JERSEY “JUSTICE” FAILS THE CHILDREN –
AS PREDICTED –
BEFORE WE WERE EVEN AWARE OF THE COVERT POLICE INVESTIGATION.
In a moment of exhausted trawling through my mass of records, files, e-mails and other information – I came upon the e-mail I reproduce below.
It was, of necessity, a long e-mail.
I wrote it on the 15th November 2007 – over a month after I had been given the bullet as Health & Social Services Minister – and – before I and the people I was working with were aware of the covert police investigation into historical abuse.
I wrote the e-mail with two things in mind, back then.
Firstly – that there would – inevitably and unavoidably – be a need for police investigations; decisions on prosecutions; and court-cases – both criminal and civil.
Secondly – that the Jersey police force, prosecution system and judiciary would betray the survivors – just as that apparatus had – so many times before – if left to its own devices.
Which is why I wrote the e-mail below to the Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police Force; to the Attorney General; to the Bailiff and Deputy Bailiff; and to the Magistrates.
By that date – 15th November, 2007 – I had discovered and learnt enough about the Jersey Child Abuse Disaster to realise that we had a catastrophe on our hands.
Well, actually, I had come to that conclusion some months earlier – in April or May 2007. Which is why I was covertly working with survivors and whistle-blowers throughout most of the year, in an effort to compile a substantial dossier of evidenced cases to thrust upon the States of Jersey Police Force.
Why was it necessary to assemble the evidence to give in substantive form to the police?
Because, as will be plain from the e-mail below – I had every good reason to have recognised the Jersey police force to have been a substantial part of the problem – over the decades.
But – and please note this crucial point – survivors and I were making that assessment based on the traditional, past “performance” of the Jersey police – the incompetence, the bias, the politicisation, the cronyism, the concealment of crimes – indeed, the out-and-out corruption routinely exhibited by the force over a sustained period of decades.
However – we failed to take into account the professionalism, integrity, ethics and honesty of the then leadership of the Jersey police.
Graham Power and Lenny Harper.
Both tough, straight, no-nonsense cops of the highest calibre.
So – when reading the e-mail below, please discount my criticisms of the police force – at least in the context of when it was led by Lenny and Graham.
Indeed – the only single one of the people I addressed the e-mail to – from whom I received a professional and civilised response – was Graham Power – who replied the very next day.
It was a day or so later that I was asked to attend the police station – though no reason was given. I went with resignation – imagining the oligarchy were trying to stitch me up with some fabricated nonsense.
Instead Lenny Harper and another senior officer spent around two hours explaining to me the covert investigation they were undertaking into all the concealed child abuses of the past.
I can’t really describe how I felt at that moment – the best I can do is say it was as though a mountain had suddenly been lifted from my shoulders.
Suddenly – ten months of nightmare and disgusting political warfare upon the survivors and me seemed to end.
No longer were we alone – no longer were we facing years of struggle to expose the truth. Now – we actually had a straight and decent police force on our side.
But, as true as that was at that moment – we all know what happened – in the end.
The investigation was obstructed at every turn by the Jersey oligarchy; baseless smear-campaigns were mounted against Lenny; eventually they even – with brazen illegality – suspended Graham Power.
Oh how our hopes have been dashed.
Despite the best efforts of highly dedicated, tough, straight cops like Lenny & Graham – the decadence, immorality, corruption, concealment and self-interest of the Jersey oligarchy wins – again.
Forgive the length of this post, but the e-mail below is an important document in this wretched history.
I desperately wish it wasn’t so – but sadly every concern I expressed on the 15th November 2007 has come to pass.
And worse: – Birt is Bailiff – Bill Bailhache is Deputy Bailiff – and so the whole, wretched, self-perpetuating cess-pit of turpitude and failure continues.
The tragedy for this community is that the dangers were all so easily predicted – before we even knew of the covert police inquiry.
From: Stuart Syvret
Sent: 15 November 2007 20:18
To: Graham Power; William Bailhache; Bailiff of Jersey; Michael Birt; Ian Le Marquand; Ian Christmas
Cc: [Cc’d names excised.]
Subject: The Rule of Law & Child Protection in Jersey
I write concerning the present examinations of the standards and performance of Jersey’s child welfare and protection apparatus. I am including the Lieutenant Governor as a recipient to this e-mail, given the UK government’s ultimate responsibility for the rule of law, the administration of justice and of good government in Jersey.
Although this e-mail is, of necessity, long, all I require from each addressee is a simple yes or no answer to the questions I ask at the end of this text.
Earlier this year, I began to become more and more dissatisfied with the performance of child welfare and protection services. I first made these concerns public in an oral answer in the assembly to a question from Deputy Judy Martin. Following this, and various concerns I was raising within the department, various civil servants, who understood perfectly well their inadequacy, set about engineering my removal from office.
However, since early summer up to the present, I have been researching the various issues in great depth. This has included speaking to very substantial numbers of people, including teenagers, young adults, parents, older people and front-line staff. This work is continuing – and looks as though it will continue for some time, such is the nature of the material.
This brings me to my point in writing to you.
I have no doubt whatsoever – and this is a view shared by experts from the UK who are advising me – that a variety of criminal offences against children have been committed, over a sustained period of time, by the States of Jersey through its various departments, and the Crown, through the Courts. Moreover, I am increasingly of the view that not only are we considering a variety of unlawful practices, conduct and policies of the state, but also prima facie criminal offences committed by individuals employed by the States.
The scope and scale of the offences clearly involves every arm of the state; the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. I will explain why this is obviously so in more detail below. But in essence, the situation is this: all three arms of the state are deeply and inescapably conflicted in these matters. This would not be the case in a large nation-state, but in a very small self-governing jurisdiction such as Jersey, the conflicts of interest are boundless, obvious and inescapable.
Personally, I find it very difficult to imagine how some criminal investigations and prosecutions could not now take place. And in the interests of possible victims, in the interests of the good administration of justice, and in the interests of Jersey’s reputation – any arising criminal investigations, prosecutions and trials cannot now be carried out by the relevant local agencies.
The Police Force is conflicted, what passes for a prosecutory service in Jersey is conflicted, and the judiciary are conflicted. These conflicts exist for both specific reasons, and also for certain general principles.
I do not believe the island has any choice other than to commission a specialist team of police officers from an unconnected force in the UK to investigate any and all complaints; no choice other than to invite the Department for Constitutional Affairs to assign a suitably qualified person to act as Crown Prosecution Agent; and no choice other than to invite the DCA to assign a Judge or Judges to hear any trial.
1: The Conflictedness of the Police.
During interviews with teenagers, young adults and their parents, it is alleged that various assaults, unlawful conduct and abuses of children under both the Children (Jersey) Law 1969 and the Children (Jersey) Law 2002 have been committed by the police on various occasions.
The police force appears to have not comprehended the fact that the legal requirements to protect, and safeguard the welfare of children does not cease to exist merely because the child in question has committed an offence. This, it would appear, has led to the fairly regular use of excessive force against unruly, drunken or abusive children. I have had reports of worse; of incidents which appear to be little more than violent assaults. To refer to just one victim as an example: arresting a drunken and abusive girl in the police station foyer by the method of dragging her across the floor by her hair. The same child on another occasion was arrested for drunkenness and was actually lifted off the floor by a male officer by the handcuffs around her wrists. The same girl was also re-arrested when due for release from Greenfields after 2 weeks on remand – and held for another 4 weeks in an attempt by officers to make her confess to a breaking and entering offence they needed to clear up. Whilst in the custody of the police, the police have “parental responsibility”, as defined by law, for any child so held. I have had several accounts of this legal obligation not being met. To take just the female referred to above, on one occasion she was held in a police cell overnight, locked in despite her heavy state of intoxication, the cell call-buzzer was switched off, she was unable to call for water, her mother was not permitted to see her when she came to the station, no female officer dealt with her, her period began in the night and she had no sanitary product available to her. When she was eventually released to her mother in the morning, she was severely dehydrated, ill, exhausted and covered in blood from her period. It should also be pointed out that people in a heavily intoxicated state can die if left unattended, usually through such mechanisms as choking on vomit. That this didn’t occur in this case is more down to luck than judgement.
This is but one example. There appears to be a cultural view that the unlawful maltreatment of children somehow becomes acceptable if they have committed an offence. So widespread and so persistent does this culture appear to be, that it is, frankly, impossible to imagine the States of Jersey Police Force carrying out an acceptably objective wide-ranging enquiry into its own long-term conduct.
2: The Conflictedness of the Prosecutory Service.
In Jersey, decisions whether to prosecute are ultimately made under the authority of either the Attorney General or the Solicitor General. As has already been accepted by her and the Attorney General, the Solicitor General is conflicted as she has also been the legal adviser to the Children’s Service for many years.
As far as the Attorney General is concerned, some time ago when I was Minister for Health & Social Services I sought from him (I still have the correspondence) the full police report and its six appendices into the abuse scandal at Victoria College. My reason for needing this information was that I was examining what went wrong in that case, whether the then current law was defective, how it compared to our present Children Law – and whether what we were doing today – in the light of the Bichard Report – was adequate. It proved immensely difficult for me to obtain anything from the Attorney General. After much persuasion he eventually sent me a version of the police report – with no appendices – but the version was so redacted as to be utterly useless. Indeed, it contained far less information than that contained in the Sharp report – which he knew I possessed already. I was not, therefore, properly able to consider this key material with a view to ascertaining what went wrong and why only one prosecution was mounted. The Attorney General’s actions in behaving in this way actively obstructed me in my lawful work under the Children (Jersey) Law 2002 in that I was not able to carry forward my investigation into improvements in child protection, and the relevant legislation. This obstruction of the lawful duties of the Minister for Health & Social Services, as defined in the Children (Jersey) Law 2002, may well have been unlawful.
In any event, it certainly matches a pattern of “political” decisions made by both the present Attorney General and his predecessor. The present Attorney General is noted for his “political” interventions. For example, his recent political interference with the work of a Scrutiny Panel in respect of the lawfulness – or otherwise – of the present prosecution and trial procedures engaged in by the honorary police and the Magistrates Court. It appears likely that the present procedures are not human rights compliant – or rather were not human rights compliant, given the Attorney General’s very recent instruction to change procedures. Were it to be found that the procedures were not human rights compliant, the implications for the reputation of Jersey and of its ability to properly pursue the rule of law would be severe indeed. It could, for example, lead to many people – perhaps hundreds from over the decades – seeking to have their conviction at the Magistrates Court overturned on the grounds that their right to a fair hearing was compromised. The Attorney General has even been publicly quoted as saying that the disclosure of the Cooper opinion “would not be in the public interest” – a political comment if ever there was one.
It is also the case that, having repeatedly exhibited such concerns for the public image of the States of Jersey, the Attorney General could hardly be relied upon to set aside such political considerations and instead view his prosecutory duties entirely impartially in the present controversy. Quite obviously, the reputational fall-out for the island’s oligarchy from any widespread prosecution of States departments and of individuals employed by the States would be very considerable and very serious.
It is entirely feasible that many of those children, many of whom are now young adults, who have been convicted of offences will now seek to have their convictions considered unsafe given the human rights issues arising out of the somewhat bizarre prosecution arrangements, and for other reasons too.
The Law Officers in general are also conflicted for this reason. As well as providing a prosecutory service, they also routinely act as legal advisers to both the island’s parliament and the various executive departments. Whilst this of itself is clearly unsustainable, what is the proverbial ‘man on the Clapham omnibus’ supposed to make of the likelihood of these senior establishment figures – actually prosecuting the very departments and executive they routinely give legal advice to? No reasonable person could see them as meeting a reasonable test of objectivity.
A further – and in some ways even more insurmountable conflict – is this. It is plain that many States departments have – for very many years – been breaking various laws in respect of the care, protection and welfare of children. Obviously and inescapably so. Therefore one of the most pressing and obvious questions is this: ‘why has neither the Attorney General or the Solicitor General ever correctly advised the relevant departments that their practices were unlawful? Why have no departments been prosecuted?’ It is plain that much – perhaps even a great deal of – the culpability for the States of Jersey engaging for decades in policies which were unlawful lays with the Attorney General and the Solicitor General.
Therefore, for the Attorney General and the Solicitor General to undertake any widespread prosecution of States departments would be to effectively put themselves on trial as well. Possibly as defendants; certainly reputationaly. Not a sustainable or credible situation.
We also have to consider the long-term record of the Office. The previous Attorney General – now Deputy Bailiff, Michael Birt – in fact exhibited all of the politicised and conflicted behaviour I describe above. As is plain from the now widely distributed Sharp report, the now Jurat Le Breton, who, at the time was Vice Principle, should have been prosecuted at the time of the child abuse scandal at Victoria College. Just as should the Principle. Just as should Francis Hamon, a Governor of the school at the time and a person who went on to become Deputy Bailiff. Just as, of course, should Piers Baker, the man who thinks paedophilia is “teachers perks”. Whilst a strong case could be made for the prosecution of Le Breton, Hamon, Hydes and Baker for attempting to obstruct the course of Justice, the relevant Law, prima facie breached, was the then current Children (Jersey) Law 1969.
I quote Article 9 here:
9 Cruelty to children under 16
(1) If any person who has attained the age of 16 years and has the custody, charge or care of any child under that age wilfully assaults, ill-treats, neglects, abandons or exposes him or her, or causes or procures or permits him or her to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed, in a manner likely to cause him or her unnecessary suffering or injury to health (including injury to or loss of sight, or hearing, limb, or organ of the body, and mental derangement), he or she shall be liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
Le Breton, Hamon, Hydes and Baker should have been prosecuted for breaking this part of the Law. Unambiguously so. At best, all four of these creatures ‘caused’ or ‘permitted’ the children to be ‘assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed in a manner likely to cause him or her unnecessary suffering or injury to health’.
No such prosecutions took place. It is plain that Michael Birt placed the “reputational” considerations of the Jersey Establishment above the proper protection of children – and above the rule of law.
But this was not the only example of political considerations overriding the rule of law. When Attorney General, Michael Birt also abandoned a prosecution for very serious offences.
The case I refer to was the prosecution of Mrs Jane Marie Maguire and Mr Alan William Maguire. The Act of Court records that the prosecution was abandoned on the 20th November 1998.
“Her Majesty’s Attorney General declared that he abandoned the prosecution against Alan William Maguire and Jane Marie Maguire on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to support it.
The Court therefore discharged the said Alan William Maguire and Jane Marie Maguire from the prosecution and, by virtue of Article 2(1)(c) of the Costs in Criminal Cases (Jersey) Law, 1961, ordered the payment out of public funds of the costs of the defence”.
The Maguires were routinely beating, abusing through grotesque punishments, neglecting and treating with great cruelty many of the children that passed through the “group home” they ran at the time for the Education Committee, which body had responsibility for child “protection” at the relevant time (1980s to mid-1990s).
When I was Minister for H & SS, just one of the many issues I had recently had drawn to my attention by whistle-blowers was the case of the Maguires. I requested access to the relevant files. I read the two very substantial lever arch files and one smaller ring-binder file. The evidence contained in these files seemed absolutely compelling. Many witness statements, affidavits of victims, statements from other members of staff, an “internal” report from 1990 by Social Services, which concluded that the actions complained of were happening (though the “performance” of Social Services in this matter is another question entirely) and, essentially a catalogue of utter savagery against the children.
Yet Michael Birt concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” to continue the prosecution. The evidence described many children being routinely – over a period of years – beaten with fists, implements and other items which were used as weapons against them. They were frequently made to eat soap. They were made to drink Dettol. One child had his head smashed violently against a bunk bed frame. One of the part-time support staff witnessed Mr Maguire throw a child a distance of about 7 feet across a room to impact against the wall because the child was not tidying up to Maguire’s satisfaction. Psychological and emotional cruelty and abuse were routine. A female child resident was sexually abused by Mr Maguire.
Most of these offences were evidenced, and witnessed by former victims and junior staff members – and yet the then Attorney General claims to have had “insufficient evidence” to mount a prosecution?
It just won’t wash, I’m afraid.
Clearly – to have prosecuted the Maguires would have been to expose to outrage and contempt a States of Jersey department for permitting the abuse to continue for a decade, and to have acted unlawfully in not informing the police the instant the abuse came to the department’s attention. Further, the department would have been viewed with even greater contempt and disgust by the public when it became known that Mrs Maguire was kept in employment by the department for some years afterwards – working in the Child Development Centre! It would, of course, also have meant exposing to contempt and disgrace that Establishment icon, Iris Le Feuvre, then President of the relevant Committee who happily went along with all this in 1990 and, moreover, wrote a quite sickening letter of “thanks” to the Maguires.
It is plain that the failure to see through the prosecution in this case represents a complete breakdown in the rule of law. An abandonment of justice in order to protect the “reputation” – such as it is – of the Jersey Establishment. The victims of the Maguires were denied justice.
In case you do not remember the relevant documents, I attach to this e-mail copies of the Sharp Report into the Victoria College abuse scandal, the 1999 H & SS report into the Maguire case, and the associated letter from Iris Le Feuvre.
I’m afraid the facts make it plain that the people of this island of Jersey cannot rely upon this prosecutory service delivering the expected protections normally afforded by the rule of law. At least not when the reputation of the Jersey Establishment is at risk.
There can be no possibility of the necessary test of the appearance of objectivity being met by the Jersey prosecutory service in respect of any possible prosecutions arising out of these grotesque failures by the States in child welfare and protection cases. We must invite the DCA to appoint a special prosecutor who has no association with the island.
3: The Conflictedness of the Judiciary.
It is not even remotely possible to conclude that the Jersey judiciary could realistically be involved in hearing, and adjudicating upon, any case arising out of these child welfare and protection issues.
It is, for example, plain that the Jersey Magistrates Court has been acting unlawfully for many, many years in its approach to imprisoning children; using remand, as a de facto sentencing device, failing to deliver the requisite ‘fair hearing’ as required by the ECHR – and, perhaps most seriously, actually assigning and prescribing the type of accommodation which remanded or sentenced children would be held in. For example, specifying they be held in a cell at Les Chenes or Greenfields, as opposed to a bedroom. This was through the device of designating the child as a “Status 1” or a “Status 2” prisoner. Status 2, being those who were allowed to mingle with other child inmates – and Status 1 being the isolation regime, which included very substantial amounts of punitive and coercive solitary confinement. Solitary confinement when used in this way is classified as torture by international convention, it is deeply harmful and damaging to children, it is unlawful. To treat children in this way has been for the Courts and the States of Jersey to be committing straightforward criminal offences against children. This is institutionalised abuse.
The Status 1 cells – quite contrary to the impression the Minister for Education sought to portray – until recent times had unpainted cement walls with no furnishings. The bedding consisted of a school gymnasium-type crash-mat on the floor. Even this would be removed during the daytime. One of the cells, cell 4, did not even have an eye-level window, but merely a high, inaccessible skylight.
As explained above in the context of the prosecutory conflicts, the facts show that the Deputy Bailiff , when Attorney General, has – on more than one occasion – demonstrated himself to attach far greater importance to protecting the image of the island’s oligarchy, over and above the rule of law and the protection of children. Indeed, it is entirely feasible that his very position should be brought into question following the full public exposure of these issues.
The Bailiff too, cannot be seen to be objective. He too is conflicted. The reasons for this are several. He is one of the individuals who needs to face questions over his past failure to protect children from paedophiles. For example, when he was Attorney General, he failed to take the appropriate action to prevent the paedophile Roger Holland from joining the St. Helier honorary police. Holland went on to abuse children whilst a parish police officer.
The Bailiff was also the Chairman of the Board of Governors of Victoria College during the early phases of the child abuse which eventually lead to the conviction of Jervis-Dykes. The paedophilic activities of this man were brought to the attention of the School leadership again and again – yet he was allowed to remain in post and committing abuse for years before – eventually – being arrested and charged. Again, this is a matter that should be investigated, and upon which the Bailiff should be required to answer some serious questions.
As already pointed out above, it is plain from the now widely distributed Sharp report, that the now Jurat Le Breton, who, at the time was Vice Principle, should have been prosecuted at the time of the child abuse scandal at Victoria College. His actions, along with the Principle, were disgraceful – scarcely believable. He and the Principle – instead of contacting the police at the very first hint of abuse, instead made a clear attempt to humiliate and intimidate some of the victims into withdrawing their complaints by disbelieving them, questioning them in a school office environment – and doing this in front of other people! These actions were a prima facie breach of Article 9 of the Children (Jersey) Law 1969, as quoted above.
Were all this not bad enough, we must recollect that Le Breton deemed himself a fit person to sit in Judgement on the then St. Helier Constable Bob Le Brocq who had had the misfortune to have the paedophile Holland as a member of his St. Helier honorary police force. The Superior Number of the Jersey Royal Court on this occasion being led by the Bailiff, who pronounced the judgment. It, apparently, not occurring to him that Victoria College had tolerated paedophiles amongst its staff when he was Chairman of the Board of Governors. In addition to the Court records, the events of the Le Brocq trial are explained in the front-page lead news story of the Jersey Evening Post, dated 27th February 2001. That Le Breton had the sheer gall to be in Court for this occasion beggars belief.
Perhaps the fact that Le Breton was a Governor of Les Chenes goes some way to explaining the unlawful and abusive regime which existed there.
The position of Le Breton is completely untenable.
It would also take a deeply fanciful construct to maintain that any of the Jurats could be considered sufficiently remote and impartial in these matters. All are friends and colleagues of the Bailiff and Deputy Bailiff; friends and colleagues of the Attorney General and Solicitor General. But in particular, all are friends and colleagues of Jurat Le Breton. It is well established in respectable jurisprudence that people cannot be a part of a jury if they personally know any of the key actors in a case.
All of the Jurats fail this test.
Moreover, each and everyone of the Jurats is drawn from the traditional ranks of the island’s Establishment. As detailed above – an Establishment that puts its own interests – the protection of its image, and of its power – over and above the pure consideration of the rule of law, should the oligarchy be threatened in any way.
Given the above facts, it is plain that we are dealing with the customary failing of public administration in Jersey. This being the habit of tolerating incompetence, derelictions of duty, institutional inadequacy and disgraceful mal-conduct – so when things begin to get exposed – every relevant person and agency shares the same collective interest in the cover-up and in the oppression of dissent.
Politicians, the police force, the Attorney General, the Solicitor General, the Bailiff, the Deputy Bailiff, the Jurats, the Magistrates – essentially the entire panoply of agencies, have a shared, substantial and very, very serious collective interest in burying all of the above-described past issues – and certainly all of the forthcoming issues – which are going to be exposed – whether Mr Williamson wants to do it or not.
In the case of this long-term, sustained cultural failure to properly protect and defend children, the entire edifice of public authority in Jersey is on trial. It, therefore, has an inescapable self-interest in again sabotaging the rule of law and engineering another cover-up.
It is a fact well established by centuries of respectable jurisprudence that not only must the administration of justice be impartial – it must also be seen to be impartial. No aspect of the current policing, prosecutory or judicial apparatus in Jersey could remotely hope to meet this test in respect of the child protection issues arising out of the present episode.
Although the Jersey Establishment is heavily characterised by its overweening arrogance, megalomania and invulnerability, sooner or later, even it will have to face facts. The year is 2007 – not 1897.
My question to each of you is simple:
1: Would each one of you please confirm to me that you recognise the hopeless level of conflictedness of each of your services, and that you agree to invite the Department for Constitutional Affairs to independently appoint the necessary and relevant agencies from the UK to undertake any necessary police investigations, prosecution, and to hear any relevant trial?
Thank you for your assistance.
Senator Stuart Syvret
States of Jersey