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Saturday, 28 January 2017

THE RAG: THE SEQUEL


Click on any image for a larger version

In an earlier post I outlined how I had submitted a comment under the Jersey Evening Post (JEP) online report on the Lord Reginald satirical video. The video had been published in the Voice for Children blog. My criticism was that the JEP's online report did not include a link to the video either in the original blog post or on Youtube. I provided a link in my comment to the original blog post which contained the video.



My original comment
Click on image for a larger version

My comment was not published. So I wrote to the editor of the JEP complaining about non-publication and pointed out that comments from a known toxic troll on the island had been published both before and after submission of my comment.

In his reply, the editor conceded that my comment should have been published, and not deleted by the moderator. He also conceded that the actual satirical video should have been embedded in the original JEP online report.

While that would certainly have allowed JEP online readers to view the video without leaving the JEP page online, it would seem to have avoided facilitating those who might want to checkout the original blog post. That is why in my comment I gave a link to the blog post rather than just to the video.

In his reply, the editor seemed to be at a loss to understand my "troll" reference and he also wondered who I was.

In my reply, I said I was pleasantly surprised that he considered that my comment should have been published as submitted. I expanded a bit on the identity of the troll I was referring to. I told him who I was and that at the end of the day I was not anonymous as a few clicks would have shown up my email address. Though I did add that I could see why some people in Jersey would see the need to post their comments anonymously.

I gave a link to my earlier blog post and asked if he'd have any objection to my publishing our correspondence.

In his reply, the editor said my comments were reasonable and he would have no objection to my publishing our correspondence.

He correctly deduced that the troll I was referring to was the infamous Jon Haworth who comes onto his radar really only because he suspects that Jon writes spoof letters to the JEP for publication under false names and addresses.

Finally, he assured me that no one gets any protection as suggested on his watch. "If you read the paper I edit, rather than our website, I think you'd struggle to argue otherwise."

Unfortunately, not being on the Island, I am not really in a position to read the print rather than the web version of the paper but I would invite any resident who wants to pick up on his challenge to do so and let me know the result. I realise this could prove a problem for some people who on principle do not buy the JEP. However there is more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak.

In any event I can assure the editor that the Skibbereen Eagle will be keeping an online eye on him.

In the interest of openness, transparency, and all the other virtues that the Jersey administration are accused of lacking, I am publishing our correspondence below.



But first a amall diversion. You will see below that the editor wonders who I am and why I am interested in Jersey. And now Jon Haworth, in comments submitted under this post, is effectively challenging my commeenting in the Jersey Evening Post under a pseudonym. As explained in one of my letters below this was in no way intended to hide my true identity.


My challenge to Jon in the JEP

So I have now opened a Jersey Evening Post account under my full real name and challenged Jon to do the same. Let's see how this pans out.





Andy Sibcy, editor JEP

My initial letter (12/1/2017) following
deletion/non-publication of my comment

Dear Editor

On 6 January 2017 I submitted a comment on your piece about the Lord Reginald video.

I pointed out that you neither indicated the source of the video nor gave a link to it. I found this unusual in an online article. Leaving aside your reasons for behaving thus, and I can only speculate on what they might have been, I was surprised to find my comment (attached), which I thought reasonable and to the point, was detained in moderation and then deleted.

Both before and after submission of my comment, you published comments from a source you know to be a life threatening troll who has been implicated in various unsavoury manoeuvres to suppress criticism and challenge of the Jersey establishment in the context of its cover up of child sex abuse on the island.

I am at a loss to understand the rationale behind this regrettable and inconsistent behaviour and would appreciate an explanation of why my comment, made in good faith, was deleted.

Yours sincerely,

Pól Ó Duibhir



The editor's reply (19/1/2017)

Dear Pól,

Thank you for your email of 12 January. Please accept my apologies for not responding sooner.

The simple answer is that your comment should have been published as the points that you raise are entirely reasonable. I think that the original jep.com post should have been embedded with the Montfort Tadier video, a solution that would have made more sense from our perspective as it would have enabled readers to see the video without leaving our site.

The reasoning outlined above also partially explains why your comment was not published by the moderator. The other was that the link it included is to a blog site which routinely includes comments which attack the JEP in ways which can be ill-informed and unreasonable. I have to say that I would have been happy to publish your comment as submitted.

It was detained in moderation by default because you have not commented often enough to have been given the right to comment live (commentators have their first few comments checked before being given that right). It remained in moderation because a combination of sickness and holidays (including mine) meant that the moderation folder was not managed as efficiently as it would normally be. Other commentators will only be flagged up and their comments held in moderation if they use unacceptable language as they are free to comment live as regular contributors.

Your ‘troll’ comment leaves me a little baffled. I am afraid that the JEP site, like many others, attracts a great many commentators who do not offer very much in the way of constructive input. I have no idea which of the anonymous people you are talking about on this occasion, or indeed who those people are behind their pseudonyms.

On that score, I wonder whether you would be good enough to enlighten me as to who you are? As you know, I am aware of your twitter feed and have no idea whether your handle is an abridged version of your real name or not.

If you are in Jersey, I would be happy to sit down and have a chat. I say that because I suspect you are keen to show how your unfortunate experience as a commentator on the JEP site somehow validates views which you have about the JEP. I am not sure whether you have ever discussed those views, or indeed whether you have any interest in hearing an alternative viewpoint, but I would be happy to provide one. I am also intrigued as to the reason for your interest in the Island.

Best wishes and in good faith,

Andy Sibcy


My reply to the editor (26/1/2017)

Dear Mr Sibcy

Thank you again for the courtesy of the reply.

Regarding its content.

I am glad you agree that my comment should have been published as submitted and that the video should have been available directly to your readers so that they could make up their own mind about it.

I am not sure what exactly the embedding would have involved. Would it have been stand alone or would it have contained a link to the video's location either in The Voice's Youtube account or in the blog post? That was an element of my comment, namely, that your readers should have been able to also go to the source of the video. These videos are an integral part of The Voice's posts.

As far as the content of The Voice's actual blog posts are concerned, I find them well researched and generally moderate in tone. In fact I recollect, from memory, that the blog made a number of positive comments about the JEP after you took over and I think there were high expectations there of a more robust approach to the administration under your stewardship.

As far as comments on that blog are concerned, they vary. I am aware that the comments are moderated, nevertheless the moderator does let through some very critical comments about the blog itself and its readers/supporters. The net effect of this is that I follow the blog assiduously and consider myself fairly well informed as a result.

In recent times I have had to take to moderating my own blog which has been un-moderated since around 2007 and this is purely because of abusive comments from the well known toxic Jersey troll. In fact the only comments I have blocked are those coming from this horrible person. In passing, I note that you are quite happy to entertain him in your own comments section.

In referring to why my comment was not published you quote "the reasoning above" in your reply, but this hardly seems relevant as you are telling me it should have been published anyway. Your second reason is my inclusion of a link to the blog post in which the video occurred. But you are telling me that my comment should have been published as submitted, ie with the link.

I have no problem with my comment having been detained in moderation. All that you say about that is perfectly acceptable. My only gripe is its ultimate non publication and rejection/deletion from moderation.

I didn't really see the deletion of my comment as some sort of validation of my already relatively low opinion of the JEP. I more or less expected it. But your view now that is should have been published as submitted is, admittedly, a pleasant surprise.

Perhaps I can assist you a little further with my troll comment. It is widely known in Jersey that Kaz81 is just one of the many monikers used by the toxic troll I referred to above. If you are not aware of this, it does not speak very highly for the investigative prowess of the JEP. I do appreciate that blocking him would cause a row and with God knows who, given the support he was given in the gang hounding of Stuart Syvret through the courts. I don't mind his comments, I can take it. But it was pointed out to me that they were of such a nature that they meant some (reasonable) people were reluctant to link to my blog posts.

As to who I am, it's really no secret. My name is Pól Ó Duibhir and I live in Dublin. I holidayed in Jersey in the late 1950s and worked a summer there in 1961. I sort of fell in love with the place and with its people and that fondness has remained with me. That is why I find it so heartbreaking to see what it is becoming. The fact that I post under a variety of pseudonyms is really just coincidental and reflects the thrill of adventure when I first started posting some two decades ago. Póló, as you will see, is a contraction of part of my name and was my nickname in school. Irlpol was to distinguish me from the rest of the family and so on. However, my profile in blogger links to my website and that has a facility for emailing me. So I'm not really anonymous.

And while we are on the subject of identity, I fully appreciate the necessity for some of those on island to post/comment anonymously.

I have already published my original letter to you on my blog and I wonder if you mind me publishing your reply and mine and any relevant subsequent correspondence. I will in any event be dealing with the points in a promised updating of the blog post.

http://photopol.blogspot.ie/2017/01/the-rag.html

In good faith,

Pól Ó Duibhir



The editor's reply (26/1/2017)

Dear Pol,

Thank you for your reply. The comments you make are entirely reasonable.

I have no objection to your publishing my email.

In my response, I tried to distinguish between my thoughts re the publication (I would have published as submitted) and the reasoning of my colleague who was moderating at the time in question. If that was not clear, I apologise.

As far as 'the troll' is concerned, my ignorance is more a consequence of my not being terribly interested in the often pathetic online bickering which seems to be the obsession of many than a lack of investigative prowess. Frankly, I have far more constructive things to be getting on with than working out who is who.

Equally, while I am sure that followers of various blogs and others (including some who use our comment forum) are well aware of the identities of those who use pseudonyms, I think it a stretch to suggest that they are well known in Jersey more generally.

I suspect that you are referring to Mr Haworth, who comes onto my radar really only because I suspect he writes spoof letters to us for publication under false names and addresses.

I can also assure you that no one gets any protection as suggested on my watch. If you read the paper I edit, rather than our website, I think you'd struggle to argue otherwise.

The offer of a coffee or beer stands if you ever visit. I think that we'd have an interesting chat.

Best wishes,

Andy


The original post is here where you can leave a comment.

Friday, 13 January 2017

THE RAG


Lord Reginald's New Year Message on Voice for Children
Click on any image for a larger version

The Jersey Evening Post (aka The Rag) is Jersey's only newspaper. In general it is an organ of the establishment. It supports the authorities and, where humanly possible, avoids giving any publicity to dissenting views. The lack of balanced reporting and discussion has led to the emergence of a number of bloggers on the island who have attempted to fill the gap, speak truth to power and give citizens a platform to debate current issues and air their grievances.

Voice for Children is one such blog. It is a very serious blog. It's posts are well researched. Comments are moderated, but moderation is light except in the case of trolls and abusive comments where it is absolute. I need to clearly state the foregoing to establish the context, because the blog sometimes carries a lighthearted or satirical post, as in the image above.

Lord Reginald, whose identity is clearly now known to everyone in Jersey, occasionally gives a spoof commentary on behalf of the non-formally-existing Jersey Tory Party. The States (parliament) is not structured on a party basis as such. There is a majority establishment clique which effectively functions as an extremely conservative party and it is this clique whose collective mickey Lord Reginald is taking.

The Rag decided to turn it into a news item, with the above image and the text shown below.



Text of JEP online article accompanying the image
Click image for a larger version

A careful reading of the text reveals that it mentions neither the name of the blog on which the video appears nor does it give a link to it. You might consider that was the least they might have done having got a free news item.



My comment
Click image for a larger version

Well that's what I thought and I submitted the above comment. Unfortunately I cannot give you a link to the comment itself. It appears to have been held in moderation for some days while the powers that be mulled over whether or not to publish it. Following which it was simply deleted.

There are two features of the comment which may have led to this unfortunate, but probably predictable, result.

In the first place it criticised The Rag for omitting the blog's name and not giving a link.

In the second place it actually gave a link which would have enabled its readers to view this highly subversive video and make up their own minds about it. Worse still, it would have introduced them to a serious blog which was filling a disgraceful gap left by themselves, namely speaking truth to power and encouraging readers to pitch in.

So, on 12/1/2017, I emailed the editor in the terms below:
Dear Editor

On 6 January 2017 I submitted a comment on your piece about the Lord Reginald video.

I pointed out that you neither indicated the source of the video nor gave a link to it. I found this unusual in an online article. Leaving aside your reasons for behaving thus, and I can only speculate on what they might have been, I was surprised to find my comment (attached), which I thought reasonable and to the point, was detained in moderation and then deleted.

Both before and after submission of my comment, you published comments from a source you know to be a life threatening troll who has been implicated in various unsavoury manoeuvres to suppress criticism and challenge of the Jersey establishment in the context of its cover up of child sex abuse on the island.

I am at a loss to understand the rationale behind this regrettable and inconsistent behaviour and would appreciate an explanation of why my comment, made in good faith, was deleted.

Yours sincerely,

Pól Ó Duibhir

At the time of my posting this I have not had any reply. If I hear from them in the meantime I will certainly update this post to take account of their reply.

I should mention that my experience here is in no way unusual. The Rag frequently suppress comments which don't suit them.

An example is the case of Advocate Sinel, who in a current interview with Voice for Children has described the same experience of having comments refused. He clearly spoke to the editor who apparently advanced absurd reasons for not publishing.

In June 2016 the Rag refused to publish a comment of his regarding the "Jersey Care Inquiry" on the spurious grounds that it was too long. You can read Rico Sorda's blog post on the Advocate's refused letter, including the text of the letter itself, here.

I attempted twice (see here and here) to resubmit it but on both occasions my comment was deleted.

There is another newspaper which serves the Channel Islands, The Bailiwick Express, which is purely online and whose online awareness is much superior to The Rag's. Quite apart from its overall editorial deficiencies, The Rag has clearly never come to terms with its online existence. The Express has just done a piece on the Report from Jersey's Comptroller and Auditor General on the runaway loan fund which is more informative than The Rag's initial online version, and which actually, God forbid, gives a link to the full Report online.

I rest my case.


The original post is here where you can leave a comment.


Monday, 26 December 2016

Jersey Abuse Inquiry


Frances Oldham QC, Chair of the Inquiry
“Straddles criminal and family matters to great acclaim”


Now that we are in the run up to the appearance of the report of the "Independent Jersey Care Inquiry" into child abuse on the island, it might be an idea to review some aspects of the Inquiry itself to date in order to set a context for evaluating the report.

This inquiry was called for as far back as 2008 and it is only due to sustained pressure from a few States Deputies and bloggers that anything at all has happened. The jury is still out on whether the inquiry is actually independent of the authorities and others whom it is supposed to be investigating.

There have been a number of disquieting developments/events in the period since the Inquiry was set up which would lead to a negative opinion of its competence and good faith.
  • under the legislation setting it up it was obliged to consult with the States (parliament) on the finalisation of its terms of reference. It failed to do so and just went on its merry (predetermined?) way with amazing impunity. If you really want to pursue this aspect in depth, check out this VFC post from 2014 as the public hearings were about to commence. I understand Daniel Wimberly never got a satisfactory response to his questions. The main question here was the Inquiry itself restricting its remit in defiance of the wishes of parliament
  • it located itself in premises beside those occupied by a law firm which risked being called to account in the course of the inquiry. It used a similar law firm as its agent for the Inquiry itself
  • it accepted the Government appointing people, to collate and forward required official documentation, who were themselves liable to investigation by the inquiry
  • it facilitated the creation of false impressions from the evidence submitted by allowing alleged perpetrators to appear under multiple identities
  • it denied a principal potential witness independent legal advice which led, at least in part, to his not appearing. It then refused to subpoena him. It also, not very subtly attempted to hid its ruling in this matter on its website
  • it refused to use its full powers to acquire official documentation in a timely manner. This resulted in some witnesses being quizzed on documents that they had barely seen, to the detriment of a probing of their more substantial contribution.
  • it did not permit cross examination of witnesses, either by the Inquiry's lawyers or other parties. Questioning was limited to clarifying the content of witness statements.
  • it apparently permitted a private meeting with a former bailiff/current foreign minister or his representative when the person in question was to appear as a witness.
  • it limited press room access to "accredited media" ignoring the central role in this matter played by bloggers on the island. This simply underlined the Inquiry's complete (wilful?) ignorance of the situation on the island where the mainstream media have been complicit in the cover up of abuse.
  • it sent highly explosive and confidential documentation in the ordinary post where it subsequently showed signs of having possibly been interfered with
  • it refused absolutely to engage via social media when material failed to appear on its website, or appeared and then disappeared, only to subsequently reappear with slightly different meta-data. It never explained or apologised properly for downtime of its website. These may appear small things but they are vital in an environment where there is a lack of trust
  • it has made no reference to the fact that in the oral session of Mr. K (an alleged abuser), reference is made to his written statement, but there is no sign of any such statement on the Inquiry's site. Mr. K, who is rumoured to be a friend of William Bailhache (currently Bailiff but then Attorney General), had a prosecution against him dropped by the Attorney General, on grounds that were subsequently shown to be false and so known by the Attorney General at that time. Surely in an atmosphere of lack of trust, precisely the wrong witness statement to be missing from the Inquiry's website?
  • initially at least there was a lack of counselling backup for abuse survivors giving testimony. This surely is standard practice these days
  • it redacted published evidence to protect the identities of both alleged abusers and abused alike. But it did so in a manner that shows it hasn't the faintest conception of the environment in which it is operating. I have given a blatant example of this in an earlier blog post
This list just goes on and on.

And it is even claimed that the Inquiry itself has no legal standing due to the way it was set up and its ontinuing misbehaviour - a non-vires extension of the Potemkin Village that is the Jersey justice system.

So what does that suggest we will get from the report of the Inquiry when it finally sees the light of day?

I suspect it will be very much a general critique of the appalling system that pertained in Jersey, with no one living individual held to account. This will likely be followed by an enumeration of lessons learned and some admission that there may be more to do to ensure the future safety of the island's children. There will be no condemnation of the illegal suspension of the police chief in 2008. No mention of the lack of separation of powers on the island which has facilitated the continuation of abuse and cover up. No mention of the vicious circle of Jersey "justice" where complaints to Her Majesty's Privy Council arising from the system are simply referred back to that same system to be dealt with. No reference to the fact that the ultimate aim of the Jersey "justice" system is the preservation of the island's financial sector from shafting by abused citizens.

Plus ça change ... ? On verra.

The original post is here where you can leave a comment.


Sunday, 22 May 2016

JERSEY (CI) - FOR DUMMIES


Bishop Tim Dakin

I'll make this short.

Vulnerable lady abused by Churchwarden. She kicks up a fuss, particularly with the Dean of Jersey, head of the Church of England on the island. He is complicit in having her "deported".

Inquiry criticises the Dean. His bishop, Tim Dakin of Winchester, tries to sack him but can't because the Dean is partly directly appointed by the Queen as Jersey is a crown dependency.

Jersey establishment organise another inquiry which is demonstrably biased. Dakin refuses to publish it. Jersey is transferred out of Winchester diocese. Archbishop of Canterbury now reported to have made unreserved apology to the Dean. This is trumpeted as an exoneration of the Dean by the Jersey establishment (Senator and former Bailiff Philip Bailhache) who calls for the publication of the biased report which he claims also exonerates the Dean.

Tim Dakin refuses to accept implied exoneration and makes a new apology to the victim.

That's it in a nutshell and the only authority figure to come out of this with any honour looks like being Tim Dakin.

I explained the background in detail a good while ago and you can read the Jersey Evening Post reports of the Archbishop's apology and Dakin's response.

The original post is here where you can leave a comment.


Saturday, 26 December 2015

That Other Speech


Trevor Pitman


Having reposted Stuart Syvret's 2007 speech to the Jersey Parliament (States) which he was not allowed to deliver, my attention has been drawn, in a comment on that post, to a more recent landmark speech by the then Deputy Trevor Pitman, indicting the perverse Jersey justice system.

This is also a fine speech, delivered in full to the Parliament, and heard without interruption. It is a passionate speech, delivered, I understand, without notes. While it might be best listened to rather than read, given the passion put into it, the available recording, presumably from the Parliament itself, is a lazy piece of work, with auto volume control making it very difficult to hear properly.

The speech was published in both text and audio on 28/9/2013 on Voice for Children's blog.

I have included relevant links at the end of this post.

As the speech was made in the context of a particular debate in the States and as it contains many references to events and persons in Jersey, I think it is necessary, for those readers not fully up to speed on the Jersey situation, to set the speech in context.

Deputy Trevor Pitman and his wife Shona, then also a Deputy, have been in the forefront of the fight for justice in Jersey. He is one of a small number of parliamentarians and bloggers who have been attempting to expose the grossly deficient and corrupt justice system on the island.

Along with former Minister and Senator Stuart Syvret he has been hounded out of parliament. Trevor and his wife have literally been bankrupted, which has effectively excluded them from the parliament.

While it is a saga in itself the story of the Pitmans' fatal run in with the powers that be in Jersey is as follows.


That cartoon

Deputies Trevor and Shona Pitman claimed that they were defamed by a cartoon commissioned by Broadlands estates agency for an advertisement published in the JEP on Christmas Eve 2008. The relevant part of the cartoon is shown above. The Pitmans claimed it accused them of entering politics purely for the money and was defamatory. The Pitmans lost their case and were ultimately bankrupted over the costs and consequently excluded from parliament. The fairness of the whole procedure is for another day but I personally think that Trevor was set up and the way in which the judgement was implemented saw the State gleefully, and perversely, claiming its pound of flesh.

Anyway, to the speech itself.

It arose in the context of the following proposition

The States are asked to decide whether they are of opinion that, within the Executive branch of Government, the Chief Minister is responsible for justice policy and resources, as clarified in the accompanying report.

It seems that, while the Minister for Home Affairs is responsible for the implementation of justice, the whole question of justice policy and ministerial accountability for it was a bit up in the air to say the least. What the proposition is effectively saying is that, in the absence of a separate justice ministry - something proposed earlier by Senator Farnham - this overarching responsibility should reside with the Chief Minister (Senator Gorst). It was apparently envisaged that this would not in any way affect the current responsibilities of the Home Affairs Minister in this area; it would simply close a gap that had appeared in the transition from the earlier form of committee government to a ministerial one.

As to the broader "constitutional" structure of the island. It is a crown dependency which means that the island's government is directly the responsibility of the Queen. She keeps an eye on them through her Lieutenant Governor. She appoints the chief officers such as the Bailiff (chief honcho, chief judge, and speaker of the States). She is responsible for good governance on the island, which function she has delegated to her UK Justice Minister (though Jersey is not part of the UK) and final appeal from the Jersey courts is to her Privy Council (though, as a matter of course, they redirect all complaints/appeals back to the Jersey authorities for decision).

The Greffier is the clerk and record keeper of the States Assembly, effectively the head of the administration of the parliament. It was he, in the absence of the Bailiff/Speaker, who chaired the session below.

The reference to data protection is to its misuse in an attempt to silence Stuart Syvret and have his blog taken down. The Data Commissioner virtually invited people to come forward with complaints and then financed them out of public funds to have a go at Syvret in the courts. Four out of five invitees went along with this, and a motlier bunch you would not find.

Reference to the Deputy from Grouville is to Stuart Syvret's former partner Carolyn Labey, who says in the debate that she has no problem with the present proposition.

I hope the above is enough to set the context for the speech.

Hansard reproduces it as a single paragraph, but that is quite a difficult format to absorb in a blog post, so I have attempted to paragraph it purely for ease of reading.




SPEECH
by Deputy Trevor Pitman
in States of Jersey (Parliament)
on 25 September 2013



2.1.11 Deputy T.M. Pitman:

It is ironic, after allowing a lot of people to be betrayed yet again, as we did earlier, here we are talking about justice and yet it is all going to be done and dusted in about 10 minutes.

The fact is, in my opinion and in a growing number of the victims of the Jersey justice system, there is zero accountability to those at the top of the justice system in Jersey. It is a very scary, frightening fact. I do not know if the Chief Minister kids himself, but he is not in control here. The political power in this Island lies with the law office; it is an absolute fact, certainly as far as enforcement of its will. As has been said, and I never used to believe this, but it is all too often a tool of oppression.

It is a great example here today of how we could be saving money and how we do not need the Bailiff; the Greffier and his Assistant are proving that admirably. We do not need any individual in a red cloak. I will be quite honest, the reason I did not come to the special sitting last week, I find it highly offensive to see a judge, any judge - and this is not a personal thing - as our first citizen in the 21st century. It is absolutely ludicrous.

I supported Senator Farnham’s idea for a Minister for Justice, but this is one of those watered-down fudges, and I think he is putting a brave face on and trying to be nice about perhaps convincing himself, wishing to convince himself that this is all going to move in a positive direction. I think he is mistaken in that.

Senator Gorst, well, I told him yesterday I was not going to support this because I voted for him, as he knows, and I have been appalled that I did vote for him. He is, in my view - I have to say that or I will get into trouble - utterly too weak to ensure justice in this Island. If Members ask themselves when do you hear the Chief Minister talk about justice, speak out about it and upholding it? Practically never.

You cannot go against the rule of the Bailiff. It is one of the most striking things when you come into this Assembly: the ridiculous and quite offensive deference that is given to someone just because he is a judge. Let us put it quite clearly: the Bailiff deserves no such deference, any Bailiff. He is just a judge, and yet he can interfere, he can block what elected representatives to this Assembly say and ask.

As we saw yesterday in a quite embarrassing display, the justice system in this Island is so appalling that when the Bailiff fails appallingly, you can only go and take those failings to the Bailiff. It is a bit like déjà vu when I remember back years ago when Senator Syvret was forced out of the States for 6 months, in 1996 I think it was. Who could he ultimately appeal to about that? Probably the same man who many would say was instrumental in him being removed from that Assembly.

This cannot be trusted to the Chief Minister’s Department because the Chief Minister just does not appear to have the will, the determination and the courage to do the job. He is too weak. That might upset some people, but I have to speak the truth, that is what we are meant to do here, are we not?

Where is the judicial accountability now? There is none whatsoever. We have a U.K. Minister for Justice who is meant to intervene when he should but he does nothing, and you cannot go through an appeal system.

We heard a really brilliant example of how the Jersey justice system is dysfunctional when we had to hear the desperation ... if you do not get what you think you should have, you can go to the Privy Council or then to Strasbourg, like those poor victims up there today. It is a bit late by then because you cannot challenge failings properly. People have had their lives ruined by then.

Is the Chief Minister going to put that right? No, because he is one of those who I believe strongly is absolutely frightened to death of the aura of the Bailiff and all that it suggests. The Bailiff has only got that deference from people because of the dual role. We talk about in this report from the Chief Minister that you have got to have that independence between Judiciary and politics.

Does he not ever look at the individual and what that represents sitting in that chair every session, the hypocrisy and absolute comical farce of what he is saying? I cannot remember who said it, it might have been Deputy Tadier, it might have been Deputy S. Pitman, but you would have a Minister still being controlled on issues of justice by an unelected judge.

There is no place for this in the 21st century. I am sorry the Deputy of Grouville cannot see the problem with it; just about any other right-thinking person can see the problem with it: it is a person wearing 2 hats at one time, it is an unelected judge being involved where he has absolutely no right.

It might have been okay in the 17th century when we were all meant to tug our forelock to our betters, but it is not okay now. Well, I could not tug my forelock, but there we go; I may doff my cap. I cannot afford a cap, but there we go.

It makes me so frustrated to say we will happily sit here and discuss ourselves for weeks on end, we will discuss dog mess for hours or days, and justice ... hardly anyone speaks.

Let us spell out the facts again: there are only about 5 of us in here who ever stand up for justice, and we are made out to be some kind of radicals, we are out to destroy known civilisation. No, for those of us who talk about justice, it is because we care about our Island.

The rest, and I am sorry, that is 95 per cent of the States Assembly, fall into 2 categories: people who just keep their head down, they are too scared; to protect the status quo they will say nothing. Or, it has to be said, people who perhaps do not care about justice at all, which is even worse.

Some of those people who we were debating earlier said to me yesterday: “For too many people, it is only when an injustice happens to them that they realise what is going on in this Island.” That is because in the mainstream media they do not report on the true facts.

Again, they have got a huge responsibility, they have more power than we have but they do not talk about the real issues: “Let us just keep attacking the 4 or 5 loony lefties who keep going on about child abuse and the dual role.”

If I am to support this, Chief Minister, what are you going to do about all that? What are you going to do about all these issues? As we heard, the Chief Minister cannot go against the word of the Bailiff, so how is this being under his sway, how is his control going to differ?

I was at that meeting the Deputy referred to; he acknowledged there were huge areas that needed to be changed, but would he do them? We have Jurats elected by lawyers; that is crazy, it does not even happen in Guernsey, and some people are always mocking Guernsey for what they do. How can you have lawyers choosing people they are then going to be pitching to win their case to later?

It is absolutely bonkers. The Jurat Law; what stops you being a Jurat? If you have received assistance from the 1948 Poor Law, it does not matter if you are Jimmy Savile, you are in, you are a pillar of society. That is what it comes down to, in essence: no convictions against Mr. Savile so he probably would have been welcomed as a pillar of the community.

Sorry if some of this is uncomfortable, but it is true. I have got so many cases now on justice, I admit - and I will use this to apologise to some people I have not even been able to get back to, because I am being overwhelmed and I know Deputy Higgins has got a huge number - they are diverse and they are shocking.

What is being done about it? What have successive Chief Ministers done about the injustice in this Island? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

Justice in Jersey is made up as we go ... a phenomenon which some people may not be aware of: judge-made law. It is a great example of what happens in Jersey: rulings, decisions given by judges that have absolutely no visible link to the laws that were passed by Assemblies such as ours.

Who challenges it? Is the Chief Minister going to challenge it? No, because he is not strong enough, and I put my trust in him, and this is not a personal thing either. I put my trust in him when he was making his pitch to be Chief Minister and on the key issues, justice, like for the abuse victims, he has really done nothing.

He expressed his satisfaction, his contentment with the case against former Senator Syvret. I do not agree with a lot of what Mr. Syvret has done, but I will stand with him on justice issues.

Regularly, there is a gentleman who sits up there who can show you his many consistent statements made to the police about, as a child, being pinned down and having blood trickling down his legs after he had been abused.

The person who he alleges, and more than a dozen others allege is an abuser, is still employed by the States of Jersey, has still got access to children.

How is the Chief Minister and his legal team, who are meant to be doing redress, treating that man? Well, he is accused of never being at Haut de la Garenne. It is only other people who were at Haut de la Garenne who would remember him there. Has he had sympathy? Has he had compassion? No. I will tell you what has happened to him: he has been threatened by the legal team that if he did not drop his allegations, he would be prosecuted and could end up in prison.

Justice in Jersey? Utter farce. Yet we are satisfied for the secret court case against Mr. Syvret. Of course, one of those people given such huge financial assistance is the very man that so many people have accused. That same case -if we are talking justice, Chief Minister - why is it that there is a letter in existence pitching for individuals to come in and put the case together and decide how they would get Mr. Syvret? Five people invited; one of them refused. Proxies; are those what they were?

I happened to believe that some of them, certainly a couple, have got cases for what has been done to them. They may have cases to answer on the accusations against them. The best way to have done that would be before a court. As I have said before, then Mr. Syvret could have been taken to account if what he said was completely wrong and those people could have earned justice.

But no, what do we do? Justice in Jersey, Chief Minister, we have secret court cases. I do hope he is going to do the decent thing and resign when we get the true figures about how much this has all cost, because the question is already in for next session. He wants to control justice.

Why is it that data protection and this access ... and it is all very well for him to chuckle over there, perhaps it is how he usually takes justice. Why is it that data protection ... this assistance is not available to all?

One of the individuals who was given money - Members might not know - is the scourge of innocent people in this Island. He has been intercepted by the police threatening ex-partners; does not get charged. He sends out posters to decent, ordinary people about threats to women; does not get charged. He puts hate sites up on the internet which emails stolen from one of our own Members end up on. Does not get charged.

When I went and made a complaint about him, the senior police officer went and looked and he was shocked at the amount of complaints against this individual, so he could see it was just not me. Put the case to the Attorney General’s office; no case to answer.

Perhaps that explains, for all his faults, why Mr. Syvret went down the route he did, because it all comes back down to this image, hardly anyone wants to risk challenging Jersey’s fluffy image as a shining beacon of democracy, as I think former Senator Perchard said.

The way you improve your image is by confronting the things that are wrong, and that is what me, and those few other Members who stand up and talk about justice, do. Of course, we get pilloried by the Jersey Evening Post, pilloried by other Members, former judges.

There is a wonderful little clip if Members get bored: go and look at YouTube and they will see a wonderful little clip of a former chief judge in Jersey and he is giving a talk to, I assume, the Law Society or a collection of lawyers, and he laughs and he gets a huge, great ripple of applause: “When I was a judge and the law was silent, I did what everyone did, I made it up because that is what everyone else did”; is that justice? People laugh.

A chief judge, or a former chief judge ... I must not get into trouble, I must go down the magistrate route of today, confusing individuals. It is funny, just on the news today the former assistant magistrate is out of prison already, laughing all the way to the bank, while those people we have sent away with their tails between their legs are going home. One of them is on to income support as a result, she was telling me.

This makes me furious, these tick-box propositions that come back pretending to do something when the proof of the pudding is that this Chief Minister never stands up for justice ever, even when it is wrong. He is controlled by the law office, in my view. He does not have the courage to challenge things that are wrong.

Why am I not going to support this? It is not because I do not support Senator Farnham’s original idea, I do, though I ask the question, how many in this Assembly could do that job, 4 or 5, because most - and I mean that as no offence to any particular Member - have not got the courage and the conviction to stand up, as I do, so often.

But this is just a fob, it is a fudge. It is another one of the Chief Minister’s cop-outs. Why did we have a Minister for External Relations when we have not even got a Minister for Children? Far more important. Why have we not got a Minister for Justice? Far more important than giving someone a title to do a job that, let us be honest, Senator Ozouf has been doing a pretty good job before we even had this Assistant External Affairs Minister.

I say to Members, do not support this, force the Chief Minister to come back with something that is fit for the 21st century. Make him come back with something which will provide justice for all.

I think it was Deputy Le Fondré who today said when would justice purely relate to how much money people have got? Well, that happens all the time in Jersey. Many of us in St. Helier see constituents. If they cannot afford to pay for lawyers and they get legal aid, they really may as well give up, because you will get a lawyer who is generally completely not interested or they are so young and inexperienced, it will probably do more harm to your case. If you are in the middle, you are even worse.

Some people would say the Jersey system is bent. I do not say it is bent, because if you imply that, then you think it could be put back into shape.

The Jersey justice system needs a full Turks and Caicos style intervention by the U.K.

We need the U.K. Minister for Justice to fulfil his mandate.

We need the Lieutenant Governor to fulfil the powers that he has got - and I like this Lieutenant Governor, I have had some lengthy conversations with him - but if he does not step in when he should, then what are we paying a great deal of money for?

We need a Minister for Justice, but I think it should be appointed from the U.K. because it is entrenched here, it is so entwined, political power with judicial power, that it cannot be done safely otherwise.

Now I think I will sit down and let our former Chief Judge attack me, as he does so often.



Links

Voice for Children blog has reported the speech, including audio, here.

The comments on that blog post are well worth a read

The full debate in the States is also worth a read.

You can listen to the speech on Youtube, and it will give you an idea of its passion, but it is an irritating recording, and so it is probably best read.

You can get an extended summary of the court case here.




The original post is here where you can leave a comment.


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

GOING, GOING, GONE !


Graham Power

If you already feel saturated by the Jersey scene, just skip this posting. If, like me, you find it rivals Dungeons and Dragons, read on.

I have been puzzling over both the fact and the timing of Graham Power's suspension and I just can't make sense of it. It is not quite keeping me awake at night, but like that final elusive word in a big crossword, is not helping me to get to sleep either.

So I have tried below to put some of my confused thoughts on paper in the hope that this would crystalise them, but I am still as puzzled as ever.

Person 737

One commentator is convinced that the suspension was brought about to stymie the imminent arrest of the well known influential islander currently identified as “737” in the documents published by the Jersey Inquiry. This does not make sense to me.

Evidence to the current inquiry suggests that Power was taking a very hands off approach to Operation Rectangle. He had almost fully handed over the running of the inquiry to his deputy, and successor designate, David Warcup and the SIO was Mick Gradwell who had replaced Lenny Harper. Both of these officers have complained about Power's reluctance to involve himself in Operation Rectangle at that stage.

So getting rid of Power would not have affected any such arrest which he was presumably not pushing for in the first place. In the event, the suspect remained on Gradwell's task list for interview under caution in the first week of December 2008, even after Power's suspension in early November. Of course, we don't know if 737 was actually interviewed, just that the paper intention was still there after Power's suspension.

Abuse of Process

An alternative suggestion is that Lenny Harper's allegedly exaggerated, and uncorrected, revelations about HDLG, along with their further amplification by the press, risked having some upcoming trials dismissed in the face of a likely plea of abuse of process by the defence lawyers.

The thinking here seems to be that the uncorrected sensationalism (murders etc.) surrounding Operation Rectangle was giving rise to (i) hostile hysteria, and (ii) a feeling that the police were “rushing to judgement” and bringing unjustifiable charges. Either or both of these being factors which could prejudice a fair trial,

Warcup and Gradwell, following legal advice, were adamant that these “revelations” had to be publicly corrected before the trials. To that end they organised a press conferencee, against Power's advice, to correct matters and incidentally rubbish much of Operation Rectangle. Power claims that he had no problem with the original script he was shown for the press conference but that what was said at the actual press conference itself flew in the face of what he had been shown.

He could therefore be presumed to be very annoyed at the outcome. But what action could he have taken? What could he have done that would require his suspension to stop him doing it?

So I'm not really convinced by that explanation either.


The Met Report

Then there is the “Met Report” in which the London Met were supposed to have severely criticised the running of Operation Rectangle and in particular the actions of Harper and Power. As I recall that “report” had not been received until after the initial drafting of the letters suspending Power, though Gradwell's own written report and Warcup's views would have been available at the time.

However, the terms of the Met inquiry precluded its use for any disciplinary purpose. Any such use would put the whole system of non-disciplinary peer inspection in jeopardy throughout the entire UK police force.

So, the Met "report" was not available when the plot was hatched and it seems to have been hastily seized on when it arrived to bolster complaints against Power.

For clarity here it should be said that this was not a final report, rather a very initial draft, that the Met subsequently said did not criticise Harper or Power. In fact it was subsequently withdrawn by a Met which was very annoyed at the use to which it had been put.

Mystery

So the mystery of Power's suspension and it's timing remains.

Clearly the politicians, and some of his own immediate subordinates, wanted rid of him. The prime movers had even organised the resignation of the then Home Affairs Minister, Wendy Kinnard, and replaced her with a more pliable alternative, Andrew Lewis, to make sure Power got ditched.

But why? He was apparently operating in a very hands off way, having turned almost everything over to his successor, David Warcup. He says himself that he would have gone quietly at that time if he has been asked politely to retire. It was only the method of his dispatch that got his back up.

The only advantage, for the administration, of suspension over retirement or dismissal, was that it kept Power on the books and limited the extent to which he could go public with any grievances. Dismissal, in any case, would have involved getting parliamentary approval and God knows what might have come out in the wash.

But it is still not clear why he had to go, and in such an apparently tight timeframe.

A Cock Up?

The only explanation that might make sense would be that 737 panicked at the thought of being brought into play by Harper and Power and instructed, somewhere along the way, that they be got rid of or neutralised.

Then Harper had retired and Power was more or less out of it, but this feedback was either not understood or resisted and the instruction maintained. So the administration had to figure out a way to get Power off the stage and ensure he was kept quiet, and suspension was the magic bullet.

Maybe I'm missing something very obvious here. If so I hope someone tells me what it is.

By the way, for all you crossword fans out there. The Jersey Inquiry's redactions relating to person 737 have now been rendered moot as his identity was publicly revealed late last month at an offshore event in London.

I have commented on Graham Power's evidence to the Jersey Inquiry here.

Original post here where you can leave a comment.



Saturday, 19 December 2015

That Speech

Following the recent death of a child abuse survivor, who was one of the first to alert Stuart Syvret to what had been going on on the Island of Jersey for decades, Stuart has done an initial posting/tribute.

In the course of this he has reproduced the full text of the speech that he had prepared in 2007 for his Father of the House Christmas speech in the Jersey Parliament (States).

Those who have been following the Jersey saga will know that, when he tried to deliver the speech in the States, he was persistently heckled by members and eventually had his microphone turned off by the Speaker (Bailiff).

He first published the text in 2008, and while I was aware of it, this is my first time actually reading it.

I am reproducing the text below as it is a speech that deserves to be widely read. It is thoughtful, considered, angry and well crafted.

It reminds me of Edmund Burke's speeches to the British Parliament on the question of government and consent in the matter of the American colonies. I studied one of those in college many years ago and it, and others in the series, have always remained with me as fine examples of oratory, not just in the expression but in the content.



CHRISTMAS 2007

FATHER OF THE HOUSE SPEECH
TO THE STATES ASSEMBLY
BY
SENATOR STUART SYVRET

Sir, Your Excellency, fellow members – but especially the people we are here to represent,

As Father of the House, it is customary for the senior Senator to lead the seasonal exchange of greetings with which we end the year.

In these addresses, it is common to reflect upon the year past – and to contemplate the coming year. And it is the birth of Christ that we mark with these reflections and which we celebrate in this season of goodwill.

Christ taught many things in the course of His life. Amongst His teachings was the virtue of honesty.

For even though I am an ordinary, fallible person, with no particular religious convictions, still, I could not stand here and falsely claim that the past year has been an episode upon which we, as an assembly, could look back upon with satisfaction – or even self-respect. This has not been a year in which we have displayed wisdom, compassion or even basic common sense.

As is now public knowledge, we as a society – Jersey – this community – have begun the awful task of facing up to decades – at least – of disgraceful failure – and worse – towards children.

I will not refer to my personal experiences of 2007; perhaps I will speak of such things on another occasion.

Instead, I wish to speak of the children, the victims, the innocent – the many – who have been catastrophically failed by the edifice of public administration in Jersey – year in and year out. Decade after decade.

We like to imagine ourselves as being some kind of model community; a safe, well-governed and happy group of people. Whilst I cannot speak in detail of individual sufferings now; nor of the many betrayals – I can say this: that as far as I am aware the coming months and years are going to require the most painful reconsideration of our communal values, our competence – and our collective ethics.

Indeed, I am not aware of a more wretched and shocking example of communal failure in the entire 800 year history of Jersey as a self-governing jurisdiction.

How much worse could things be than the systemic decades-long betrayal of the innocents?

As we approach the birthday of Christ, we should reflect upon his words. When on an occasion, some little children were brought to Jesus, Jesus’ disciples became angry and rebuked those who had brought the children into Christ‘s presence. Scriptures then tell us, “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them “ Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Jesus is also recorded as saying, “And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name received me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea”

I would hope that these simple words – that place children and their welfare at the heart of human values – could be accepted by any decent person – regardless of their particular religious thoughts or beliefs.

Greater minds than mine have said that we may gauge the quality of a society by how it treats its children. Having learnt what I have learnt in the course of this year I have to say that our smug self-satisfaction as a charitable and civilised community in fact conceals a festering canker. For though it would be bad enough for us to have amongst our midst’s the abusers that are to be found in all societies – the victims in Jersey have been doubly betrayed – betrayed with indifference, betrayed with contempt, betrayed with the naked and idle self-interest of an administration that should have been protecting these – the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.

Sir, some people seem to enjoy being politicians. This is not a view I ever understood. My 17 years as a States member have, to me, been a fairly consistent period of struggle; on some occasions so Kafkaesque, so dispiriting that many times I just wished to cast it all aside and seek a civilised occupation instead. But nothing – nothing – nothing in those 17 years even begins to approach the sheer existential bleakness of this year; of trying to contact, to listen to, to help so many people whose childhoods and lives were wrecked by abuse – often abuse at the hands of the States of Jersey and its employees – and doubly wrecked by the conspiracy of cover-ups engaged in by public administration.

A few brave people – front-line staff, victims, and whistle-blowers began to bring these failings to my attention. As my understanding developed, I took extremely high-powered specialist advice on child protection issues – and I think this assembly should acknowledge with gratitude the involvement of Chris Callender, Andrew Nielson and their leader, Frances Crook of the Howard League for Penal Reform. The support and guidance of the Howard League was a great source of strength to me and those whom I was working with in Jersey.

Likewise Professor June Thoburn, who agreed to bring her world-renowned expertise to the post of Chair of the Jersey Child Protection Committee.

In particular I believe we should acknowledge the bravery, integrity and unshakable commitment to child welfare exhibited by Simon Bellwood. He alone – amongst the entire panoply of the child “protection” apparatus in Jersey – said that the way we were treating children in custody was simply wrong. He alone took a stand against the appalling ill-treatment of children who needed care – not abuse. That he was sacked for his efforts really speaks volumes, and illustrates well the ethical void within the system we are responsible for.

Sir, I repeat, we must focus upon the victims – and the friends and families who suffered along with them.

For a period of many months, I investigated these issues – and the more I investigated – the greater became my alarm and anger at what I was learning from people throughout our society. Jersey being the kind of place where many people know other people, the chains of contacts which developed – the networks of victims and witnesses simply grew and grew. Sometimes new revelations occurred – almost by the hour.

As I met, and spoke with people of all ages – young teenagers to retired people – it became clear to me that what we were facing was something far worse than occasional, isolated instances of abuse. What Jersey had tolerated in its midst was a culture of disregard, abandonment and contempt for children – especially those children in need; the vulnerable; the defenceless. During these dark days, when I contemplated how people could treat children in these ways, I was often reminded of the words of Sartre, when he said “hell is other people”.

But, the strength and bravery of the many victims was a source of strength to me as I contemplated several years of bitter struggle against the Establishment, who were clearly going to use the predictable range of oppressions against me in an effort to keep the truth concealed.

So when the States of Jersey Police Force took me into their confidence and gave me a comprehensive briefing about the work they were doing – it was as though a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I had been steeling myself for years of struggle to expose the truth and to seek justice for the victims. The realisation that I was not going down this road alone was a tremendous release – to me – and to the victims. So I must pay tribute to the leadership of the Police Force. This time – finally – there is no hiding place.

During my work I have had conversations with people – teenagers, parents, young adults and older people. People from all parts of society and all backgrounds. Many of these people – victims and witnesses – naturally enough found speaking about their experiences extremely difficult; and many of them were, and are, reluctant to become identified. Likewise the many brave front-line staff who still contact me regularly – notwithstanding the blocking by management of e-mails sent to me by Health & Social Services staff from their work computers.

Such is the climate of fear that victims, witnesses and decent staff experience, that very many of the meetings I have taken part in – have had to be arranged in great secrecy. For example, one brave employee who gave me very important information, made initial contact with me via a text-message sent from her daughter’s mobile phone.

I went about the back-streets, the housing estates, the tenement blocks, the foul, overcrowded and exploitative “lodging houses” in which the poor in Jersey often dwell. And I listened to people opening up; often for the first time in their lives speaking of what they experienced – what they saw – and how they had been failed by everyone. For many of these people, I was the first person in authority they felt able to speak to about what happened to them.

I listened to things – things sometimes said through tears – that I hope never to have to hear again.

As time passed, I found myself moving from these dark rendezvous with witnesses – going amongst the soaked and blackened streets – experiencing encounters with victims – and clandestine meetings with brave whistle-blowing front-line staff.

In the early stages of this odyssey – this drizzle-soaked sodium-lit quest amongst the night roads and back alleys of St. Helier – in the unspoken underbelly of Jersey – I realised what I was seeking – and finding – were ghosts.

Shades and spectres – the vaporous trails of long-departed children – still haunting the outer shells of people I met. Sometimes you catch a glimpse of these ghost children – in eye – or word – or gesture – and you want to reach out to them – but these burnt and vanished phantoms disappear into the scars, the tattoos, the needle marks, the self-harm lacerations, the haunted faces and the wrecked lives.

Although many of the people I met are in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and sixties – I cannot but see them as children still. And many of these children have passed through the hands of the States of Jersey ‘system’ – I cannot bring myself to use the phrase “care”. Some of these children ended in custody for minor offences – and such was the cruelty, abuse, neglect and violence they suffered – many went on to become habitual criminals. When many of these people explained their criminal life-styles, they did so with humility, many candidly use the phrase ‘we were no angels’, and they have said they were not proud of the things they have done. But as a States member – I cannot look at these people – these victims – and not ask myself the awful question: “had these vulnerable, confused and angry children been treated with love and respect and care by the States, perhaps they would have avoided criminal life-styles; perhaps they would not be – in many cases – alcoholics, drug addicts – often broken and shattered beings, wrestling with mental health issues.”

Could I – could any of us – say with confidence that our failures have not contributed to, or led to, such tragic outcomes for so many people?

No, we cannot say that. We must, at the last, admit the awful truth that many of our regular inmates at La Moye Prison are there because of what we – the States of Jersey – did to them as vulnerable children – in the time in their lives when they most needed love, care, support & nurturing.

Amongst our victims have been many many children who had not misbehaved; children who had to be taken into “care” for their protection; or children who had to be taken into the States-run institutions because of the death of their parent. I have met with siblings who’s mother died of cancer when they were little children. I have met with several of the victims of this particular States-run institution. But when I met with the brother & sister – now adults – and listened to their experiences – all I could feel were two things: shame – that the States of Jersey allowed these things to be done to them – and anger that upon the tragedy of the death of these young children’s mother from cancer – we – the States – heaped violence, cruelty, battery and abuse upon these already bereaved children who needed our care, support & love.

Towards the end of my conversation with them – they embraced tearfully, and the brother repeated a vow that no one would ever harm his sister again.

That meeting took place in a room in this building. And I confess at that moment I seriously considered walking from the door and never setting foot in this place again.

Another, older, man I met explained his experiences of being a resident in Haute de la Garenne in the mid-nineteen sixties. Even for the “standards” of the day, the treatment of the children there was barbaric & cruel – at best; for worse things happened.

What really struck me about my meeting with this man was that he was not especially bothered at the treatment he received. I was touched and moved that his overriding concern was – and still is to this day – the fate of his best friend in that institution. He gave me the name, and some details, such as he could recall, from these days far ago in his childhood.

I was able to look into what happened to this boy who was in our care in Haute de la Garenne in the mid-sixties. Little information was available, but the Office of the Deputy Viscount was able to supply me with the following facts:

Michael Bernard O’CONNELL
  • Aged 14 years
  • Died on 7th or 8th October 1966, by hanging from a tree, off Rue des Haies in Trinity.
  • Inquest held on 17th October 1966.

The memory of this young man is kept alive by his friends – children – people who had similar experiences and who – in the midst of their own struggles with their lives – keep the flame of their friend burning.

But let no one imagine that the things of which we speak are confined to the past; an age of dark and sick attitudes. No – today we have the very same problems.

Recently, I made the appointment and accompanied a young man to the police station so he could add his experiences to the present investigations. This young man had fallen foul of the law in some very minor ways as a young child – and thus he suffered the awful fate of falling into the maw of the so-called youth “justice” system of Jersey. Such was the counter-productive barbarity of the treatment meted out to him – and others like him – that his behaviour became more angry, bitter and lawless. At various stages he passed through Les Chenes and then Greenfields. This young man was, at one stage, held in near complete isolation for two months – passages of solitary confinement which went on for weeks. Having induced – unsurprisingly – a complete mental collapse in this child through this solitary confinement – the response of the institution to his needs was to send a “councillor” from CAMHS to speak with him – for half-an-hour – once-a-week.

As I listened to him recount his experiences over about 2 hours to the police officers who were conducting the initial interview, I kept looking at the vast cross-hatchings of self-harm scars which make his left arm look like a road map of New York, and I listened to him explain how he lay bleeding from these wounds alone in his cell and untended – as a child – I looked at him and I thought “we have done this to him”; “we have wrecked his life”.

It is striking just how many people who passed through the hands of the States of Jersey as innocent children emerged from the other side of that experience, bitter, angry, contemptuous and lawless. Former inmates – current inmates – and those about to become inmates – many many of them are our victims.

Society has a low regard for those who break the law, and that view is routinely echoed in this chamber. So it is not often a member asks us to reflect upon those who have crossed the law and to consider that amongst these people are many – far too many – children who were broken and betrayed in so many ways – especially by the States.

For amongst these people who find themselves imprisoned, these adults cast adrift – within them linger still the ghosts of the children they were – and the spectres of what they should have been.

So Sir – today – the expression of seasonal goodwill, the greeting, the recognition and the charity I stand to offer goes, from me at least, to all the victims of abuse, all those who have suffered – and all those whose childhood experiences have led them to become prisoners. Those who have languished in La Moye – or who are still there now – I want them to know that if their lives are wrecked, their actions driven by the nightmares of their childhoods – some of us understand. Some of us recognise them as victims – tragically and shamefully – often victims of the States of Jersey.

I wish to finish by quoting the final verse of a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter:
Somewhere in a dream like this
The light of love leads us home
Broken worlds will not be fixed
Vengeance take us as thy own
We’re just like beggars now
On our knees we hear our names
God forgives somehow
We have yet to learn the same.

Excerpt from Dead Man Walking by
Mary Chapin Carpenter

Senator Stuart Syvret
Christmas address to States of Jersey
2007

Original post here where you can leave a comment.