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.