Those following the Jersey media will have seen that Senator Frank Walker, Jersey’s Chief Minister, has decided that now is the time to begin proposing the establishment of a ‘Committee of Enquiry’ – a quasi-judicial process which can be instigated by the island’s parliament, and would work somewhat like a UK parliamentary ‘Select Committee’.

The purpose of this exercise would be to undertake a detailed examination of all the issues concerning the Jersey child abuse disaster.

On the face of it, this may seem a good idea; ‘why shouldn’t there be a public enquiry into this catastrophe?’

The answer to that question is all about timing.

As explained in previous posts, I spent much of the first half of 2007 pursuing my own investigations into child protection failures. These efforts ultimately prompted the Jersey oligarchy to dismiss me from my post as Minister for Health & Social Services.

During that episode, I had concluded that a Committee of Enquiry would be extremely useful. However – at that stage I was not aware of the covert police investigation; rather, I had reached my own conclusions concerning the catastrophic state of child protection in Jersey following extensive communications with whistle-blowers, victims and witnesses.

A public enquiry seemed – rightly – back then to be a good means of exposing the truth.

However – when the States of Jersey Police Force took me into their confidence in November of last year – and explained in detail what they had been doing – it was immediately apparent that they were going to expose the truth – and that there would be prosecutions.

Therefore – so as not to jeopardise that process, I parked the idea of seeking to establish a Committee of Enquiry.

Not because the polity in Jersey does not require such ruthless scrutiny – it does. And we must, indeed, have such an enquiry – but only when the timing is right.

At present, the Police have only made one arrest in connection with their major investigation into historic child abuse. They have stated publicly that they are going to make a substantial number of further arrests.

In theory – at least – this should lead to prosecutions – and in the case of the guilty, appropriate punishments.

But – that process – arrests, prosecutions, appeals – will take perhaps three years – and even that might be optimistic.

So – why not establish a Committee of Enquiry soon? There are lessons to be learnt, surely, and we need to discover the facts – and make necessary improvements as soon as we possibly can?

Well, there are several – extremely good – reasons as to why a Committee of Enquiry should not be spoken of now. Not least because the causes of the disaster – and the failure of public administration to deal with it – are already obvious to any thinking person. We know – even if Frank & Co don’t – what changes must be made.

But dealing with the main issues. Firstly, the public enquiry would be a quasi-judicial process. We must ask, therefore, how appropriate would it be to establish such a body which would be working in parallel with the on-going police investigations, charges and prosecutions?

Obviously – it is quite impossible to see these two processes working on the same subject matter – simultaneously – without badly damaging the prosecutions.

Such an exercise would risk seriously distracting from – and more significantly, contaminating and hindering – the efforts of the Police.

But – even if the Committee of Enquiry was not actually put into action now – but instead its establishment was simply agreed – this process – the public discussion – and the political debate in the islands parliament – would seriously run the risk of furnishing defence lawyers with a variety of reasons for asserting their clients wouldn’t get a fair trial.

Further – even if the suggested Committee of Enquiry were to be established – surely we should have a good understanding of the facts – an informed grasp of the issues – to enable us to draw-up appropriate Terms of Reference for the Committee?

We could only be fully informed of these considerations – after the conclusion of any criminal trials. For it will be, in court, that a great deal of the important information will emerge.

So – on these grounds alone – now is simply the wrong time to be even speaking of a Committee of Enquiry.

But – there is a far more profoundly worrying dimension to this proposal. .

Now, brace yourselves – I don’t think Frank Walker is culpable for this huge error.

He will have been advised to take forward the concept of a Committee of Enquiry by various – very senior – Jersey establishment figures.

And one can – very easily – speculate as to the motives behind such “advice”.

Forgive me for going into boring, technical matters – but these are of fundamental importance.

I am going to quote some pieces of Jersey legislation.

And my reason for doing so is to demonstrate a stark – and profoundly disturbing – fact.

Which is this:

Any person summoned before a Committee of Enquiry, or who gives evidence to such a committee – immediately gains immunity from criminal prosecution for any matter being considered by the Committee.

So – have a quick read of the law quotes below – and understand this:

If – by some chance – the States were to embark upon a Committee of Enquiry – before all of the judicial processes were exhausted – potentially guilty people – maybe abusers, or those who have perverted the course of justice by concealing such abuse, or who have committed Misconduct in Public Office – will become beyond the reach of the Law – beyond justice by dint of the immunity from prosecution conferred upon them by the Committee of Enquiry.

Here are some of the relevant legal quotes:

34 Immunity from legal proceedings:

No civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against any member of the States –

(a) for any words spoken before or written in a report to the States or a committee or panel established under standing orders; or

(b) by reason of any other matter or thing brought by the member before or within the States or any such committee or panel by petition, proposition or otherwise.

In plain English this means that any member of the States of Jersey – and this includes – really rather fascinatingly – unelected members of the States, such as the Law Officers – will become immune from prosecutions.

But of greater concern is the following piece of legislation which has the same effect – that of conferring immunity from criminal actions – upon any member of the public – this including public employees and senior civil servants, for example – who comes before a Committee of Enquiry.

8 Privileges and immunity of person appearing before or producing documents to a committee of inquiry:

(1) A person asked or required to give evidence or produce documents before a committee of inquiry shall be entitled, in respect of such evidence and documents, to legal professional privilege and privilege against self-incrimination.

(2) An answer given by a person to a question put to that person, or an oral or written statement made by that person, or a document produced by a person in the course of his or her appearance before a committee of inquiry shall not, except in the case of proceedings for the offence of perjury or for an offence under these Regulations, be admissible in evidence against that person in any civil or criminal proceedings.

(3) Paragraph (2) shall not apply to evidence given or documents produced by that person which he or she knows to be untrue.

So what does all this mean?

It means that perhaps dozens of potentially guilty people – abusers and those who concealed abuse – will – with one mighty bound – become immune to prosecution for their offences.

The victims will – again – be betrayed.

It’s a very “clever” wheeze – isn’t it?

I could name a variety of people who will be praying for the States assembly and the Jersey Council of Ministers to be that stupid.

Frank has claimed that he simply wants to get agreement to the establishment of such a Committee; not actually launch it whilst the criminal and judicial processes are continuing. But there is simply no point – absolutely no good could come of – the States even debating the topic now.

Of course, Frank’s motives are probably quite “innocent” in that it’s a text-book move from the political spin-doctors hand-book:

“Government in crisis? Right – let us show our mastery of events by establishing an “independent inquiry””.

I’m inclined to believe that Frank is guilty of the spin – but not the more dangerous objective of compromising prosecutions – and conferring criminal immunity upon those who should feel the full weight of the law.

I could not, though, express the same opinion of those who have advised him in this matter.

Their motives – I am sure – are altogether darker.

The Jersey Council of Ministers is meeting tomorrow, that is, Thursday, 27th March, and will be considering the idea of the Committee of Enquiry.

Let us hope that wiser council will prevail – and they recognise that such a Political – quasi-judicial – investigation must be put back upon the shelf – until such time as the criminal aspects of this disaster have run their course.

A process likely to take several years.

Stuart Syvret.


  1. Stuart Syvret

    From Stuart Syvret

    I have received a very lengthy comment from a person, or persons, railing against secrecy and abuse of power amongst Freemasons.

    Whilst I think it is most certainly a topic worthy of discussion, the particular post is far too long – and also makes a number of assertions which I cannot verify.

    So, I don’t think I can publish it in its current form.

    I did see a copy of the Masonic Yearbook some years ago – but I can’t gain access to it right now.

    If anyone is in possession of a copy of the Jersey Masonic Yearbook – or any other hard evidence of actual membership – I would be most interested in receiving it.

    My address is in the phone book.

    My view of Masons – and similar societies – is that I have no problem with their existence or what they do – provided it is – at all times – lawful.

    But I do strongly feel the time is long overdue when people holding any kind of public office had to declare their membership of such organisations.

    Stuart Syvret.

  2. Anonymous

    So basically what you are saying is the police investigation will conclude but there can be no prosecution.

    Is this because it is not in the public interest. I remember the maverick nurse issue on Corbiere resulted in a similar conclusion being reached. The Chief Officer of the time felt that exhumations were not appropriate.

  3. Stuart Syvret

    From Stuart Syvret

    Re Police investigations and prosecutions “not in public interest.”

    I cannot go into details now – but I can say I know precisely what you are speaking of re the Corbire Ward issue.

    I have resurrected it – if that isn’t an inappropriate phrase – with the Police – today’s force being trustworthy and rigorous.

    It is the Attorney General who decides on prosecutions – not the Police. All they can do is compile their reports and submit them, so I wouldn’t blame the police – at least not today’s police force – which is a very different organisation to what it may have been in days gone by.

    If you want an illustration of that fact – just consider how hated by the Jersey establishment Lenny Harper is?

    He’s got to be doing something right to have annoyed so much all these terribly important people.

    But yes – a very serious issue you raise.

    We must see how things unfold.

    Stuart Syvret.

  4. Anonymous

    How the hell can Frank Walker call for an public inquiry, while half of them knew that the abuse was going on for years. Who will do the inquiry the jersey Parliment, or will they bring an independent outside body in from the UK, that way there may not be a cover up.

    Will we ever find the truth????

  5. TonyB

    That quote on the immunity of people when giving evidence to an inquiry is deeply disturbing. Has it already applied? Was the Sharp report a committee of inquiry of that nature?

    This is probably the single most important post I have seen from you on your blog – and no need for invective, just plain brilliant and very very alarming arguments and statements of fact about the law.

  6. Anonymous

    ‘You must conceal all crimes of your brother Masons…and should you be summoned as a witness against a brother Mason be always sure to shield him…It may be perjury to do this, it is true, but you’re keeping your obligations.’

    Edmond Ronayne
    Handbook of Masonry (page 183)

  7. Anonymous

    Could you give us some kind of an update into the Austin Mitchell petition? or indeed what is involvement is?

  8. Stuart Syvret

    From Stuart Syvret

    RE: Tonyb

    No – the Sharp report nor the Dylan Southern report were Committees of Enquiry – so the culpable individuals in those episodes do not have the protection of immunity from prosecution which would be conferred by a formal Committee of Enquiry.

    But this is why it’s crucial to stop the concept of a Committee of Enquiry – at this stage.

    Establishing it – would confer immunity upon those summoned before it. But even debating the proposal could have the effect of hindering prosecutions.

    It really is extremely difficult to come to any other conclusion than that the motives of those who have advised Frank are – precisely – to generate that immunity.

    Stuart Syvret.

  9. TonyB

    It appears that Senator Walker has no intention of setting up a Committee of Enquiry until all criminal proceedings have been dealt with by the relevant authorities.

    He was speaking about this on BBC Radio Jersey this morning. It would appear (from the Radio interview) that he recognises the Enquiry cannot take place until the above happens but would like to give some comfort to those victims affected by everything which has happened by announcing it publicly.

    So the legal problems you state, while correct, would not apply.

  10. Anonymous

    The latest development seems to be the way that they intend to sabotage any prosecutions. It has struck me that the arrests are a long time coming and while there is a need to be careful (perhaps an unfortunate turn of phrase given the masonic involvement)the victims seem to have given very many accounts which can be corroborated. So why only one arrest to date?

    It looks to me as if they are conspiring behind the scenes to make sure that those responsible for the abuse are never brought to trial. It will be covered up as no doubt a Freemason will be appointed to head any “enquiry” and will shield his Brothers from any attempts to prosecute them. This happened with the North Wales Care Homes, where child abuse was conducted by Freemasons for decades. The offical enquiry was chaired by Waterhouse who kept all names of Brothers and prominent people out of the public arena.

    I am another who has knowledge of Freemasons and child abuse. This not just on Jersey but all over the UK. It is systematic and organised, known to UK MPs and many more. This is not a recent matter but has existed for years, decades, may be more. I am told that there are so many influential people involved that they are protected by Police and the judiciary, also participating themselves.

    No doubt there will be denials by these people but if they have nothing to hide, why not allow the process to continue unhindered? The fact that some of them are seen to be trying to thwart attempts to bring people to trial just adds to concerns and the conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

    I know of cases of horrendous child abuse in a public school, this by teachers against pupils. The school made no effort to remedy abuse, eventually a 13 year old boy committed suicide. Even then, the school did nothing it was only when his parents made enquiries they found out what was happening. Police did their bit and arrested the teacher responsible in that case. They raided his house and found masses of evidence on computer hard drive etc. When his case came up in the Crown Court, the judge threw it out for lack of evidence. He is still teaching. Enquiries made revealed that the judge in question was a Freemason as was the teacher.

    Time to act in these injustices. We are in the 21st century and it is barbaric that this is allowed to happen.

  11. Stuart Syvret


    I know what Senator Walker said – and I’m afraid it still makes no sense whatsoever.

    If the Committee of Enquiry is to take place only after the judicial processes have been exhausted – then why even bother about speaking about it now?

    Given that it probably won’t be able to begin its work for at least three years?

    What the victims need – this time – is true justice. That will only be delivered by an independent judiciary – not, most certainly, by some exercise in politicking. Which is all the C of E proposal is.

    Stuart Syvret

  12. Advocatus Diaboli

    May I applaud you on your astute comments on the implications of a Committee of Inquiry. I saw a report on the telly yesterday which led to the immediate raising of a sceptical eyebrow ;-).

    I wonder if that copper is going to come a cropper before the investigation finishes. I bet there’s some scrutiny of his expenses going on. I hope he’s fireproof.

    Have there been any ‘coincidental’ early retirements or redeployments yet amongst the gabardine swine?

  13. TonyB

    Yes, the Committee of Inquiry does seem rather like a publicity stunt, along with the Panorama appearance next Monday.

  14. TonyB

    A garden for residents of Les Amis in St Saviour, Jersey, a charity associated with the local Mencap, has been provided by the island’s freemasons from its 1999 and 2000 collections.
    The main objective is to offer care and support in residential settings to adults with learning difficulties. The Province of Jersey organised the design, obtained planning permission and arranged for the contractors to undertake the work.
    Sir Philip Bailhache, Bailiff of Jersey, opened the garden. Although he is not a mason, his father and grandfather were, the latter being Deputy PGM between 1947 and 1959.

  15. Sigmund Fraud

    So all the chief minister had to do at the beginning would have been to ask for a judicial enquiry.” and that would have been it decades of abuse buried.

    Looks like Franky boy is just clever enough to have shot himself in the foot, as he is a politician, intellectual or indeed a fellow human.

    And of course attempting such a sneaky backdoor move now would be seen as nothing more than a manipulation of the Jersey’s judicial system and yet another attempt to silence the issue.

    Franky does not regret say the words which will sink him eventually as he tells the Deputy Geoffrey Peter Southern when asked: “Does the Chief Minister regret using the words ‘shafting the international reputation of the island’ on television?”

    Chief Minister Frank Walker replied: “I was unaware because I was not told – against the code as I understand it of the BBC – that the cameras were working. But no, I do not regret what I said. What I said … was – and I excuse the language but it was, I thought, a private conversation: “You are seeking to shaft Jersey internationally”.”

    So what he is saying is the same as most criminals when they are caught- they don’t regret the crime but do regret getting caught for committing the crime.

    I guess all those involved will be having regrets about now, and it won’t be for what had happened to so many young children. It will be exactly the same as Frank Walker
    Their own skins.

  16. Anonymous

    I have to congadulate you on all your tireless work for the victims of alleged child abuse and for giving them an ear and a voice.

    Further more I and all (or most of) the people who read your blog owe you a great debt of gratitude.

    If it wasn’t for you and your blogsite, we would all still be watching Channel Report, reading the JEP and actually swallowing the shit they still attempt to ram down our throats.

    I caught a bit of CTV local news at lunchtime where Walker was given a free reign to spew his shite about this public inquiry.

    If it hadn’t been for you and your blogging, besides what I already know about the alleged corruption in the States, I could have thought “well fair play to Walker, he does seem to be trying his best to open all this up and show some transparency”

    I know this is all a PR stunt and actually is a self serving ploy to protect him and his.

    The unfortunate thing is there are an older generation who have neither the interest or opportunity to get on the internet and are blissfully ignorant to the real goings on with our government and media.

    I and many like me, who have never had any interest in politics, am now alot more clued up to what has and is going on with the very dangerous liasons between our local media and goverment.

    The “Journalism” we are subjected to is complete any pandy stuff and part of a brainwashing system engineered by Walker and co.

    Here we have an island screaming out for Walker to resign, an island with no faith in our ministerial goverment, an island full of people with thousands of questions they want Walker to answer. What happens? he gets his own little bit of air time on CTV making a statement and not one question asked by a “Journalist”.

    Thank god for you and this blogsite and indeed the internet, atleast we no longer have to believe the shite we are force fed by the goverment media machine.

  17. Anonymous

    I am getting rather sick of hearing the name of Mr. Frank Walker.

    In my opinion, he should not be in the position he is in, and, I suspect, would not be in that position but for the fact that the crumbs from his table are so large and are found to be very tasty by the few who benefit.

    My worry is that all the media coverage, the sickness which has overwhelmed the island and the political rows that have come as a result, could easily become a screen of dense smoke behind which bad politicians and civil servants can continue their work, unchecked and unchallenged. I suspect, as I write this, there is much cleaning up and clearing of tracks going on behind this dense smoke-screen.

    Of course, we must remember that it is only because of the exposure of the awful history of child abuse in the island and the on-going investigation at Haut de la Garenne, that the real problems of our system of government have begun to be shown to be lacking in so many ways. But let us not be fooled into thinking that there are no other areas of life here in Jersey that could also reveal the most appalling history.

    Some people in the most powerful positions in our island deserve to go and should go very soon. My personal opinion is that Frank Walker should be the first as his position has become untennable. He really must be the most despised and mis-trusted politician this island has had in many a year. But the government system provides no avenue for this to happen.

    Surely there are other ways to think?

    Rumours about some of our politicians have been rife over the years. We need a really good investigative journalist to take an interest and look deeply into the ‘goings on’ of the more interesting members of our government. If the result of such an investigation were to show nothing untoward, we could all start to trust again, but if shady characters were exposed they would surely have to resign and we could all say ‘good riddance.’

    A dirty way of thinking I admit, but not as dirty as many of the stories we have heard circulating this island over recent years.

    You have surely made many contacts in the British press Stuart, do you not know of one reputable, respected reporter, driven by a personal goal to find out and publish the real truth, who would help us?

    By the way, thankyou for all the good work you are doing. Make sure you look after yourself as well.

    Take care.

  18. Anonymous

    Is there any way in which an outside police force , whether from the UK,France or even the European Union could take over this case and treat it with the seriousness it deserves. I am sure that the Jersey police will do their best but my feeling is that with such antipathy from the Jersey establishment ,the local police will find it difficult to do their job properly.
    Also , I see that a journalist who investigated the Islington care abuse case has linked the two events together and has also suggested that there maybe connections with the Jason Swift murder.
    I feel this story is very important
    and please do not let it die. I realise that Jersey is independent of the UK , but if you have no luck with the Jersey senate , try the UK Parliament ,even Gordon Brown .

  19. Jersey Girl

    I lived in Jersey for 34 years and went to school with many Haut de la Garenne residents. For the sake of justice for those people and transparency for the island I was once so proud of, any enquiry into the abuse should be conducted by an independent organisation from OUTSIDE the island. Anything else will leave Jersey open to claims of yet another cover-up.

    People I have spoken to here in England (who have no knowledge of the way Jersey is run)think Frank Walker is a poor joke and that if he is representative of our political system then Jersey must be in a very bad way indeed.

  20. Sigmund Fraud

    Any person summoned before a Committee of Enquiry in Jersey, or who gives evidence to such a committee – immediately gains immunity from criminal prosecution for any matter being considered by the Committee. This means that the Committe of Enquiry can only take place after criminal and civil proceedings have been completed, probably in 2010 or 2011.

    Taken from the Times posted bye Tony_the prof. Jersey.

    Well done to this Tony…

  21. Anonymous

    I hope that someone has thought about building a new prison, or extending the existing Jersey Prison. I truly have difficulty believing that all the vile perpertrators will ever even get to court, because of the corruption and continual cover-up, but should they do so, and should justice be done, and they get sentenced, where on earth will they go? The Jersey prison isn’t going to hold them all, thats for sure. Get the builders in now so there is no excuse later.


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