders of 1st Class tickets........

    2. With reference to the comment at 1855 above. It is an interesting one because yesterday evidence was heard from a witness who had not been in care and I welcome the opportunity given to the lady witness. However the change in approach deserves an explanation and I have emailed the Panel seeking clarification.

      I have not received a reply but when received I will publish it.

      As regards to the second part of the comment above, I can understand the pessimism but my cup is still half full and we must give the Panel an opportunity of hearing the witnesses who we are told are now coming forward because of a perceived change in the Panel's interpretation of the TOR

  13. Please please please post previous comment as anonymous!!!!

    1. Apologise - I thought I had inadvertently posted a message using my google account name. But clearly I hadn't. The msg I had posted was that I too was I witness that wasn't in care but when I called the inquiry they weren't interested. This was despite the fact that I gave evidence during operation rectangle. It's the reason I'm so disappointed and pessimistic about the inquiries motives.

      Sorry again for the confusion.

    2. Given the Panel's evident change of heart it may be worth contacting it asking if it would reconsider its decision.

    3. Absolutely not. For me to put my trust in them they would need to make it explicitly clear that they had changed the TOR. It's completely unacceptable in my view that it's so unclear about who they want to hear from. The toll of last investigation was almost unbearable and I would urge anyone to use extreme caution before they put their faith in an inquiry that hasn't been completely direct about wanting to hear from them. From a psychological perspective the effects of doing that and being disappointed again would be devastating.

  14. Bob.

    Exclusive interview with Jersey Child Abuse Survivor JEAN NEAL.

  15. On Tuesday (21/10/14) the Home Office announced the scope (terms of reference) of the Woolf Inquiry which specifically ruled out covering Crown Dependencies (which includes Jersey).

    Jersey is a Crown Dependency, but Jersey is also part of 'Great Britain', and as such, should be part of the Woolf Enquiry!

    This fact is especially true, knowing that children were trafficked within the 'common travel area' of Great Britain which Jersey belongs; listen to John Hemming MP speaking on BBC World at one on the 8th of July 2014.

    And also read through John Hemming's early day motion lodged in the House of Commons:

    Early day motion 279

    Session: 2014-15
    Date tabled: 21.07.2014

    Primary sponsor: Hemming, John

    Sponsors: I Shannon, Jim I Connarty, Michael I Russell, Bob I Hancock, Mike I Flynn, Paul

    That this House, being conscious of the numerous cases of previously concealed child abuse in which individuals have been able to use their status as public figures to deter victims and to prevent or disrupt investigations of their crimes, and being conscious that in some cases abusers, and those who have concealed abuse, have been able to use their positions in public office and the institutions of the state such as Parliament and Government to shield them and their wrongdoing from proper, lawful scrutiny, recognises that the dangers of such cover-ups occurring are even greater in small, quasi-self-governing communities than at national level, where, even though checks and balances are more extensive, child abuse and cover-ups by the well-connected have still occurred; notes that a local public inquiry in Jersey into child abuse, the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, has not gained the confidence of all victims and witnesses; and calls on the relevant UK authorities, the Secretary of State for Justice, the Crown and the Privy Council, in exercise of their responsibilities and powers to ensure good governance, the rule of law and proper administration of justice in the Crown Dependencies, to empower the overarching UK inquiry into child abuse to include the Crown Dependencies.

    Total number of signatures: 17

    Source: House of Commons