Wednesday 18 March 2015

Independent Jersey Care Inquiry (8) ---- A Licence to Bill?

Next Tuesday the States is due to debate a proposition lodged by Chief Minister Gorst seeking approval for additional funding to enable the Committee of Inquiry (COI) to complete its review which is just about to enter its second year. Trying to come up with a figure for any Inquiry is not just difficult but almost impossible because no one knows how many witnesses will come forward or what evidence will come to light. The Jersey Inquiry is proving to be no different.

It was anticipated that around £6 million would be suffice but 12 months on not only has that figure been spent but a further £13.7m is being asked for. Senator Gorst has repeatedly proclaimed his support for the COI and although his proposition (see below) is well meaning I believe it is flawed so it's pleasing to see that Deputy Tadier has lodged amendments seeking to delete 3 of Senator Gorst's proposals.

The Amendments can be read below but in summary they seek to delete the sub-paragraphs which will cap the £13m, impose a time limit and interfere with the way the COI is conducting its Inquiry. All 3 sub-paragraphs have a single theme and that is to save money. That is a theme I don't have a problem with but Senator Gorst and the Panel Chairman Frances Oldham should be keeping a close check on how the money is being spent and whether it is justified. From the payments made to date it is evident that there is little monitoring particularly of the legal fees incurred by States Departments which appear to be obscene.

Although the proposition and amendments have been lodged there is no certainty they will be supported as there is a school of thought that much of the extra funding will go into the pockets of the Island's Lawyers. There may be more than a whiff of truth in that claim as can be seen from the answers given to a set of questions asked by Deputy Mike Higgins at the last States Sitting.

The full set of questions and answers can be accessed below and readers will see how the money has been spent to date. As anticipated a fair chunk of the money has been spent on set up costs, accommodation, travel and other expenses some of which will not be recurring. However one will note that several millions have already been spent on legal fees with over £1.8million paid to lawyers representing States departments and individuals. Who approved the appointment of the lawyers, why were they appointed, who are the individuals, do they include former staff and/or State Members, why is the money coming out of the Inquiry fund and not from the departments and individuals concerned? Perhaps if it came from Department funds they might be more than circumspect about spending it.

If £1.8m has been spent during the stage when only the victims have given evidence, how many more millions will be spent when the COI starts looking into the Departments (in)actions and Operation Rectangle. In football parlance we have only had the pre match warm up, the match is only about to begin.

It is also worth noting that on top of the £7m a further £4.6million has been spent in relation to the Redress Scheme. Ex-gratia payments totalling £1.8million have been made to 116 victims. The victims would have been entitled to compensation much earlier had the climate which prevails today been open to them in the past but the legal fees need an explanation. The legal fees incurred by lawyers representing the Care Leavers (Compensation Scheme) amount to £408k. However the lawyers representing the States have been paid over £2 million. Why is there such a discrepancy in the fees, who has authorised the payment and were the fees justified?

Whilst I have expressed concerns over fees paid to local lawyers it would be remiss of me not to comment on the £2.7million paid to the Inquiry Lawyers. I understand that there is a fee structure similar to that paid to those representing the Care Leavers and victims. It should be recalled that legal teams have travelled far and wide taking statements from witnesses. They have also spent a great many hours at the Hearings. Can that be said of the lawyers engaged by States Departments?

I want the COI to continue and whilst I accept there will be occasions when lawyers will be required they should not be given a licence to bill for work that is not justified and at exorbitant rates. Sub paragraph (iii) of paragraph C of Senator Gorst's proposition will require the Inquiry and the States to jointly publish on their websites details of expenditure on a monthly basis.  This is much welcomed and I look forward to a much more detailed breakdown of the expenditure incurred by States Department along with reasons as to why legal assistance was required.

Deputy Higgin's Questions can be read HERE
Senator Gorst's Proposition can be read HERE
Deputy Tadier's Amendments can be read HERE


  1. "The legal fees incurred by lawyers representing the Care Leavers (Compensation Scheme) amount to £408k. However the lawyers representing the States have been paid over £2 million. Why is there such a discrepancy in the fees, who has authorised the payment and were the fees justified?"

    and WHY have there been no satisfactory answers to Daniel Wimberley's 13 concerns published at:

    and WHY have they met Sir Philip the "Foreign Minister" outside of his status as a witness under investigation for his multiple roles where multiple abuses happened?

  2. The victims deserve justice and those who failed them need to be named, shamed, and hopefully prosecuted regardless of the cost. Bailhache and Ozouf managed to launder enough money to buy a piece of scrub land but they don't seem as enthusiastic to channel money to allow the COI to get to the truth ANY GUESSES WHY?

  3. Stuart Syvret should be giving his evidence to this COI.

    1. Yes he should be. If the victims have the courage why hasn't he?

    2. Simply because his lies would be exposed.
      Its astonishing that some ex States Members like you still respect this online bully and what he has written about Ritchie Brocken on Twitter following his death is nothing short of sick and seriously messed up.

    3. Hi Anon @10:03

      Which lies would these be?

      Perhaps the ones featured on Newsnight:

      Mr Syvret is not the one being potty-mouthed or untruthful.

      It is so unfortunate that Paxman misheard or disbelieved his own ears. Chief Minister Walker said "...SHAFT Jersey....."
      and was grosley miserpresenting the facts on national TV and making us look like a bunch of shysters

      Pretty much everything Syvret has said has unfortunately proven to be true, usually in both substance and detail.

      I believe that Mr.Syvret has yet to make a final decision on whether to give evidence to this "compromised" CoI.

  4. Frances Oldham meeting with Philip Bailhache is more worrying than the money.

  5. Thanks for another informative blog. Spot on with the title.

  6. Yes Bob, it's always in the detail which is never disclosed

  7. The only lawyer involved in this Inquiry to regularly speak in public so far as I know is Alan Collins and he has been interviewed regularly over the years for the Tom Gruchy blog. Most recently he discussed the funding issue etc with Deputy Tadier and that appears here in two parts. Play part two now and part one will follow and it still makes sense

  8. or


    Reblogged piece by a former special branch officer Chris Hobbs

    Exarno News continues to get real results and is recommended as a safe place for whistleblowers and gives them real clout

    Exarno appear to be the big pond equivalent of the Jersey bloggers.

  10. Hi Bob - another excellent blog, and it will be interesting to see which States Members show some moral compass in voting 'pour' and the 'nodding dogs' who oppose. Let there be no mistake that if the Inquiry is scuppered it will have unprecedented and resounding repercussions for Jersey's 'reputation'.

    As a matter of interest, and something I made you aware of Bob, the Northern Ireland Inquiry encountered similar problems and below is a snippet from the Belfast Telegraph in 2012. Noticeably there is no prevarication or objection to the further funding being made available.

    'Costs for an inquiry into historical institutional child abuse in Northern Ireland could reach £19m, the Assembly has been told.
    Ulster Unionist MLA Mike Nesbitt, who chairs Stormont's OFMDFM committee, said MLAs had been informed in September that predicted costs had doubled from initial estimates.
    The Strangford MLA added: “On the estimated costs of the inquiry the committee sought clarification from the department whether the figures in the financial and explanatory memorandum of between £7.5m and £9m remained accurate.
    “Officials advised the committee that the estimated costs had been revised upwards — doubled in fact to £15-19m to take into account the complexities of the inquiry and the associated legal costs.”
    Mr Nesbitt said he was assured the necessary funds would be made available from the OFMDFM budget'.

    A lot of the general public had to stomach paying out for the purchase of Plemont when they were against it, and furthermore have no desire for the Finance Centre either. Time for our money to be well spent for once.

    1. The debate will be an interesting one, hopefully Members will remain in the Chamber when its time to vote.

  11. Bob writes:

    “However one will note that several millions have already been spent on legal fees with over £1.8million paid to lawyers representing States departments and individuals”


    “why is the money coming out of the Inquiry fund and not from the departments and individuals concerned?”

    I clearly remember reading somewhere that the COI does NOT carry the cost of paying the lawyers for the States departments. It would be absolutely extraordinary if this major item of cost of the COI was in fact due to the States!

    Bob, I hope you can verify this ASAP with the COI office!

    1. I have contacted the COI and will publish the response.

    2. Have you had their reply yet?

    3. No but I will try again tomorrow.

    4. Please see the reply from the COI. hopefully someone will be asking the Ministers to account for the expenditure and where the money is coming from to pay for it.

      Dear Bob

      Thank you for your emails.

      Your query has been put to the Panel. The Panel has confirmed that the Inquiry does not meet the costs of public bodies.

      To assist, can I refer you back to the questions that you kindly sent to us which were tabled by Deputy Higgins to the Chief Minister. It might be that there is some confusion because of the way in which the information is sometimes presented. So, as per the response to Deputy Higgins, the overall costs of the Inquiry to date are £7 million. £5.2 million are costs incurred directly by the COI and this does not include, for example, legal costs incurred by States departments. Those costs fall within the £1.8 million detailed on that reply.

      It would seem that sometimes the overall costs of the Inquiry are referred to, which does include costs incurred by the States departments. However, the COI does not directly fund those, although I can see how one could argue that it ultimately all comes out of the same pot. In relation to the Proposition which sets out that the Panel have requested an increased budget of £13.7 million, this does not include any costs incurred by the States. However, there has been an overall figure of circa £20 million suggested in the proposition (page 7) and indeed one of £50 million in the press (so I'm told) and I would think that generally references to overall figures would include all costs associated to the COI, including costs incurred by States departments. The figure for circa £20 million in the proposition certainly does and that is explained on page 7. In relation to other figures suggested in the media, you would have to ask the people that are suggesting those figures as to whether they are COI only or overall COI related costs.

      I hope that assists.

      Kind regards

  12. Monty Tadier has lodged an interesting Written Question for next Tuesday.

    Will the Minister provide a list of the names of all the governors and members of the Board of Governors (or equivalent) of Haut de la Garenne from 1945 until its closure? In particular, will the Minister highlight which politicians, past or present, if any, held such positions?”

  13. 7. Deputy M.R. Higgins of St. Helier will ask the following question of the Chief Minister –

    “Can the Chief Minister advise whether a meeting of the Council of Ministers was held at which a decision was taken for a free vote on the funding of the Independent Care Inquiry and, if so, will he publish the Minutes and state whether the view was expressed that the final cost would be £50 million, any related evidence, and how Ministers voted on this issue?”

  14. Bob.

    Open Letter from Jersey Care Leavers Association to all STATES MEMBERS.