Monday, November 12, 2012

Jersey child abuse: new readers start here

When the Haute de la Garenne children's home failed to yield up any bodies, the newspapers lost interest. Even though, as Nick Davies has showed, the more lurid stories about the home were largely generated by those newspapers themselves. And even though there clearly was a serious problem with child abuse on Jersey.

(Incidentally, a great deal of forensic evidence was retrieved and no one seems sure what became of it or whether it was even tested. Perhaps the papers should be asking about that?)

The newspapers may have lost interest, but what has happened there since is simply extraordinary. A post on photopol gives a good guide to the island's politics, the child abuse scandal and these subsequent events:
Jersey probably has more in common with a feudal state than with a modern democratic one. Particular families have long wielded effective power. There is no formal separation of powers such as one might expect in a modern democratic state. The executive, parliament, judicial system, and public prosecutor are all part of the same amorphous mass.
This makes for a highly politicised justice system, and it explains much of the tension between the police and the prosecution service during the tenure of [Graham] Power and [Lenny] Harper, officers who were attuned to the UK system and who were taken aback at the extent of political interference in the judicial and policing areas in Jersey. 
It is against this background that Stuart Syvret is attempting to involve Europe in the Jersey scene and that Power and Harper had to resort to stratagems to secure the prosecution of sex abuse offenders.
One of the things that happened after British newspapers lost interest was the summary dismissal of the island's police chief Graham Power - he was the superior of Lenny Harper, who was the officer who spoke to the media at the time that Haute de la Garenne was in the news.

Power has offered some thoughts to the Jersey blog voiceforchildren on the fourth anniversary of this sacking:
I have been reminded that it is now the fourth anniversary of my suspension from duty and subsequent "dismissal by stealth" from my position as Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police.
Much has happened since that time. Nevertheless it is encouraging that a wide number of interested parties have continued the fight to obtain justice for the victims of the persistent abuse of vulnerable children which occurred in establishments operated by the Jersey Government. 
In spite of Establishment efforts to bury the issue it has remained firmly on the political agenda, largely due to the tireless work of a number of individuals committed to searching for the truth and giving the protection of vulnerable children the highest priority. These include the Jersey Citizens Media, a small number of Local Politicians, Investigative Journalists from outside the Island, and the many supporters wordwide who have nothing to gain from their endevours other than the knowledge that they are supporting a just cause. 
I am aware that much is happening at present and I do not want to distract anyone from their current efforts by re-opening the issues relating to my suspension in any great detail. I would however simply for the record, remind readers what has been established from a number of credible and independent sources and disclosures. Namely, that my suspension was based on falsified documents, fabricated evidence, misleading information provided to States Members and the public by Jersey Ministers, and the testimony of a number of senior individuals who have since been publically discredited. 
The events relating to Jimmy Savile and other revelations have heightened the general awareness of the issue of Historic Child Abuse, and the substantial difficulties which stand in the way of those who attempt to bring abusers to justice.They may also provide a further opportunity to return to the question of whether persons responsible for abuse or for failing to prevent that abuse, remain in positions of authority where they may still constitute a risk to children or the search for justice. 
The "shock and awe" of the suspension was intended to knock the fight out of me and lead to my quiet departure and subsequent silence. Among the many proven failings of those responsible for imposing and maintaining the suspension I think that we can now confidently add a decidedly poor judgement of character and a serious failure to anticipate the likely consequences of their actions. Not exactly the best characteristics for people who claim to be capable of running a government.
These, remember, are the words, not of a political activist, but of an experienced British police officer. Jersey is indeed a strange place.


Anonymous said...

A couple more Jersey oddities.

The only print newspaper was owned by Guiton Group whose chairman became a former Chief Minister of the States of Jersey.

Whilst there have historically been organised political parties, there is in effect now no organised party politics in Jersey. I suspect the bloggers
now constitutes organised politics.

voiceforchildren said...

Liberal England.

You wrote;

"When the Haute de la Garenne children's home failed to yield up any bodies."

"Bodies" being the operative word. Please look HERE for the "documented evidence" of juvenile remains that were unearthed among much more "evidence" that dispels many of the "myths" peddled by our government and State Media.

Damocles said...

The Jersey Evening Post (there is no other paper) is no longer owned and controlled from Jersey but the Editor and senior journalists from the period when it was are still there so the attitudes linger on.

Back then, when Frank Walker became Chief Minister, it was as if Murdoch had become Prime Minister!

I don't know of any direct influence on reporting and coverage that may have happened because of the confluence of media and State, but it wouldn't have been much needed anyway - the way the establishment line gets plugged is that just about every Island resident who makes it to a position of power influence or riches metaphorically "takes the Queen's shilling" to fit in and becomes part of the army that is too eager to look the other way when unpleasantness is revealed.

Further, they are far too keen to nitpick testimony from whistle blowers for microscopic errors in "procedure" so they can turn a blind eye to stuff. Thus you will often hear people discount dissenting testimony because the whistleblower did not raise their concerns in "the right way" which they usually consider a letter to the "appropriate authorities" or similar. Of course, they, in their cosy and blinkered belief that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds (Jersey) seemingly are unaware of the problem with that, which is that the incumbents of the appropriate authorities have that same squash, ignore and slur attitude to any flies that might turn up in the ointment.

The corruption in Jersey is not "brown envelope" corruption. It is more insidious than that. It is that those in power, and the many more who mix in their circles, seem to be totally convinced that things here are about as good as it could get, so anybody who rocks the boat must be automatically a threat. If the authorities' ways of handling the threat is carried out in sometimes dubious ways, they look the other way and turn a blind eye to it because it is "probably for the best."

They believe everything is great here and the authorities, and those who hold positions of power in those authorities, must be "rather good chaps" so they expect that any whistle blowers must be either mad, liars, troublemakers or primarily looking for financial compensation

In a tight closed environment like Jersey, where few speak up publicly, many of the general public also seem to take a strange smug delight in sometimes expressing private support for whistleblowers whilst simultaneously congratulating their own "street smartness" on not saying or supporting any dissent out loud because of their self-perceived beliefs that pursuing such a course of openness would go badly for them or their situation. They seem to take a masochistic delight in being "smart" enough to "know" that they will get discriminated against in future, so they say nothing - this mentality, of course, allows them to feel as if they still have morality but justifies their doing or saying nothing to "rock the boat."