The Jersey Evening Post: More Spin – More Betrayals of this Community.
Another late night – after another exhausting day. So please excuse the typos.
This Saturday, at noon in Jersey’s Royal Square, a rally will take place to express acknowledgment and recognition to the victims of child abuse.
It is an opportunity for Jersey to show to the world that 99% of its people are caring, and that they will not tolerate such things happening again.
On many occasions, during the present international focus on the child abuse tragedy in Jersey, I have been asked by visiting journalists: “Why are your politicians so inept? And why is the Jersey media so servile and supportive of the island’s establishment?”
And as the veneer of respectability has been peeled back to reveal the festering midden beneath, visiting, real, journalists have asked “Can the Jersey establishment and its media sink any lower? Can it dig itself into even deeper holes?”
The question asked is – ‘is the Jersey oligarchy willing – or even capable – of learning lessons – or is it doomed to carry on – to laughter from the world press-pack – insisting that black is white and heaping compound errors and yet greater disgrace upon itself?’
Those who are familiar with this blog will know right now what the answers to these questions are.
Consider my old friends at The Rag.
One might imagine – after the last 6 months – let alone after the last few awful weeks – a faint glimmer of contrition might begin to show itself in the attitude of The Rag. Some slight acknowledgement of errors and journalistic failings on the part of Jersey’s only newspaper.
Just a little bit – you know?
After all, the Jersey media in general – and the Jersey Evening Post especially – is in a catastrophic position. It is in the utterly shameful position of having failed pretty much every expectation upon the Forth Estate.
Journalists who have been in the island a matter of days have uncovered more facts concerning child protection failures, than The Rag has in its entire history.
The Jersey Evening Post has actually been spoon-fed important information concerning child protection failures over the years. For example, numerous victims – not just one or two – have gone to the paper – over the decades – only to have their stories brushed-off and dismissed.
I supplied – in the year 2000 – the Jersey Evening Post with a copy of the Sharp report into the child abuse scandal at Victoria College. The Rag used not one single piece of the important information within the document.
It described such facts as: profoundly shocking professional failures, derelictions of duty by very senior people – and out-right betrayals of the victims by those who should have been defending them.
Who knows? If the JEP had acted as would have any other newspaper in the democratic world – and run these important public-interest stories – perhaps the community would have learnt then – in the year 2000 – that children were being betrayed by those in positions of authority and responsibility for their welfare.
Absolutely no respectable newspaper would have betrayed journalism in this way.
If you do not live in Jersey – and you are trying to understand what has happened here – how can these abuses have gone near-entirely concealed for at least six decades – you need look no further than the Jersey media to discover a main component of the apparatus of failure.
As I said in a previous post, the Jersey media have been – and still are – complicit in the culture of cover-up and concealment.
Culpable for much of the disastrous failure to have a more open society – and thus culpable for much of the misery and suffering of the island’s vulnerable children.
The Jersey media?
There is no hiding place from this fact.
I know that quite a number of national and international journalists read this blog. Could I suggest to them that they obtain a copy of the JEP of Friday, 7th March 2008?
It will provide a fascinating and telling example of why things have gone so catastrophically wrong in Jersey.
It contains large swathes of Jersey establishment spin – including a comprehensive criticism of the national media.
“All adds up to a good story” – so says the header across pages 10 & 11.
So – listen-up, all you muck-raking world journalists!
It’s all your fault.
According to The Rag – and I paraphrase slightly – “the Jersey child protection disaster is merely ‘a little local difficulty’. An unfortunate episode which has simply been blown out of all proportion by sensation-hungry media. The child abuse controversy is in no way the fault of the Jersey establishment. If only other newspapers acted like the Jersey Evening Post – then the battering, torture, rape – and possibly murder – of children would be treated with the lower media profile it deserves.”
Even now – even after a period of appalling revelations concerning the decades-long failure of the authorities – of the establishment of this island to protect vulnerable children – the Jersey media is still, to this day, full of crap.
The local press – like its Jersey establishment bosses – still just doesn’t “get it”.
As far as they are concerned, this controversy is ‘just-another-class-war’ for them to wage against anarchistic reprobate scum – who might jeopardise the advertising revenue from the local used-car salesmen and other assorted spivs.
But today’s edition of The Rag is worth paying attention to. For in nearly 18 years in politics, I have never seen such open panic and fear on the part of the JEP.
A few of its senior figures – belatedly – have clearly woken up to the fact they are in an utterly changed world. All those decades of unchallenged – and unchallengeable – power; the unquestioning deference from 90% of the population – the monopoly – suddenly it has all vanished. Gone like a vapour on the wind.
Suddenly – they have real competition; real news organisations – asking real questions.
And – and in many ways this is the herald of the end of the JEP – citizen media. One only has to skim across the seething mass of cyberspace to see that the ordinary people of Jersey – for the first time in 800 years as a self governing jurisdiction – finally have their own voices.
The old, burnt-out, cocktail-party-pursuing pack of local media bosses are finally facing their Gotterdammerung.
As I said – you can see the desperation and blind, thrashing panic in the JEP’s coverage. It is plain that they have, for example, abandoned the war with the national media – acknowledged defeat in that arena – and now – like Hitler in his bunker – are fighting a deranged and desperate battle for local control.
For example, consider the Jersey Evening Post of Friday, 7th March 2008. It includes, on page 10, a comment piece written by editor Chris Bright in which he attempts to defend the JEP against the charge of cover-up and concealment concerning the failure of his paper to print any of the key information which was contained in the un-published Sharp report into the child abuse scandal at Jersey’s Victoria College.
His comment piece really is “doomed last-stand” kind of material.
You want an illustration of just how desperate and ill-judged the piece by Bright is?
In the last three paragraphs – the piece actually confesses the key point.
But, clearly, Bright just didn’t understand the meaning of what he wrote. After this unwitting confession he then reverts to attacking me.
Remember – we are contemplating an environment in which there has been a catastrophic failure – over decades – to protect vulnerable children.
As is plain to any thinking person – those decades of failure are down to the inadequacy, stupidity and weakness of the island’s authorities – of its ruling elite.
The culture of cover-up and concealment.
Yet – extraordinarily – The Rag admits on page 10 that “the only noteworthy new material” concerned discussions amongst senior staff concerning the abuser, Jervis-Dykes.
The pitiful piece by Bright goes onto say “An editorial decision was taken that this additional information did not add significantly enough to the extensive JEP reports already published”.
The “information” Bright is referring to is the fact that the senior leadership of the College had in its knowledge – and discussed – complaints of child abuse.
Complaints of child abuse which repeatedly emerged – over a period of years – and which were covered-up and swept under the carpet by very senior figures in Jersey society. The senior staff and certain members of the Board of Governors.
These revelations – which had not been published – were – in JEP-world – not “significant”.
Let us consider in detail whether the “information” deemed “insignificant” by the JEP was indeed irrelevant – as they assert – or whether it was, in fact, crucial – and a striking example of the causes of the child protection crises Jersey now faces?
Let me explain some background information and the chronology of events.
The trial and conviction of the abuser, Jervis-Dykes, was, indeed, well-covered by the Jersey Evening Post.
As many journalists I have spoken to in the last few weeks would attest, I have made a point of saying that the initial coverage of this case was one – of about three – occasions upon which I can recollect The Rag having done a good job.
I respect the journalist, Diane Simon, who was tenacious in her work on the case. Indeed, she was in regular contact with me, and repeatedly asked me if I could obtain a copy of the Sharp report for her and the JEP.
At this point I was indeed trying to obtain a copy of the secret report – primarily on behalf of a mother of a victim who had approached me for help, but also for the Jersey media, given it was clearly an important public interest matter.
The Jersey establishment repeatedly refused to provide me with a copy of the document. The then President of the Education Committee, Senator Len Norman, simply refused to release it.
Interestingly, his lame excuse for not making the report available was pretty much exactly the same as the present Education political boss, Senator Mike Vibert.
Both have stated that they would not release the report “because they wished to protect the identity of the victims.”
Not one single victim is identified in the document.
But I pursued the matter and – eventually – obtained a leaked copy. I gave a copy to the mother I was assisting – and I gave a copy to the lawyer who was representing the victims.
I then personally delivered a copy of the report to the Jersey Evening Post. Diane Simon – to her credit – was tenacious in wishing to obtain this document and frequently called me and asked for ‘progress reports’ as to whether I had succeeded in getting it.
She did, indeed, do a very commendable journalistic job.
Unfortunately – she was failed appallingly by her spineless bosses.
Virtually all of the material Chris Bright cites in his piece today was already in the public domain. The charge, the prosecution, the conviction – and the fall-out for the senior people at the College.
As good a job as the JEP – by its standards – did of reporting these events – the hidden centre of the story was “why?” “How could the authorities at the school have permitted the abuse to go on for years?”
And back then – the JEP knew that this was the $64,000 question. At that time, The Rag was desperate to get its hands on the evidence.
So when Chris Bright asserts that I ‘gave a copy to the JEP in “the apparent belief” that it contained important, previously unreported information’ what he neglects to mention is that I furnished The Rag with a copy of the report – at their express and repeated request.
I went to the headquarters of the JEP in St. Saviours, Jersey, in the year 2000, where I met in a room with the three key JEP people. Chris Bright, editor, Rob Shipley, deputy editor and Diane Simon, the reporter.
This back in the days when Senator Frank Walker was the boss of the JEP.
Having supplied the document – at their repeated request – I waited – and waited – and waited.
The Rag was desperate to get hold of a copy – right up to the day I gave them it – because, contrary to the impression Bright tries to convey, most of the information in the JEP reports was in the public domain in any event. They wanted to get at the real scandal; the real pay-off.
So – I gave them the secret report – which they had been hitherto desperate to obtain.
Yet – the Jersey Evening Post failed to print any of the key facts revealed in the document.
A decision which was really quite remarkable.
At one moment, desperate – rightly – to obtain the information; given it – and then – silence.
An ‘omerta’ descended.
So – let us consider what it was that the Jersey Evening Post deemed unimportant and insignificant.
Reflect on this and be your own judge.
The head of the school, Jack Hydes, and the deputy head, John Le Bretton were aware – for a period of some years – of complaints of child abuse.
They failed to report it to the police.
At one point – when the complaints became too difficult to ignore – the head, Hydes, “consulted” a member of the board of governors in 1992, and asked what he should do about the complaints of abuse.
This was “informal” advice which was given during a game of squash.
The governor in question – Francis Hammon – who went on to become Deputy Bailiff, and who remains a judge in Jersey’s Royal Court – “informally” advised him not to take the necessary action.
At another point, Hydes and Le Bretton convened individual victims and their family members in Hydes’ office and made them repeat their complaints – in front of the assembled people.
This was clearly carried out as a calculated attempt to intimidate and humiliate the victims in question into withdrawing their allegations.
Ultimately – having resigned in disgrace from the school – Le Bretton was speedily re-habilitated by the Jersey Oligarchy when he was appointed to the prestigious position of ‘Jurat’ – a lay-judge of Jersey’s Royal Court.
He remains in this position to this day, Like Hammon in his position as Commissioner of the Royal Court.
This is but a brief example of the key material from the Sharp report.
Facts which the Jersey Evening Post did not consider “significant”.
People in positions of immense responsibility, trust and power – pillars of Jersey society – very high-level members of the Jersey establishment – who failed to deal adequately, professionally or ethically with issues as important as child protection.
Hard, documented evidence of cover-up and concealment of child abuse by Le Bretton and Hammon – people at the very highest reaches of Jersey society.
In the opinion of Chris Bright and his rag? – Not “significant”.
When time permits I will post a fuller account of the contemptible events described in the Sharp report.
But that small amount of information I have supplied here really says all you need to know concerning the cover-up and concealment by the Jersey establishment of child abuse.
Returning to the comment article by Chris Bright in this Friday’s rag: what conclusions can we draw.
That this is an editor – and this is a newspaper – who place the protection of the “image” of the Jersey oligarchy over that of the protection of children.
Bright and Shipley – I repeat – are liars. They and the Jersey Evening Post are components of the apparatus of cover-up and concealment.
If they wish to attempt to dispute that immutable fact – I look forward to seeing them both in court.
(Not a Jersey Court, obviously. No part of the Jersey judicial apparatus would even be on the radar-screen in terms of meeting the “appearance of objectivity” test in respect of any case involving me.)
So, Bright has made complaints to the Sunday Times and the Daily Mail concerning their beastly treatment of him and The Rag. These two journals – clearly hot-beds of anarcho-commie revolution – quoted my – entirely correct – condemnation of the Jersey Evening Post.
I’m happy to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these two newspapers in court.
My politics are on the Green/Left – hardly natural Daily Mail territory. So I have to say that the confluence of their reportage and my concerns goes a long way to restoring my confidence in people.
Something I desperately need after the last 12 months.
I must make a similar observation concerning the Telegraph.
Both of these, essentially, conservative journals have – absolutely rightly – seen that what we are dealing with in the child protection disaster in Jersey is not a matter of ideology; of Left versus Right – it is a question of basic, civilised decency. These newspapers have shown that the respectable political spectrum unites-as-one for those causes which are obviously right and just.
Let’s face it, Frank – when Simon Heffer has got you nailed – you’re clearly way off-beam.
Although Frank Walker was the boss of the JEP’s parent company during its cover-up and concealment of the disgusting failure by senior figures at Victoria College to protect children from abuse – today, it’s owned by a United Kingdom company.
What – we must wonder – do its present owners make of the catastrophic and contemptible position of their investment today; under the leadership of Chris Bright?
Not content with having failed every test of respectable journalism in the Jersey child abuse disgrace – this whining and complaining clown – in classic school-boy bully mode – has begun whinging and wailing – in tearful woundidness – about a “campaign of defamatory abuse and vilification” conducted by me against The Rag.
This is the mighty Jersey Evening Post – the only newspaper in Jersey – the powerful and invulnerable house-journal of the island’s oligarchy – a journal which has waged constant and unremitting war upon me for seventeen years – a rag which has printed so much abusive, dishonest, biased, obnoxious and slanderous rubbish about me that I could scarcely begin to quantify it.
And its editor snivels and weeps across his pages – merely because an un-resourced, lone, uppity prole like me decides to fight back in my own, small way.
Descriptions of the role of the Jersey establishment in these tragic events have exhausted the stock of obvious words: – disgusting – sickening – appalling – contemptible – disgraceful.
What phrase, then, is left, when yet new depths are plumbed?
Let me coin the verb “jep”. I hope to see it gain currency in common usage.
When faced with something that is an immense gross betrayal of basic professional duties; an example of failure for which words like ‘contemptible’ and ‘disgusting’ just don’t serve; a farrago of shameful incompetence and ethical bankruptcy – we should simply use the word “jep”, thus:
It’s a right jep; or what a total jep; or it’s jeped; or what a jep-up.
This community has – in so many ways – been well and truly jeped over the decades. Were this new word to become widely used, it would serve as an apposite monument to the Jersey oligarchy – and its house-journal – the Jersey Evening Post.