Why should Channel Islanders
Have to Fight for an Impartial Judiciary?
The Daily Telegraph Reports the Battle.
I reproduce below this brief post an article from The Daily Telegraph which deals with the Jersey child abuse disaster.
It reports, amongst related matters, on my submission to the United Kingdom Justice Secretary, Jack Straw MP.
Whilst Jersey is self-governing, as are all of the Channel Islands, ultimately the Crown – in practice, the UK government – has responsibility for the good administration of justice in what are known as the Crown Dependencies – these being the Channel Islands and the Isle of Mann.
For a variety of complex reasons – no part of the Jersey prosecutory authorities or judiciary can remotely be regarded as impartial in any matter arising from the Jersey child abuse disaster.
This is not merely my opinion – it has also been the opinion of every lawyer I have asked for a view on the subject.
It is for this reason I have written to Jack Straw on behalf of my constituents asking that he meet the United Kingdom’s obligations to ensure the good administration of justice in Jersey.
Read the Daily Telegraph, a newspaper which has reported on the Jersey child abuse disaster in an accurate and ethical manner.
Jersey abuse case: Jack Straw urged to step in.
By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter
Last Updated: 5:42PM BST 02/06/2008
Jack Straw, the justice secretary, has been urged to personally oversee the prosecutions of alleged child abusers in Jersey by campaigners who fear the island’s rulers will try to sweep the scandal under the carpet.
Stuart Syvret, a former minister in Jersey’s parliament who lost his job after drawing attention to allegations of abuse, has written to Mr Straw asking him to ensure justice is done.
Mr Syvret, who remains a member of the parliament, claims there is a very real danger of political interference in the judicial process, because of significant overlaps between the legislature and the judiciary.
Mr Straw has the power to impose his will on the otherwise autonomous Channel Islands because the Privy Council, which comes under his jurisdiction, must ensure ‘good governance and the proper administration of justice’ on the islands.
Since the investigation into alleged abuse at the Haut de la Garenne former children’s home began, some of Jersey’s ministers have criticised and even ridiculed the police inquiry.
The Bailiff of Jersey, who is both the speaker in the island’s parliament and the head of the judiciary, used a speech last month to claim that the true problem in Jersey was the media’s coverage of the ‘so-called child abuse scandal’.
The island’s Chief Minister, Frank Walker, has accused Mr Syvret of trying to ‘shaft Jersey internationally’ by drawing attention to the problem.
So far three people have been arrested in connection with the child abuse inquiry, but police expect up to 70 arrests in total.
Mr Syvret said: ‘The Jersey establishment will do everything in its power to minimise these prosecutions, and if any of the people (charged) are even faintly senior the sentences they get will be negligible, if they are found guilty.
‘I have asked Jack Straw to intervene by imposing independent prosecutors and judges from the UK because Jersey’s judicial system just can’t meet the test of being impartial.
‘In the longer term I have also asked him to force permanent change on Jersey and the other Channel Islands to ensure complete separation of the judiciary and legislature.’
Mr Syvret claims victims of abuse have in the past been ‘betrayed’ by Jersey’s judicial system, with previous investigations being dropped.
If Mr Straw does not agree to send British judges to Jersey, Mr Syvret says he will seek a judicial review of the decision on behalf of more than 40 alleged victims of child abuse with whom he is in touch.
Police in Jersey are currently awaiting the results of laboratory tests on bone fragments and children’s teeth discovered during months of excavations of cellars at Haut de la Garenne, which closed as a children’s home in 1986.
Deputy Chief Officer Lenny Harper, leading the investigation, has said some of the bones had been cut, indicating ‘homicide or unexplained death’ and if carbon dating shows the bones to date from after the Second World War, a murder investigation will be launched.
The police have a list of 116 alleged victims of physical and sexual abuse at the home and at other Jersey institutions, who claim they were tortured in the cellars below Haut de la Garenne.
Mr Straw is already awaiting the outcome of a judicial review into another decision on Channel Island affairs.
Last month Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, the proprietors of Telegraph Media Group, challenged Mr Straw’s decision to approve a proposed new constitution for the island of Sark, which has been run as a fiefdom for hundreds of years.
Critics of Sark’s proposed constitution say it does not amount to true democracy and could violate European Human Rights legislation.
:: A 45-year-old man appeared in court today in connection with the sex abuse probe at Haut de la Garenne.
Michael Aubin, who was born in Jersey and lives in Southampton, Hampshire, faces two counts of indecent assault on a seven-year-old boy and a 13-year-old boy and one count of buggery on an eight-year-old boy.
The charges relate to three different children and are alleged to have been committed between January 1, 1977, and December 31, 1980, at Haut de la Garenne.
Aubin, who lives in St Denys, Portswood, Southampton, was remanded in custody during the hearing at Jersey Magistrates’ Court.
He will appear before the same court on June 30, for committal to the island’s Royal Court.
Aubin was arrested in the Southampton area by Jersey officers on Thursday and taken back to the island, where he was charged on Saturday.