INCOMPETENT – BIASED – ULTRA VIRES; A CHAOTIC SHAMBLES.
CALL FOR RESIGNATION:
Formal Submission to the Committee of Inquiry;
Formal Submission to the Jersey Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst –
By Stuart Syvret.
21th October, 2014.
The government of Jersey (the States of Jersey), after years of resistance, eventually agreed to establish a public inquiry (Committee of Inquiry) into many decades of concealed child-abuse and child-protection failure.
The resultant Committee of Inquiry (CoI) is a body which – largely through its own acts & omissions – is not now capable of delivering upon the requirements of:
- The States of Jersey enabling proposition;
- The terms-of-reference;
- Administrative-law case-law;
- Its legislative purpose;
- The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Just some of the reasons why that is so, are described below.
As the first public figure in Jersey to uncover and speak out against the systemic and endemic concealment of child-abuse which had been taking place for decades, I have a particularly strong interest in seeing the issues inquired into effectively – and particularly in seeing that right is done by the survivors of abuse, the at-risk children of today and the future, and the many whistle-blowers who courageously played a role in exposing the truth.
In addition to my primary concerns, as a key witness and directly affected person I also have personal concerns with the performance of the current CoI, and consequently concerns with my own rights.
I have had a number of serious doubts about this CoI as an entity from the moment it was established. Nevertheless, it being so established and the process started, against my better judgment I set my concerns aside, hoping to be proven wrong.
A key part of the work I have been undertaking out of the public eye has involved liaising with a number of survivors, witnesses and whistle-blowers, speaking with them about the inquiry process and doing what I could to allay their fears & persuade them to engage with the CoI and to give evidence.
Throughout that process I have had to wrestle with my conscience: ‘was it ethical of me to encourage often vulnerable people – already harmed by the betrayals of public authority – to again engage with yet another public authority which I feared was going to fail them?’ On balance – I decided to encourage survivors, witnesses, and whistle-blowers to engage.
But in the intervening months we have seen a structurally flawed CoI stumbling from error to error – mired in bias, contamination by conflicted parties, ultra vires actions, politicisation and startling incompetence – to the present day where the CoI stands in a chaotic shambles.
This CoI had been haemorrhaging confidence for months. The recent accessing by persons unknown of a profoundly sensitive 200 page draft witness statement was the final straw.
I am now calling on CoI Chair Frances Oldham QC and her two panel members – to resign with immediate effect.
In the event they the refuse to resign, I am calling on the Jersey Chief Minster Senator Ian Gorst to take the necessary steps to have this panel removed, including if necessary, asking the Jersey parliament to replace them.
Neither the Chair, nor her panel members, nor the CoI’s lawyers, Evershed, have my confidence as a centrally involved person – nor as a core witness – and nor do they have the confidence of a number of survivors, witnesses and whistle-blowers with whom I have spoken.
It will undoubtedly be true that a number of people will retain confidence in this particular CoI. But it is equally true that a number do not. And amongst that latter group are certain key witnesses – people who deserve to feel confident and secure in a process which they’re expected to go forward to, and to give evidence to – an act of deep trust.
It was the task of this CoI to take those people with it – to gain their trust; gain their trust through openness, transparency, objectivity and competence. It failed in that primary task. And now it must go.
For if this CoI, this Chair, this panel, and their spin-doctors and these lawyers choose to remain in office, as they can do with the support of the Jersey establishment – and carry on regardless and see-out their lucrative contracts – the findings and final report they produce will not be a real set of findings – a real report. How could it be, when a number of key witnesses will not now even make themselves known to this CoI, let alone give it detailed evidence? As things stand any findings or final report of this particular CoI could only ever be some shabby, incomplete, omissive simulacrum of a real inquiry.
To convey just some of the ways in which this CoI has failed, I describe below a number of examples. It is fair to say that these issues vary in seriousness. Some of them are very serious indeed – and in some instances would constitute a resigning-matter even if the particular issue was the only one of concern. For example sending profoundly sensitive 200 page draft witness-statements via ordinary mail and consequently causing a shocking security breach.
There are also certain factors which are outside of the CoI’s immediate control but which nevertheless – given the CoI’s clear “legislative purpose” to deliver a true, effective investigation into Jersey’s decades of child-protection failure – the CoI should have expressed public concern over. For example, the appointment of William Bailhache as Bailiff given his express conflicts of interest in the subject-matter of the CoI, the gross and unaccountable power he has, and the immediately harassing and intimidating affect his appointment had upon a number of witnesses – myself amongst them.
What follows are just some of the reasons why Frances Oldham QC must resign immediately and take the failed apparatus she Chairs with her.
Not following the Salmon Principles:
The six cardinal principles of fair procedure under the amended Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1921. The Salmon Principles were devised by Lord Justice Salmon, who, in 1966, chaired a Royal Commission on Tribunals of Inquiry following dissatisfaction with procedural aspects of Lord Denning’s inquiry into the Profumo affair. These principles are:
- Before any person becomes involved in an inquiry, the tribunal must be satisfied that there are circumstances which affect them and which the tribunal proposes to investigate.
- Before any person who is involved in an inquiry is called as a witness, they should be informed of any allegations made against them and the substance of the evidence in support of them.
- They should be given an adequate opportunity to prepare their case and of being assisted by legal advisers and their legal expenses should normally be met out of public funds.
- They should have the opportunity of being examined by their own solicitor or counsel and of stating their case in public at the inquiry.
- Any material witnesses they wish to call at the inquiry should, if reasonably practicable, be heard.
- They should have the opportunity of testing by cross-examination conducted by their own solicitor or counsel any evidence which may affect them.
None of those Principles are at all controversial; they represent the basic standards of fairness and justice that all public inquires in the UK have worked under for decades. The need for such principles to be employed will be self-evident to most people. They become even more important if the matter being inquired into is deeply serious, with the prospect of all kinds of witnesses being dramatically affected in one way or another by the process.
For a public authority to fail to comply with the basic principles of natural justice which underpin the Salmon Principles is also to put that public authority at variance with the legal requirements of the ECHR.
A failure to use / allow cross-examination:
Whilst all of the Salmon Principles are very important, the process of cross-examination goes beyond a need to meet basic fairness tests, and enters the realm of basic, inquisitorial competence. Even leaving aside the human rights aspect of cross-examination and instead considering only the ability of a tribunal to really dig into evidence and testimony to uncover relevant facts – the omission of cross-examination renders the effective discharge of an investigative tribunal’s task virtually impossible.
Causing a serious security breach:
As any professional operation would understand perfectly well – you handle sensitive documents with the utmost care and take all of the obvious precautions. No professional office would send documents of the sensitivity of those being handled by this CoI by ordinary mail. Registered post would be required at least, more likely delivery by a specialist security-aware delivery organisation. That a 200-page draft witness statement – from one of the core witnesses – whose knowledge is so extensive – was simply shoved into an envelope and posted – is scarcely believable. Consequently, the envelope was opened by persons unknown during transit – probably deliberately – and, we must assume, its content read and copied.
This means that all of the many dozens of people likely named & identified in the former Deputy Police Chief’s statement have now suffered serious data-breaches. What will be – in some cases – dramatically serious information concerning them – is now in all likelihood in the hands of persons unknown. Quite possibly persons of improper motivation.
Now all of those people who may speculate that they might have been named in Mr. Harper’s statement will have the right to demand of the CoI that it reveal to them what data concerning them has been so casually tossed into unauthorised hands by the CoI.
And such an incompetent handling of personal information will also make potential witnesses – those who were considering giving evidence – now deeply reluctant to do so, for fear this CoI will leak their data. Which was entirely feasibly the very motivation of the persons or forces that opened the packet and made zero attempt to disguise their actions. It is a text-book method of witness-intimidation.
In acting as it did this CoI has potentially furnished those who would intimidate its potential witnesses with the very means to do so.
This would be a resigning-matter – on its own.
Very poor – or non-existent – victim-support:
On at least two recent occasions, witnesses giving live testimony have found that process understandably extremely difficult and have broken-down in tears. On both of those occasions the CoI had no victim-support team available; not even a single specialist person.
On one of those occasions the distressed survivor was put in the hands of one of the CoI’s spin-doctors – former BBC journalist Liz MacKean.
On another occasion, another survivor who found giving evidence to be too traumatic had the good fortune that representatives of the Jersey Care Leavers Association were present, as they were able to come to her assistance and support – the CoI again having no victim-support personnel present.
On that occasion, one of Jersey’s independent journalists – a person who has been instrumental in exposing the child-abuse cover-ups – happened to be present and in addition to seeking assistance for the distressed survivor, asked three members of the CoI team – spin-doctor Liz MacKean, and Eversheds employees Angharad Shurmer and Natalie Minott – why there had been no victim-support available?
None of them could – or would – answer the question, and the independent journalist was told they “would get back to him”. To date they have not done so.
Indeed – it is far from clear if the CoI has ever employed dedicated victim-support staff – as opposed to employing directly, on occasions, at least four spin-doctors. A factor which shows where the priorities of this particular CoI lie.
Spin-doctoring – instead of objectivity:
This CoI has shown a marked propensity for PR – for spin-doctoring – for opinion-management – from the very moment it was appointed.
At the very first public meeting it held at St. Pauls Centre, Jersey – the Chair, flanked by her two panel members, read out a pre-prepared statement – and refused to answer any questions at all. The three of them then filled out of the hall through the audience like some kind of quasi-religious procession.
The Chair of the committee herself fronted some desperately cynical and transparent spin-doctoring when responding to the crises of confidence caused by the CoI’s loss of control of the data in the draft statement of the former Deputy Police Chief. That incident – the opening by persons unknown of the draft statement sent by ordinary mail – rightly enough has attracted international media attention. The response of the Chair of the CoI was not to apologise and announce an immediate change in posting policy, and launch an investigation into who opened the packet – but instead to engage in a transparently diversionary attack on an American journalist for inadvertently tweeting a photo which contained the former Deputy Chief’s address; a matter he himself regards as utterly trivial in comparison to the deeply alarming opening of his 200-page draft statement during transit in ordinary postage.
From the very outset this CoI lost faith – and deterred a number of witnesses – through the brazenly obvious spin-doctoring of the CoI’s official name, the Jersey “Care Inquiry”.
How passive – even positive – does that word ring, “care”? This is not a public inquiry into “care” – it is a public inquiry into the neglect, battery, torture, rape, sodomy and life-crushing damage inflicted upon hundreds of children – and the utter failure of the entire – the entire – Jersey polity to prevent that – in fact to pro-actively cover-up such atrocities – for decades.
This is not an inquiry into “Care” – it is an inquiry into a monstrous catalogue of child-abuse – and the gross, corporate failure which enabled that abuse.
An environment designed to be hostile:
In an example of the above points – absence of regard for witnesses – and spin-doctoring – it is strikingly notable that the room and attached facilities, in which the CoI is taking place, are inimically hostile to witnesses.
Indeed, so obviously hostile are the arrangements, it is difficult to imagine they were arrived at by accident.
For example, as opposed to the usual room-layout of an inquisitorial tribunal – in which the inquisitor – the Chair or judge – would be placed in the centre, this room has been so designed that the witnesses – many of who will be frightened, insecure, vulnerable people – people with an understandably lasting fear of, and hostility to, people in authority – are placed centre-stage – directly opposite the entrance door – and against a stark back-wall of two screens which relay their words and items of evidence.
To reach this centre-stage position the witness must come in through the same entrance as the public audience and walk immediately alongside them – then across their vision, from the audience’s right to its left – in order to access the entrance to the witness platform.
The Chair and her panel members are then visible to the witness on the witness’s left – and a serried rank of tables and computer screens – peopled with lawyers and conflicted parties – are visible to the witness on their right. Directly in front of the witnesses sits the audience – a potentially hostile group of people – perhaps including a witness’s rapists – staring straight at them.
It is also no small curiosity who the controllers – or even beneficial owners – of the building are? For it is a major modern Jersey office block, but one door down from the chambers of the expressly and directly conflicted Jersey legal syndicate, the Ogier Group – one of the many, many law firms to have played a central role in the concealment of serious crimes in Jersey such as rape, battery, corruption and child-abuse.
Those facts have not been lost on certain witnesses.
The Ogier Group has, essentially, now “captured” the policing function, the prosecution function and the judicial function in Jersey – and one of its key figures, part-time lawyer/part-time judge, Julian Clyde-Smith, has been expressly involved in matters of central relevance to the subject-matter of this inquiry.
Such an overtly hostile environment – designed as it is, and taking place in the back-rooms of the building of the conflicted Ogier Group – has caused certain witnesses – myself amongst them – to be actively intimidated and deterred from engagement and speaking frankly.
That was almost certainly the objective.
Failing to meet “Part (e)” of the States of Jersey decision:
The Jersey parliamentary proposition by which the CoI was established and empowered, included – at paragraph (e) – the following: –
(e) to agree that the proposed Chairman should be requested to recommend any final changes to the Terms of Reference for the Committee of Inquiry referred to in paragraph (b) above for approval by the Assembly, and also to set out the proposed process for conducting the Inquiry having consulted with interested parties where necessary;
In some ways paragraph (e) could be said to be a fundamentally central part of the inquiry process and its terms of reference. For of all the legislative purposes, this one in particular emphasised and rightly required engagement with the community; the re-building of trust with affected people – bringing those people into participation, as opposed to the exercise of unaccountable power which is normal in Jersey. That one key purpose was central to the task of generating trust – and bringing about the start of healing.
Instead, the Chair has ignored a key requirement of the Jersey legislature – failed to undertake the inevitably necessary refining process on the terms of reference and to seek the Assembly’s approval for them – failed to also set-out the proposed process for conducting the inquiry – and very significantly, has failed to consult with interested parties.
Consequently, this CoI has been the author of its own misfortune now that it is mired in controversy, methodological failings and an absence of trust.
The justification for that absence of trust is exemplified by an extant – and particularly relevant – example of fraudulent conduct with the terms-of-reference of another Jersey public inquiry – one inextricably central to the subject matter of this public inquiry, namely the review by Brian Napier QC into the illegal suspension of Police Chief Graham Power, Queens Police Medal. That illegal suspension having been motivated by – amongst other serious factors – a wish by conflicted parties to sabotage and discredit the historic child-abuse investigation.
On that occasion, the Jersey legislature approved terms-of-reference which included as paragraph (d) the following: –
“(d) Review all information relating to the original suspension procedure, including relevant sections of the published Affidavit from the suspended Chief Officer of Police.”
However, that important ToR was “accidentally” omitted from the ToR given to the inquisitor Brian Napier QC – and the senior civil servant responsible for that “error” is the Chief Executive to the Jersey Council of Ministers – and the very same man who was instrumental in the recruiting and briefing of this CoI.
There are only two plausible conclusions to be drawn from the astounding and unprecedented fact this CoI has been content to work with – and still work with – this expressly conflicted senior civil servant – key hostile witness – & his department (the Chief Minister’s department): either that this CoI is incompetent and its members lack even a rudimentary study of the background of the issues they are inquiring into – that they have failed to undertake “sufficient inquiry” – or that they are aware of that fatally conflicting fact concerning the Chief Executive – but simply don’t care.
One way or another, this CoI has demonstrated itself to be contemptuous of the instructions of the legislature – and contemptuous of the meaningful & co-operative public engagement which was sought.
Failing to declare interests:
In a further example of secrecy, the CoI has failed to require of its Chair and members – and its lawyers – and its spin-doctors – that they make and sign a public declaration of interests. This is a startling omission.
It is doubly startling that no corporate declaration of interest has been entered by the lawyers running the CoI, Evershed – a large, international law-firm – which deals in tax-avoidance, international clients – and – particularly – works for UK authorities directly conflicted in the Jersey child-abuse cover-up, such as the Metropolitan Police and the security services.
Moreover, Evershed has its principal UK base in the City of London, an impenetrable quasi-realm inextricably entwined with the tax-shelter that is the Crown Dependency of Jersey, the City of London Corporation thus being wholly conflicted in respect of protecting the Jersey status-quo – helping to conceal the true Potemkin-village nature of the Jersey “justice” apparatus – and concealing the island’s disgusting child-abuse history.
Not only do we live in an era of transparency and accountability – we also expect of those in positions of power and of trust that they adhere to the Nolan Principles on Standards in Public Life. That would be a sufficient enough reason to expect automatic public declarations of interest from those working for such a public body; a declaration of interest which should include membership of organisations, such as City of London Corporation guilds, Freemasonry, the Churches, and other similar such conflicted associations.
In the context of a public inquiry into decades of the most serious criminality and corruption in Jersey – an environment in which blackmail, greed, racketeering, Freemasonry, domination by legal syndicates, politicised churches, coercion and bribery are the very DNA of business and of the polity – with even a semi-ironic local moniker for this culture, “The Jersey Way” – such a failure to produce an automatic declaration of interests can only display a wilful ignorance of the subject-matter under investigation.
Failing to work to high standards of transparency, and adopting deeply restrictive protocols:
Space does not permit a full account of just how defective in so many ways are many of the protocols adopted – ex cathedra – by this CoI. Again, many of these issues would have been avoided had the CoI followed its instructions as issued by the parliament – in accordance with paragraph (e) – and undertaken proper consultation rather than going on a frolic of its own.
The many protocols the CoI has written and published are often dense, lengthy, written in legalese and thus an unattractive and complex read for a lay-audience. Many witnesses and members of the public will simply not have read them. A fact which is unfortunate given the many serious consequences and implications of the protocols.
Nevertheless, to cite a broad issue, the CoI has embraced obscurantism, opacity and secrecy to the maximal possible extent. It chose not to follow the spirit of freedom of information, and has instead stated it will cite the absolute exemption contained in the FoI Law.
It appears that this CoI – rather than being a “public inquiry – is in fact a “secret” inquiry – by having plainly based many of its protocols upon the corrupt, abusive and suppressive misapplication of the Data Protection Law in Jersey. The current Data Protection Commissioner has pursued – in collusion with the Law Officer’s Department, politicians and directly conflicted law firms such as Appleby Global (formerly Bailhache LaBesse) – a nakedly biased and anti-democratic campaign against free-speech, investigative journalism and effective child-protection. That oppressive course of conduct by the Jersey oligarchy has been assisted and enforced by directly conflicted “judges” – and has included the first secret trial in the British Isles – conducted against me – for trying to protect former constituents from corruption, battery, child-abuse, rape and clinical murders; a catalogue of evidenced crimes, previously concealed by the Jersey authorities.
The Data Protection Commissioner – and the overtly politicised – and directly conflicted “prosecution” and “judicial” functions in Jersey have all played a role in the concealment of serious crimes and suppressing investigative journalism. That conduct has to be investigated by any competent and lawful public inquiry examining the decades of concealed child-abuse in the island.
Instead, this CoI has given every indication – via its self-generated protocols – and a number of suppressive and biased decisions it has made – that it is little more than an extension of and a furtherance of, the Culture-of-Concealment and the suppression of free-speech and independent journalism as carried out through the corrupted abusive misapplication of Data Protection “Laws”.
In acting in this way, the CoI is – axiomatically – a continuance of the very secrecy – the very Culture-of-Concealment – which enabled, underpinned, and led to decades of child-abuse being hidden. This approach by the CoI has lost it an incalculable amount of trust.
Failing to reply in a timely manner – or failing to reply at all – to reasoned inquiries from members of the public:
A number of people including survivors, former States members, witnesses and bloggers have written to the CoI on a number of occasions with differing questions. Often these people have been treated with contempt, their correspondence taking weeks or months to answer – but often receiving no reply at all.
It is quite remarkable that a body which has seen fit to directly employ at least four spin-doctors – at least two of who have been directly conflicted in the matters at hand – has failed to employ so much as one public support officer to always be present to respond to and assist powerless members of the public.
This conduct by the CoI is wholly unacceptable.
Requiring people to sign-up to “Interested Party Status” before the CoI will give legal representation funding to that person:
Even though I am a core witness – and the CoI has provision to provide legal representation funding – I have been refused legal funding. My human rights are engaged in a number of ways by this CoI – not least because of the ‘consequences’ which would follow for me if I were to give evidence to it. I have a right to take legal advice on those matters before I agree to engage with the CoI or sign-up to some kind of “agreement”, the implications of which I do not understand, and will not fully understand until I have been able to take legal advice. I told the CoI this in my application.
Consequently, the CoI refused to give me legal funding – in direct breach of my ECHR rights. Requiring people to sign away their rights, bind themselves, and assign those Rights guaranteed under the European Convention of Human Rights – before the person has been able to take legal advice on the implications and consequences of doing that – is a manifest absurdity.
Not recording the initial interviews:
A number of expert people have expressed most serious surprise that the CoI – in its process of undertaking lengthy initial interviews with witnesses – is not recording those interviews.
Therefore there is no verbatim record. This is an absolute breach of the basic professional standards of such investigations.
Any competent inquisitor – familiar with public investigations of this type – will confirm the policy adopted by this CoI is not best-practice.
Instead of best-practice, the CoI’s interview team have been laboriously taking short-hand notes during the initial interviews.
This is a manifestly inadequate process. The CoI’s interview team then go away – and produce what they consider to be a distillation of the oral evidence given by the witness. A draft “transcript” is then sent to the witness for checking and signing. Many witnesses – not being expert in such matters – may then unwittingly sign a draft statement that is ommisive of, or misrepresentative of, the things they actually said.
Thus in the event of any subsequent dispute arising, there is no original oral recording to return to.
It is precisely for such reasons that best-practice in light of legislation such as PACE requires multi-copy recordings to be undertaken, with copies provided to the inquisitor, the witness and involved lawyers. The necessary recording equipment is manufactured and marketed for just such purposes. For example, appended to this statement is a brochure for just such PACE-compliant 2, 3 & 4-way digital audio-recorders for evidential and disciplinary interviews. (Attached.)
The failure of the policy adopted by the CoI is further re-enforced in that many witnesses are waiting months to receive the draft “transcript” of their interview, laboriously and slowly produced from short-hand notes – and are then finding numerous omissions and mistakes in their statements when the draft is eventually returned to them for checking.
In addition to amplifying the opportunity for errors and omissions to creep into witness-statements, the methodology adopted by the CoI – instead of automatic voice-recognition technology which could be used to produce draft transcripts from the audio-recordings – is labour-intensive, expensive and extremely slow. At the rate at which the transcripts are being produced, this CoI could take years to complete its flawed work.
Not employing and using an Amicus Curiae – and woeful standards of questioning:
A very strong case could be made for a CoI of this nature to employ an amicus – an un-aligned lawyer – to raise issues, ask questions and make arguments which the CoI may benefit from in its work – even if a process of cross-examination was to take place.
In the absence of cross-examination – the failure to have an amicus present at every hearing is an omission of simply mystifying incompetence.
Already, in those public hearings which have taken place, the standard of questioning – and in particular the biased and ommisive nature of that questioning – has been startling, even to lay-people.
For example, early witnesses spoke of their experiences in Jersey’s child-“protection” apparatus during the 1940s & 50s and mentioned how, around the age of 14, they had been put out of the children’s’ homes and instead placed into a kind of servitude, or serfdom to local wealthy families. Upon reaching the age of 16 or 18 they were made to leave the house, often with nothing but a few clothes. In one case the boy in question was given a one-way boat ticket to neighbouring island of Guernsey. That testimony was a remarkable revelation – touching upon as it did a hitherto unknown and non-publicised phenomenon: what appears to have been a regular supply of unpaid household labour to wealthy local families in the form of de facto ‘slaves’ from the island’s orphanages. But yet, those revelations went by entirely unremarked by the CoI’s inquisitorial lawyer, and scarcely remarked by the panel.
In a further example, when “reading-in” certain evidence relating to a survivor from the late 1960s, a report recorded how on one occasion the boy had been taken to Accident & Emergency with “bruising to his face and a pronounced limp”. That particularly alarming passage of the evidence passed by – wholly unremarked by the CoI.
A competent amicus would have stepped in and asked the many obvious questions the CoI’s own lawyers fail to ask.
Such remarkable conduct by the CoI begins to go beyond the bounds of mere incompetence, and begins to raise questions of an altogether different kind.
Not taking evidence-in-chief in public – nor permitting witnesses to make public opening statements:
The remarkable methodological failure of this CoI to record the primary interviews with witnesses using multi-copy digital voice-recorders in compliance with best-practice has been stated above.
Another very obvious failing – if indeed it deserves the excuse of being described as “failure” given the obscure true purposes of this CoI – is the failure to invite witnesses to make an opening statement or to invite them to give opening evidence-in-chief – during the public hearings.
This practice – an obviously deliberate stratagem to close-down the scope of testimony – has the effect of massively constraining the witness – as though this were a trial in a court-room as opposed to an inquisitorial public-inquiry – to only answering narrow questions put to them by the CoI’s lawyers.
That practice amounts to a failure to meet the legislative purposes of the CoI, an ultra vires constraint upon the rights of witnesses – and an abandonment of the effectiveness of full, public inquisition of the type this CoI is supposed to enable and bring about.
That practice by this CoI would be ultra vires, an abuse of witnesses’ rights – and an abandonment of the full inquisitorial effectiveness and purposes of this public inquiry – even if an amicus were present to ask questions, develop answers and raise issues that the CoI’s lawyers failed to raise. That the CoI artificially constrains the witnesses in this way – without the lawyers of other witnesses and interested parties, or the witness’s own lawyers being present to ask questions – and no process of cross-examination permitted – is to demonstrate this particular CoI to be simply a Potemkin village; a fake – a sham. This is no real public inquiry.
The methodology of questioning the witnesses – as adopted in secret – with no public-consultation contra paragraph (e) of the legislature’s decision – and with no consultation with interested parties – and pronounced ex cathedra by this CoI is, quite frankly, so overtly corrupt it would be a stand-alone resigning matter.
No appeals system:
For a body with an extensive range of complex, self-generated ‘rules’ – and a propensity to make serious decisions and ‘rulings’ – in closed sessions – which have a direct effect on people, the absence of an appeals structure in respect of those decisions is noteworthy.
The importance of this fact should not be understated. This CoI has as its very purpose to inquire into and expose the workings of a secretive, unaccountable, over-powerful, arrogant and frequently dangerous public administration in Jersey – one which fostered and concealed decades of child-abuse. For any CoI to be trustworthy and to win public confidence, especially from the most important group, the survivors of child-abuse, that CoI would have to embrace a different culture; one of openness, accessibility and amenability. To be in the habit of making ex cathedra “rulings” – usually with zero explanation – and having no appeals-structure by which those decisions may be reviewed, is nothing less than a further example of the abuse of unaccountable power that this CoI is supposed to be investigating.
Working with directly conflicted parties – infiltration & contamination – hiding in plain sight:
This is one of the most serious failures by this CoI – and a resigning-matter on a stand-alone basis.
You have to hand it to the Jersey authorities for their sheer chutzpah – the boldness they exhibit – born of the long-developed sense of utter invulnerability. For this is a public inquiry into decades of concealed child-abuse – and at the heart of that matter is the sustained failure on the part of Jersey’s public authorities – and of a very significant number of directly and expressly conflicted senior civil servants and others.
You would imagine then – would you not – that any remotely competent public inquiry team coming into this situation would – as a first step – ensure that those who were employed or co-opted locally to assist the CoI – or who were offered up by Jersey’s public authorities to “assist” the inquiry or to “liaise” with it – were not conflicted – and most certainly were not individuals who are key hostile witnesses to the matters under inquiry; not conflicted individuals with many hard questions to answer for the roles they’ve played in the concealment of child-abuse.
Remarkably, the CoI has not taken that rudimentary step – the step of protecting itself, its powers and its functions – and its neutrality – from contamination with conflicted individuals with motivations to hide their own true role in events.
Instead, the CoI has agreed to work with a central co-ordination team as a point of data provision – assembled and offered up by a centrally conflicted public authority in Jersey, the Chief Minister’s Department. That being the same Department which houses the conflicted Chief Executive, already referred to above.
It gets worse.
The two lead individuals in this team which the CoI have agreed to work with – are both absolutely centrally involved in the subject of the inquiry, and are directly conflicted parties; two senior employees from the Health & Social Services Department – in which both of them played sustained roles in decades of child-protection failure – and the concealment of that failure.
I know that – I know it very well – as I used to be the Health & Social Services Minister and experienced first-hand the failures and obstructions of both individuals. Both are profoundly culpable.
But yet – astonishingly – here they are, on behalf of Jersey’s conflicted Chief Minister’s Department – “helping” this CoI gather the “right” evidence.
Indeed – so infiltrated is the more senior of the two individuals, he is frequently to be seen in the CoI sessions, sitting amongst the extensive facilities set aside for “Interested Parties” – laughing and joking during breaks with the CoI’s legal team and other staff.
To illustrate how toxic and contaminated this state of affairs is, consider: on Wednesday 15th October, amongst the evidence the CoI took was the infamous “letter of thanks” (copy attached) written in 1990 by the then President of the Education Committee, one Iris Le Feuvre to Jane and Alan Maguire – the two child-abusing psychopaths who ran the Blanche Pierre Group Home for the best part of a decade, during which they tortured the vulnerable children placed in their “care”.
I discovered that letter – and similar evidence – in my own researches undertaken in 2007. At that time Iris Le Feuvre was the Chair of the Jersey Child Protection Committee. Reading that letter – and other factors – led me to take the Ministerial decision to sack Le Feuvre from that post, and I wrote a detailed letter explaining the facts – outlining my criticisms – and informing her of my decision.
When I went into the Health & Social Services office to get my decision formally recorded, I met with two officers, the then Chief Executive – and the senior civil-servant who now “helps” this CoI. When I informed them of my decision and asked them to make a formal record of it, I was met with tirade of anger, fear, abuse and obstructive defiance from both men. (I later learnt that both men had been closely involved in the unlawful conspiracy to engineer my dismissal as Minister. That conspiracy is referred to in a contemporaneous file-note written by the then Police Chief Graham Power, who the corrupt civil servants attempted – and failed – to co-opt into their conspiracy. (Copy attached.)
On the occasion of the refusal to process my Ministerial decision to sack the child-abuse concealing Iris Le Feuvre from the post of Chair of the Jersey Child Protection Committee, the civil servant who now “helps” the CoI, literally went purple in the face with rage and fear and had spittle-flecks flying from the corners of his mouth as he launched into a tirade of abuse at me, shouting – accusing me of being mentally ill – I think amongst the words he used was “nutter” – accused me of being a drug-addict – and said, quite frankly he would not carry out my official Ministerial instruction.
It says something of just how fearful, obstructive and deranged the conduct was of that civil servant, that even – even – the then Attorney General, the conflicted & corrupt William Bailhache, recognised that they could not get away with simply not carrying out a lawful instruction from a Minister. So the sacking of the child-abuser-supporting Iris Le Feuvre took place in spite of corrupt attempts by these civil servants to keep her in post.
It is the key civil servant involved in this disgraceful episode – the one who screamed abuse at me and refused to discharge a lawful Ministerial decision – who has now been appointed by the Chief Minister – and, astoundingly, accepted by this CoI – as a key component in the “evidence-gathering” and collating machinery of this public inquiry – when a part of the legislative-purposes of the inquiry is to expressly investigate people like this civil servant.
On occasions when I have attended the CoI’s public hearings, I have been forced to endure the intimidating presence of this civil servant – a man who pro-actively and rabidly did all he could to obstruct the 2007 investigation into child-protection failures – man who screamed abuse at me for attempting to hold the system to account – a man who was a key participant in the illegal conspiracy to engineer my dismissal – a man who tried to prevent me from protecting my constituents – sitting in the privileged position of a state-funded “interested-party”.
Were that not sufficiently bad enough – the same man is the “point-of-contact” for this CoI within the Chief Minster’s Department – collating “evidence-gathering” for the CoI.
Plainly – it is not possible – for reasons of such contaminations and intimidating overt bias – for this CoI to lawfully engage with me.
And as I am a key witness, this CoI cannot, therefore, fulfil its legislative purpose. The Chair and panel members have no choice but to resign.
The second civil servant assigned by the Chief Minister to operate the liaison team works ordinarily in the Children’s Service – with a particular involvement in overseeing the children’s homes. Many years of service failure took place, which involved this man.
It is nothing less than astonishing that this CoI now finds itself contaminated by – even captured by – and dependent upon for certain key evidence – some of the very people who must be inquired into.
In a further example, the CoI has been “assisted” from the outset – and still works closely with – another party to the matters under inquiry – namely one of the senior Scrutiny Officers of the States of Jersey Greffe – the secretariat which supports the Jersey parliament.
This officer – so far as I am aware – has not acted in any reprehensible way himself.
But nevertheless, he is a key witness to several very important episodes. For example – the disgusting conduct of the then Social Services Scrutiny Panel which, in 2008 – in spite of the decades of concealed child-abuse having been exposed by me from July 2007 onwards – and in spite of being supplied with substantial documentary evidence – flatly refused to investigate the child-protection failures.
Further, the same Scrutiny Officer was also involved in a later Scrutiny Panel exercise – the directly relevant investigation into how false claims came to be made exaggerating the costs of Operation Rectangle, the Police investigation into historic abuse. Whilst a very good and useful report was produced on that occasion, nevertheless certain key pieces of oral evidence – provided in a formal, privileged, open public session – were withheld from publication in the transcripts. Why was that so? Why were the Panel members “advised” that those parts of the transcript could not be published? Who was involved in that “advice”?
These are questions this Scrutiny Officer might be able to answer. He is certainly a key witness. But – again – here he is – working behind the scenes – in the very heart of the CoI’s machinery
For having permitted such contaminations of its very apparatus, this is another stand-alone resigning matter.
To have permitted the process of the CoI to become contaminated with biasing factors is doubly-unforgivable – given that this CoI is led by a lawyer – is advised by a major international law-firm – and has a lawyer leading what passes for an interviewing and evidence-taking process.
Legal teaching and legal minds abound in this CoI – and are costing the public a correspondingly vast sum of money – yet some of the most rudimentary public-law case-law appears to elude all of them.
If a “public authority” which has been given the power to – the task to – make “discretionary” judgments and “discretionary decisions” – as this CoI has – that public authority must then exercise that power to make discretionary decisions in accordance with lawful standards of public administration.
Space here does not permit a full exploration of the many obvious ways in which the conduct of this CoI is plainly ultra vires. However, a brief consideration of the “contaminating factors” this CoI has unlawfully engaged with – thus rendering its process ultra vires – is necessary.
It is worth reflecting upon the fact that any “public authority” empowered to make “discretionary decisions” – is bound by the standards of lawful conduct – and that is true of all public authorities. When the public authority in question actually has a primary inquisitorial role – possesses quasi-judicial/quasi-prosecutorial status – and a consequently coercive set of enforcement powers – the absolute requirement to perform lawfully – for example to observe all standards of objectivity – is even greater.
So clear are the requisite standards, it is not even necessary – though it is absolutely correct to do so because public authorities must act in accordance with the ECHR – to cite Article 6 of the ECHR – the right to a fair hearing; it is enough to only look as far as English administrative-law case-law.
It is well-established that a body – a “public authority” exercising “discretionary power” – as this CoI is doing – must observe the basic standards of fairness, justice and impartiality. It is also the case that a public authority granted a discretionary power – may only use that power for the purposes for which it was granted. This CoI was granted its discretionary powers and duties to fairly, thoroughly and impartially investigate decades of child-protection failure and concealed child-abuse in Jersey. By failing to be able to meet that standard – by incorporating the close involvement and co-operation into the actual processes of the CoI of directly interested parties such as witnesses and potentially culpable individuals – the CoI has abandoned the proper and correct pursuit of its legislative purpose – and is instead using – abusing in reality – the “discretionary powers” granted to it for some “other” purposes. Quite just what those “purposes” may be remains to be seen. Although an informed and educated guess can be made now.
It is established law that “power is held on trust; to be used only for the purposes for which it is conferred”. Abdicating key evidence-gathering & collating functions – to directly conflicted parties – and evidencedly culpable parties in the subject under investigation at that – is to cast aside and trample into the dirt the discretionary powers conferred on the CoI and instead to let them become fettered to some other “purpose”.
Further – it is also well-established in public law that a body must not act conspicuously unfairly, nor so unfairly as to abuse its power, nor in unjustified breach of a legitimate expectation. Given that this CoI is a quasi-judicial / quasi-prosecutorial body – established for the sole core purpose of investigating the Jersey child-abuse scandals – it is breaching the legitimate expectation of basic fairness – and proper due process – to allow its workings to become contaminated with and by expressly conflicted parties.
Further – it is established in administrative law that a body must not have a direct interest in the outcome of a decision, or show actual bias, or a real possibility of bias. This body – the CoI – fails those basic standards and the basic tests through the possibility of bias in the mind of a fair-minded observer – because the body, the CoI is actually working with directly conflicted parties. It is also the case that this CoI has exhibited numerous examples of “actual bias”. Such examples of actual bias being the banning of bloggers from the press-facilities – in favour of conflicted establishment journalists who work for media organisations that can be shown – extensively – to have colluded in the concealment of decades of child-abuse in Jersey – for example, the BBC.
Further examples of actual bias include refusing to provide for me – a centrally involved core witness whose rights are engaged – the lawfully required legal representation funding – and in doing so ignoring the Salmon Principles and breaching the requirements of the ECHR. That act is further seen to exhibit gross bias in consideration of the – apparently – unlimited public resources able to be spent by the directly conflicted public authorities in Jersey – such as Police, public departments, senior civil servants etc. This is a gross misbalance of power, and non-existence of any “equality-of–arms” for whistle-blowers and victims of state-sponsored-oppression such as myself.
Apparent bias – actual bias – procedural unfairness – a failure to meet its “legislative purposes” – and a consequent abuse of its discretionary decision-making powers for some “other” – unlawful – purposes – are all starkly evidenced in the mere fact that this CoI has willingly agreed to work with expressly and directly conflicted individuals; Scrutiny Clerks who are key witnesses – and expressly, directly conflicted core witnesses – directly culpable individuals – such as the two civil-servants working through the Jersey Chief Minister’s Department as an “evidence-gathering” team on behalf of this CoI.
The position of this CoI is – thus – purely ultra vires – outside of the law – and is so, beyond remedy or salvage.
To further illustrate both the incompetence – and the actual bias – of this CoI – lest it be claimed that it and its officers “were not aware of” the conflicting factors such as the involved, culpable senior civil-servants – and the various other relevant considerations adumbrated in this statement calling for the CoI’s resignation – a “public authority” exercising “discretionary powers” is obliged by law to undertake what is described as “sufficient inquiry”.
The case-law on “sufficient inquiry” holds that “a public body has a basic duty to take reasonable steps to acquaint itself with the relevant material”. Here we have a quasi-judicial body such as this CoI, failing to take such rudimentary steps as to protect and shield its independence and neutrality from the very outset – by failing to ask itself basic questions: “are the people we might work with, co-opt into our administration – or become reliant upon for certain services, functions, information or evidence – possibly conflicted in some way?” Not asking itself such rudimentary questions, is for this CoI to fail every basic “legitimate expectation” of objectivity and “procedural fairness.”
To further illustrate the degree of insufficient inquiry – methodological dysfunction – and the systemic failure to keep members of the public fully informed, it is not, in fact, clear that this CoI is legally able to question many of the potentially key witnesses.
There is no public record of the Jersey parliament having made a decision – in accordance with Article 49 (b) of the States of Jersey Law – to disapply Article 36 (1) of the same law.
What are these Articles? What do they mean? Why are they significant? – And why are they fundamental to the inquisitorial success or failure of any public inquiry into the decades of concealed child-abuse in Jersey?
The extent of the child-protection failures – and the many associated unlawful cover-ups in Jersey, is not limited only to the mainstream “civil-service”. The subject matter – and scope for potential witnesses – spreads across the entire Jersey polity – from the executive departments – into the legislature and its secretariat – on into the prosecution function, the Law Officers Department – and, of course, into the judicial function and the judicial secretariat.
Thus the reach to potential witnesses takes in those people who were parliamentary Committee Clerks under the pre-2005 old “committee system” of government, those who are or who have been officers of the Jersey parliamentary Scrutiny function under the post-2005 Ministerial system, those who were or are officers of the States of Jersey Greffe, those who are or were officers of the prosecutorial Law Officers Department, those who were or are officers of the Judicial Greffe – and various other people.
Quite specifically – that category of people who are witnesses to various aspects of how the Jersey polity permitted, enabled, and then responded to, the exposure of decades of concealed child-abuse will include former and current Greffiers and Deputy Greffiers of the States – former and current Judicial Greffiers and Deputy Judicial Greffiers – Solicitor Generals, Attorney Generals, Deputy Bailiffs, Bailiffs and Lieutenant Governors.
Without pre-judging what testimony these categories of people may be able to provide – it is inescapably obvious that any effective inquiry into the decades of concealed child-abuse in Jersey must make reasonable efforts to explore all relevant and available witnesses.
But here arises the problem of Article 36 (1) of the States of Jersey Law, which states:
36 Evidence of proceedings not to be given without leave
(1) Subject to this Part and standing orders, no member of the States or officer of the States and no person employed to take minutes before the States or any committee or panel established under standing orders shall give evidence elsewhere – (a) in respect of the contents of such minutes or the contents of any document laid before any of those bodies; or (b) in respect of any proceedings or examinations held before any of those bodies, without the prior consent of the body concerned.
In effect, most of the categories of potential witnesses just described are expressly required to “seek leave” – permission – from the States assembly – or other bodies under whose authority the witness may have been operating. Those potential witnesses are not free agents.
There is a legislative means of overcoming some of that prior-constraint upon possible witnesses – namely Article 49 (b) of the States of Jersey Law which says: –
The States may by Regulations
(b) disapply Article 36(1) to evidence given before a committee or panel established by standing orders;
There is no public record of the States having made such a decision – disapplying by Regulations – the restrictive requirement of Article 36(1).
So it is theoretically possible for those categories of witnesses to give evidence to the CoI – but only if they received express “leave” to do so – gained permission from – the body in question. That constraint of having to “seek leave” by that category of witness could be set-aside – in a clear, blanket manner – by the States, if it invoked Article 49 (b) so as to disapply the restriction.
But do these obscure and tedious little bits of law matter to the inquisitorial purposes of a public inquiry into decades of concealed child-abuse in Jersey?
Unless a blanket permission to give evidence is delivered by the States via Article 49(b) disapplying Article 36 (1) – the obstruction of potential testimony caused is two-fold.
Firstly, those cohorts of potential witnesses are actively prevented from giving testimony – even if they are willing witnesses – without first getting permission from those who have power over them; getting permission from the very apparatus – and the very senior individuals in various bodies who have played culpable and pro-active roles in the decades of child-protection failure and child-abuse concealment.
No inquisitorial process can expect – not remotely – to get anywhere near the truth for as long as such a restriction – and such potential intimidation – lays over the heads of potential witnesses.
Secondly, there will be – and categorically are – people in those cohorts of witnesses who do not want to give evidence – who are on the side of the failed apparatus – who have friends and family members who are culpable – and who are culpable themselves in various ways. Those people have – in the existence of Article 36 (1) – a ready-made “shield” from being expected to – or being called to – give evidence. Such individuals could well pretend to wish to be co-operative, but point “apologetically” to Article 36 (1), as a “reason” why they “cannot” give evidence.
These are not trivial points.
Ultimately – at root – the reason why children were neglected, maltreated, used, battered, subjected to savage solitary-confinement regimes, damaged, molested, and raped – without remedy for decades in Jersey is because of the wholly dysfunctional – corrupted – Crown powers in Jersey and the immunities and invulnerabilities – such as that granted by Article 36 (1) – which shield those at the top of that apparatus.
That the issues raised by Article 36(1) are – indeed – deeply problematic, are confirmed by no less a body than this CoI itself. It was me who raised this issue with them via e-mail on the 9th April 2014, and Peter Jones of Evershed – on behalf of the CoI – replied on the 11th April accepting that Article 36(1) represented what was “clearly an important issue” (Correspondence attached.)
However, since that correspondence, no further response has been received from the CoI – and the restriction / shield that Article 36 (1) represents to potential witnesses remains as a serious obstacle to any inquisitorial process.
It is not possible to have trust in a body – this CoI – which consists of an army of immensely expensive lawyers – yet which has to have basic legislative obstacles brought to its attention by an ordinary member of the public.
And furthermore – acknowledging the significance of the issue – but then failing to discharge its legislative purpose by publically asking its empowering body – the States of Jersey – to make the necessary regulatory change, is likewise another example of incompetence.
Banning independent journalists from use of the press-facilities:
As any rudimentary study of the events of the years since 2007 and of the published evidence shows, the Jersey child-abuse controversies represent the first occasion, in Jersey’s 800 year history as a quasi-independent jurisdiction, on which the entrenched ruling oligarchy has lost control of public news and of public discourse. In that sense, the powerful in the island have faced the same culture-shock – the same challenge to established power – as many regimes around the world have faced – through the arrival of the world wide web and citizen’s journalism.
The traditional media in Jersey are all entirely captured by the influence and control of the local oligarchy, and that media has been – on the evidence – pro-actively collusive with Jersey’s public authorities in the concealment of the decades of child-abuse.
The history of this episode is evidenced by the contrast between the heritage media on the one hand, and Jersey’s bloggers, the only independent journalists reporting the controversy on the other. For years now, Jersey’s bloggers have steadfastly and at personal cost – pursued without reward the investigation and reporting of the child-abuse, the child-abuse cover-ups, and all of the attendant conflicts of interest and abuses of power. In undertaking this important public duty, the bloggers have gained the trust of abuse survivors, whistle-blowers and witnesses.
The bloggers are the only media to have reported the child-abuse and associated history of cover-ups in great depth – and to have evidenced the facts through the publication of interviews with those on the side of abuse-victims, and the publication of documentary evidence.
Those are the evidenced – evidenced – facts concerning the history of Jersey’s bloggers and the estimable role they have played in exposing the truth.
It is therefore nothing less than disgraceful – and a further act of unambiguous actual bias on the part of this CoI – that it should take the decision to ban those bloggers from using the inquiry’s press-facilities – in favour of the conflicted and child-abuse concealing mainstream media.
In fact – so stark and questionable is the role of the state-media in the cover-ups that certain journalists and editors are obviously key-witnesses who should be called before any effective public inquiry.
To cite an example, BBC correspondent Robert Hall occupies a most peculiar position in the history of these events.
Following my establishing of contact with UK-based BBC journalist Andrew Brown – something I had to do given the utter intransigence and collusion with the cover-ups demonstrated by the local, ‘gone-native’ BBC outfit in Jersey – several documentary programs were filmed. Following careful discussion with some survivors and their friends & supporters, I had secured their agreement to be placed in contact with the UK BBC reporters.
That process culminated in a BBC Panorama program which was fronted by Robert Hall – and which did a good job of reporting certain facts. For example, the program team succeeded in tracking-down the psychotic child-abusers Jane and Alan Maguire to a location in France, where the team confronted them and asked them questions concerning the child-abuse they committed.
But – in November 2008, the Jersey authorities embarked upon the plainly illegal suspension of Police Chief Graham Power, QPM. On that occasion the then recently appointed Deputy Chief David Warcup and one Mick Gradwell gave a press-conference – the nature of which is unique in the entire modern history of policing in the British Isles.
They publicly poured criticism upon an on-going child-abuse investigation – thus legally undermining it – and issued a number of lies, half-truths and distortions concerning the management of the investigation.
A number of clear, pressing – and deeply serious – questions were obvious at that time; questions which should have been directed at Warcup and Gradwell – and at then Chief Minster Frank Walker and then Home Affairs Minister Andrew Lewis who had undertaken the illegal suspension of the Police Chief.
For in effect, what had obviously just taken place was the political removal of an “inconvenient” Police Chief – days before Jersey’s elections which looked to go badly for the entrenched oligarchy not least because of the child-abuse cover-ups. This exercise was obviously the targeted trashing of the child-abuse investigation by conflicted politicians and their favoured senior police officers who had enabled the unlawful coup against Police Chief Graham Power.
This was quite simply – and obviously right at that moment – nothing less than an all-out assault upon the public and their rights to be protected by impartial, objective policing.
But at that time the traditional media – including surprisingly Robert Hall of the BBC (a man who’s career began in Jersey and who has strong familial connections with the island) – swallowed the Jersey oligarchy spin in its entirety – failed to ask so much as a single one of the urgently obvious questions – and instead regurgitated the propaganda unquestioned to the community in the island and the wider world.
How did that happen?
Why did the entirety of the mainstream media – including Robert Hall and the BBC – suddenly switch from rightly reporting the failures of the Jersey authorities to protect vulnerable children – to unquestioningly relaying the overt propaganda of those self-same child-abuse concealing public authorities?
It cannot but be noted that at that time – November 2008 – we were still some years away from the full revelations concerning Jimmy Savile – a regular visitor to Jersey – and the role the BBC had played in enabling Savile to pursue decades of child-abuse up and down the nation.
It is the case that the role of the Fourth Estate is well-established and recognised in Western democracies as a component-part of the checks & balances by which power is scrutinised and held to account. The media in Jersey ought to satisfy a vital role in the protection of vulnerable children. Close and meaningful scrutiny of public authorities – and fear on the part of those public authorities of having their failures and misfeasances exposed by the media – acts as a form of quality-control that the public are able to exercise over their governments and administrations. Vulnerable children actually need a challenging and fierce media to help ensure their safety.
It is for those reasons – reasons which include the plain and obvious failure of the media in Jersey – that any effective public inquiry into the decades of concealed child-abuse has to – unavoidably – scrutinise the role the local media played in enabling the child-protection failures and the cover-ups to continue for decades.
Thus it is that various current and former BBC employees – such as Robert Hall – and Liz McKean – have to be viewed as witnesses to the subject matter of any effective CoI in Jersey. McKean because of her experience of internal BBC “culture” and initial opposition she experienced to the exposing of Savile – and Robert Hall for the inexplicable volt-face he committed in November 2008.
The role of Robert Hall of the BBC is especially toxic and deeply concerning in this matter. For Hall recognises that it isn’t possible for the mainstream media to continue to peddle distortions and lies – and engage in acts of omission – if, in fact, the truth, and the full facts are being reported alongside the traditional media by citizen’s media journalists such as bloggers.
The BBC and Robert Hall have been – rightly – subject of extensive reportage and criticism by several of Jersey’s bloggers because of the role played by the BBC and Hall in supporting the Jersey establishment’s unlawful suspension of Police Chief Graham Power and the attendant propaganda campaign.
One of the more remarkable documents published on this CoI’s website is an e-mail from Robert Hall of the BBC, in which he sought for himself and the BBC, media “accreditation” (whatever that’s supposed to mean in reality). The remarkable thing about Hall’s email is that he actually suggested to this CoI that it ban bloggers from use of the press-facilities. (Copy attached.) The relevant part of Hall’s e-mail says this: –
“In closing I’d like to thank you once again for the way in which you are dealing with media interest, and close with one thought; I note from local web activity that some non-accredited interested parties are eager to gain accreditation.
Should space be as limited as you fear, I foresee difficulties on busy days if such accreditation goes beyond recognised media organisations……just my view….”
So here we have a representative of a profoundly conflicted mainstream media organisation (the BBC re Jimmy Savile & other abusers) – and a man who himself faces many serious questions over his unquestioning and unchallenging reproduction of Jersey government propaganda from November 2008. Hall suggesting to this CoI that the discussion on the websites of local bloggers and their plans to report on the CoI’s proceedings, leads him to think the bloggers should be viewed by this CoI as second-class citizens.
Sure enough – on the first occasion a blogger (myself) used the press facilities to live-report the proceedings – the CoI banned bloggers from the use of those facilities.
No credible explanation has been issued for that decision to this day.
Plainly, the CoI’s expensive spin-doctors have an amenable relationship with the mainstream media journalists present – who can be “safely” relied upon to churnalist the requisite & carefully planned “image” of the CoI and its proceedings.
The bloggers by way of contrast – are not “house-trained” – not willing to go along with the charade – will report performance failures and bias by the CoI – and are unpredictable and are out-of-control, that is, independent, and independently-minded. The stuff of spin-doctors’ worst nightmares.
Banning bloggers is a profoundly serious decision for a number of reasons. It is a dramatic example of actual bias on the part of this CoI against bloggers in general – and me as an individual. That factor is doubly-concerning in respect of the clear and evidenced role the mainstream discredited media has played in the child-abuse cover-ups – contrasted with the role bloggers have played in gaining the trust of survivors and whistle-blowers and in reporting the evidenced facts.
That being the evidenced history of the scandal from 2007 to the present day, it cannot be regarded as anything other than profoundly alarming that this CoI, with its army of spin-doctors, should choose to side with the child-abuse cover-up-concealing heritage media.
In acting in the manner it did, this CoI was also deeply offensive and discriminatory towards a disabled man – another noted blogger, Voice for Children, who has done great public service in reporting evidenced facts and conducting important interviews over the years.
The conduct in question of this CoI is also a further example of the failure to have an appeals-process in place – and the failure to answer correspondence reasonably or promptly. At least two bloggers affected by the ban sought to appeal that decision – and sought explanations. No appeal mechanism exists – and no credible explanation for the ban has been offered.
There can be no faith – no faith at all – in any public inquiry into these decades of concealed child-abuse in Jersey, if that inquiry takes the side of the collusive mainstream media – and takes sides against the bloggers, the only independent media in Jersey – and the only media to have consistently – and in-depth – reported the true facts of the systemic and endemic Jersey child-abuse disaster.
It is not to the mainstream media that vital, central witnesses have turned – for example witnesses of no-less calibre than the former Police Chief and the former Deputy Police Chief, but instead to bloggers. It is the bloggers who have secured many important interviews with different witnesses – and have published key evidence; for example I have published actual affidavits, prepared at my request by the former Police Chief and the former Deputy Police Chief.
The bloggers are trusted – trusted by high-ranking witnesses, readers, whistle-blowers, campaigners – and most importantly, the abuse-survivors.
By way of contrast, in all of Jersey’s very extensive mainstream media – print and broadcast – there is not so much as one, single, solitary journalist amongst all of them, who has taken a specialised interest in the child-abuse victims and the long and wretched history of concealed child-abuse in the island – and consistently reported those issues.
There are unpaid bloggers in Jersey who have – on their own – done more evidence-based investigative journalism in the last seven years – than all of Jersey’s heritage media have produced in the same time – combined.
Indeed, in a small but highly relevant – and very telling – example of media-failure, the response of the BBC to the issuing of a previous version of this call for the CoI’s resignation is a case-study.
BBC local radio recorded a detailed and extensive interview with me on the afternoon of Saturday 18th October. On the morning of the 21st October 2014, the BBC in Jersey reported the call for the CoI’s resignation. Most of the recorded interview was not played. What parts of it were played were not presented as a cohesive package, but instead reduce to several-sound-bite focused excerpts, which were scattered throughout the two-hour program, thus depriving the interview of form and cohesiveness. The only part of the interview of moderate length was played very late in the program – after 8:30 a.m when most of the potential audience are busy arriving at work.
However – the most noteworthy and telling part of the BBC’s coverage – was the response of this CoI to the call for resignation – and how the BBC reported that response.
In the statement I issued to the BBC many very serious – evidenced – matters of public interest and significant public importance are raised. These are serious issues – which deserve and require a serious response. Predictably this CoI refused to engage on the facts and the issues, and issued a brief, bland press-release asserting an avowed aim to “continue in office” in spite of all of the damming failures and irretrievable ultra vires this CoI is now fatally mired in. So far – so expected. At this stage any credible and serious journalism would have interrogated the response of the CoI – refused to just passively regurgitate a paragraph cobbled together by spin-doctors – and would have pressed the CoI for specific answers to very important and unavoidable issues, for example, “why has this CoI chosen – extraordinarily – not to follow the established Salmon Principles?” and “Why has this CoI not had victim-support personnel present when some witnesses have broken down in tears?” and “Why has this CoI permitted itself to become contaminated and cast its independence into oblivion by working with directly conflicted parties such as culpable senior Jersey civil servants?”
Instead of those obvious and clearly important public-interest questions being put to the CoI by the BBC in Jersey, the program merely regurgitated on behalf of the CoI a meaningless – and misleading – press-statement. Even if the CoI remained intransigent and unwilling to explain and refusing to be publically accountable for its conduct – still the attempts to question it should have been made – and then the refusals to answer public-interest questions should have been reported.
The issuing of this statement and the reporting of it by the BBC in Jersey serves as yet another example of the mainstream media in Jersey working in lock-step with conflicted and dysfunctional public authorities in the island – whilst independent journalists such as bloggers strive to get to the truth and are obstructed at every turn.
Given the capture and co-option of the BBC in Jersey by the island’s oligarchy – and the kind of de facto pro-active support for failed, dysfunctional public-authorities as exhibited by the BBC on the morning of the 21st October – it is hardly so surprising that this CoI should happily accommodate the BBC and exclude bloggers at the suggestion of BBC hacks such as Robert Hall.
This is how the concealment of child-abuse happens – this is how public authorities responsible for child-protection failures avoid public scrutiny and accountability: collusion between these authorities and the traditional media.
Ironic, then – is it not – to see that very same syndrome now being engaged in by the actual CoI which is supposed to be investigating how the decades of child-abuse were concealed.
Yes – here it is – hiding in plain sight. This CoI has become a part of the Culture-of-Concealment.
Representatives of the mainstream media – such as the BBC for example – and past & current employees such as Liz McKean (now a spin-doctor to this CoI) – and Robert Hall – are witnesses who should be called and questioned by any effective public inquiry – not given privileged treatment over and above citizen media journalists who have had to step into the vacuum where the “accredited” Fourth-Estate should have been.
The banning of bloggers – given the evidenced, historic facts of the reportage of the decades of child-abuse in Jersey and the central role played by bloggers in exposing the truth – has to be regarded as another stand-alone resigning matter.
The above adumbrated failings represent just a few of this CoI’s errors and incompetence.
Several of them are so serious that – even individually – they would be automatic resigning-matters.
And there is no escaping the fact that several of the failings in question are unambiguously ultra vires; that is, these issues are not mere “questions of opinion” – some mere “political” or “personal” disagreement with certain decisions of this CoI – but rather questions of pure law.
For example, any lawful tribunal has to be objective and impartial – not only in practice, but in appearance also. This CoI has – on the evidence – appeared biased – has been actually biased – and is so far off the radar-screen of being safely independent, it has actually co-opted into its mechanisms such as “evidence-gathering”, expressly and directly conflicted parties such as the senior civil servants.
All of which means that this CoI is now – irretrievably – ultra vires. In law – it cannot now redeem itself. Its processes have been contaminated, and it can therefore never constitute a “lawful tribunal”. There is simply no way back.
This Chair, her panel members – and this Committer of Inquiry must go – and go now.
A new body must be appointed – it must come into operation and take-up the evidence and testimony left by the failed CoI and from that base assemble a genuine – effective – open – compassionate – non-contaminated – independent – competent – public inquiry.
Issued on 21st October, 2014 – by Stuart Syvret
Former Health & Social Services Minister and the first public figure in Jersey to identify and speak-out against the decades of concealed child-abuse.
Children’s Rights campaigner
Human Rights campaigner