And Why it Persists.
Mike Pollard: a Case Study.
So – what did readers make of Mike Pollard’s letter to all Jersey Health & Social Services Staff – as reproduced in the first of these two posts?
Of laughter? Of anger?
It wouldn’t be quite so bad if it merely displayed gross incompetence.
Instead it displays incompetence – and straight-forward lies.
Utter fictions and assertions wholly incompatible with the truth.
Below this post, I re-produce the e-mail I drafted last year to all H & SS staff.
I was never able to deliver it because the States of Jersey e-mail system was rigged by the Chief Minister’s Department and Bill Ogley to block me – the former Minister who had been lied about by Pollard – from replying. Yes, as extraordinary as that is, that is how toxic, lawless, corrupt – frankly dangerous – is the break-down in the rule-of-law by the polity of Jersey.
Read my suppressed response of September last year – and then gauge for yourselves which communication is honest: his – or mine.
Evidence such as the Pollard letter serves to demonstrate so well the implacable decadence of public administration in Jersey and the total failure of accountability.
The fact that this small community simply does not have functioning ‘checks & balances’.
Remember – his letter was not some distant manifestation of mendacity – cobbled together back in the 1960’s.
It was written in September 2007.
His letter contains a variety of out-right falsehoods.
Lies which I deal with in the e-mail I reproduce below – which the States of Jersey prevented me from sending last year; prevented me from sending to over 2500 staff members 98% of who are good, hard-working, ethical, principled professionals who had been misled, distressed, lied to, confused and threatened by the staggeringly foul lies of the Chief Executive Mike Pollard.
You may find this amusing, but when I first began to challenge Pollard’s lies last year, he was offered – covertly – by people like Frank Walker & Bill Ogley – taxpayer’s money to fund a defamation action against me.
They were eager for him to sue me – or at least “put a frightener” on me. He would have been their front-man.
And Jersey tax-payers would have been the mugs paying for it.
Do you like that?
People in Jersey – about to endure the introduction of a sales tax on basic foodstuffs – because, like, the Jersey government is so poor.
And, to add insult to injury, let’s take a big chunk of it to enrich even more some Jersey lawyers – so the local oligarchy can muscle into silence their only prominent critic.
I doubt, somehow, most tax payers are content for their money to be spent in this way.
But, whatever – I say bring it on.
Pollard – you are a liar.
Worse – you lie about something as important and fundamental as child protection.
You are manifestly unfit to occupy any position of responsibility – let alone one that involves having over-arching responsibility for vulnerable people.
Sue me for defamation if what I say is wrong – or resign.
You must do one or the other.
Remember, Pollard and all his key senior management personnel – Marnie Baudains and Phil Dennett just for example – remain working – and remain responsible for running child “protection” in Jersey.
It says it all, really, about the “calibre” of Jersey political leadership – Walker & Co. – that these people – who have demonstrably lied concerning child protection – are not even suspended.
Even without being familiar with some of the specific, detailed assertions Pollard makes – any reader with a modicum of common sense can see what utter rubbish the thrust of his letter is.
Let’s have a look at some choice passages from it.
And remember – this is Jersey he is writing about.
“What I actually found, without exception, was that every instance and every matter I looked into had been dealt with to the highest possible standard. Never before in my 30 years of practice have I found a service that has got it so right, so well and so often to such a high standard.”
He goes on to make an unvarnished threat to any staff who wish to speak the truth.
“I trust, therefore, that this letter has put beyond any scintilla of a doubt that the Child Protection and Children’s Services operate to a very high standard and have an unblemished record. I will not take kindly to anyone who seeks to make mischief with these hard working staff on these matters.”
This is truly extraordinary.
It’s become such a cliché of mine, I’m thinking of re-naming this blog “You Couldn’t Make It Up.”
And – truly – you couldn’t.
For here – in September of 2007 – is a Chief Executive of a Health & Social Services Department – making it crystal clear to his staff that he:
“will not take kindly”
to those who challenge or speak out concerning child protection failures.
Now – do you understand just how the foul abuses of children can have gone concealed for so long?
Now do you understand the “climate of fear” which is all-pervasive in Jersey?
Well – thank God for the decent, brave, honest staff who make up the vast majority of the H & SS workforce. Dozens and dozens of who remain in contact with me.
The Department may be led by a claque of shysters – but that is not a reflection on the staff at the ‘coal-face’.
Below you can read my previously unpublished response to the Pollard letter, so I won’t repeat here that which is already written.
I have to, though, draw your attention to one, particularly profoundly disturbing assertion which Pollard made – and which I deal with below.
And this is important as it gives such a clear illustration of how the Jersey child abuse disaster can have happened.
Pollard, in his letter, refers to the case of the “departure of a member of staff” which I alerted him to. I did this after being informed of it by whistle-blowers.
Pollard – with, frankly, breathtaking dishonesty – asserts that I was content that this particular case had been handled correctly.
It most certainly was not – and nor did I ever accept that it had been.
Let me describe to you just how appalling the case actually was.
And how even more appallingly no less a figure than the Chief Executive of Health & Social Services can lie about it.
The case in question involved a paedophile by the name of Martin Cougan. He was a member of staff at the Heathfield children’s home.
He engaged in an abusive relationship with a teenage female resident.
When – eventually – management were forced to recognise what was happening, Cougan, upon return from holiday, was told that his resignation would be accepted – and no more said about the matter – on condition he left the island and did not return.
This is beyond unforgivable.
Yet – sadly – it is a typical example of the conduct that saw child abusers from Haute de le Garrene, Blanche Pierre, Le Chennes and other places simply be allowed to ‘quietly leave’ as soon as their monstrous behaviours became too difficult to ignore.
Time and time again I have been told of States of Jersey employees who have exhibited dangerously worrying deviant behaviours – and yet who have just been allowed to ‘resign’.
It is a signature feature of the Jersey child abuse disaster.
But worse – it leaves these maniacs at liberty to go to other places of work, in other jurisdictions – and continue to pose a threat to children there.
A profound threat to vulnerable children – permitted to continue.
Simply because “it’s just more convenient all-round” to have a “quick” “clean” resignation. Avoids all that dreadful paper-work, you see?
Not to mention avoiding any taxing questions concerning the management’s own staff recruitment, vetting and monitoring procedures.
The word disgusting just doesn’t get close to describing the senior ranks of Jersey’s civil service.
Mike Pollard – you have – in the year 2007 – supported and continued the culture of concealment which has enabled the betrayals and abuses of vulnerable children.
You are a modern-day manifestation of the corrupted self-interest endemic to Jersey’s public administration; the self-same “culture” which has permitted and concealed the foul abuse of children for decades.
Even terming you a liar and a charlatan doesn’t get close. Even the average con-man would pause – and do the decent thing – when faced with failures towards the welfare of children.
Even this was too much to expect of you.
For God’s sake go.
AS YET UNDELIVERED E-MAIL TO ALL HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES STAFF WRITTEN IN SEPTEMBER 2007 BY STUART SYVRET.
THE FOLLOWING LETTER WAS WRITTEN BY THE FORMER MINISTER TO HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES STAFF – THE VAST MAJORITY OF WHO ARE FINE AND CARING PROFESSIONALS – TO ASSIST THEM IN GAINING A TRUE UNDERSTANDING OF EVENTS DURING A DIFFICULT AND TURBULENT TIME IN WHICH A SMALL ELEMENT OF CORRUPT STAFF AND SENIOR MANAGERS HAD UNLAWFULLY STRIVEN TO CONCEAL CHILD-ABUSE.
Subject: Stuart Syvret’s Response to the Letter from Mr Pollard of 14th September.
Dear H & SS Staff
You may recollect a letter from the Chief Officer, Mr Pollard, sent to all H & SS staff dated 14th September 2007. Unfortunately, I have to write to you to correct the utterly dishonest, misleading and deeply worrying contents of that letter.
I have sought to persuade Mr Pollard to retract the letter and apologise to me for its dishonest representation of the events which led up to my sacking for whistle-blowing. Unfortunately, Mr. Pollard has not responded in a positive manner. Therefore it falls to me to explain the truth to you.
The purpose of Mr. Pollard’s letter was to smear me as part of the cover-up and concealment of gross and sustained failures at senior management level across the entire child welfare & protection apparatus of the States of Jersey.
In the letter, dated 14th September 2007, sent to 2300 H & SS employees Mr. Pollard:
(a) dishonestly stated that the concerns I was raising – many of which had been brought to my attention by front-line staff – were “unjustified”;
(b) dishonestly misrepresented my position;
(c) dishonestly misrepresented the actual concerns I was raising;
(d) dishonestly misrepresented my criticisms of management failure as criticisms of front-line staff, when, in fact, many of the concerns were brought to my attention by front-line staff;
(e) dishonestly describing two questions he claimed to have asked me. His depiction of the two questions he ascribed to me is a deliberate attempt to mislead;
(f) dishonestly depicting my answer to the two ‘phantom’ questions;
(g) dishonestly stating that I only raised two concerns with him;
(h) dishonestly stating that these two concerns were groundless;
(i) dishonestly stating that I provided him with ‘no evidence’ for various concerns;
(j) dishonestly stating that there were no instances of failure – whatsoever – in the management and standards of child protection in Jersey.
Mr Pollard’s letter exhibits a clear, pro-active attempt upon his part to engage in concealment and cover-up.
Mr Pollard’s letter therefore exhibits gross professional inadequacy in respect of child welfare and protection. Anyone who puts protecting failed management colleagues above child welfare is not fit to hold such a job.
Mr. Pollard’s letter must, therefore, leave us with the very real concern that further child protection and welfare issues will go unaddressed.
Mr. Pollard’s letter demonstrates his ready willingness to lie to you, the staff of his Department, concerning a matter as serious as child protection.
I will now address some of the substantive and misleading assertions in Mr. Pollard’s letter.
He and I, in fact, asked each other a very substantial number of questions, not merely the two he claims to have asked me.
In the first of those two questions, he claims to have asked me whether I “knew of any child who was not receiving a competent service from the Department?” In fact, what he actually asked me was whether I was aware of any child in imminent or immediate danger? To which, of course, my answer was ‘no, to the best of my knowledge’. Obviously, If I were aware of any child under immediate threat of harm, I would not be speaking to Mr Pollard about it – I would be on the phone to the Police.
In the second of his two ‘phantom’ questions, Mr Pollard claims to have asked me whether I had information I “was withholding which, if supplied to him, would enable him to make the lives of children better?”
This ‘question’ was never asked.
What, in fact, I was asked by Mr Pollard was for me to identify to him all of the front-line staff who had privately raised concerns with me, and to identify to him all of my sources of information and of independent expert advice. Naturally I declined to do this, as to reveal the identities of such contacts would be to jeopardise their professional lives and risk them becoming victimised by management – as has been known to happen. I would never betray such confidences.
But, as a matter of demonstrable fact, I did actually supply Mr Pollard with evidence for many of the concerns; and I informed him of, and drew his attention to, many issues which had been drawn to my attention by front-line staff, whistle-blowers, parents and victims.
Whilst Mr Pollard’s dishonest depiction of events, insofar as they concern me, is very disappointing, I do not regard that aspect of his letter as the most serious.
What appals me beyond words is that Mr Pollard would lie about a matter of such gravity and seriousness as the irresponsible and dangerous ‘departure’ of an employee who poses a real risk to children.
This particular case is an example of an issue that was drawn to my attention by several conscientious front-line employees who were disgusted by the management failure involved.
On page two of his letter, Mr Pollard claims that I asked him to examine “the circumstances surrounding the departure of a member of staff.” Mr Pollard then goes on to state, with breathtaking dishonesty, that “following (his) investigation into this matter, the Senator accepted that this had been handled correctly.”
It is deeply disturbing that Mr Pollard should claim this case to have been handled correctly, when he knows perfectly well it was not. And it is deeply worrying that he should claim – in what is a complete and utter lie – that I accepted that it had been handled correctly.
It most certainly was not.
The employee in question, a male by the name of Martin Cougan, was employed in the residential children’s home ‘Heathfield’. This man began an abusive sexual relationship with a female resident. The man had worked in a position of trust with the female – including for a significant period of time prior to her reaching the age of 16. Quite regardless of criminality, his actions were still a grotesque breach of trust, and an utter betrayal of professional ethics and responsibilities.
Rather than immediately get the police involved and dismiss Cougan, the management allowed him to resign immediately on the understanding that he leaves the island – thus avoiding any awkward questions for the management concerning their staff recruitment and monitoring safeguards. Very convenient all-round – wouldn’t you agree?
As result of this action, the individual might still be employed working with children in some other jurisdiction – where, of course, he will continue to pose a serious threat to the children exposed to him.
Many of the front-line staff recognised what a disgraceful and dangerous action it was to simply allow him to resign. This is why they brought it to my attention. That Mr Pollard can regard a paedophile employee being allowed to resign on the “understanding” that he leave the island – rather than being immediately sacked – as “handled correctly” is extremely worrying.
Mr Pollard goes on to make the quite extraordinary statement that “every instance and every matter (he) looked into had been dealt with to the highest possible standards.” This too, is completely untrue.
Sadly, the case I refer to above is but one example of seemingly endless child protection management failure.
Let me give you some brief, summarised examples of the failures and deficiencies that are the cause of concern. These examples are in no particular order and they represent just a small part of the total range of instances of failure in the field caused by woefully inadequate management.
1: The failure to meaningfully intervene in the case of a child with emotional problems. After this failure, the child descended into abuse at the hands of paedophiles. This abuse then went on without recognition – for 18 months – notwithstanding various agencies having several opportunities to intervene.
2: Employees, as described above, being allowed to resign rather than be sacked, thus leaving them to carry on posing a risk to children in other jobs or other jurisdictions. This very ‘convenient and easier’ way for management to dispose of their “problems” – to avoid scrutiny and challenge for their failures – is actually commonplace throughout public administration in Jersey.
3: A long-term culture of cover-up and incompetence at managerial level in Jersey’s child protection apparatus. People have brought cases to my attention that go back to the early-1960s. Unfortunately, as this episode demonstrates, the same culture of failure and irresponsibility in the management of the services persists to this very day.
4: As an example, a former senior Social Services manager reviewed substantial records of witness statements, evidence, logs, staff diaries and victim accounts, concerning a sustained period of appalling abuse towards children by a couple who ran a ‘group-home’ throughout the 1980s. His report, in 1990, whilst accepting that the behaviour ‘could not be condoned’ concluded by stating that the stress of the job was a mitigating factor, and that the female member of the couple had “voluntarily” decided to retire from running the ‘group-home’ – “and she would now work at the Family Development Centre instead”!
This in the face of overwhelming evidence that they had exhibited monstrous cruelty, had made children drink Dettol and had regularly violently assaulted children with implements.
The former senior manager should, of course, have contacted the Police immediately and suspended the couple from any involvement in child care. By the time the case did eventually come to the attention of the Police – in the late 1990s, they were appalled by it and attempted to prosecute the couple in question. The prosecution was abandoned by the Attorney General of the day – Michael Birt, presently Deputy Bailiff – for reasons that remain mystifying and deeply worrying, given the substantive nature of the evidence contained in two large lever-arch files.
5: The transportation of children in custody in the same vehicle at the same time as adult prisoners.
6: The routine use of restraint methods against children in Les Chennes which would never have been used in the UK following the ‘Pin Down’ controversy in Staffordshire County Council, and as exposed by Alan Levy QC and Barbara Kahan in 1990.
7: The failure to provide children in custody with automatic, regular and high-quality emotional and psychiatric care and support.
8: The routine and illegal use of isolation and solitary confinement against children in custody. In some instances the isolation would go on for days, weeks – or even months.
The punitive and coercive use of solitary confinement against people, even adults, is internationally recognised as torture, and is forbidden under several international conventions. To use this methodology to control children is simply a straightforward criminal offence on the part of the States of Jersey. It constitutes illegal, institutionalised abuse.
9: The failure of senior management to regard child welfare and protection as the highest possible priority. As this episode makes plain, management’s overriding and foremost concern has been the ruthless protection of themselves and the support of failed colleagues in senior management positions. For example, the letter from the Jersey Child Protection Committee to Senator Walker, demanding my dismissal, was – as a matter of proven fact – largely authored by the Directorate Manager of Social Services, Marnie Baudains – the very officer most culpable for the very failures I was attempting to address. In the letter she attempted to claim that exposing failed child welfare and protection systems “put children at greater risk.” In fact, the opposite is the case. Every respectable professional organisation’s practice guidance, code of conduct, code of ethics or rules in the child protection field will state that it is always better to speak out concerning a failing system – rather than to remain silent about it.
The issues I describe above are, sadly, but a few of the problems I was attempting to deal with. All such cases, evidence, witness contacts and so forth in my possession will be made know to the States of Jersey Police.
I very much regret having to write in these terms. I have made attempts to reason with Mr Pollard in an effort to make him acknowledge the dangerous and dishonest assertions in his letter of the 14th September. I have invited him to withdraw it, and apologise for his dishonest representation of events. Sadly, he has failed to do so. Therefore, it is important that you know that your Chief Executive is ready and willing to lie to you – and, moreover, lie to you in a manner that proves him to attach greater importance to defending failed senior management colleagues than he does to child welfare and protection.
I would like to put on record my thanks and admiration for all those front-line staff who have contacted me with their concerns in an attempt to secure acceptable standards of care and protection for children. Please rest assured that any contact made with me privately will never be revealed to management or any other agency.