Like Trying to swim in a Lake of Vomit.

I have only begun blogging recently – generally dealing with contemporary issues. But, as there is such a wealth of past material out there – incidents, events, controversies and disputes in the microcosm of Jersey politics – I thought it would be a pity to let it go unexplored.

Therefore I have decided to produce an occasional column, titled ‘Anatomy of a Spin – Temps Passé’.

In these posts we will take a look back at the deceits, the manipulations, the omissions, the political bias and the spins of days gone by. And, having been a member of the island’s parliament for 17 years, I have a lot of personal experiences to call on – before even venturing into the well-archived, near-fascistic, long 20th century history of the Jersey Evening Post.

So, just to limber up, I thought we would begin by examining a recent spin. This subject remains topical – because it relates to the unfolding child abuse scandal in Jersey, presently the subject of a major police investigation.

Before examining the spin in question, some background information.

Regular readers of this blog will have gathered that I used to be the island of Jersey’s Health & Social Services Minister – until the Jersey Oligarchy sacked me last September.

The reason?

I can’t go into the details at present – the issues in question being subject to extensive Police investigations and, hopefully, a variety of prosecutions. But be assured – I will write – in extensive detail – about these matters when the legal considerations permit.

But briefly, in a nutshell the reason for my dismisal was this; I was being supplied with information from a number of whistle-blowers which suggested that abusive and unlawful practices were being engaged in against vulnerable children in care.

I took these concerns seriously.

Having spoken to a number of people, having taken expert advice from United Kingdom professionals – and having considered various examples of documentary evidence – I decided that these concerns were well-founded.

The “mistake” I made was this: as H & SS Minister, I found myself on the “wrong” side in a war between two opposed groups of people – two cohorts of individuals with diametrically opposed interests. I know things aren’t supposed to be like this – but they were – and they are.

On the one side I was becoming more and more aware of serious failings in Jersey’s child protection apparatus and speaking to an ever-growing network of victims. Decent front-line staff were secretly contacting me with their often serious worries concerning service deficiencies and cover-ups.

But on the other side I had a large organisation – the senior management of which had a clear and pressing interest in maintaining the fiction that everything in the garden was rosy, that they weren’t incompetent, dishonest and responsible for systemic failures to detect and prevent the abuse of children, and the concealment of abuse.

Two distinct groupings of people – with hugely conflicting personal interests.

But my “mistake” was to be on the “wrong” side – to support the victims; to believe them; to be on their side.

The near-unconcealed naked panic this caused amongst the senior management in H & SS – and their colleagues in other States of Jersey departments – the barely contained anger and fear – had to be experienced to be fully understood.

I was toast, politically, the instant it became clear that I sided with the victims and whistle-blowers – and not the management.

I wasn’t being “A Team Player”, you see?

So – people like Jersey’s Chief Minister, Senator Frank Walker, and Senators Wendy Kinnard and Mike Vibert decided that by digging into the child abuse cases to try and get at the truth, I was – and, really, I’m not making this up – “undermining staff morale” – and therefore had to be sacked.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Child abuse – in the strange parallel universe occupied by these members of the Jersey oligarchy – being of far lower concern than the heinous offence of “undermining staff morale” by attempting to hold them to account for their failures to protect vulnerable children.

So that was me – given the bullet – for trying to do my job.

Now, let’s turn to the ‘spin temp passé’ under consideration.

This seems strange, even to me, but as the longest continuously serving Senator in the Jersey parliament, I am deemed “Father of the House”. And as such, it falls to me to lead the end-of-year speeches at the conclusion of the last States meeting before Christmas.

Having spent much of the past year learning of vast swathes of child abuse – decade after decade of it; having met with, and listened to, many of the victims – I thought the Christmas speech would be an apposite opportunity to express some recognition of, and compassion towards, the victims of abuse.

Big mistake.

I will recount the detail of this episode in a later post, for now it’s sufficient to know that I was barracked, shouted-down and unlawfully prevented from giving my speech by the Jersey Oligarchy.

As the meeting was curtailed, I stood looking around the States chamber as members rushed off for their lunch, and the abiding memory for me was experiencing a sensation akin to trying to swim across a lake of vomit and putrefaction.

Speaking of which – back to the Jersey Evening Post!

Now, some of you will be convinced I exaggerate in my criticisms of the Jersey Evening Post – that I am, somehow, being unfair to The Rag. But in yet another convincing demonstration that the JEP is out-of-step with pretty much every other newspaper in the democratic world, it printed one of its splendidly entertaining fruit-loop editorial comments.

I won’t dwell on that comment yet – I will, for your delectation and entertainment, re-produce it in full on this blog later in the week. And then produce a rational deconstruction of it. For the time being, it may be sufficient for you to gauge just how comically barking mad it was, to know that I had very middle class ladies telephoning me, saying how disgusting the comment was and that they had never voted for me before, but would now do so because of this display.

But for today, I want to focus on a weekly column which was published on Saturday 15th December. The piece was written by Anna Plunkett-Cole and it focused on the issue of my speech.

I know Anna socially, she’s moderately intelligent, if somewhat lightweight when it comes to intellectual substance. She also makes the common mistake of assuming a little natural intelligence can, somehow, be an adequate substitute for research, facts and thought.

I did, at the time, briefly, contemplate writing a letter to The Rag, but, frankly, had far higher priorities. I did, though, make a mental note to reply at some point because during those passages of time during which I am recovering – and I do not use the phrase lightly – from hearing the latest of the many victims recount the wretched horrors of various betrayals at the hands of people and of the States of Jersey – I reflect upon how it can be possible that year-in and year-out – decade after decade after decade – the vulnerable and messed-up children of Jersey could have been failed, neglected, savagely beaten, sexually assaulted, raped, and, through the coercive use of long-term solitary confinement, tortured to the point of mental breakdown by the States of Jersey – even into the 21st century?

Anna Plunkett-Cole’s article was a neat summed and concentrated example of the very cause and syndrome which has prevented, for decades, the recognition and rescue of young children who were being sexually abused, beaten to the point of suicide, tortured, made to drink Dettol and be emotionally & psychologically crushed – and why the vast majority of them have never received recognition, justice, empathy and care.

I guess I would, at this point, usually describe the piece as ethically and intellectually bankrupt. However, I know how Anna detests clichés – and like Frank Walker – doesn’t like my “big words” either.

So – let’s try and put it in plain English.

The article was simply thick.

It displayed a degree of ignorance that was truly startling even for the standards of the JEP. Even taking into account only that very small amount of information which is presently in the public domain – it must be obvious – surely – to even the most obtuse observer – that the Jersey Establishment has used the apparatus of power to protect its image first and foremost – and in doing so has concealed decades of the most appalling and disgusting abuse & neglect of vulnerable children?

The moral vacuity of the article is such that it could have been written by an Establishment spin-doctor. Consider: for here is Jersey – at the end of 2007 – with quite clearly dozens & dozens of victims of child abuse – possibly even hundreds; a child abuse scandal of such a scale that even senior police officers have described it as un-precedented for such a small geographic area – and what does The Rag write about? The rapes, the batterings, the tortures – the decades of establishment cover-ups? How it could all have happened? The shock that a civilized society could behave in this way? Even something as rudimentary as a legilsature breaking its own rules to prevent the truth being spoken?

No. In Jersey Evening Post world, that stuff just doesn’t command the column inches. Of far greater importance is a comprehensive and sustained diversionary assault upon that Syvret bastard.

You should know that there is a trivial sub-text to Anna’s criticisms of me but nothing that could even approach justifying or excusing such an embarrassingly ignorant, amoral, ethically bankrupt, shallow, stupid and absurd screed of diversionary pro-establishment spin.

Column after column after column of invented concepts of my motivations, my apparent appalling cruelty to those poor poor senior civil servants; upsetting my unfortunate political colleagues by referring to the unacknowledged sufferings of the victims of at least six decades of concealed child abuse. I mean, it just isn’t acceptable, is it? Spoiling States members’ hackneyed versions of Christmas, when all they want to do is spend the next two weeks Christmas shopping before pottering back to their holly-bestrung country mansions. They certainly couldn’t be expected to endure some reprobate like me trying to express some empathy and acknowledgment to people who have had their lives ruined by abuse.

That’s right; in Anna-world – it was all some pre-conceived and planed plot of mine for political martyrdom. All those victims? All those whistle-blowers? All those cover-ups? All that hard, documented evidence?

All, we are supposed to assume, just manufactured out of thin-air by me in a dastardly scheme to induce Frank Walker into committing political suicide and taking his cohort of political allies down with him.

Lest you think I exaggerate in my interpretations of the piece, be your own judge, get hold of a copy of the JEP of the 15th December, and read it for yourself.

There is one simple test by which you can gauge the veracity of my assessment of the article. Its size is roughly four columns, across half-a-page. A lot of text.

Question: how much of the article addresses the victims? Their suffering? The magnitude of the offences against them?

A little over halfway down the third column, speaking of my disgust at the abuse she writes: “because what he is speaking about is horrific and terrifying for the victims.”

That’s it.

In an entire article about what a bastard that Stuart Syvret is – for being so rude and insolent as to speak of the sufferings of abuse victims – just before States members’ Christmas lunch – Anna Plunkett-Cole writes 13 words concerning the victims.

I really hope you’re proud of yourself, Anna.

Book of the Post:

The Trial, by Franz Kafka.

Joke of the Post:

Governments lie and newspapers lie – but in a democracy they are different lies. Except in Jersey, where they are the same lies.

14 thoughts on “ANATOMY OF A SPIN – TEMP PASSÉ: # 1

  1. TonyB

    I thought the JEP comment was misconcieved. However, at least they had the grace to print your speech in full. It did discuss a number of serious matters, but it seemed to me to be overlong, and in danger of losing the plot in favour of a sack-cloth and ashes confession. Are all States members responsible for all cases of abuse of young people? Are all cases of juvenile criminality linked to child abuse? A careful reading of your speech appeared to suggest that, and perhaps you could correct me in your blog citing chapter and verse of where you said otherwise. I would seriously like to know; I am not just posting this as point-scoring.

  2. Stuart Syvret

    To Anonymous.

    Yeah – I have plenty to do. Producing these critiques of the Jersey media is my recreational activity.

    The media is a central component of power, but yet it usually escapes scrutiny and criticism. As Nick Davies explains in his book Flat Earth News, the hypocrisy of the media is frequently breathtaking.

    To take the JEP spin in question, week in and week out people like Anna Plunkett-Cole cast down damnation upon others from the lofty heights of their Ivory Towers – yet apparently they should be immune from similar scrutiny themselves?

    It’s OK for them to denounce, slander and criticise everyone else – often on the basis of near-zero original research or thought – to routinely produce screeds of ignorant and foolish rubbish – but –Heaven forefend – they should get a taste of their own medicine?

    But there is a deadly serious point to these examinations. Jersey faces a huge amount of what may well be intractable problems. Issues that could be devastating for this community. The Jersey media – rather than playing the necessary role in informing the public and encouraging understanding – has actually been a part of the problem for a very long time.

    When things go belly-up – the Jersey media – especially the JEP – will carry a substantial degree of the blame.

    Could I suggest that if you wish to enter debate with me that you declare your identity in your next comment?

    I don’t hide behind anonymity.

    Stuart Syvret

  3. Ian Dickson

    Dear Mr Syvret,

    Having read your posts on the state of Jersey, I have come to realise that living in the UK is not such a bad thing after all, despite the NuLabour clowns that govern us. What do the “ordinary” people of Jersey feel about all this – are they interested at all, are they angry – indeed, angry enough to actually do something about it?

    Ian Dickson
    Brighton UK

  4. QOLAS

    I left jersey 3 years ago as a true jersey girl i felt no one was heading what was being said by the people. Stuart you have no idea how many people are by your side, keep up the pace. many people can now breath a sigh of relefe that someone namely you have spoken out and given that poor buried child a voice.
    his or her death now will not be invain.

    bless you x

    The de ste croix family now over seas.

  5. Anonymous

    Please, Mr Syvret, can you look into why the government has allowed a self confessed paedophile contribute towards a key Government consultation paper?

    I’ve written to Bridget Prentice and Jack Straw about this, and they are trying to deny that this has happened. But it has, and the proof is in their own Parliamentary library. I pointed out in my last reply to Bridget Prentice that they have put the whole nation’s children at risk, and am waiting for her to respond.

    I am Zoompad from

  6. Anonymous

    I have pressed Anonymous because I didn’t know how to use the forum – I am not that other anonymous person, I am Zoompad.

  7. Anonymous

    It’s such a shame that years of abuse and trauma go undetected for so long, then when its finally out there in the open it gets whitewashed and covered up. How many other childrens homes in the uk are invilved in child abuse? How many other hundreds of people have suffered at the hands of those who are meant to care and have been shamed and threatened into silence. It’s a disease that is spreading in this country and the vast majority of it goes wholly unnoticed. Its a sad and vile country we live in

  8. Anonymous

    This has nothing to do with child abuse, but a friend has just posted it to me and it blew me away. I get very depressed because of all the things that have happened and some days I just think that I can’t take it any more, we just seem to be battling against the biggest monster in the universe, but I refuse to think that justice will not prevail, anyway this guy is also a fighter and I’m astonished at his perseverance and his sense of humour.

    I’ll never give up fighting for justice, never, and seeing people like this makes me more determined than ever. We have to keep on fighting.


  9. Anonymous

    Child law debated at conference

    The way children are represented in court in Jersey is to be debated at a special conference.

    The Children’s Voices conference will review recent changes in UK laws.

    It will be attended by solicitors, judges, social workers, psychologists and children’s representatives from Jersey, Guernsey and England.

    The keynote speaker will be Mr Justice Ryder, a High Court judge who has particular experience of deciding cases involving children.

    The judge also presided over a major child abuse case in North Wales.

    ‘Most vulnerable’

    The conference has been organised by Jersey law firm Hanson Renouf on behalf of the Association of Lawyers for Children.

    Advocate Tim Hanson, from Hanson Renouf, said Jersey was in danger of falling behind in the way it looks after children.

    He will speak about the appointment of children’s guardians to safeguard their interests.

    “The courts in Jersey are increasingly recognising the need for children, as some of the most vulnerable members of our society, to be given a voice in matters which affect their lives,” Advocate Hanson said.

    “If we have been able to appoint advocates to plead on behalf of an overgrown tree or a bowed wall, how much more important should it be for children to have a person appointed to represent and safeguard their interests in legal proceedings?”

    The conference will be held in St Helier on Friday.


    I would not hold your hopes out that this conference will improve anything for the children. Having been through the family court system myself for seven years and seen first hand the level of corruption of professionals connected with these courts, I am afraid that they are probably going to use it as an opportunity to hone their already well sharpened plotting and concealment techniques.

    My son had one of these children’s guardians, and she committed perjury by hearing what my son had to say and then telling the judge the exact opposite. My son, who was 9 at the time, gave her a right good ear drubbing, he said “You’re supposed to be my voice but you’re not listening to anything I say, you’re telling the judge the exact opposite, so I’m going to tell you this and if you don’t tell the judge what I said I’m going to tell you again and again and again until you do get it right”. My son has Aspergers syndrome and is really outspoken and repetative because of having that syndrome, he’s like a mini adult, I don’t think the woman realised that Aspergers people are really clever, because they are useless at some things and brilliant at others. The woman was off work for three months because of stress, she didn’t want to face ,my son again I suppose, she tried to blame it on me but I pointed out that I wasn’t even in the room at the time so it wasn’t any of my fault if my son goes on a bit, he gives me a headache at times as well because he has such a booming voice, but at least she didn’t commit perjury again.

    Other people I know have also had massive problems. My son wanted to go to court and speak for himself, but the judge would not allow him to, probably because of what happened to the guardian. He also wanted to write to the judge, but that wasn’t allowed either. They say that the children have a voice, but as far as I can see they do everything possible to gag them so that it is nigh on impossible for the children to be heard!

    So I don’t feel very hopeful about this at all.


  10. Anonymous

    Abuse: Listen and learn from victims, says judge

    By Diane Simon

    0592596_cropped.jpgA HIGH Court judge has spoken of the importance of a community taking notice of the stories of victims in historical child abuse cases as a way of moving forward.

    The Hon Sir Ernest Ryder, a High Court Judge of the Family Division, was formerly Counsel to the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal of Inquiry from 1996 to 1998. He was in the Island on Friday as the principal speaker at the Children’s Voices conference at the Hotel de France which explored the representation of children in England and Wales, Jersey and Guernsey.

    Sir Ernest said that it was vital for all the findings in a major historical child abuse inquiry, like the current investigation in Jersey, to be made public. During the tribunal in Wales some of the alleged victims had given their evidence in open court in front of the world’s media, whereas others had sought and gained anonymity. What was important, he said, was that the community took notice of what the victims had to say so that the best practice could be put in place to ensure that it did not happen again.

    He said: ‘The telling of those stories once and for all is a very cathartic experience for the individual victims involved, as well as for members of the community who take notice of them. Once that has taken place, the very best preventive measures can be introduced.’

    The Hon Sir Ernest Ryder said that it was vital for all abuse inquiry findings to be made public. Picture by David Ferguson (00592596)

    This article posted on October 6, 2008 at 2:56 pm, filed under News.

  11. Anonymous


    Please note that I did not say “alleged abuse” – I know what it’s like to be abused and then to be called a liar. I know that you must be feeling absolutly devestated about todays news – but PLEASE keep the faith – you are going to have justice. Please don’t commit suicide – that is what they want you to do, don’t you see?

    PLEASE can someone help me here – I want those CV’s – we have found things, let’s call them skeletons in the closet, which will send those old bas*ards running for the nearest port – but we need the CV’s of those who worked at Haut de la Garenne. PLEASE help me to get them!


  12. Anonymous


    Published: 08 Mar 2008
    THE daughter abused by wicked care home boss Colin Tilbrook yesterday made an emotional visit to Haut de la Garenne – to apologise to other victims.

    Tina Blee, 38, has bravely told how she was raped every week as a child by Tilbrook after he fostered her following his departure from Jersey.

    The mum of two yesterday laid flowers and a note at the entrance to the home and said: “I needed to come here to say sorry for what he’s done. If children were killed here I’m convinced he played a big part in it.

    Message … card on the flowers from Tina

    Message … card on the flowers from Tina

    “He was more than capable of murder.”

    Tilbrook died aged 62 in 1988 when he suffered a heart attack in a public swimming pool.

    Tina added: “I wish he was still alive so he could face justice.

    “But he can’t so I feel I have to apologise for him. I really believe I won’t have been the only one to have suffered at his hands.”

    Tina has spoken publicly about her ordeal – she was systematically raped from the age of ten – in the hope it will encourage other abuse victims to come forward and help the police.

    She added: “It was difficult coming here. It looks like a prison, and I bet he ran it like one.”

    Tina, from Dorset, also spent two hours giving police details of Tilbrook, who is now one of the prime suspects in the massive abuse probe.



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