Revealing the Sickening Truth – and what will Jersey’s Chief Minister Do?

Just a very brief post.

Make sure you watch, if you can, BBC Panorama to tonight 8.30 GMT.

If you’re in other jurisdictions, and can’t see it at broadcast, I’m certain it will be on the BBC Panorama web site shortly afterwards.

I’m nearing the end of my work in this matter – or, at least – as much of it as I can endure.

At 2.30 Monday morning, I e-mailed my 25 page report – plus supporting evidence – to Jack Straw MP. He is the UK Justice Minister – and thus has constitutional responsibility – and powers – for the good administration of justice in Jersey.

I and many of the people I represent – including some victims you will see in tonight’s BBC Panorama program – have, in essence, a simple request of Mr Straw.

That he use his powers to ensure the good administration of justice in Jersey, and compliance by the island’s authorities with the European Convention on Human Rights.

I included a number of MPs in my correspondence with Mr. Straw, and some renowned campaigners for the rights of abuse survivors.

So – hopefully, Mr Straw will take this matter seriously.

I will keep you informed should I get a reply from him.

Actually – I will keep you informed should I not get a reply from him.

Or a meaningless epistle prepared by some faceless mandarin in Whitehall.

As far as Jersey domestic politics are concerned, the island’s Chief Minister, Senator Frank Walker, has made a variety of assertions to the effect that no person who committed abuse – and no person who concealed abuse – would go unexposed and unpunished.

He appears to be particularly keen to meet these objectives – though, thankfully, he abandoned the idea of establishing a public enquiry now – whilst the police investigations are continuing, and when we have scarcely the beginnings of judicial processes.

To embark upon such an enquiry now would have been disastrous – in that it would have conferred immunity from prosecution upon any potentially guilty person appearing before it.

So – we can be pretty relaxed about him ‘getting-in’ his spin to the effect ‘Something Must Be Done’. He has suggested the idea of an enquiry, tabled a report to the island’s parliament – and said that as soon as the prosecutions are over – the enquiry can commence.

Admittedly – this won’t be for three to five years – this being the reason I dropped the idea as soon as I learned of the police enquiry last year.

But at least he has shown that the authorities in Jersey Will Have An Enquiry To Uncover The Truth.

I just wish he had been a little more supportive of the idea back in July 2007 – when I first proposed it.

The police investigation – of which we would have become aware – would have meant parking the idea – but at least it would have been nice to know he took things seriously back then.

So – what of Senator Frank Walker’s brave words – things you will hear him say in tonight’s program – and similar assertions made to the local and international media during the last month?

Let us give Senator Walker the benefit of the doubt.

Let us assume he has seen the error of his ways – and is now – genuinely – determined to root out those who have played any role in committing abuse – or concealing that abuse.

During the next few days I will produce in a blog a summation of Senator Walker’s commitments.

Then – perhaps in a week or so – I will describe all of the obvious, necessary and evidenced actions which need to be taken.

Taken – at least – if one is serious about ripping out the toxic roots of the causes of this disaster.

I will then invite Senator Walker to carry out these actions.

I truly hope he is sincere in what he has said – and that he now shares my anger and disgust at what has taken place.

If so – then he and I would share an objective – one which we would both be working upon during the next 8 months; trying to implement the protections needed by the island’s vulnerable kids.

So – Senator Walker is now ‘talking the talk’.

Let us hope he is also going to ‘walk the walk’ once national and international media coverage has faded away and moved onto other matters.

Watch the survivors on the BBC tonight – listen to the appaling suffering they endured.

Reflect upon the system of public administration which can have failed them so catastrophically.

Pay particular regard to the deficiencies –and worse – of former senior civil servants – one Anton Skinner for example.

And understand – and remember – that talk is cheap in the political environment.

You must judge politicians by their actions – not merely their words.

If Senator Walker is serious about rooting out the systemic failures which have seen generations of vulnerable children in Jersey battered, abused, tortured and raped – then he will join me in recognising that public administration in Jersey is dangerously deficient in meaningful ‘checks and balances’.

He will come around to my view that – finally – the Jersey civil service must begin to be held to account.

I will keep you posted.


21 thoughts on “BBC PANORAMA.

  1. TonyB

    I believe Anton Skinner, mentioned several times in the Panorama program in connection with how the Maguires were treated is now with Jersey Focus for Mental Health. He was acting chief executive of the Health Department during your time. Were you aware of any of these allegations as made in Panorama, or was it kept from you?

  2. Stephen Fitz-Williams

    A very interesting and moving Panorama this evening. Victims (two of which I know personally) airing their views in the only way they could – honestly. Theirs and many others pain and suffering will always linger but at least by speaking out nationally, they have given all of the victims an even stronger voice and real hope for justice to be done. Well done the BBC and thank you Stuart for all of your continued efforts.

  3. Advocatus Diaboli

    Hmmm, saw the Panorama tonight. The doorstepping of those two people set me thinking. There’s been a fashion for employers to see the rewards of work as more than the money; status, power, self-importance etc.

    One of the things I thought I saw happening whilst I was in the care trade was the grooming of people who got a lot from the non-pay rewards (such as bossing people round, pantomiming the pig parent role, striking dramatic postures and keeping people waiting for things that they should take for granted) to move into ‘management’ where they could be used as stooges. Those two looked the part.

    Clearly the culture of low standards brought back by the cheapskate Community Care Act contradicts the Duty of Care, since it is inherently neglectful.

    Watch for attempts to contain the damage that the revelations about Haut de la Garenne have done to this system by blowing it off as the legacy of the past, restricted to the brobdingnagian bumflufferies of the Channel Islands old pal’s network, a few bad apples etc.

    I predict that we’ll hear lots about ‘rooting it out’, ‘no stone unturned’, ‘lessons learned’ and justice for all and nothing about the chronic neglect of low standards created by the slashing of budgets, lousy training, lousy pay and conditions, nonentities being used as bureaucrats’ proxies, Care Management blaming the contractor blah, blah, blah . . .

    Anyway, many thanks to you for not passing by on the other side like so many others have done. You’ll never be forgiven by the nabobs for blowing the gaff but I expect your backbone can take it.

  4. Zoompad

    So, you wrote to Jack Straw and hope for a reply? Well, I just hope you’re a patient man, Stuart.

    I have also been corresponding with Mr Straw on the topic of child abuse. He has replied to some of these letters, but to my latest letter he has so far kept me waiting almost three months for a reply.

    In this particular letter I did ask him why it is that his Labour government saw fit to allow an American paedophile called Richard Gardner to influence a Government consultation paper in 2005 on child protection issues.

    Mr Straw seems to be at a loss as to how to answer this simple question. So does Bridget Prentice, who was asked the same question. I will be writing again to both these people, to ask them the very same question. If I still get no response, then I will write again, and again, and enclosing a stamped addressed envelope, just so that they can’t use lack of money to buy postage stamps as an excuse for not replying.

    It’s bad enought to be a victim of institutional child abuse. It’s taking the p*ss to be treated with such utter contempt, and I will not be putting up with it, I can tell you that. If they thought Mary Whitehouse was an old nagbag, they haven’t seen me in action. Mary Whitehouse didn’t like paedophiles, but I do not think she was a child abuse victim herself. I was, and I am really so very angry even 40 years later, if anything, even more angry, because I know that children are still being abused,and I know exactly how frightening institutional abuse is and all the dirty little secrets are still being covered up.

  5. Anonymous

    “It is easier to build strong children, than to repair broken men” – Frederick Douglas (1817-1895)

  6. Anonymous

    Do you think the P.R. company chose the lovely ‘compassionate pink’ shirt worn by Frank?

    It was obvious that he had been advised what to say.

    I looked into his eyes and saw a snake.

  7. Tom Perry

    I returned late from London having been at a gathering on the subject of institutional child abuse. On arriving home I logged on and watched Panorama. It was very good. Those victims of abuse who appeared will encourage others to find their voice. They are to be thanked for speaking directly to camera and expressing their thoughts and emotions.

    Senator Walker appeared on screen and at last spoke the words we have all been waiting to hear. Those (administrators and others) who have concealed abuse, even if they have not committed a criminal offence, will be sought out and brought to book. It has taken immense pressure for Senator Walker to utter these words. Why?

    Now we will watch every following step to see that he delivers his assurances cleanly and clinically. Just one utterance of “that was then this is now” – “times have changed” – “just a few rotten apples” – “systems today do not permit….” and he should be removed from post. His performance thus far has been only capable of improvement. Last evening we saw a small and distant light – no more than that.

    Every step from this point needs to be checked, and your proposed document Stuart, outlining the protocols which should now be expected from Mr Walker and the Jersey States, is a sensible suggestion.

    As far as Jack Straw is concerned I speculate you’ll be waiting a long-time for a reply. Child Protection is bottom of the UK Governments list of priorities and starved of cash and resource.

    Everyone needs to keep watching. The mentality of the concealer is to leave the path of truth and openness at the first and every subsequent opportunity.

  8. Anonymous

    Viewing the victims was not easy.
    They are old beyond their years.
    I wish them peace and at least partial closure.

    Shame on the establishment.

  9. Anonymous

    We know who the “Fat Man” was.

    Lets hope the identity of the “Posh Man” is discovered.

    I worry that the high figures are going to get away with it and only the lower demographic abusers are prosecuted or named.

  10. craupaudinexile

    Very moving Panorama yesterday, Lets hope that there is no cover up..
    One thing that I have noticed in the last couple of months is, That the subject of The Sea Cadets seems to have been dropped,
    There was abuse at the sea cadets, I speak from expearence as a young boy I was abused at T.S. Undaunted in early 60´s..

    Keep up the work Stuart you give hope to us hiddern abused people, well done…….

  11. Anonymous

    Hi Stuart.

    We have the same problem here on the mainland where Insurance companies will not or have tried not to pay out victims of Care Abuse.

    As you know I have been fighting for 12 years now and they offer me a pitience of a payout which I refused, and they have no intention of saying that they are sorry. Once you start fighting you can’t give up, even if you win, you fight for others, thats the way us Survivors survive. Look at Ireland where they have the Re-Dress Board and survivors are issued with a ‘Gagging Order’. Why should we not speak out in public about what happened to us, at the end of the day ‘It Was Not Our Fault’ give the abuse back to the beast who did it to you, tell them you don’t want it anymore, it’s not yours to carry for the rest of your life.

    Both myself and my good friend from
    Fight everyday of the week for justice. I see many clients of Historic child abuse going back to the 60/70/80’s. I have had friends kill themselves rather than go to court, friends who turned to drugs or drink. We can’t let this carry on for ever, we must make a stand somewhere to get it stopped.

    Panorama to me didn’t give us what we wanted to know, we just got a look inside the building. The survivors of the home my heart go’s out to them because I know what they are going through and by the looks of it they have no one to express their true feelings too.

    They can always get in touch with us here on the mainland for a chat.

    All our staff are abuse survivors and have now turned their lives around to help others.

    I hope Frank keeps to his word and helps you out mate.

    Keep up the fight and take care.

    Jim Browne

  12. Zoompad

    For something which is supposed to be low priority, they are spending enough cash on so called “child protection”. Only thing is, the cash the government are spending is to perpetuate the secrecy in their family courts! Do you realise how many people they are sending to prison, in secret, in these so called “child protection” cases?

    Jack Straw does, so does Ann Widdecombe.

    They are using these secret courts to take children. Where the Pindown homes left off, the forced adoptions have taken over. Jack Straw is well aware of all this.

    I know all about the system, because first, I was one of the Staffordshire celler cell children, then lately a victim of these evil secret courts, getting their talons into my child, and believe me, the same devils who were in charge of Pindown are involved in this other wicked and lucrative scam. Jack Straw knows perfectly well what is going on.

    As for Frank Wa*ker, was anyone fooled by his soft pink shirted psuedopiety?

    Please carry on investigating this, Stuart, because the abuse is ongoing and must be stopped. They are still taking children.

  13. Anonymous

    Two facile observations, forgive me:

    Last words out of Pat Butcher’s mouth in “Eastenders” just before 20.30 BST Monday 31 March 2008

    “What’s happened to Frank?!?!”

    Berthed St Helier Harbour in the last 24hrs ~ what looks suspiciously like a new luxury motoryacht for Frank.

    The angst, the grief, the vulgarity. (Bloody) idiot.

  14. Anonymous

    Just heard you calling somebody a bl–dy idiot on bbc radio Jersey in the states this morning. Could you let us know what was going on?

  15. Anonymous

    Early Day Motion
    EDM 1040


    Mitchell, Austin

    That this House commends the campaign waged by Senator Stuart Syvret in Jersey to draw attention to the long-standing problem of child abuse in the island; condemns the attacks made on him by the establishment elite which controls Jersey’s political and judicial institutions, attacks which after a long period of vilification and denigration eventually saw Syvret’s removal from office; regrets that his warnings are now being proved true; and urges the Lord Chancellor, as Minister responsible for the good governance of Jersey, to take steps to ensure that independent judges and prosecutors, with no prior connection with Jersey, are appointed, without delay, to deal with any criminal or civil cases which may arise from the child abuse controversies, to ensure the necessary impartiality of the judicial processes, and that there is a judicially empowered independent enquiry with an outside Chair into child abuse and the concealment of child abuse in Jersey on the grounds that the political authorities have failed to deal with the problems and are seriously compromised by their repeated failures to act properly and their publicly stated concerns to protect the reputation of the island, so that were they to undertake the wide ranging investigation required, they would, effectively, need to put themselves on trial as well.

    Mitchell, Austin
    Holmes, Paul
    Hoyle, Lindsay
    Russell, Bob
    Hopkins, Kelvin
    Younger-Ross, Richard
    Simpson, David
    Jenkins, Brian
    Llwyd, Elfyn
    Campbell, Ronnie
    Corbyn, Jeremy
    Dismore, Andrew
    George, Andrew
    Hancock, Mike
    Vis, Rudi
    Wareing, Robert N
    Hemming, John
    Brooke, Annette
    Dean, Janet
    Flynn, Paul
    Francis, Hywel
    Davies, Dai
    McCafferty, Chris
    McDonnell, Alasdair
    Burgon, Colin
    Cook, Frank
    Cryer, Ann
    Williams, Betty
    Leech, John
    Swinson, Jo
    Moffat, Anne
    Simpson, Alan
    Keetch, Paul
    Lloyd, Tony
    Drew, David
    Kilfoyle, Peter
    Cohen, Harry
    Davidson, Ian
    Williams, Roger
    Devine, Jim
    Etherington, Bill
    Hamilton, David
    Illsley, Eric

  16. Anonymous


    Will Anton Skinner continue in his role at Jersey Focus. This group represents vulnerable people or will this public granted organisation suspend him untilthe matter is fully investigated.

    Does he receive payment from this public granted organistion and how was he recruited to the post. Ironic if he had glowing references.

  17. Anonymous


    Who was President of the Health Committee during the period of the cover ups and the Dylan Southern report – was it Senator Dick Shenton? If he was, is Senator Ben Shenton, the current Health President, conflicted in this matter.

  18. Stuart Syvret

    From Stuart Syvret

    Re: the period of cover-ups.

    The concealment of the abuse of children at Blanche Pierre took place throughout much of the 1980s. Mrs McGuire was allowed to “retire” from running the group-home in 1990 – but permitted by Skinner to carry on working in social services at the Family Development Centre.

    As I said to the Police when I spoke to them in November, after they had made me aware of their covert investigation: ‘was she allowed to take her bottle of Dettol with her?’

    But it gets worse.

    The MGuires were permitted, by Skinner’s Children’s Service, to keep in their charge a young girl for a further two years.

    She suffered appallingly. As did her brother in another part of Jersey’s child “protection” system.

    Suffered in ways you couldn’t describe.

    Back in those days, as I said previously, responsibility for child protection rested with the then Education Committee.

    In 1990 – at the time of the major cover-up of the Blanche Pierre atrocities – the then President of the Education Committee was Iris Le Feuvre – a Jersey establishment icon – and possessed of all the corresponding hubris and arrogance.

    After retirement from politics, she became Chair – believe it or not – of the Jersey Child Protection Committee.

    I sacked her from this post last year when I became aware of her predilection for placing the interests of civil servants over-and-above vulnerable children.

    Child protection responsibility only came across to H & SS in the late 1990s. Senator Dick Shenton became President of Health & Social Services for a couple of years up until 1999, when he retired. I was a member of his Committee. I subsequently became Committee President in December 1999.

    I can state categorically that nether he nor his Committee were ever informed of these issues. Instead – the child abuse continued to be concealed by self-interested senior civil servants.

    The Dylan Southern report was prepared in 1999. Neither Dick Shenton’s Committee, nor my subsequent Committees, were even informed of the existence of the Southern report – let alone the underlying horrors.

    I spoke to Dick about some of these issues in the middle of last year – before it had erupted publicly. He was as appalled as I was to learn of such things as the solitary confinement regimes.

    So, to answer your question – no; there is no conflict in respect of Ben Shenton being Dick Shenton’s son.

    I had various clashes with Dick Shenton when he was a member of the States – occasionally some really big rows – but whatever differences we may have had, I know that if he had become aware of any harm being done to children – he would have crushed those responsible – as I attempted to do when I learnt of these awful things. Of course, like me, he may have been undermined and sabotaged by the senior civil service.

    But I’m 100% confident he would have exhibited zero tolerance for failures towards vulnerable children.



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