COULD IT HAPPEN AGAIN?
“Everybody would say, ‘what evidence have you got?’ I would say, ‘well I don’t have enough evidence to ever prove to anyone that he’s guilty…I just feel that I have huge responsibility, a huge need, to go and ask a lot of questions’.”
David Walsh, the journalist who, in 1999, first questioned Lance Armstrong’s remarkable performance in the Tour de France.
At a moment when the BBC is being forced to confront the toxicity of its intrinsically compromised “networked” and “club-like” nature – in which uncomfortable facts can be hidden in plain sight if that’s what suits a number of people – I was most interested to read a parallel story; one which has echoes of the BBC’s omerta.
On the 11th October, the Press Gazette carried an interview with sports journalist David Walsh, who was the first person to publicly question the plausibility of the startling performance of cyclist Lance Armstrong. What struck me most about Walsh’s story was not so much that he was a person who walked a lonely and demanding path, against the groupthink of the day (there are always a few) but, rather, his grounds for doing so.
He didn’t think so. Following Armstrong’s victory in the 1999 Tour, Walsh wrote “This afternoon I will be keeping my arms by my side because I’m not sure this is something we should be applauding.”His only ground for writing that provocative opinion in the Sunday Times, was his intuition for the plausible.
And David Walsh carried on doing that thing which is actually surprisingly rare amongst the journalistic profession – he went to his subject – and simply asked the obvious questions.
“I didn’t feel any desire to be his friend because I had a sense of what he was like, and I felt there were lots of questions that needed answering.”
David Walsh had those suspicions – and he simply went, and bluntly asked the obvious questions. And carried on asking them. And he was right.
What is it – about that simple foundation-stone of journalism – just asking the damn question – that is so difficult for 99% of today’s journalists?
Some obvious questions – arising out of things that sit in plain sight, yet which go unremarked, uninterrogated.
What are their motivations – their reasons – for doing that?
That corruption is widespread amongst BBC staffers?
That is my gut-instinct – just as Walsh had his about Armstrong.
Are they questioning the very “culture” of the BBC as a traditional institution – and all the baggage that brings?
Or – “why has the BBC played the role it has, in so strongly assisting the Jersey establishment to cover-up child abuse – including abuse by Savile?”
And the failure of the BBC to deal competently or honestly with current child-abuse scandals in Jersey is one of those matters that demands interrogation. Consider yourself to be a serious and ethical BBC journalist? Then come to Jersey – and ask the damn questions of the BBC management and staff here.
In the previous posting – I wrote of the “currency of concealment” in respect of child-abuse.
And in so many ways – the way the traditional media has worked, is simply a giant, technicolor, unsubtle cartoon version of that workaday custom – that way of “doing business”.
That’s as good a one-sentence description of how journalism works as you will ever find.
The blunt truth is that most journalists are lazy, uncourageous and useless. 95% of them are unspeakably crap – yet without even in mitigation, the self-acceptance that you might find amongst most politicians. The smug self-regard of broadcast journalists in particular is a revolting wonder to behold when you have the misfortune of attempting to work closely with them.
And there can be fewer more pertinent examples than the corrupt concealment of child-abuse in Jersey – and the concealment of that corrupt concealment, by the traditional media – the BBC in particular. The unacknowledged key, power of the traditional media – that of omission – has been both exposed, and rendered redundant by Jersey bloggers.
Let’s be clear – the power of the British media is simply immense, absolutely immense.
That paradigm is this:
I’ve been an un-paid blogger, writing journalistically since February 2008. Consider this fact: during the time-period since then, to the present, I have written and produced more evidence-based investigative journalism – than every journalist, from all of Jersey’s traditional media – in all of the post-World War II years – combined.
Suspended – for several complimentary purposes of the Jersey oligarchy – primary amongst which was the local establishment’s wish to prevent the full and proper investigation of decades of concealed child-abuse. Child-abuse including that by Jimmy Savile.
You are worried about child protection?
A Police Chief who was exposing decades of child-abuse and cover-up was illegally suspended – without due process – on no even faintly credible grounds whatsoever – and was then unlawfully denied legal representation. This happened in November 2008.
And the two Jersey politicians who led the executive responsible for this crime – were both subsequently awarded OBEs.
The BBC in Jersey provided copious air-time to the politicians responsible for the corrupt suspension of the Police Chief, and proceeded to peddle – wholly unchallenged – a plainly false, obviously dishonest account of events. This is the BBC – pro-actively engaging in an illegal child-abuse cover-up. In the present day.
Consider the situation: Jersey has only one Police Chief; under his leadership, for the first time, decades of child-abuse and failures by the public authorities are being investigated; the local politicians have made no effort to disguise their anger and irritation at the “bad publicity” and the questions raised about their competence and stewardship of public safety; suddenly – a couple of weeks before a Jersey general election, which might have gone badly for the traditionalists – the Police Chief is suspended with an attendant high-level attack by the local establishment upon the entire credibility of the child-abuse investigation, and a lot of spin to the effect that “there was no big problem after-all”.
“Partisan politicians – suspending a Police Chief – who has been investigating decades of failure by those politicians? Could this be a profoundly dangerous and corrupt abuse of political power, to undermine and sabotage good, modern policing, for self-interested political purposes?”
“Given the obvious and profound public interest questions that arise – was due process followed?”
“Given the obvious scope for the suspension being a politicised act – did the Jersey politicians seek any external advice, from Whitehall?”
“Was that Office fulfilling its role lawfully, namely that of ensuring that her Majesty’s subjects in Jersey are protected from corruption and abuses of power?”
Even before dramatic, documentary evidence was supplied to them on a plate, as I will explain below.
Amongst BBC Jersey’s accretion of am-dram luvies, trustafarian brats, cocktail party air-heads, “Christian” social-climbers, and bicycling surf-nazis – not one of them, not one – has sought out and spoken with, and striven to get an understanding of what the dozens of victims of institutionalised child abuse in Jersey went through. Not one of them has tried to discover –and convey to the Jersey audience, what it was like to be raped by a well-connected freemason at the age of 12 – or sodomized by a civil-servant – or have your arm broken by another civil servant – or have mental health issues at the age of 14, and then be locked into solitary confinement – for two months.
The child protection scandal first erupted as a public controversy in Jersey in July 2007. I was the Health & Social Services Minister, and had spent the previous six months working with whistle-blowers and survivors, in investigating what was an ever more alarming catalogue of abuse, incompetence, failure and cover-up; a wretched history that plainly involved the senior civil servants routinely lying to me and other politicians when we asked questions. Having discovered some of the atrocities, I happened to be asked a question in the Jersey parliament – and I gave an honest answer, stating that “if I was being asked did I have any faith in Jersey’s child protection systems, frankly, I would have to say no, and I would be commissioning an independent inquiry.”
“Bill Ogley and the others were persistent and I was left with the clear impression that they were attempting to draw me, in my capacity as Chief of Police, into a civil service led attempt to remove a Minister from Office.”
How much reporting – indeed, how much reference at all – has the BBC made to that piece of dramatic, documented evidence?
And I can’t say I was surprised that the BBC refused to report that evidence, when it came to light in late 2009. You see, I had realised just how wholly corrupted and decadent was the BBC’s operation in Jersey back during that summer of 2007, when I was fighting single-handidly to expose the child-abuse cover-ups. Back then, none of us were aware of the covert police investigation, so it seemed to the civil servants and oligarchy politicians that they could cram the lid back down on the decades of abuse and suffering and carry on the concealment – if only they could discredit me. The then Chief Minister, Frank Walker (who until recently had been the boss of the company that runs Jersey’s only “newspaper”) tabled a vote of no-confidence in me as Health & Social Services Minister. Knowing that this would be debated in September, in late August I e-mailed the then boss of the BBC in Jersey – Denzel Dudley – and suggested that the issues were plainly so important – accountability and standards in child-protection – that the BBC should have me and Walker live in the studio on the Sunday phone-in, to debate the issues, and answer questions from the public, before the Jersey parliament debate. The response of Dudley, in the name of the BBC, was to write back to me, saying, “Thank you for your offer, but the BBC does not host political debates in case it might influence the decision-makers.”
But that was back in 2007; surely, you may ask, the BBC must have recognised its mistakes since then? No, not the BBC Jersey outfit. It is certainly correct to say that for a period of maybe six months or so, the BBC at a national level started taking the matter seriously – and had to do so over the heads of the “gone-native” local operation. Some good TV coverage took place, including a Panorama program. But the corrupted “network” of influence within the BBC swung into place behind the scenes – and when Jersey’s good Police Chief Graham Power was illegally suspended in November 2008, the BBC, including at the national level, became entirely passive – wholly and extraordinarily supportive of the Jersey oligarchy position – notwithstanding all of the many very obvious, gut-instinct questions immediately arising in the face of the suspension.
And thanks to the internet and blogging, we needn’t entertain the customary lame excuses of the traditional media for not asking the obvious damn questions – like “well, we can’t possible ask such questions, because we have no evidence”; for as real journalists like David Walsh show, you don’t need evidence to at least ask the questions. But, as it happens, the BBC do have evidence. Dramatic and sensational evidence. They have that 94 page interim statement by the unlawfully suspended Police Chief Graham Power.
I e-mailed it to current BBC Jersey boss (though hopefully for not much longer) Jon Gripton, on the 22nd September 2011. After some prompting, I eventual received a brief e-mailed acknowledgment from him. Then nothing.
“Sadly, I note I have not received so much as an acknowledgment from Mr Gripton, to my e-mail of the 16th, in which I asked why the BBC had not fulfilled its various obligations in respect of the evidence concerning the unlawful and repressive suspension enacted against Jersey’s then Police Chief Graham Power, Queens Police Medal.
You know – it’s a funny old world. Never in my most fevered imaginations – at least not until I started to witness it a few years ago – did I ever think that THE BBC would become so starkly and evidencedly collusive in the hushing-up of an unlawful sabotaging of a child abuse investigation.
Especially when THE BBC has been furnished – on a plate – with very dramatic documentary evidence, upon which it could base very substantive reports.”
Even when they’ve had the evidence handed to them on a plate.
The BBC and its defenders at a national level, largely rely upon a claim that the Savile abuse, and the culture that enabled it, “was all so long ago. It couldn’t happen now. These days, our journalists would ask those questions – would not be afraid – would pursue those very obvious lines of inquiry.”
Do you want to know how many BBC journalists have asked me what must be possibly the most A1, vital and primary question which arises from the Jersey Child Abuse Disaster? How many BBC journalists have approached me and said: – “Mr Syvret, you were – as Jersey’s Health & Social Services Minister – THE legally empowered “public authority” with responsibility for child protection and for investigating child-protection failures; when you were seeking to exercise those legal powers, as you were actually obliged to by law, you were pro-actively prevented from doing so by the senior civil servants and your cabinet colleagues. How can vulnerable, isolated children in the system expect protection by the actual legal authority responsible for that ultimate oversight, if it can be obstructed like that – and could it happen again?”
Not one, single, solitary BBC journalist has – from the beginning of the controversy five years ago – to the present day – asked me that key, and obvious question. Not once.
You’re asking me the question? Asking me to just look at how things obviously appear – and make a judgment-call? You want me – like Walsh, with Armstrong – to say what I think? What my gut-instinct is?
I think it’s endemic.
It is axiomatic – that wherever you find power – of any kind, and any kind of influence over that power – you will find corruption.
I believe they’ve been in acceptance of payments – of bribes – of some form of benefit or other – in order to skew stories in favour of the powerful – in order to relay, as spies, back to the powerful, what campaigners like me were saying – to work as private detectives, and convey what evidence we had back to their employers. In particular, I believe journalists accept bribes, in order to simply omit certain stories, certain evidence. Bribes to exercise that ultimate media power – of simply making sure the damaging stories just “don’t appear”.
Because there can be no other rational explanation for some of the frankly astounding conduct on the part of various news outlets that purport to be straight and rational and honest.
And I do. Because, when all’s said and done – putting in a spectacular performance in the ascent of Alp d’Huez – even though cheating your competitors, is still just entertainment at the end of the day.
Ask me – who is the bigger villain? Lance Armstrong? Or BBC staff who are – today – enabling the concealment of grotesque degrees of child protection failure and the political corruption that underpins it? The BBC staffers – without question.
That they don’t take dramatic bribes – don’t have “pension settlements” established for them – don’t have BVI trust-funds with mysterious sources – that some of them don’t have lucrative “secondary employment” with the security services – or that they don’t have various tax-dodging arrangements set-up in places like Jersey, hence their reluctance to rock-the-boat of the tax-haven? Because, let’s face it, it could be very embarrassing – or worse – for senior BBC figures if their use of Jersey’s off-shore finance arrangements became known. I mean, we could be speaking of far worse than, say the mere embarrassment that befell Jimmy Carr. When all’s said and done, his Jersey arrangements were at least legal. He wasn’t evading tax. Unlike a lot of Jersey’s clients. It’s worth remembering, the notorious gangster Al Capone was eventually nailed for tax-evasion. Just imagine – just how “influential” it would be to have knowledge of the tax-fiddling of senior people in the media, such as the BBC?
Consider; a couple of weeks ago, the Lib-Dem party was involved in some justified scrutiny of Jersey; Vince Cable had spoken of the need to combat tax-avoidance through off-shore centres – and Lib Dem MP John Hemming had spoken in the House of Commons against the concealment of crimes by Jersey’s authorities. Then – hey – wouldn’t ya know it – the media get hold of a story about how a major donor to the Lib-Dem party is, in fact, based in Jersey. A co-incidental revelation? Or a shot across the bows of the three main UK parties – from the Jersey oligarchy, whose traditions, abuses of power and frequent overt criminality are unsustainable, and who are feeling embattled?
How many BBC people have “off-payroll” remuneration set-ups, or are employed through “service companies”? Maybe through arrangements based in Jersey?
What, indeed, have been the specific employment and remuneration arrangements for BBC Jersey staffers, editors etc during, say, the last 15 years?
What commercial or financial arrangements have these people “working” under (or at least “using”) the BBC name, had with spin-doctor firms – of which there are many, with large budgets, in Jersey?
If David Walsh can ask that question of Lance Armstrong – I can ask it of the BBC in respect of its staff in Jersey – and those in the UK who are responsible for letting the BBC Jersey operation become just so – obviously – corrupted. Corrupted – and collusive – in the concealments of child-abuse.
This performance is not plausible.
Indeed – it’s so implausible, there has to be an explanation for it.
Corrupted to the point of actively participating, today – in the year 2012 – in the concealment of child-abuse cover-ups.
And I am asking that question.
And if they will not, well – as with the Lance Armstrong drug usage – at least someone will have asked the obvious question, a question drawn from the obvious appearance of things.
No. Not unless it purges its entire Jersey operation.
Not unless it finally holds the Jersey authorities to account for their plain and evidenced corruptions, oppressions and concealing of child-abuse. And in that regard, the BBC could make a start, by reporting the issues arising from the 94 page statement of the unlawfully suspended Police Chief Graham Power – and asking the Secretary of State for Justice just why he has failed to ensure the proper rule of law in Jersey?