Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Blogging and Media

BBC News has been very active of late in looking at the new phenomena of "citizen media", where bloggers are engaged, politically, in wanting to film scrutiny meetings in the same way as the "accredited media":

Political bloggers in Jersey are calling for permission to film more States scrutiny meetings so they can put video content on the internet. Currently the bloggers who write online diaries about current events can only film if they give notice, but permission can be denied.  Accredited professional media organisations are allowed to film at Scrutiny meetings without notice. Bloggers now want equal access and the States is expected to debate the issue. (1)

A whole Talkback on Sunday was devoted to this matter, with contributions from Ben Shenton, Montfort Tadier, Roy le Hérissier, a UK academic who has studied the subject, and a blogger who rang in.

Senator Shenton made a clear distinction between the amateur and the "professional journalist". He seemed to assume that the journalist would be working for an organisation, be it the BBC, Channel Television, or the Jersey Evening Post. I am not sure his distinction could cope well with the existence of the freelance journalist, who may or may not have journalism as the main source of income, but may nevertheless be engaged on reporting projects of their own, which they intend to sell on to an organisation.

If we consider accountability to be an issue, the freelancer has not  accountability until he sells or publishes his work. In general, it is expected that the editor of the commissioning paper or broadcast will then take responsibility for publishing the article, and the paper or television channel would be the one sued for defamation, and have cover under professional indemnity insurance. However, a recent high profile case - that of the science writer Simon Singh - has shown that this is not necessarily
the case. Singh wrote a piece critical of the British Chiropractic Association in the Guardian, and the Association took the unusual step of suing him. That this landmark case could take place demonstrates beyond any doubt that even if a freelance writer supplies material subject to professional editorial control, they may still face claims for liability.

When it comes to recording scrutiny meetings, these operate under very much the same kind of model as the "select committee" in the UK Parliament. Briefly, this is as follows:

A select committee is a committee made up of a small number of parliamentary members appointed to deal with particular areas or issues originating in the Westminster System of parliamentary democracy. Select Committees exist in the British Parliament, as well as in other parliaments based on the Westminster model, such as those in Australia and New Zealand.(2)

Evidence given in scrutiny meetings, like that to select committees, is transcribed and can be read online. The recent (and excellent) report by Ben Shenton into the currency failure over the incinerator is a case in point. Various rules apply on evidence, and these are the ones in place in Australia:

A transcript of the evidence will be provided to you. To assist the committee and Hansard, please quote the full title of any document you refer to during the course of this hearing for the record and please be aware of the microphone and speak into it. I remind you that your transcript will become a matter for the public record. If for some reason you wish to make a confidential statement during today's proceedings, you should request that the evidence be taken in closed session. If the committee grants your request, any public and media in attendance will be excluded from the hearing. Please note that until such time as the transcript of your public evidence is finalised, it should not be made public. I advise you that premature publication or disclosure of public evidence may constitute a contempt of Parliament and may mean that the material published or disclosed is not subject to parliamentary privilege. (3)

It would certainly seem that there is a conflict between this and the recording, for immediate televising or online dissemination. After all, if the individual supplying evidence is bound to silence until the evidence is finalised, how can the media - either professional or private - report on it before that? Surely that would be allowing them significantly more freedom that the person supplying evidence, which is clearly unfair. Equally, if the reporting was allowed, and was edited, the individual would be prevented from putting the record straight if they thought the editing gave an unfair presentation.

With the UK, most people are aware of live satellite channels, and other channels which present archive footage of select committee. But it is also streamed and archived via the parliament TV website (, and can be reviewed for 12 months:

Video and Audio carries live and archived coverage of all UK Parliament proceedings taking place in public, including debates and committee meetings of both Houses. The material is then available from an on-demand archive for 12 months. The site has links to order papers and background papers and also carries videos explaining how Parliament works. As many as 18 live streams are available simultaneously. Coverage of debates in the chambers of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, Sittings in Westminster Hall and up to four committees at a time receive full audio-visual coverage. Other committees meeting in public are currently covered in audio-only but from October 2006 we are exploring the potential of automated webcameras. Picture size and both picture and sound quality generally have also been increased.(4)

This is the preferred suggestion of Roy Le Hérissier, and has the advantage that the sound feed can be taken directly from the audio system, and modern technology has advanced so rapidly that the cost is much reduced. Indeed, viewers can also obtain can "tape, CD and DVD recordings of proceedings at modest cost."

Returning to "Citizen Media", most jurisdictions do have a distinction between members of the general public, and journalists by membership of a "press gallery", which gives members certain rights over the ordinary citizen. This does not mean that "Citizen Media" cannot film, but they have to obtain specific permission, rather than having it as an automatic right. In Australia, for example:

Photographers and filmmakers, who are not members of the Press Gallery, wishing to use public or private areas of Parliament House may do so only with the explicit approval of the Presiding Officers.  They should apply in the first instance to the Visitor Services office of the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS). (5)

In Canada, the Press Gallery has been significantly opened up over the last decade, and this has led to a wider news coverage:

Membership in the Press Gallery was further expanded in the mid-1900s to include magazine publishers, television and radio broadcasters, and freelance journalists. Today, the Parliamentary Press Gallery is no longer a close-knit group of newspaper publishers, editors, and reporters. It is a much more open and loose association, consisting of a wide variety of journalists and media organizations. This, in turn, has brought greater political neutrality and diversity to the news and information content that Canadians receive about the federal Parliament.(6)

It should be noted that membership of the press gallery does not mean that the news is somehow wholly impartial and "objective". Everyone has a "viewpoint", as is well known to today's historians, and that applies just as much to contemporary issues:

Press Gallery journalists are not immune to their own political views when interpreting and/or analyzing federal political actors and events. Press Gallery journalists, and their media organizations, also make important decisions about which stories to publish or broadcast, and how to frame those stories. These choices can have important impacts on how the public perceives a given issue or political news item.(6)

The problem of who to admit to the press gallery can be difficult. In Canada, for example, despite the widening of the membership, there have still be instances where it can be seen to function as a "closed club". This can be seen in the case of the publisher of National Capital News, who was excluded from being a fully approved member of the Press Gallery.

The author is publisher of the National Capital News, a newspaper founded in 1982. The author applied for membership in the Parliamentary Press Gallery, a private association that administers the accreditation for access to the precincts of Parliament. He was provided with a temporary pass that gave only limited privileges. Repeated requests for equal access on the same terms as other reporters and publishers were denied. (7)

It is interesting to notice in passing, that there is a "temporary pass" which needs renewal, but which gives some rights of reporting and access. If this was introduced in Jersey for "citizen media", it would answer some of the criticisms that they are not "professionals", and it would also ensure that they stuck to a code of conduct in order that it was renewed.

The Press Gallery knows several categories of membership, the most relevant being the active and temporary membership. Active membership allows access to all media facilities of Parliament for as long as the member meets the criteria, that is for as long as he or she works for a regularly published newspaper...To those who do not meet these criteria the Press Gallery grants temporary membership which is granted for a defined period and provides access to substantially all of the media facilities of Parliament. (7)

It can be seen from the Canadian case that problems can arise, and in the complaint of the author in question, "things got out of control and the Press Gallery began using favouritism on the one hand and coercion and blackmail on the other, and as a result the author was denied access and has no recourse. (7)

This then came up under a committee review of his human rights, and the main principles that it came up with for accreditation was that it should be specific, fair, reasonable and transparent:

The Committee agrees that the protection of Parliamentary procedure can be seen as a legitimate goal of public order and an accreditation system can thus be a justified means of achieving this goal. However, since the accreditation system operates as a restriction of article 19 rights, its operation and application must be shown as necessary and proportionate to the goal in question and not arbitrary. The Committee does not accept that this is a matter exclusively for the State to determine. The relevant criteria for the accreditation scheme should be specific, fair and reasonable, and their application should be transparent. (7)

Turning back to the UK, one MP is running his own video blog, so the issue is one which is also beginning to make an impact on the UK Government as well. Here is an interesting comment on this:

Halton MP Garth Turner, who is not shy with words, has been running a fairly popular vid-blog (video blog) for his constituents along with his text blog. The vid-blog is called MPtv. The two times I've chosen to watch it, it's been really interesting, timely and gave me the information I wanted. Now it appears someone in the Parliamentary Press Gallery has taken exception to the concept. I suppose the Gallery doesn't want every Tom, Dick, Harry, Jacque and Pierre with a blog and video camera romping around Parliament Hill and press conferences. But then again, every Tom, Dick, Harry, Jacque and Pierre probably doesn't care to romp around Parliament Hill and blog about it.(8)

The commentator notes that the MP in question has been reprimanded by the Speaker's office, but also notes that the phenomenon is becoming much more widespread. It is not just in Jersey that the time has come to think carefully about
this new media approach:

Decisions are being made about the role of bloggers in the news and information gathering service, most aren't paid, it's a labour of love. I have a problem with the Press Gallery sticking their nose into his presence, if he was breaking rules or behaving inappropriately, fine. He gets the proverbial slap on the wrist from the Speaker's office. As for officials of the Press Gallery - lighten up.(9)

The crux of the problem as the writer sees it has "everything to do with not being a reporter and not being bound to their code of ethics."(9)

What code of ethics does guide journalists? A succinct summary might be:

Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect. Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know. Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other. (10)

The writer of this comment is a "credentialed blogger". What that means is made clear in his own description of himself:

Steven Taylor is a 'credentialed blogger' which basically means he is a Conservative Party member who blogs. When he is in Ottawa he has been cleared by Press Gallery staff to go into the Parliament buildings, hang out, watch the House and do interviews. Bloggers being given access as media is a big deal.(11)

In conclusion, after this survey, what recommendations could be made regarding "citizen media"? I suggest the following would be a good start:

1) States proceedings themselves should be streamed and archived, much as the UK Parliament has done. While it is not going to appear on TV, more and more broadcast media is being played out or available via broadband connections - as with the BBC Player - so the public are growing increasingly used to having this available.

2) Scrutiny meetings should permit a limited number of professional journalists and a limited number of "citizen media" in order not to appear intimidatory, with the latter on a lottery basis for fairness. The Citizen Media people would be provided with a temporary and renewable press pass for any session they wished to attend, dependent upon their good behaviour. A code of conduct should be drawn up for all media to conform to. The permission to film would not depend on three days notice, but on having a pass for a session (with the caveat that there would be a restricted number of temporary passes).

3) If a pass was refused, the reasons given would be stated clearly and made public - transparency would be the key factor.

4) Part of the code of practice would also ensure that neither the professional media nor the citizen media should "doorstep" anyone giving evidence to scrutiny, or States members or officials, that is, ask them questions outside without first asking them politely if they want to answer questions. A polite refusal should be sufficient to prevent further questions.


Monday, 24 August 2009

Pyramid Power

In rush hour traffic on Friday I noticed the car in front had something like "A to P Pyramid Limited".
It had a telephone number, an email address, and a web page. But the side of the car was blank, and there was nothing to say what this company did! What a wonderful way to advertise! I suppose some marketing person had said "You really need your business details there", and that is just what he put. No more, no less.
But it got me thinking. What sort of business could "A to P Pyramids Limited" be?
Perhaps he specialises in a new Egyptian style of Housing, and we will soon see some iconic pyramids appearing around the Island. It would certainly make a change from concrete and glass, or the art deco that has become fashionable again.
If tourism revived, there could even be a guest house called "Pyramid Towers", where the proprietor Basil Pharaoh would be assisted by his soothsaying Sybil.
Or, on a more morbid note, maybe he hopes to break into a new line with tombs. Be buried in style! Alongside the rows of crosses and gravestones, there will now be the odd miniature pyramid. The top of the range would be the "luxury pyramid", complete with Sphinx and hand carved riddle. Maybe Jersey millionaires will be lining up to invest in them. You can take it with you!
I know where the business must be run from.
In the North of Jersey, there is a coastal area known as Egypt.
What better place to run A to P Pyramids Limited, Purveyors to Pharaohs, Established 5th Dynasty, 5000 BC!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Royal Standards and Conventions

A RIGHT royal row has broken out after an historic flag flown to signify that the Queen is in residence appeared on a flagpole above a block of town flats. The Royal Standard is regularly seen flying proudly above Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Westminster to signify that Queen Elizabeth is in residence. However, it recently appeared in Clarendon Road above the newly refurbished Balmoral Apartments. Its use has prompted an official rebuke for the building's owners, who have been advised to take it down. David Filipponi, chief officer at the Bailiff's Chambers, said that the flag should not be flown. He added: 'The Royal Standard should only ever be used if the Queen is in residence.'(1)

As can be seen from the above news story, this seems to have caused some upset at the Bailiff's Chambers. However, even in the United Kingdom, there are no specific regulations regarding flags, but it is left to be a matter of custom. This can be seen in the Minutes of Hansard, on 22 October 1902, where Mr Balfour, First Lord of the Treasury commented:

The questions which have been raised as to the proper use of flags have received careful consideration by the Government, but they are unable to adopt the course of action suggested. Nor does it appear desirable to undertake the legislation that would be necessary in order to regulate the general use by civilians, or any class of civilians, of any particular flag on land. It is a matter which is best left, as hitherto, to the guidance of custom and good taste.(2)

This is reflected in a 1902 Home Office Minute on the question:

There is no power by law to interfere with the use on land of any flag even the King's Standard. Any such warrant as proposed would therefore be accompanied by no means of enforcing it. (2)

Historically, the "Royal Standard" as the Queen's flag has in fact a very short history. Back in the reign of Queen Victoria, it was considered to be the Standard flag of the United Kingdom, not the Sovereign:

It was used by members of the Royal Family; flown at certain military parades; displayed on fortresses and official buildings in the United Kingdom, and at Government House in the colonies, on the Sovereign's Birthday and on the days of Coronation and Accession; and flown on government buildings when the sovereign was passing in State. It was also flown by private individuals and organisations who thought that it was an appropriate way of displaying their loyalty to the crown (2)

The change came with the Prince of Wales, on his accession to the throne as Edward VII, who wanted to appropriate the flag as a one for the King or Queen. The Home Office noted "that the King was aware that legally no one could be prevented from flying the Royal Standard, but he wanted it to be discouraged."(2)

It was stated in the JEP article that the developer would not state where he obtained the flag from, but this is not hard to find. In America, they are made and sold quite easily, for a mere $14.95! Is this part of America's love/hate relationship with the British crown, or simply an opportunity for an American entrepreneur to make money. Obviously, there are no laws against its display in the United States of America!

British Royal Standard Colours Flag [FF1010]$14.95 New Made Item: Top quality 3' x 5' flag. Ready to display. Complete with 2 hang side Grommets. Constructed of Synthetic Material. (4)

Whether a new prestigious building can be termed "national rejoicing" is another matter, but as stated before, until recent times:

The common practice on occasions of national rejoicing of displaying the Royal Standard and the Union Flag indiscriminately with other Flags must be regarded as an attempt to express loyalty by means of decoration.(4)

This was such a common practice that It was for this reason that in 1893 a question was asked about the failure to fly the Standard, asking why the "Royal Standard was not hoisted on the Victoria Tower yesterday in honour of the Royal Wedding".(5) - clearly it was expected that public buildings would display the Royal Standard as a mark of celebration (This was the wedding of the HRH the Duke of York).

However, by the time of the 1911 Coronation, Edward VII's sea-change had effected custom if not law, and when a question was asked in Hansard, the reply was now in the negative:

Mr. CATHCART WASON asked whether private persons, corporations, or local authorities would be allowed to hoist the Royal Standard on the day of His Majesty's coronation?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Churchill) The answer is in the negative.(6)

The Royal Standard is of course, as was pointed out, "the Standard of the United Kingdom, the quarterings of which were settled by the Royal Proclamation of the 1st January, 1801, which followed on the Act of Union of 1800"(7). Jersey does not form part of the United Kingdom, so it is debatable whether it would apply to Jersey anyway. There is no legislation applicable to the general public, and as we have seen, even customary usage in the United Kingdom has changed since Edward VII.

Nevertheless, it seems discourteous to display the flag as an advertising gimmick, and perhaps a more conciliatory approach by the Bailiff's office than that reported in the Jersey Evening Post will persuade the developer to remove it. Certainly there is no legal powers by which they can force the developer to remove it.


Monday, 17 August 2009

Student Bodies  

I've just been reading that "The amount of funding universities in England receive could be linked to their reductions in carbon emissions from 2011, under new proposals."

I'm not sure it will be that easy. I remember from my student days, that fellow students, after a night or two on the town, drinking lots of gassy bear, are well know for unexpected carbon emissions, sometimes in lectures,
mostly consisting of stray methane.

Do you remember the Young Ones episode when Neil appeared to get pregnant, and then all one heard was (from the outside of their flat), a loud noise as all the flatulence erupted into the atmosphere, rather like one of those noisy balloons which whistle rudely as they deflate. Not knowing this, Mike came in, and said, "congratulations, have a cigar", and there was a loud bang!

Of course students were never quite like the "Young Ones" in my day. They were a fairly hard working bunch, and rather clever. I remember one chap in the days of Punk Rock, who died his long hair green from the shoulder down for "street cred". Come the summer holidays, and the search for holiday jobs, all he had to do was to cut it off, and he was instantly presentable!

Long hair is also normally linked to a high carbon footprint. It needs more water to wash, more shampoo, perhaps a hair dryer to dry. Today's students seem to keep their hair long and clean, so perhaps they should cut it more often. But in the bad old days, I remember some students for whom a hair wash was something done about once a term, if they remembered. So perhaps they were more like the Young Ones after all!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

When is fair criticism bullying?

The recent news has had a letter from Terry Le Sueur about Stuart Syvret. It deals with complaints of bullying:

Dear Senator Syvret

I am writing to advise you that the States Employment Board has received a letter from the Health and Safety Inspectorate advising that they have received a complaint that States employees are allegedly being bullied by an external party during the course of their duties. I enclose a copy of the letter.

Although the letter talks in general terms, I regret to say that a visit to the Human Resources Department by the author of the letter has confirmed that the external party is you.

Now I am inclined to the belief that Senator Syvret uses intemperate language on his blog, but his blog is an area for free speech and fair comment. If, however, any of his disclosures would be deemed to be libelous, then it seems to me that the courts would be the proper place for this. He is no longer involved with any States departments, and as far as I am aware, has not been sending emails to them since losing the position of Minister for Health and Social Services. As far as I can tell, the only source of the complaint is the blog postings, which is not directly impinging on States employees in any other way apart from a possible libel.

Therefore, if action is taken to prevent his online critique of States Members, it seems likely that it might have far reaching implications about free speech in Jersey in general, and it is therefore pertinent to ask: if it is deemed bullying to comment online in any critical way of civil servants, what recourse is going to be made where this kind of critique originates outside of Jersey? Whatever report is made, it must provide a cast-iron boundary between bullying and criticism, otherwise it is a direct violation of the right to freedom of speech under the European Convention on Human Rights (of which Jersey is a signatory).

I give three examples. One is a UK parliamentary commentator who turned his eye briefly to Jersey, another is a general UK blog on miscellaneous issues, and the last  is an online newspaper archive. The people critiqued are, respectively, Mike Pollard, Bill Ogley and David Warcup.

Now you've got to admit that the UK taxpayer is getting twitchy about expenses' claims. Jersey has decided to bail in and have some fun too. A review of public sector expense claims has been launched following Friday's revelations that the Chief Executive of the Department of Health had claimed for missed guitar lessons. Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf said that the review would ensure that all claims were 'appropriate'. It is understood that it will focus on the procedure used to sign off senior officers' expense claims. The Jersey Evening Post understand that such claims are approved by a Chief Officer's finance director. Questions are therefore being asked about how appropriate it is that a boss's claim is being put before one of his or her slaves. There is, at this stage, officially no suggestion that Health chief Mike Pollard, who earns in exc ess of £150,000 a year, broke any rules or guidelines in claiming for his lessons. States Chief Executive Bill Ogley (him of the mugshot) said that he was confident his senior colleagues would be shown to have behaved properly. That of course gets him not randomly sacked for nicking loopaper or something as an excuse to clear his chair for somebody slightly less politically switched on.

As one dissident Jersey politician who wished to remain nameless said to me when we huddled together one lunch time in a cramped St Helier cafe, you might have thought Jersey - its politicians and civil servants, its police force, its tourist industry - had something to celebrate when the police concluded that there had been no murders at Haut de la Garenne, the now-notorious children's home. That morning, while Harper's work was being traduced in front of the press, Power had gone to a meeting with the then Jersey States home-affairs minister, Andrew Lewis. The chief executive, Bill Ogley, was also there and took notes. Notes he later admitted he had destroyed. Power had been summoned to the meeting in a call by Lewis the previous evening, without being given any idea what the theme of the meeting would be. He was told that the Jersey Council of Ministers - the equivalent of the cabinet - had been briefed by his own police colleagues the night before and the content of the briefing had been so bad they had no option but to suspend him. The officers who had given ministers the briefing were the same two officers who were just then delivering the stinging judgment on Harper to the media.

POLICE chief has come under fire after it was revealed he retired with a £300,000 lump sum . . . and walked straight into another top job. David Warcup was deputy chief constable of Northumbria Police before he retired earlier this year at the age of 50. He has since taken over as deputy chief constable in Jersey, where his role includes heading a high-profile investigation into alleged abuse at a children's home. Mr Warcup is in line to become the island's chief constable in just over a year. But it has been revealed that he has received a lump sum of around £300,000 from Northumbria Police. Mr Warcup is also receiving £60,000 a year from his old force as part of his retirement package. The pension - which lasts for the rest of his life - represents half of the £120,000-a-year he received from Northumbria. It is being paid on top of the £100,000-a-year he receives from the States of Jersey Police. Due to the fact that the island is a tax-haven, he only pays 20 per cent on his Jersey police salary. In the year before he retired, Mr Warcup also received an undisclosed share of a £47,000 bonus split between Northumbria's five chief officers. Mr Warcup has done nothing wrong and both Northumbria and Jersey police have defended the deal. But Mark Wallace of the Taxpayers' Alliance said: "While nothing illegal has gone on, this case highlights the divide between people who enjoy high-end public sector pensions and the taxpayers who fund them. "For most of us, it's impossible to imagine retiring at 50 with a £300,000 lump sum plus £60,000 a year. "Mr Warcup's front-line officers were told there wasn't enough money for them to get a small pay rise, so it's shocking that senior officers are picking up such massive early retirement deals."

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Balance Sheet Blues

Something for the credit crunch, executive stress, and all those corporate management skill training courses!

Balance Sheet Blues

The wind ruffled his fur as he prowled
And in the distance, something howled
He padded forward, eager to find out
That sound of fear, that panic shout
He panted as he ran, looking for prey
That the Lion God might give away.
This was the first safari tour for these
Corporate outing, minions to appease
In such outings, new management skills
Could be learned, and commercial kills
Of competing firms. Such was this day
In the safari park, driving far away.
He smelt the panic, and tasted the fear
There before his eyes now did appear
The broken engine, the executive stress
Advanced logistic parameters in a mess
And he now advances, for this appeals
Food, fresh, inviting, meals on wheels.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Over-hanging branches, ceremonial axes and lots of walking

If you wish to find the past preserved, follow the million feet of the crowd.  At the worst the uneducated only wear
down old things by sheer walking.  But the educated kick them down out of sheer culture (G.K. Chesterton)
Recently Constable Peter Hanning has written to the JEP in indignation that the paper chose to mock the Visite Royale, where the Royal Court, twice a year, goes out and about, and where judges and officials examine roads and footpaths for overhanging hedges, trees and other obstructions.

THE origins of the Visite Royale may have disappeared into the mists of time, but that does not mean that the twice-yearly visits to the parishes are an anachronism. I am saddened that your reporter (JEP, 6 August) was unable to take the Royal Court seriously...What is the most serious official occasion for a parish every six years was reduced to trivia. There was no mention of the court checking that all parish accounting and monies are correctly handled, or of the Honorary Police report - serious matters to parishioners. Had your reporter taken the trouble to attend the whole visit, or even read the guide notes with photographs provided, he would have seen that the second stop related not to a hedge, but to landslips and the ensuing dangers to road users. The last stop did not concern a drain, but the prevention of repeated flooding of a number of houses, also important to  parishioners.  (1)

However well meaning the letter, it is flawed in a number of places. The former Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache noted several of these. Take the position of hedges, for example, and any obstructions on Parish roads:

As Le Gros observed in 1943 a six-yearly visit to a parish necessarily means that many roads will not be traversed by the ambulatory court for 40 or 50 years or more. It may be noted however that the parochial authorities have a continuing duty through the biannual visite du branchage to ensure not only the maintenance and upkeep of the roads in the parish but also to prevent encroachments.  (2)

Sir Philip also took apart the accounting function of the Visite, whose members, after all are trained lawyers, not accountants:

It could also be argued that the minute examination of parochial accounts is no longer necessary. In former times an inspection by the Court no doubt served as a useful deterrent to the misappropriation of public monies. But in these times parochial accounts are invariably audited by professional accountants providing at least as adequate a safeguard. (2)

With regard to Mr Henning's argument that the Visite attended matters of importance such as landslips and flooding of houses, can it really be the case that these important matters have to wait at least six years before they are attended to? Obviously not, and despite their importance, they would certainly come under the jurisdiction of the Parish authorities (with the Parish road committee) or the States departments such as Transport and Technical Services (in the case of flooding and proper drainage). Indeed, from Le Geyt's calculation, it might not even be a six year wait but a forty year wait. The argument by the Constable of St Saviour simply cannot not bear the weight put upon it.

Sir Philip did however suggest in 1998 that there could well be a place for examination and supervision, and it would be interesting to know if this was in place, and is included in "the Honorary police report" described by Mr Hanning:

One aspect of parochial administration has however expanded and might merit periodic supervision by the Court. Various statutes now empower centeniers to inflict summarily small fines at the parish hall for minor infractions in certain circumstances. Records of these decisions are kept. It is submitted that the Visite Royale might usefully examine these records so as to ensure that centeniers are exercising the powers appropriately and lawfully. Customs which serve no practical purpose can eventually become empty vessels; better by far that they should adapt so as to provide both a link with the past and a useful service to the present.(2)

But that does not give a good argument for the court having a wander round leafy parish lanes. Is that an anachronism? Yes, but I would argue that its very triviality, that it cannot really accomplish much in the time, is not important.

What is important is that the Court, with all the lawyers and officials, should get out of the courtroom, and into the countryside, and have some fresh air outside of the stuffy confines of the Royal Court building (with what seems to be continually malfunctioning air conditioning). And if it happens to be pouring with rain, wet and windy, they should still go out, in all weathers, so that the photographer can take pictures of the judges under umbrellas in all their finery, getting slightly wet. 

To take stock of a tree with a tape measure is an bit of a joke, but occasionally it is good for judges to get out and about, and do something ever so slightly silly in the eyes of the world; it is because it really cannot be taken seriously, but is taken seriously with due pomp and ceremony, that it is funny, and should continue. Sometimes it is important that even lawyers should have time to play.


Sunday, 9 August 2009

On your bike!

ISLANDERS will have to lower their expectations and accept jobs historically done by immigrants to weather the economic downturn, the Social Security Minister has warned. That could be waiting on tables and working in shops, hotels and on building sites.

Ian Gorst was commenting on the local job market, and reported in the JEP. This has already received a lot of indignant replies. However, when you read the complete article, it is clear that rather than a suggestion by Deputy Gorst like the often quoted Norman Tebbit's "get on on your bike" remark, it may simply be just a comment on how people are actually behaving - "Deputy Ian Gorst said many people were already 'having to try anything to get work'." If you are out of work, lowering expectations may be sensible, after all, and his department has been observing this trend, and making it public. Reportage in the JEP is often ambiguous, and I'd sooner give Deputy Gorst the benefit of the doubt.

Where this gets interesting, is the follow up statement that "it was revealed that businesses are being refused licenses to take on non-locally qualified staff - forcing them to employ people that have lived in the Island for at least five years."

Two questions spring to mind:

1) Does this also apply to the finance sector (where jobs have also been lost), so that banks and trust companies are squeezed to take local staff who are familiar with the industry, even if it means some training being supplied?  Or does it just apply to the businesses which supply more menial forms of labour? Some figures on refusals given under the Regulation of Undertakings Law would provide an indicator as to whether this was a fair across-the-board measure being taken. Or does the finance industry manage to claim "exceptions" because it needs especially qualified workers? Although I believe (from my sources) at least one bank manager has been made redundant, so there are probably qualified people out there.

2) The States has not got a good record of leading by example. I know that Deputy Gorst is involved in a plan to train up future chief officers and the like internally (a new strategy on high-flyers that covers some of the same ground as the old civil service exams). Nevertheless, it seems that high end jobs - such as the head of La Moye school - where there was a perfectly capable acting head - go out of the island, while the lower paid positions do not. Is the States going to change this culture, and should it be also subject to the Regulation of Undertakings Law?


While Tebbit is often quoted, this is a misquote. He actually said not "get on your bike and look for work", but "I grew up in the '30s with an unemployed father. He didn't riot. He got on his bike and looked for work, and he kept looking 'til he found it."

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Alliterative multisyllabisms and other remarkable rhetoric

I see that Clameur de Haro is back in sparkling form, and attempting to out-do Stuart Syvret with excruciating invective.

First, lets have the competition. From one of Stuart's postings comes this wonderful rhetorical flourish:

It couldn't be, could it, that you both are, in fact, just a pair of solipsistic, monomaniac egotists; blinkered fanatics, and hypocritical thugs - ready to adduce whatever inchoate proschemata suit your purposes that day - quite regardless of whether the same standards capture either of you?

But now, joining him in the purple prose, Clameur is fast catching up:

How depressing too, to see that the vast majority of the local politics blogs remain firmly anchored at the left-green end of the spectrum: some still obsessing, ostrich-like, with conspiracy theories about cover-ups or justice-denial to the exclusion of all else (and goodness knows, there's no shortage of other things to get worked up about in this mis-governed island), while others continue to proselytize pernicious eco-authoritarian greenery.

A few comments:

1) Isn't it interesting how two dimensional models tend to be the norm? So we have a "spectrum", which is after all, to us mathematicians, very similar to the number line, with negative numbers one end, zero in the middle, and positive numbers the other end. So we have at different ends of spectra, left or right. Wouldn't at least a three dimensional model be better?

2) And as regards "cover ups" and "conspiracy theories", Clameur has some catching up to do, not least with "Operation Blast", which was a covert operation set up by someone, and with some police operatives working covertly, and by all accounts, the entire affair was not widely known, apart from Special Branch, certainly Graham Power, and according to Graham Powers' leaked report, Frank Walker and Bill Ogley. Frank Walker denies his part, and Bill Ogley, according to CTV, "had nothing to do with ordering Operation Blast, the covert police investigation into States Members private lives", which if you look at the precise wording, does not say he was not aware of it.

Of course as far as conspiracies go, "Operation Blast" seems to have had very little of major importance in it, although it is curious that David Warcup refused to let States members see their own details (even a photocopy of the pages could have ensured they were not privy to other members' information). But it certainly was secret, covert and someone must have been involved in setting it up and manning it.

3) Regarding justice denial, I think one significant example was Karen Hutchet's shabby treatment with a long term suspension, being given no details of the complaints against her, and being summarily sacked without any proper enquiry. She may yet get justice, because the tribunal which looks at cases of unfair dismissal (well worth a read - it's on the States website each year) has the powers to obtain statements from witnesses and presents it in public (despite a few lawyers trying to get secrecy for their clients). It is the public face of justice.

4) Regarding "pernicious eco-authoritarian greenery", it should be noted that Daniel Wimberley wanted to detach environmental measures from environmental taxes, and I would have thought that bringing in taxes was the authoritarian element, not recycling schemes. Of course, any extra taxes, loosely linked to environmental measures, will probably be on the way, but they will be coming from departments wanted to balance budgets, get extra income from stealth taxes - it will be the political opportunists not the idealists who will do this. A good example would be Michael Jackson's mooting a "sewage charge", which will both be "user pays" (but don't our taxes already pay?) and environmental ("paying for waste").

I think the reason people want to be environmental skeptics has more to do with a kind of moral laziness - if this can be disproved, then I can carry on the way I want to - using up fossil fuels, tearing up the rainforests etc. The most notable scientific skeptic on Global Warming is Dr David Bellamy, and he is often quoted as saying that "Global warming - at least the modern nightmare vision - is a myth.". It is a pity that this is selectively repeated, and his other views regarding environmental matters are ignored, with the same pick-n-mix ease that fundamentalists use when they take bible verses out of context to bolster their views:

"We should stop burning fossil fuels. Yes, we should stop draining peat bogs, destroying soil and natural and semi-natural vegetation. Yes, we should stop overfishing and overgrazing the planet. That is why I am still working an 18-hour day helping groups which are trying to reverse this trend, as I have been doing for the past 40 years. " (Dr David Bellamy)


Thursday, 6 August 2009

Speed Limits: The Way Ahead?

A JERSEY politician has proposed increasing speed limits in green lanes to 20 mph - but doing much more to enforce the limit and penalising those who break it. Deputy Daniel Wimberley has written to the review group looking at Islandwide speed limits, welcoming the project and saying that many of his parishioners have called or written to him about the issue of speed. He added said that raising the green lane speed limit from 15 mph to 20 mph would be sensible - but only if it was properly enforced. He said that would allow the States to set up three easy and consistent speed bands: 20 mph for urban roads, village centres, near schools when pupils are around, and all narrow roads; 30 mph if there are frontages on one or both sides of the road; and 40 mph everywhere else.(1)

Why do people routinely ignore speed limits? Part of the reason has to be the confusion of speed limits, which are dotted over Jersey like a patchwork quilt that has been worked on by many hands; some of these are sensible limits, but where restrictions have been put in place, the absurdity of the limit on the roads just out of the restricted zone has not been considered. This blinkered approach gives rise to roads like St Brelade's Bay being mostly 20 m.p.h., while La Marquanderie, Mont Gras d'Eau, and the steep hill by the back of St Brelade's Church are all left at 40 m.p.h. It is like a jigsaw where one person concentrates on finding their piece, but ignore the bigger picture.

But there is also an element of psychology at work here. Margaret Raymond examined how mostly law abiding people still break particular rules. She looks at law-abiders, who comply with all laws, and law violators, who willfully refuse to comply with laws, and suggests there is a third category:

There is a third category of actor, and most people fall into that category. This category contains people that are persistent violators of criminal prohibitions, violation of which is not ordinarily stigmatized or subjected to social or legal sanction at the levels where prohibitions are routinely violated. I call these offenses, which otherwise law-abiding actors routinely commit, penumbral crimes.

A penumbral crime is a criminal act defined by a high level of noncompliance with the stated legal standard, an absence of stigma associated with violation of the stated standard, and a low level of law enforcement or public sanction. These factors, however, do not persist at all levels of violation; the law's application in effect creates a "penumbra" of accepted behavior that, while unlawful, will not ordinarily be sanctioned or stigmatized. Beyond the "penumbra," enforcement and stigma resume, and ordinary criminal rules apply. Penumbral crimes are interesting, in part, because people who define themselves as law-abiding--indeed, people who pride themselves on being so--regularly violate these laws. (2)

A person who speeds is unlikely to commit murder simply because his experience with flouting speeding laws has obliterated his commitment to the social norm of law obedience. In fact, one of the interesting things about penumbral crimes is that individuals who commit them continue to view themselves as observers of the law obedience norm even in the face of their law-violating behavior.

This is pertinent for Daniel Wimberley's call for law enforcement, because one of her main examples is speeding:

Imagine that you are driving on an interstate highway. The posted speed limit, as in many parts of the country, is 65 mph. How fast are you driving? If you answered "the speed limit," you are in a distinct minority. Drivers in the United States rarely obey speeding laws. Surveys that ask drivers how fast they drive indicate that most admit to speeding. About two-thirds of all drivers report that they at least occasionally exceed the maximum speed limit on the roads they regularly drive, while 30% of drivers report that they regularly tend to drive faster than other motorists on the road. Self-reporting being what it is, research that assesses whether drivers actually observe speed limits reflects even more significant noncompliance: in one study, 70% of vehicles exceeded the speed limit. Anecdotal evidence sets that level even higher.(2)

Speed limits are therefore often set to allow for this kind of variation, because it is impossible to police all roads. The limit may be set where it is to enforce the penumbral limit. For example, taking the local context, you do not set the speed limit at 20 because you want people to drive 20; you set the speed limit at 20 so that motorists will exceed the limit by 5 mph rather than setting the speed at 25, the penumbral limit. Someone going through a speed limit of 20 at 22 mph will be taken as being within this limit, while going through a 20 mph zone at 30 mph is outside the limit and will incur a fine.

When speed traps are introduced to enforce speed limits, the literal nature of the speed trap (such as with an automated speed camera or a police officer with a speed gun) causes a clash with the culture of penumbral crime, and outrage at what has happened. It is a culture shock.

The widely recognized perception that speeding laws are not literally enforced produces an interesting phenomenon: speed traps. The belief on the part of drivers that they can speed moderately with impunity creates an opportunity to surprise them with literal enforcement. While vigorous literal enforcement of a speed limit produces substantially greater compliance with that limit than is commonly observed, at least among repeat users of the road, it also produces indignation and outrage that indicates more than disappointment at being apprehended. It suggests, instead, a clear sense that the law enforcement activity that takes place at these stops is somehow wrongful or illegitimate. (2)

To counter this shock, there is normally a degree of penumbral variation build into speed traps.

(a) Public officials often state confidently that no one was ticketed unless they exceeded not the speed limit, but a range above and beyond that posted limit. The speed indicator on a car, after all, is rarely a digital display, and like a clock hand, may vary slightly depending on the position and height of the driver in relation to it.

(b) Signage is introduced (such as speed camera warnings) to warn drivers that speeding laws are enforced strictly in the area. This confirms what most people understand: that enforcement is so rarely literal that it would be unfair to enforce the speeding laws strictly without prior notice.

How does one enforce compliance against penumbral crimes? Margaret Raymond suggests several possibilities. One is to ignore the problem, which she says gives the message that "lawbreaking behavior is in some respect preferable to law-abiding behavior." Another is to enforce the law literally. This has a problem with resource allocation: "Jurisdictions may be unable or unwilling to assign law enforcement and judicial resources to pursue a high number of offenders simply to change the common perception that these crimes are unpunished at the literal, rather than penumbral, levels." She also notes that people become especially resentful of what they consider to be an unjust and petty enforcement of the law, which rather than creating a mindset where people want to obey laws, creates instead an attitude of negativity towards legal norms, which leads to a collapse of compliance and reversion to old habits just as soon as the enforcement is removed.

In "Psychology and Policing", the authors note that:

A number of studies have shown the effectiveness of direct police operations on speed behavior. Hauer, Ahlin, and Bowser ( 1982) reported decreases in traffic speeds of 23% to 28% within 2km of a visible police operation. Armour ( 1984) also noted a reduction in the proportion of drivers exceeding the posted speed limit at visible police sites. Both these authors reported, however, that these speed reduction benefits only lasted within a small distance (or time) of the test site, a phenomenon known as a "halo effect." (3)

Speed cameras can enforce compliance, but not only do they engender resentment, but they also do not deal with the main problem of attitude to speed limits, so that motorists modify their behaviour where there are known cameras, but revert to penumbral limits outside that frame. However, the authors do note that "site-specific use seems to have some marginal benefit as a "black-spot" measure."

More effective can be a campaign (which may involve a degree of enforcement) which involves norm alteration and stigmatisation, especially where the consequences of breaking a norm can be life threatening, as with drunk driving. Whether this is enough for speed limit enforcements is another matter, but certainly a campaign against driving too fast, and a focus on the personal cost of doing so may help, even if it is not the full solution.

But her main suggestion is to introduce what she calls "Penumbral Statutes for Penumbral Crimes". This is how she sees this as working:

One approach to this problem would be to adopt a statute which memorializes the existing regime more closely. Such a statute would set a range of appropriate behaviors. In the speeding context, such a statute might look like this:

Speeding. A person is guilty of speeding if s/he drives more than

(a) 5 mph over the speed limit on a road where the speed limit is 30 mph or lower; or

(b) 10 mph over the speed limit on a road where the speed limit is greater than 30 mph.

The advantages of such a prohibition are evident. First, such a statute poses no challenge to the law obedience norm. Most drivers engaging in typical penumbral behavior would be obeying the law and the law defines the crime as they and the law enforcement community understand it. The discontinuities created by penumbral crimes are thus avoided. While the law does not increase compliance with the original statute, compliance with the new statute would be significantly higher since the statute reflects the way most self-described law-abiding people actually behave. Moreover, communication of the required standard is significantly clearer. In the ordinary penumbral crimes situation, some additional quantum of behavior above and beyond that defined in the statute is necessary to run afoul of the criminal prohibition, but it is not necessarily universally apparent what that behavior is. Use of a statute that makes clear what conduct will actually be subject to sanction solves the problem of fair communication. (2)

(2) Penumbral Crimes, Margaret Raymond; American Criminal Law Review, Vol. 39, 2002.
(3) Psychology and Policing. Neil Brewer, Carlene Wilson (1995), p52

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Quest for Unicorns

I was reading about the new Dawkins style atheist "summer camp", Camp Quest, which comes from an idea of an American to provide a scout like experience without the religiousness. This is, as usual, over the top. From my year in the scouts, there was only one single religious occasion, which was the annual church service, and which I always disliked. When my son was in cubs, again there was no religious elements to what the kids did except for that one church service. This is hardly the stuff of indoctrination! As usual, the heavy mob weigh in with an "atheist alternative", which for the most part seems just as secular as scouting was.

But there are alternatives to scouting already around, such as the "Order of Woodcraft Chivalry". It was founded in 1916 by Ernest Westlake, and "differed from it in that it did not have the perceived military overtones of Scouting, instead focusing on the virtues of kindness, fellowship, animal conservation and woodcraft". (1) The affirmation of the Order is: ""To respond to the call of the world of nature, seeking from it simplicity, good sense and fortitude. To pursue bravely and gaily the adventure of life, cherishing whatever it holds of beauty, wonder and romance, endeavouring to carry the chivalrous spirit into daily life." (2). It still exists today.

On the whole, the British camp seems less dogmatic in its atheism than the American one. There is one notable atheist thought experiment in the UK Camp Quest, a game from the American concept:
The British camp has imported one prominent element from the original concept: a mind game centred on imaginary unicorns. The children are told to imagine that the camp is surrounded by unicorns which cannot be seen or touched, but which are there because there has to be 'faith' that they exist. They are then encouraged to develop rational arguments to prove that the unicorns cannot and do not exist, with anyone who manages it awarded a prize - a £10 note signed by Richard Dawkins.  It does not take a genius to work out that the 'unicorns' are, of course, an unsubtle metaphor for any 'invisible' deity, whether Christian, Muslim or otherwise, though Ms Stein denies this is the case.  'The unicorns are not necessarily a metaphor for God,' she says. 'They are to show kids how to think critically. We are not trying to bash religion, but it encourages people to believe in a lot of things for which there is no evidence.' (3)

Of course, it is easy to muster an argument that unicorns exist and have all those properties. There are a huge number of theoretical physics constructs which may or may not exist, such as gravity waves, tachyons, the Higgs Boson etc. They cannot be seen or touched, and no experimental apparatus has as yet conclusively shown that they exist. That they do exist is a matter of making assumptions that the physical models that predict their existence are accurate, and that is of course no guarantee that they do. Like phlogiston, or the ether, they may turn out to be fictions produced by physicists. Which just shows how difficult it can be even in the realm of so-called empiricism to do without faith in invisible entities!

On the subject of the existence (or otherwise) of unicorns, my favourite fable is that by James Thurber, the American writer and humorist (4):
Once upon a sunny morning a man who sat in a breakfast nook looked up from his scrambled eggs to see a white unicorn with a golden horn quietly cropping the roses in the garden. The man went up to the bedroom where his wife was still asleep and woke her. "There's a unicorn in the garden," he said. "Eating roses." She opened one unfriendly eye and looked at him. 

"The unicorn is a mythical beast," she said, and turned her back on him. The man walked slowly downstairs and out into the garden. The unicorn was still there; now he was browsing among the tulips. "Here, unicorn," said the man, and he pulled up a lily and gave it to him. The unicorn ate it gravely. With a high heart, because there was a unicorn in his garden, the man went upstairs and roused his wife again. "The unicorn," he said,"ate a lily." His wife sat up in bed and looked at him coldly. "You are a booby," she said, "and I am going to have you put in the booby-hatch."

The man, who had never liked the words "booby" and "booby-hatch," and who liked them even less on a shining morning when there was a unicorn in the garden, thought for a moment. "We'll see about that," he said. He walked over to the door. "He has a golden horn in the middle of his forehead," he told her. Then he went back to the garden to watch the unicorn; but the unicorn had gone away. The man sat down among the roses and went to sleep.

As soon as the husband had gone out of the house, the wife got up and dressed as fast as she could. She was very excited and there was a gloat in her eye. She telephoned the police and she telephoned a psychiatrist; she told them to hurry to her house and bring a strait-jacket. When the police and the psychiatrist arrived they sat down in chairs and looked at her, with great interest.

"My husband," she said, "saw a unicorn this morning." The police looked at the psychiatrist and the psychiatrist looked at the police. "He told me it ate a lilly," she said. The psychiatrist looked at the police and the police looked at the psychiatrist. "He told me it had a golden horn in the middle of its forehead," she said. At a solemn signal from the psychiatrist, the police leaped from their chairs and seized the wife. They had a hard time subduing her, for she put up a terrific struggle, but they finally subdued her. Just as they got her into the strait-jacket, the husband came back into the house.

"Did you tell your wife you saw a unicorn?" asked the police. "Of course not," said the husband. "The unicorn is a mythical beast." "That's all I wanted to know," said the psychiatrist. "Take her away. I'm sorry, sir, but your wife is as crazy as a jaybird."  So they took her away, cursing and screaming, and shut her up in an institution. The husband lived happily ever after.

Moral: Don't count your boobies until they are hatched.



Monday, 3 August 2009

A Guide to Illegal Clamping in Jersey

What do do if you are clamped? Well, for starters you shouldn't be parking on private land anyway, but there are several reasons why you might be:

a) an emergency
b) not seeing the signs
c) just dropping off or picking up someone / something.

The Jersey Evening Post (30 July 2009) recently gave the comments by Ian Le Marquand, the Home Affairs Minister. It should be stressed that he is speaking not as a Minister, but as a lawyer. Nonetheless, the legal advice he gives has not been challenged, and as Home Affairs Minister he will be helping support the drafting of a law that will ban clamping, and replace it with a fairer system of fines, which will put illegal parking in private areas on equal footing with parking on a yellow line, or in a public parking place without a scratch card. For the benefits of those who missed his excellent advice, or lost the paper, here is what to do.

An Illegal Practice

WHEEL clamping is illegal and drivers should stop `giving in to it', the Home Affairs Minister has said. Indicating his firm support for new efforts to outlaw the deeply unpopular practice, Senator Ian Le Marquand, the former Magistrate, warned clampers that they risked being sued for substantial damages and could be committing a criminal offence if they demanded money for removing clamps. He said it was his legal opinion that clampers who demanded money to release vehicles and those who `marched people down to the cash machine' could be criminally guilty of 'demanding money with menaces'.

Here are his step by step guidelines. He doesn't specify what amount of money should be offered, but I would say that the maximum to be offered would be that incurred as a parking fine in the public sector, that is £50, which is considerably less than most clampers are demanding.
1. Offer Money

'If I was clamped, the advice I would give myself as a lawyer would be to offer the clampers the sum of money I regarded as reasonable in settlement for the damage I had done,' Senator Le Marquand said.
2. Make A Written Note

'If they refused to take that sum off me, I would make a written note that I had offered this sum and they had refused it. I would say to them that if they did not release the car, I would bring damages against them.' He explained that he would seek recompense for the loss of the use of his vehicle and any expenses incurred, such as taxi fares and car hire.
3. Ask for the Boss

'I would suggest that he [the clamper] might like to phone his boss and say that he might be liable to this claim if he does not release the car,' he added. 'That is what I would do and that is what I would advise anyone else to do. I would sue the clampers for the total sum lost.'
4. Call the Police

And he said that if the clampers refused to release the car, he would call the police as, in his legal opinion, the demanding of cash in such a context could constitute the criminal offence of demanding money with menaces.
Finally, he gives his legal opinion on clamping, citing case law, and explains how the system needs to be reformed.

Legal Opinion
'My legal opinion is that if a person parks where they should not they commit a trespass and there is a claim for damages in relation to the value of those damages, but a person who then wheel clamps also commits a trespass which gives rise to a claim or damages the other way. 'Clampers are putting themselves at subtantial risk of claims for damages."
'Wheel clamping is unlawful, not criminal, but unlawful, and it can lead to practices that can be criminal offences. I would advise people to stop giving in to it.'
Senator Le Marquand, who stressed that he was speaking as a lawyer and not as Minister for Home Affairs, added that his legal position was supported by a court decision in Jersey. The court ruled that a clamper had no legal right to clamp and the clamper in question has since stopped operating.
Local Law, not UK Law - Warning Signs are not enough
Mr Le Marquand explained that dampers seemed to think that Jersey followed UK law and could clamp if they erected signs warning that vehicles could be clamped. However, the minister stressed that was not the law in Jersey. He spoke out after Deputy Paul Le Claire lodged a proposition calling for clamping to be outlawed earlier this week. It is expected that it will be debated by the States in the autumn. Senator Le Marquand said that he had instructed his department to help draft the proposition and would be supporting it. He said he would favour a fining system that would reflect the level of damages incurred by illegal parking on private land.

Sunday, 2 August 2009


As long as the world exists, the seasons endure
Time for planting, and time for harvest are sure
Unless the great heat brings forth a barren waste
Judgement upon a people who were disgraced
Who saw the world as children, there to take
And the ancient harmonies did now forsake
That the land in the seventh year should rest
So that the grower would once more be blessed
And leave the gleanings for the poor to take
The ancient laws of justice and the rake
Grain at the margins left for those in need
And not all taken for profit, and for greed.
I have seen people plough fields of an evil seed
Planting wickedness, destroying every single weed
And the earthworm, insects, and pollinating bee
Are wiped out from  the field, by slow degree
Harvest of wickedness, crops that do not seed
Terminator genes cause the poor to bleed
The god of the harvest weeps in funeral rite
Ripening of the grain, with fields so white
Offerings of first grain offered on altar
For we know how easy the seasons falter
How blessed are those with bread to eat
And only in sharing is joy made complete
"Give us today our daily bread", the cry
So often stifled, while millions still die
Goodness is the harvest from the seeds
When we reach out, address those needs
Until hunger destroyed, and famines cease
Be the peacemakers, and  plant for peace.