OF MILLSTONES AND SECRET REPORTS.

[First published on 27.02.2008 – during the height of the Jersey child-abuse cover-up scandal – this posting is a key insight into the sheer, brazen, magnitude of British Establishment ethical bankruptcy – dishonesty – corruption – and undisguised contempt towards the vulnerable.]

My apologies for not posting once every day or so.

Those of you who are familiar with the present dreadful child abuse issues emerging in Jersey will understand that mere blog posts have to come a distant second in time rationing.

I’m writing this at 2.30 AM – many more days and nights like this and I will look even more wrecked.

I hardly know what to say – it’s been such a desperate odyssey. Children raped, battered, abused – possibly murdered.

It would be hard enough to deal with in ordinary circumstances; but I say, frankly, from a personal perspective – these have been very difficult days – well, a difficult year, really.

The international media attention which has turned upon Jersey is a very demanding thing to deal with. I must have had 100 missed calls on my mobile today alone.

But – I’m not complaining. As painful, as ugly, as the issues are – it is through such independent scrutiny we will better protect the vulnerable.

In order to facilitate the expression of the truth, I held a kind of press conference this morning. I came out of the doors of the Jersey parliament building – expecting maybe five TV crews and about ten print journalists. I was taken aback at the sheer size of the media scrum. It was pretty daunting in many ways.

The twenty copies of the confidential report I had with me, were devoured within a minute by the assembled mass of journalists.

I feel I should touch briefly upon that report – not for its contents – at this stage – but because of how my publishing of it was received by the Jersey media – and what further dreadful illustration that response gives of how these awful things were able to happen to vulnerable children – for decades.

Those who have read my blog regularly will know that I hold the Jersey media in extremely low regard – a view now comprehensively justified by events.

We must ask – is there another jurisdiction in the democratic world which would have these terrible abuses of children taking place – for decade after decade – right under the noses of the local media – and there be no meaningful exposé?

In, at least, six decades?

I have said publicly that the Jersey media are actually a part of the problem – a component in the cover-ups and concealment.

Consider the Jersey Evening Post, for example. Today I explained to the national press how I had leaked a copy of the confidential Sharp report to the Jersey Evening Post in the year 2000. They were very keen to get hold of a copy at that time – so when I gave the editor, Chris Bright, the deputy editor Rob Shipley, and the reporter, Dian Simon a copy of the report – face-to-face – in the JEP offices – I expected them to run a series of detailed articles.

The report is so damning – so apocalyptically bad – that no respectable newspaper would get a document like this and not run it.

The JEP didn’t print a single sentence from the report.

They attempt to defend themselves from my criticisms in Tuesday’s edition of The Rag.

It is truly pathetic stuff. But setting aside that which is merely lame in their response – let us instead look at a simple lie told by Rob Shipley – and one, incidentally, echoed by BBC Jersey and Channel Television.

So shamed – so embarrassed – are the Jersey media, at what is clearly an almost unbelievable failure of journalistic ethics and integrity – that even now, they can’t face the truth.

Shipley – like BBC Jersey and Channel Television – have asserted that they didn’t bother running the report story, back in 2000 – because the report had been published already, by the time I gave them a copy.

This is an utter and really quite tragic lie. The report was never “published”; it was guarded like gold-dust by the powers-that-be in Jersey.

Not sure who to believe?

Take up this simple challenge: find ANY publication of the Sharp Report – or as much as one paragraph of it – anywhere – not only prior to the year 2000 – but at any time prior to 2007?

Let me save you the trouble. You will find no such publication – because none took place. All of Jersey’s media are thus evidenced – overt – liars.

It demonstrably was not published. When people like Shipley at the JEP and BBC Jersey and Channel Television casually assert ‘it was published’ – they are simply lying.

The document was Top Secret – because it annihilates the Jersey Establishment.

The JEP recognised this – and being the ‘house-journal’ of the Jersey oligarchy – they buried it.

They buried it to protect the Jersey establishment.

Rob Shipley is simply a liar when he claims it had been ‘published’; lying –  as an excuse for the disgusting collusion by the JEP in the cover-up when they failed to report any of the key facts from the leaked copy I gave them.

Let us look at some of the sophistry engaged in by the Jersey media.

They all claim that the ‘findings’ and key-issues had already been reported.

No – they had not.

The conviction of the perpetrator; the failure of the other individuals involved, who had had to resign, was already public knowledge – prior to The Sharp Report even being concluded. So when the Jersey media attempt to pretend that “there was nothing new – no revelations – in the report” they are simply lying.

What the Jersey Evening Post didn’t report was the clear and un-ambiguous disgusting failure of those involved – their failure to protect children.

If this was not the case – could someone please produce for me the JEP leader comment which said John Le Breton – the then Vice-Principal who, rightly, had to resign in disgrace – should not be elected as a Jurat (a lay-judge in the island’s court)?

The evidence of the Sharp report is plain – and unambiguous. It demonstrates – in all its hideousness – the culture of cover-up and concealment on the part of the Jersey establishment.

And the failure of the Jersey Evening Post to use the report serves as another clear illustration of the fact that the Jersey media is actually a major part of the problem – a component of the cover-ups.

Would a community with respectable media suffer at least six decades of concealed and foul abuse of children – with virtually all of it going unexposed and un-punished?

How come the national and international media are tackling this subject with professionalism – and the Jersey media are still – even now – lying about their culpability in the cover-ups?

The simple dishonesty exhibited by the Jersey media was echoed in comments made by Senator Mike Vibert. He asserted that ‘the report had not been published’ (somewhat contradicting the Jersey media angle that it had) ‘because it would have identified the victims’.

This is completely untrue.

None – not one – of the victims are identified in the report.

The plain fact is that the cause of effective child protection would have been massively advanced by the publication of the report. The Jersey authorities decided it would be Top Secret – and quite disgracefully the Jersey media went along with that approach – even when I furnished them with the document in the year 2000.

Considering another interesting feature of Tuesday; it was a scheduled meeting of the island’s parliament, during which Senator Frank Walker – Jersey’s Chief Minister – was asked some questions – for example, concerning his catastrophic performance on BBC News Night on Monday evening.

In one of his answers he re-asserted his, apparently, routine tactic in response to the real appaling truth of events. He re-stated that I was merely motivated by nothing else other than a wish to “shaft the island”.

What was remarkable about this answer was not that he said it, – even now – when it must be plain to even the most disinterested observers that we are dealing with an extensive tragedy.

What was starkly revealing was that when Senator Walker repeated this personal attack upon me – it was greeted with the foot-stamping applause which is customary in the Jersey parliament.

If anyone sought an answer as to how things can have gone so badly wrong in this island – how so many children can have been failed – they could begin their contemplation with this event.

What does it say about the Jersey parliament?

We are at a stage when – clearly – multiple despicable abuses, crimes and neglects have been perpetrated against children – over a period of decades.

Even to the extent that the Police Force are searching for the bodies of vanished children.

And the States of Jersey?

They applaud a political, personal attack upon a member whose ‘offence’ has been to fight strongly for the safety and rights of children.

Another despicable voyage to the lower-depths by the States of Jersey.

The irony is, many States members will have attended the special church service on Tuesday evening which was an inter-denominational gathering to offer prayers for the victims.

In the morning – applauding Political attacks on the only States member to have really fought to expose the crimes against children – and in the evening, shuffling along sanctimoniously to church, to pray for the victims.

Only the members of the States of Jersey could be so stupid and so hypocritical.

Sadly, a fact which goes someway to explaining the concealment of these tragedies for decades.

The service was lead by the Dean – Bob Key – the head of Jersey’s Anglican community. In a television interview he quoted the Bible thus:

“And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name received me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea”.

I spoke this passage in a speech to the Jersy parliamnet before Christmas. I was shouted down, barraked, ordered to stop – and eventulay had my microphone cut.

Amazing – isnt it?

I say these words in December, as an expression of empathy for the victims of child abuse – and to speak of such things brings down damnation upon me from the States of Jersey.

Now – a little over two months later – the Dean Bob Key – a manifestly inadequate and contemptible little man – oppressor of the vulnerable  – and worming friend of the abusers – quotes these same words – and suddenly they are the most aposite expresion of compasion for child abuse victims.

It’s just contemptable – isnt it?

Shortly after the time of my speech being stopped, in correspondence with me, the Dean Bob Key was extremly equivical in his comments; he clearly didn’t support what I had said – or even – or even especially – my right to say it.

Why the sudden change of heart, Bob?

I didn’t go to the church service – resigning myself to the inevitable PR assaults upon me by the Jersey establishment for my non-attendance – because I was doing something vastly more important; I was meeting with some victims; listening to them; offering them support.

Now – as these events unfold – their story will be heard – soon.

And what their sufferings say about the Jersey ‘system’ is more stark and truthful than a hundred church services.

Stuart Syvret

15 thoughts on “OF MILLSTONES AND SECRET REPORTS.

  1. Anonymous

    Well done, under normal circumstances the calls for re-instatement should be heard but alas as a local i know these will never be heard. I applaude your professonalsim during this fiasco and only hope that justice be done for the children that have been so wrongfuly abused.

    One wonders if Frank walker should not be evicted from his post due to his woeful handling of this.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    A google search today for the sharp report found nothing but your blog reporting it.Can you publish it here?

    Reply
  3. rosenallis

    Stewart.
    God bless you and more power to your elbow in your effort to protect the most vulnerable.
    I have seen it all before in Staffordshire’s ‘pindown’ child abuse policy and cover up, which led to wide spread culture of abuse and social care homes closure. The old boy’s culture was going into overtime mode then, as it is now, I suspect, “it did not happen on my watch” as your ‘top’ man said yesterday, and lets shoot the messenger etc I say !!. This is worse type, worse than walking on the other side of the road and wrapping the cloak of the church around themselves as well is unforgivable.
    Dr Johnson would turn in his grave if he heard that ploy ” patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, he would say; Probably , Stewart they were going to church for Devine inspiration and probably a few for forgiveness too, lets hope so !!.

    THE QUESTION HAS TO BE ASKED, WHAT ARE THEY HIDING FROM AND WHY AND WHAT HAVE THEY GOT TO LOOSE??

    Best wishes

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    I just wanted to applaud you for bringing this issue into the public domain and hanging in there despite the powers that be trying to intimidate you.

    I am a falsely accused parent, and my child came home to me while still very young, and one of my main motivations in fighting for him apart from the obvious that my life would have been worthless without him, was the fear of him being placed anywhere where he might genuinely have come to harm,with strangers etc who may not have had his best interests at heart in the same way as natural parents.

    I know that birth parents do abuse their children and they must be protected, but the way that the Family Courts operate leaves whole families and children open to abuse with the full weight of the law behind it – how can it be considered more important for parents fighting to keep their children to be jailed for doing so in order to create an example than for the authorities to allow public scrutiny of the decisions and rationale behind their actions.

    We are supposed to be an enlightened and civilised country but I think the care system itself is the clearest indictment of the loss of values and morality in the Uk that we possibly have.

    There are good people out there, that I don’t deny, but it is outrageous that the bad apples aren’t exposed and censured far more robustly.

    I hope you take styrenght from those who are rooting for you and for truth and justice even though there is little we can do in practical terms.

    Very best wishes and good luck.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    The only politician that I recall speaking up for you in the debate in which you were ousted was Carolyn Labey ( Grouville)- she seemed to comprehend the toll your crusade was taking,I hope she did not stamp her feet with the herd. Unlike many of your colleagues you may hold your head high and you know that the general public is with you.

    Whilst the media focus is firmly on Haut De La Gareene and it’s victims as tragic and as abhorrent that is, do the journalists appreciate what has been happening in care homes in recent years. Whilst here will they look at our suicide rates (www.jerseygov/health)and publicise the drug and alcohol problems islanders have in this life enriching paradise….this land of two halves …with its low crime rate and it’s overcrowded underfunded prison…. JOURNALISTS leave no stone unturned…………….PLEASE…..

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  6. A Holiday In The Sun

    Stuart, when Frank Walker states that you are a lone voice out of 53 democratically elected officials…he doesn’t seem to realise that probably says far more about our inherently flawed system of Government than it does about you.

    The reactions seen in the States Chamber today are simply more evidence that this whole child abuse issue will only be honestly and transparently investigated by outside entities.

    If Frank Walker were true to his word about doing “what is necessary to right these wrongs”, he would now be eagerly inviting such an investigation.

    Keep up the good fight, Mr. S. The people are with you….

    Reply
  7. davew

    Hi Stuart
    How come you never mentioned you had a blog. From one of the founding members of the Jersey Whistleblowers Association( a small but selective group) I would like to say a big public thank you for all your support and hard work for the children of Jersey past and present. Also the support you offered to other Whistleblower members at times of great need. I think you should receive some sort of award but I guess its not likely to be Jersey presenting it!
    I cant even vote for you as I’m in the UK!
    dave

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    I did not know about Le Breton either.

    You have called Rob Shipley a liar. Do you expect him to sue you now? I will watch with interest.

    There is one question I would like to ask you about the Sharp report. In answering it, I would like you to suspend all your prejudices about the so-called establishment, just for one minute. Here it is:

    In a small island community, where many people know OF one another (although contrary to the tabloid rags, we don’t all actually know one another, I mean who has 100,000
    acquaintaces?) do you not find it a plausible explanation, just for one minute, that publishing the report might have incurred the risk of identities being inferred?

    At the very least, I think the consent of all the Jervis-Dykes victims and their parents should have been obtained before that report was released into the public domain. If you have such consent, fine. If not, don’t you think you should have obtained it? As a parent myself, I have no idea how I would react in such dreadful circumstances. I think I would want you to consult me though, before releasing a report that might – just might – identify my child, however old they are now.

    If you remain convinced that nobody will be identified, then why don’t you publish a copy of it here on your blog? I was not present in the Royal Square when you handed out copies to the national media but if they can have it then why can’t we, the Jersey taxpayer who paid for that report and who pay your wages?

    I am posting this anonymously. I saw your request that a previous commentator register in order to debate with you. As a constituent who voted for you, I am asking that you respect my anonymity and that you answer the questions I have politely raised with a corresponding comment. I am interested as to whether you will publish this comment in full. You frequently take the JEP and the “establishment” to task for “censorship”. Will you do the same here?

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    The JEP Wed 27th 2008

    What worries me is that Walker has been given so much space in tonight’s JEP (Wed 27th) about his potential complaint against the BBC. In my opinion he has no case. His comment was a gaffe entirely of his own making and his own personal grievance against the BBC now merely a footnote.

    When one reads the rest of the paper there are no letters from the public, no real critical analysis of the situation and no discussion of the role the government played in this decades old disgrace.

    Where are messages from the readers – the normal islanders? How do they feel – both about the revelations of the last several days and the fact that the government did nothing. Where is the public forum for the everday people of the island to debate these incredibly traumatic last few days?

    Why is there no comment/interview with Syvret? The BBC and much of the media have allowed both to speak. Surely he should be allowed to speak through our local newspaper too?

    The JEP needs to be as impartial as possible, giving a clear breakdown and also a clear commentary of the event.

    THESE LAST FEW DAYS CANNOT BE LEFT TO BE BRUSHED UNDER THE CARPET BY AN APATHETIC MEDIA.

    Reply
  10. Tony Gallichan

    Firstly, though it’s a terrible time and subject, your still to be congratulated. I was in the Jersey SCC from 79-84 and the thought that it may be involved in all this is deeply shocking.

    I just worry that you may be over extending yourself…remember, even though we know the real reasons you were sacked, your credibility is still, hmm, slightly shaky because of that. Its bad, but it’s true…so be carefull not to shout too loudly right now. Make your points and leave it to others to pick up the torch, for the moment.

    Finally, Jersey’s reputation is now shot. I live on the mainland and we’re being tarred with the same brush – small island, cover-ups etc. The fact I was a child during the eighties means nothing.

    Frank Walker and those supporting him, are now, even moreso, a liability to the island. The only ways that Jersey is going to reclaim any shred of credibility are
    1) for the entire States to be stood down and for full and open elections to be held for EVERY post.
    2) An investigation into how the means of government, changing from what was to ministerial, was somehow got by without a public referendum – or did I blink and miss that one?
    3) Full and open investigations of all the allergations with the correct people being charged and brought before the Royal Court. It should be noted that the RC would need to pass the fullest sentences against those found guilty and that the procedings should, in this instance, be televised.
    4) the setting up, publically, of the means to stop anything like this from ever happening again. Not just these terrible abuse crimes, but the States being allowed to run freely. There now needs to be an independant watchdog of some kind – something that may have been able to do something had it existed and worked properly.
    5) If ministerial government continues, the people of Jersey MUST be the ones to vote for this so-called ‘First Minister’.

    I wish to god I were able to return to the island, however, Im not in a practical position to be able to do so. If I were Id be right at the front of the people demanding change, one hand putting my money where my mouth is.

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    The following words seem suitably appropriate at the moment, I’m sure you will appreciate them.

    “We’ve gotta get it together then,
    To expose and close the doors on those who try,
    To strangle and mangle the truth,
    ‘Cause the circle of hatred continues unless we react,
    We gotta take the power back…
    …no more lies”

    Reply
  12. Rob Kent

    I am reasonably convinced, as Frank Walker stated on Newsnight, that the people charged with offences will be treated firmly by the courts – Jersey could hardly do otherwise with the eyes of the world upon it.

    But that is not the point. The point is the peculiar Jersey culture and political institutions that allowed this situation to arise and persist for so long.

    Insitutional child abuse has been a problem just about everywhere in the past and there were numerous scandals such as this one exposed in the 1980s in the UK – the Northern Ireland and Staffordshire ones for example, although there was no suggestion of child death.

    But Jersey being such a closed society allowed the victims nowhere to turn. The nature of the political system also means that any scandal like this is much more likely to be covered up for all kinds of reasons – fear of losing its reputation, protection of friends, ‘pillars of the community’, not wanting to shame the Establishment or bring it into disrepute, etc.

    I grew up in Jersey and left in 1984. One thing that incensed me when I lived there was the almost total lack of a free press and media and the power of the politicians to stifle debate. A couple of examples: in the early eighties there was briefly a magazine called Radical Island Press (RIP) which invited George Foulkes the Labour politician over to address the public about Jersey’s constitutional status and how it might be affected by an incoming Labour government – an issue of wide public interest you would have thought. The organisers hired one of the parish halls but the day before the talk, the parish cancelled the booking. The word had gone around and everyone withdrew cooperation, including many of the local hotels. The speech was finally given in a small hotel function room in town.

    Another example: in 1981 or 1982 Greenpeace wanted to enter a float in the Battle of Flowers – a white dove. They were banned by the police chief because he thought it might cause a violent reaction from the public. When I wrote to the JEP to protest, they refused to print my letter because it was ‘not suitable’, whatever that meant.

    What you end up with is backward thinking people who don’t like criticism, who are not open to fresh thinking and who use their influence to stifle opposition to their often wasteful and sometimes harmful policies. They square it with their conscience by claiming to do it in the interests of Jersey.

    Ironically they are the ones destroying Jersey and its reputation. Maybe this scandal will provide an opportunity to reassess the whole system of government in Jersey. Wouldn’t it also be nice if you had a free media that was able to do real investigative journalism without fear of upsetting its paymasters.

    Oh well, we still have the Internet.

    Rob Kent,
    Brighton
    wwww.robkent.com

    Reply

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