The Rule of Law in Jersey?
There isn’t any.
Just a brief post – again – I’m too tired and depressed to write much.
Just got back from London, and have been attempting to deal with e-mails, phone calls, and blog comments.
The gathering at the House of Commons was a great success. The meeting was organised by the Jersey Care Leavers Association, in co-operation with the UK CLA. It was their gig – and it was brilliant.
I was so pleased, and proud, of the Jersey reps who were there. Their strength & courage is an example to us all.
It was also fantastic that so many concerned people from across the country attended.
As I said in my last post, I met with MPs and tried to explain the Jersey issues to them. These issue being that the rule of law and the good administration of justice in Jersey collapsed – and has been non-existent – probably for some decades.
One of the views I expressed to the meeting was that this is not a complex issue; the Jersey oligarchy are entrenched, all-powerful, and to all practical purposes, invulnerable. The only thing that frightens them, that gives them pause for thought, is the possibility of external intervention by London.
But the Jersey oligarchy appears to have the ear of power at the very highest levels in London – always has done. Whenever complaints get made to London about the Jersey establishment – no matter how clear-cut the evidence of misfeasance, malfeasance – and out-right corruption by the Jersey oligarchy – London always refuses to intervene – notwithstanding the UK government’s very clear and unambiguous responsibilities and powers for the good administration of justice in Jersey. (Note to Jack Straw’s civil servants – please stop lying to the UK media when they enquire about this subject; they know – we know – and you know – that the power and responsibility to intervene is clear-cut and un-ambiguous.)
My view has always been that the Jersey establishment will win – but the only possible means of defeating them is via London facing up to its obligations and intervening. As I’ve said to the media frequently – I don’t believe for one instant that Straw will voluntarily intervene – and that only an action for Judicial Review of his failure to properly handle the Jersey child abuse crisis will force the issue.
As I’m not a victim, and wouldn’t have locus standi, I can’t action him personally; it would need to be some of the survivors who did. Whether they will is a matter entirely for them. But my view, as expressed at the Commons meeting, and on numerous other occasions, is that, ultimately, legal action will be needed.
I said at the start of this post that I was depressed. And whilst the whole scene has been an unmitigated nightmare, still – things get worse.
As has been reported by the media today, two people accused of child abuse were released without charge. So disgusted – rightly – were the States of Jersey Police at this obstruction and interference from what passes for a Crown prosecution service in Jersey, that they issued a press-release last night explaining what had happened.
The instant that press-release hit the media, my phone started going – even though it was late at night. Journalists were explaining to me what the release said, and asking for my comments in response to the situation.
I gave them my honest opinion. And honesty is the very, very least the survivors deserve – no matter what the consequences for me.
I said that what had taken place was simply a straightforward act of brazen corruption.
Of the very kind I have been warning against for many months.
We are dealing with a clear and unambiguous breakdown in the rule of law.
The collapse of the good administration of Justice in Jersey.
Ask yourself – in just how many supposed respectable democracies would you find the prosecution service pro-actively sabotaging and obstructing the work of the police in a major child abuse enquiry?
So what were the details of what happened yesterday?
But before I go onto that – some background information, without which you won’t understand the situation.
Jersey – 45 square miles in area – has 13 police forces.
Each of the 12 parishes has what is known as an honorary police force – basically unpaid, voluntary lay-people, who get elected by the parishes to undertake community policing duties. The “elections” are commonly uncontested – and in reality the selection process – and the consequent public office of “police” officer – are essentially an expression of, and exercise of, the entrenched power of the traditional, established “Families” that de facto run the feudatory of Jersey – as they’ve done for many centuries.
I won’t bore you with the details now – but the honorary police are an institution with hundreds of years of custom and tradition behind them.
The 13th police force is the States of Jersey Police. Only established in the 20th century, this – professional – police force is still known contemptuously by traditionalist as “the paid police”.
So reactionary and desperate to hold power has the Jersey oligarchy always been, that it has resisted proper reform and modernisation of policing.
Now, I’m going to explain to you a key feature of the archaic policing practices in Jersey – now concentrate – because this is so extraordinary – most people will find it hard to grasp:
The professional, States of Jersey Police Force, do not have the power to charge suspects.
The Police Force in Jersey cannot charge suspects.
The power to ‘charge’ has been jealously and rabidly retained as an exclusive power for the honorary police – basically the private “police-forces” of the parish “Family” clans.
This means that if the professional police want a suspect charged – they have to go and ask an honorary police officer – of the parish where the alleged offences were committed – to come into the station and formally file charges.
Now, I’ve always been a supporter of the honorary police. In theory and, largely, in practice – they do a good job; honorary policing should be a good example of community involvement.
But I have to say, the events of yesterday have inflicted what – I fear – could be a terminal, savage blow to the custom and practice of Jersey’s honorary police system.
What were those events?
Jersey’s Attorney General, William Bailhache – brother of Jersey’s chief judge, Sir Philip Bailhache – in an effort to obstruct and sabotage the police investigation, appointed, some months ago, lawyers of his choosing to vet the States police work; to make sure every possible legal box had been ticked before charges could be laid – and, as I said many months ago – to generally assist the Jersey oligarchy to do all it could to minimise the scope and scale of any prosecutions arising from the Jersey child abuse disaster.
The real – professional – Police – battling against every conceivable obstruction – have been slowly making progress and bringing suspects to charge; but each time, they face the “legal” obstructions described above.
Nevertheless, yesterday morning they reached the stage where they had ample evidence to charge the two suspects in question. That the case was sound, and that charging was justified, was even agreed by William Bailhache’s stooge – that’s how clear-cut it was.
So the police arrested the two suspects, and brought them in for charging.
But – William Bailhache’s appointed lawyer reported back to Bailhache what he had said to the police. This lawyer then contacted the police again, later in the day, to inform them that “upon reflection, he had revised his opinion of that morning, and now could not endorse charging.” (Like I said, you couldn’t make this stuff up.)
The police – rightly and understandably – were furious at this, and correctly decided to defy what was clearly an attempt by Bailhache – via his stooge – to pervert the course of justice. The States Police told the lawyer they were going to charge anyway – whether he agreed it or not.
The police then – for reasons described above – had to get an honorary “police officer” in to actually charge the suspects – because the States police don’t have the power to charge, remember.
This honorary officer – Danny Scaife – accepted that the “evidence was present” – but told the professional Police that notwithstanding this fact – he wasn’t going to charge the two suspects.
So the States of Jersey Police had to release them – without charge.
The honorary officer – Danny Scaife – refused to give any direct explanation for his extraordinary actions – other than to say he “had acted after receiving expert legal opinion”.
Now – who do we think was behind that “expert legal opinion”?
One of the comments on my last post, attempts to assert that the Attorney General, William Bailhache, could not have obstructed the professional police.
The reason given, as I have explained above, being that the States police don’t have the power to charge. Therefore he couldn’t have stopped them from charging – from exerting a power they don’t possess. The comment is gross sophistry.
It is known that the States police don’t have the power to charge; and it is known that only the honoraries can. But – we must ask – how does this fact mean that the Attorney General couldn’t interfere with the work of the States police?
Not least because – guess what? – And you couldn’t make this up – the Attorney General is the titular head and ultimate authority – in fact the executive director and controlling power – apart from the court itself – over all of Jersey’s honorary police.
I will be tabling – as a matter of urgency – an amendment to the law to give the power to charge to the professional police force.
As I said earlier – we now have – in plain view – the collapse of the rule of law in Jersey.
You want, perhaps, a further illustration of this collapse? And just why Jack Straw cannot credibly refuse to intervene?
Remember a couple of weeks ago, another suspect was arrested. On that occasion too, the police were forced to release him without charge. The suspect’s name is Danny Wherry.
This is getting so easy – but let’s do it anyway; who do you think is a friend of Wherry and member of the same golf club? “The Royal Jersey Golf Club”?
Yep – William Bailhache, Jersey’s Attorney General.
One of the tragic and bizarre features of this episode is that such is this man’s arrogance, megalomania and hubris – that he just cannot see that he has, essentially, corrupted the rule of law in Jersey.
Well – I’m going to rest now – so I can spend an hour or so persuading myself not to commit suicide.
In the mean time – check out the national media tomorrow.
‘The Times’, I think, will be covering the matter.
Like I said – the war goes on.
It’s only a matter of time until the establishment oppresses me and shuts this blog – but don’t worry – other people in other forums will carry the battle onwards.