Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Lenny Harper and The Media Myth

"Senator le Marquand tried to say that prospects of successful prosecution might have been  damaged by Mr Harper's media handling.  He asserted they would have come forward even without media profile. The evidence on the trust issues of care leavers in general and abuse victims in care in particular clearly indicates otherwise.  Had there been no profile there would have been few if any victims coming forward, and hence no prosecutions at all."(Mark Forskitt)

Senator Le Marquand, according to the Minutes of the Suspension review meeting, appears to have bought into the version of history that says Lenny Harper's handling of the media was bad, and may have damaged prospects of a successful prosecution. This is along the lines of the Daily Mail version of 2008:

A bluff, straightforward and extremely experienced Lancashire detective, Det Supt Mick Gradwell, who had taken over the investigation after Mr Harper retired in August, was telling them that most of what they had been told about Haut de la Garenne and Mr Harper's £4.5million inquiry was nonsense. 'There are no credible allegations of murder, there are no suspects for murder,' Mr Gradwell

But there never were any suspects for murder, and Lenny Harper was advised - at the time - by the ACPO team that the right decision had been made to treat the investigation as involving a potential homicide, not a proven one. The media ran away with the story, ignoring the qualifying adjectives, and proceeded to produce lurid headlines. A good example of this in the Times. The sub-headline text says:

"Jersey police have discovered the partial remains of at least five children at Haut de la Garenne, the former children's home at the centre of the island's child abuse investigation. "

But Lenny Harper's actual statement, reported in the same article, tells quite a different story:

"At the end of the day there may not be the evidence there to mount a homicide inquiry and an attempt to bring anybody to justice for whatever crimes took place there," he said. Mr Harper said: "We were pinning our hopes on the process of carbon dating. The latest information we're getting is that for the period we're looking at, it's not going to be possible to give us an exact time of death. The indications are that if the results come back the same way as they have now it is obvious there won't be a homicide inquiry."

When it comes to abuse, the situation is different, because people had come forward:

The police search has unearthed valuable pieces of evidence which "substantially corroborate" accounts of abuse at the home, Mr Harper said.

But the Times is not the only newspaper to indulge in this kind of misleading talk. I have had a number of people who are genuinely concerned about the headline "GST 'must go up to 12%'" in the Jersey Evening Post in extremely large bold print. The text of the story said: "GST will have to rise to 12% if the States do not rein in deficits, according to the independent spending watchdog." - the qualification was not in the headline, and people just skimming the paper will come away with an entirely different perspective. The Evening Post has also blown up figures on burglary out of all proportion by a misleading use of percentages.

And the BBC website also has this more balanced news report, from 2008:

The Jersey Police Deputy Chief Officer, Lenny said there was no evidence of a cover up by The Jersey Government. He said at a press conference that the police have "no evidence of a cover up by the Jersey Government. There may be evidence that things haven't been done the way they should have done but governments don't normally get involved in child abuse investigations."

Now that is on the BBC, and is also quoted on Fox News, but no other television channel or newspaper reports those words from the press conference - "no evidence of a cover up by the Jersey Government" - Lenny Harper's own media briefing at the time.

So I'm not convinced the fault is Lenny Harper's, so much as the papers who decided to sensationalise the story as much as possible to maximise sales, and there is very little that can be done about that. The only thing Lenny Harper might have done would have been to emphasise more strongly the tentative nature of some of the evidence, but from the Times, it seems likely that even if he had done that, it would not have been highlighted in their reporting, as can be seen from the above example.

That is a matter of judgement, but the supposal that Harper's media strategy deliberately inflamed matters is not a cast iron certainty. We simply do not know how the media would have reacted if he had done otherwise.

What the media attention did gain was publicity that enabled the victims of abuse to come forward, and the confidence that there was now a police team who could be trusted to listen to them and not dismiss their claims as specious.

Bad publicity also accrued to the Island, but I suspect that this was less to do with Lenny Harper than the very public spat between Frank Walker and Stuart Syvret, in which, in from of an audience of millions, Frank Walker accused Stuart Syvret of "trying to shaft Jersey internationally", and then denied Paxman's argument that this in any way implied that he was mainly concerned with Jersey's international reputation.

Although Frank Walker, Jersey's chief minister, has dismissed allegations of a cover-up as politically motivated, he appeared to give some credence to Syvret's claims when cameras caught an off-air exchange between the two men following an interview for BBC Radio 4. As they rose to leave the studio, an exasperated Syvret exclaimed: ''We're talking about children here'', to which a clearly annoyed Walker responded: ''You're trying to shaft Jersey internationally."

It could be argued instead that it was Senator Frank Walker who fueled the media frenzy, and the bias often against Jersey society as a whole, no doubt in part because he was so obviously a soft target who could not bear to apologise for ill chosen words; given the media love of confrontational politics, he could be counted on to provide good copy with the clear antagonism between him and Stuart Syvret. Even before his words appeared on Newsnight, people were making comments such as:

I heard the debate on the Today programme between Senators Syvret and Walker and I think I've been around long enough to judge the difference between an honest man and a time-serving politician.

An inept press conference held at St Martin's Public Hall, where an attempt was made to exclude Stuart Syvret from sitting at the table did not help either, especially as again the burning animosity between the two showed up very clearly to the viewer. It was like watching two schoolboys having a fight in public.

Andrew O'Hagan, in The Daily Telegraph wrote about " a toleration of cruelty to children" and commented that:

Obviously, such cruelty wasn't known to everybody, nor would I suggest that every institution was complicit in the harm allegedly being done, but the island's culture has long been haunted by suggestions of Draconian systems of care that are sealed off from criticism.

And noted that:

This week, spokesmen for the island authorities have been making a terrible fist of it during interviews, compounding our worst suspicions by managing to sound like a bunch of tight-lipped, unreconstructed Puritans in a morality play, offering Channel Islands legalese in place of plain speaking.

Digging into the murkier waters of Island life, BBC Radio 4's "The Investigation", unearthed the case of Roger Holland, a known sex offender when he became an honorary policeman in 1992. Philip Bailhache, then Attorney-General, on being given the knowledge of Holland's past after he had been appointed to the honorary police, decided against removing Holland from that position. Incidents like this, where the judgement of the Attorney-General certainly appears in hindsight to be very poor, as he himself acknowledged, also coloured the media view of Jersey.

The Victoria College case of Jervis-Dykes, as illustrated in the Sharp report, which was cheerfully handed out by Stuart Syvret, showed another case of individuals who were not up to date, as they should have been, with correct procedures in cases like this, and whose actions and comments (as reported in the Sharp report) instead seemed to be more concerned with the reputation of Victoria College than the victims.

Senator Mike Vibert's attempt to hold back the Kathy Bull report from the public domain also played into this, as did the removal of Simon Bellwood from his position, and the details of the Grand Prix system which also emerged.

Neither of these were directly related to the events unfolding at Haut de la Garenne, but they helped to shape the story about a culture of concealment, or in some of the less balanced media, a conspiracy to keep silence. Had there not been so many instances of trying to protect reputations, or manage the disclosure of bad news, there would have been nothing for the media to latch onto.

Let's be clear about what was happening. This was not something specific to Jersey. The UK Government is full of instances of trying to protect reputations, and prevent bad news from leaking out (as in the recent case of MP's expenses) - just look at the notorious email from Jo Moore regarding the destruction of the Twin Towers as being a good day to "bury bad news". And other jurisdictions and organisations are just as poor - the Catholic church over child abuse is particularly bad. When the spotlight was on Jersey, the same kind of behaviour could be seen. The media tended to play this up, as the media does, but that was not because of Lenny Harper's actions, but because the dirt was already available.

So was Stuart Syvret responsible? Certainly, while his release of information, and bombastic manner of release, may have fueled the speed at which the reporting took place, if there had been nothing for him to hand out, the media frenzy would not have occurred. The only way for the authorities to undermine Senator Syvret would have been for them to make available any reports themselves, or offer to make any available, to display transparency, but the desire to hold back was too strong.
The other way to fight back was to create a powerful counter-myth, that of the "Harper Media" frenzy, and the extraordinary Mr Gradwell and Mr Warcup press conference did just that. After that was reported widely in the media, Senator Frank Walker could now say that any criticism of him was unjustified, as he had been right to deny a conspiracy all along. This story is no less a myth, and is just as potent, but it relies on an extremely selective use of sources, and its promotion as "a fact"; hence we hear the refrain "now we know...". In fact, it clearly contradicts statements made by Lenny Harper at the time.

The current situation, where debates about Mr Power's suspension are held "in camera" (because of the requirements a law which Guernsey does not need to have) shows that the desire to control and restrict the flow of information, especially where it may be bad news, is still strong. Lessons have yet to be learnt.

So I am not at all convinced by the "Harper media frenzy" story, as it seems to leave out significant facts, is extremely selective in its use of evidence, and indeed seems to be becoming the "official line" simply by dint of repetition; in this respect it is like one of those internet urban myths that circulate so widely. I suspect that future historians will wonder at the naivety of its acceptance, when they are not so close to events, and so closely involved. I think Senator Le Marquand should look just a bit more critically at his sources before taking it at face value.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Supermarket Myths

In reality we have only two supermarket businesses, the Co-op and what used to be Le Riches but that's changed its ownership and/or name so frequently that I've lost track. If Mr Olsen is in any doubt about how very many local people feel about the prices they pay here for basic commodities then perhaps he should take a trip down to the Elizabeth Harbour and look at the Jersey-registered vehicles coming off the St Malo car ferry. He's bound to recognise someone he knows and if he asks he'll probably find out they've done one heck of a lot of shopping across the water. I know of just one instance where twice a year a couple of young women with families take what's called a people carrier across to St Malo. They remove the back seats before they go and not only do they come back laden with the basic foodstuffs and commodities to which I referred earlier, but they've also bought clothes and footwear for their families as well as Christmas and birthday presents. Just looking at the figures suggests that they've not only saved enough for a nice day out with lunch in St Malo but there's a considerable amount more in the kitty. (1)

There is a myth circulating that a new supermarket would cut prices significantly in Jersey, and now I read Helier Clement, in the above extract, has bought into it. Perhaps the consumption of calvados has befuddled his aging memory, because I can very clearly remember when we did have a new supermarket.

This was called Safeway, and unlike the supermarket that now bears that name, it was part of the large U.K. chain. Did it mean increased competition and reduced prices? Only on some of its own brand foods, which - as with the Co-Op - were sometimes cheaper than other brands. There were a few different loss leaders, items whose price is positioned deliberately lower to draw people in. But in general, most of the prices were much the same as the other supermarkets, then Le Riches and the Co-Op.

But in the middle of the 1980s, there was a short period of competition. With "bread wars", the supermarkets competed to lower the prices of bread below that of their competitors. The net result was that a private and small bakery firm, De Guelles Bakery, could not manage on those margins, and went into voluntary liquidation. Then the competition ended, and bread prices rose again, much on a par between all the supermarkets.

No supermarket is going to enter a vicious spiral of competition for the long term. Sooner or later, they will tend to gravitate to the same kind of profit margins as their competitors, because they know that as long as they have some cheaper items to act as a draw, they can make the same kind of profits. The bottom line is the shareholder, not the customer, and the corporate shareholder would not like a bloody prolonged war, which resulted in lower profits on the way, and smaller dividends.

Supermarkets are not alone in this. In the boom years of tourism, when perfumery shops were plentiful along the main precinct, as well as the larger businesses like Boots and Voisins selling perfumes, the prices were pitched below the U.K., but there was an unofficial cartel to maintain similar prices. No one wanted to cut their own throat.

But also in the late 1980s, Condor and British Channel Island Ferries waged a war of attrition. There were cheaper prices for a while on the ferries. Once British Channel Island Ferries had been forced from the market, and there was only one operator, prices rose once more. That is another lesson of competition: instead of the two supermarkets currently operating, we could end up with a different two if one goes under.

So the next time a red-nosed Helier Clement spouts some nonsense about another supermarket driving prices down, tell him to get out his history book, and refresh his memory. Evidently years of soaking his brain in calvados have not helped.


Monday, 29 March 2010

Legal Costs and Graham Power

Senator Ian Le Marquand (as reported in the JEP) suggests that Graham Power could afford to be professionally represented by a Jersey Advocate, mainly on the grounds that Mr Power is suspended on full pay.

When the case of the Pinel family has run up legal costs of around £300,000, it is clear that this is not as straightforward as it sounds. Senator Le Marquand believes that libellous statements have been made on blogs, begging the question why those allegedly libelled do not sue for damages, but the reason is most probably the same - the costs can be prohibitively expensive, and if those making allegations have no assets, there is not much compensation available.

It is noteworthy that former Senator Frank Walker, a man of substantial means, did see fit to take recourse to this kind of action against accusations by two States members that he was a wife-beater, but that Constable Dan Murphy who also says that comments against him on Stuart Syvret's blog are malicious has not. Senator Le Marquand has called into question not free speech, which is a a vital constitutional freedom but the fact that there is not any real redress for libellous information on blogs. It is just too costly in Jersey. There is an assumption that because nobody sues anyone, the information is therefore true, an assumption often fuelled by some bloggers themselves in their comments.

The same factor, I believe, applies in the case of Graham Power, where despite his Chief Officer's pay, the cost of employing a lawyer is simply too costly. Even if you win, it can bankrupt you.

One of the lessons to be learned from Islam is the popularity of Sharia law, which in countries like Nigeria provide a cheap and fair form of justice for ordinary Muslims, for whom the cost of litigation is beyond their wildest dreams. I'm not saying that we should adopt Sharia Law - in my opinion, any inflexible and theocratic legislature is dangerous - but it does address the matter of providing a justice system that is available to everyone regardless of cost.

This is a weakness in Jersey and British Law that makes it open to exploitation by those calling for the introduction of Sharia Law, and while people who have sufficient funds should be able to pay their way, I think there should be limitations imposed (perhaps by means testing) on the level of expenditure that should be incurred before the State steps in.

Jersey has a legal aid system, but it is very poor; it helps the poorest, but it does not help everyone else from being penalised with the cost of litigation. I am sure that Graham Power considered the cost of using a lawyer, and weighed that against the cost to his family, and his near retirement. The State, on the other hand, in such cases, can call upon all the weight of its own legal staff, and expert advice if required. It is not exactly a balanced and fair system.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Palm Sunday

"Hosanna" is the cry, as the man comes this way
Seating upon a donkey, coming slowly, gentle sway
And they greet this man with palms in hand
Perhaps thinking that he will restore their land
Palms of victory, declaring the advent of the king
Palms of victory, in such rejoicing they do sing
But only he knows that he will be crowned indeed
Only he knows what crown will be decreed
The ancient prophecy he is now making true
Sadness in this time of joy so well he knew.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Answer of the Rev. Abraham Le Sueur

When I was researching Grouville Church's history for areas that could be dramatised well for the 1987 pageant, I came across this interesting pamphlet. The case of Lydia Walling, in particular, stood out, and I dramatised it in an exchange in the Church between Peter Briard and Abraham Le Sueur.

Abraham Le Sueur was one of the great reforming Rectors of the Victorian Age, and we see in this conflict what might be termed the "establishment" position of Peter Briard, who clearly wanted to run the Orphan's home on the lines we see clearly drawn in Dicken's Mr Bumble (in Oliver Twist). Le Sueur was plainly a man of great compassion, whereas Briard seems almost paranoid in his insecurities, and more concerned with his position than the welfare of the children.

In these days of "blogs", statements like those of Le Sueur's are easier to make than in the past, but it would be a mistake to assume they were not made. This was the age of the pamphlet, where people would publish and circulate their comments by the power of the printing press. They were not tied to letters in the newspaper. Here, then, is the answer of Abraham Le Sueur to charges brought against him, and it gives a fascinating snapshot of the past. 
Answer of the Rev. Abraham Le Sueur to certain charges brought against him by Peter Briard, esq., Before the committee of the Jersey Female Orphans' home, on the 27th December 1881, Addressed to the Chairman, and read at a Meeting of the Committee, held on the 11th Jan. 1882.
To certain charges brought against him by PETER BRIARD, Esq., before the Committee of the Jersey Female Orphans' Home, on the 27th December 1881, addressed to the Chairman, and read at a Meeting of the Committee, held on the 11th January 1882.
I think it right to address you on a subject which has for me a painful interest, but which also concerns, in some sense, the Jersey Female Orphans' Home, inasmuch as Mr. BRIARD has taken occasion therefrom, to bring certain accusations against me, before the Committee of that Institution. This he did, at their sitting on the 27th ult., during my unavoidable absence.
Anxious to hear from himself what he had to complain of, I sent him the following note :

Grouville Rectory,
28th December 1881.
Will you please send me a detailed statement of the accusations brought by you, against me, yesterday, during my unavoidable absence, before the Committee of the Jersey Female Orphans' Home ?
I shall also thank you to allow me to see the Minute Book, which, if convenient to you, might be left at the Orphanage for my inspection.
I am, Sir,
Yours truly,
PETER BRIARD, Esq., Secretary,
Jersey Orphanage. -
To this note I received the following reply :

1, Westbourne Terrace, Jersey,
29th December 1881.
I am in receipt of your letter of yesterday's (late and must decline your request.
I shall be ready to repeat at the next Committee Meeting, the Statement which I made at the last, and which you were forewarned I was going to make, before you left the Meeting.

I must also decline leaving the Minute Book at the Orphanage, without an act of the Committee, but am quite willing to send you any minute you may require.

I am, Sir,
Yours truly,
I was thus unable to obtain from Mr. BRIARD that which I feel I had a right to ask for, and to expect to receive from him, not only as an act of courtesy, hut of justice.

The excuse given by Mr. BRIARD for his proceeding-, that I was " forewarned " of what he " was going to do before I left the meeting" I cannot regard as sufficient. Had I left the meeting without assigning any cause for doing so, there might have been a seeming propriety in Mr. BRIARD'S mode of action, but I duly informed the Committee that I was obliged to leave, and also stated the particular duty which called me away. I therefore applied for information to some members of the Committee, and have been assured that the following is a correct report of what was stated to the Committee by Mr. BRIARD.

Mr. BRIARD said that he was sorry I was absent, and could not hear what he had to say. That an unpleasant occurrence had taken place on Christmas day. That he had come expressly from St. Helier's to give the children their dinner, which he had been informed by the Matron, was the duty of the Secretary, but that I had ignored him altogether, and humbled him before the staff. That I had directed the children to say their grace, and had then proceeded to carve the dinner, on seeing this, he left the room. That he also said, that I must have been aware of his coming, as he had told the Matron, who no doubt must have told me.

He further stated that I was constantly interfering in the internal arrangements of the Home, giving orders to the Matron and Teacher, and the rest of the staff.

That on being asked by a member of the Committee, whether he could give some cases in proof of his assertions, he replied that I had interfered in the case of Lydia Walling who, contrary to his order that she should not be admitted into the Home, was admitted, and slept there one night.

Mr. BRIARD also added: That the children were sent to church without his knowledge. That they had gone on the week day during- Lent , that if that were continued be could not possibly retain the office of Secretary. That it was necessary to have the respective duties of the Chaplain and Secretary defined.

Such are the accusations brought against me by Mr. BRIARD, to which I now proceed to reply in order. I shall first observe, that the author of this "painful occurrence," is Mr. BRIARD himself, due to his mistaken views respecting his duties and responsibilities in the matter of the children's Christmas dinner. By his own showing, he sought information from the Matron, but seems to have misapprehended, or to have put his own construction on what she told him. I have never regarded this as the duty either of the Chaplain, or of the Secretary, but exclusively of the Matron.

I have attended every Christmas dinner at the Home since 1862. On most of these occasions I have met there other members of the Committee. The Matron has always presided at the table, and superintended the distribution of the food to the children, assisted by her subordinates. On these previous occasions, I have invariably done what I did last Christmas.

I will now state the particulars. On my arrival at the Home at the usual dinner hour, the Matron informed me that she had received a note from Mr. BRIARD, in which he requested her to delay serving" the dinner until he came at 1.15. I was walking in the garden when lie arrived, and then went into the dining room. He was not there, but came in soon after. On entering, he went up to the Teacher and the sub-Matron, shook hands with them, and presented the usual greeting, I was left completely unnoticed, without receiving even a nod of recognition. The dinner was set on the table. After a pause, I asked the sub-Matron, who was near me, "Where is the Matron?" She replied, that she was detained in the kitchen, but had told them to begin and not to wait for her.

As a matter of course, I led the children in saying their Grace, and afterwards assisted in carving. Mr. BRIARD, instead of following my example, withdrew.

I was quite unconscious in this, of any failure of duty or courtesy towards him, although I felt I had been subjected to deep humiliation and marked disrespect, and that too, in presence of two officers of the Home, and of all the children. This did not, however, prevent me from rendering to the Matron the assistance which courtesy and kindness demanded, and which I had given continuously on every Christmas day since 1863.

As I have already said, I believe Mr. BRIARD misapprehended what the Matron did say, which was as lie puts it " that it was the duty of the Secretary to give the dinner to the children." The Matron has distinctly declared to me that she did not tell him that it was the duty of the Secretary to do this.

Supposing-this -statement to he correct, is it not strange that Mr. BRIARD should have sought information from the Matron, instead of asking- me ? and is it not stranger still, that after receiving- the information he asked for, and without any reason to believe that I should discontinue my invariable practice, (which my respect for the Matron and her helpers, and my affection for the children, as well as my duty as Chaplain alike demanded) he should have given me no notice whatever of his intention to set me aside?

Had he done so, I should most certainly have submitted to the contumelious act, as I have in silence, submitted to many more from him.

The next accusation is, that " I am constantly interfering in the internal arrangements of the Home." This I meet by a positive denial, and defy Mr. BRIARD to prove a single act of interference on my part with the internal arrangements of the Home. Mr. BRIARD also accuses me of" giving- orders to the Matron, Teacher, and to other members of the Staff." My answer to that is-that I have not in a single instance, assumed nor exercised the right of giving- an order to the Matron, nor to any -one engaged in the work of the Home. This I maintain is proved by Mr. BRIARD himself, who is compelled to cite the case of " Lydia Walling-," which occurred in June last, and as I shall show is not a case in point.

Lydia Walling- left the Home, in company with several of her companions, in 1879, for Gait, Ontario, under the care of Miss Macpherson. Last summer, I received a letter from Miss Macpherson informing me, that, for the reasons stated by her, she had been obliged to bring- Lydia Walling- to England, and would send her back to Jersey. She arrived in Jersey on the 29th of June, under the care of a messenger, and reached Grouville about 2 p.m. I notified her arrival at once to the Matron, and this was conveyed immediately to the Secretary, who forbade her admission to the Home.

On that afternoon, the Matron and the children had been invited to a treat at Government House. Mr.. BRIARD and I were invited. On the party passing the Rectory, I joined them, Mr. BRIARD came up to me and told me that the child " must not be sent to the Home." I explained to him the circumstances of the case, but found him inexorable. I said, "surely you will give her shelter for the night. You cannot leave her in the street," but he gave me a positive refusal and said " no, she must go to the Hospital, she cannot be admitted into the Home," I said " you are very hard, but as it is a case of absolute necessity, I must request that she be received for the night, and shall take the responsibility."

The facts were very simple. The agent of Miss Macpherson had fulfilled his task on bringing the child to her destination ;- he could not in justice be sent to other parties, to whom moreover he was a stranger and unknown, nor could the child be left on his hands.

Further, I had no authority to send her to the Hospital, nor could I go to St. Helier's that afternoon, as I was actually on my way with the Home children to Government House ; but had I gone, it is very unlikely that I should have found either the President of the Hospital, or the Constable of St. Helier at that hour of the day, to obtain an order for her admission. Unable to receive her at my own House, it was a thing of sheer necessity that she should be received at the Home, but in my judgement, it was even more than that, for it was a case for the exercise of common humanity. Moreover it was not a question of "admission in to the Home" for I did not ask for this, but a mere question of giving a night's shelter to a homeless, friendless child.

On the following day I obtained " an order," and she was therefore sent to the Hospital. I communicated the circumstances of the case to the President, who obtained from the Committee a grant, to recoup a portion of the expenses incurred by her return, which sum I duly transmitted to Miss Macpherson : the child was subsequently transferred, by order of the Hospital Committee to the Home, where she is at the present time.

Another accusation is " that the children are sent to Church " without Mr. BRIARD'S knowledge. That they went on the week " days during Lent." Implying evidently that this had taken place by my orders, without asking his permission.

The fact is that I give no orders respecting the attendance of the Children at Church, either on Sundays, or on week days ; or at special services in Lent. But as a well-trained Christian family they follow dutifully the traditions of the Home in this respect, the Matron using- her own discretion, sending such of the children to the Sunday and week day services as she thinks proper, without any interference whatever on my part.

During last Advent, I had a short daily service at 9 a.m., but -the Matron did not send, nor did I expect any Children from the Home, as this was an inconvenient hour for them, although it suited well those whom I wished especially to benefit.

Mr. BRIARD must surely be at a loss for causes of complaint against me, to launch forth such accusations, even had they been founded, but which, on the contrary, as I have shown, rest on his own surmisings, and cannot be said to have any foundation in fact.

I shall reserve for the present, what I have to say on certain grave and important matters, meanwhile, allow me to request you to move the Committee to adopt some mode of defining more clearly the respective duties of the Chaplain, and of the Secretary of the Institution.

I am, Sir,
Your Obedient Servant,
Honorary Chaplain of. J.F.O.H.
Committee, J.F.O.H.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Legacy and Loophole

I see today's States is debating inheritance of illegitimate children.

The Wills and Successions (Amendment) (Jersey) Law 201- (the "Amendment Law") seeks to open succession rights to illegitimate children. Such children will, under the Amendment Law, be placed on the same footing as legitimate children for the purposes of succession.

They note one possibility which will become more likely:

One risk which already exists under present Law is the possibility of previously unknown heirs coming forward after an estate has been distributed, to claim a share of it. This can arise where a person dies without making a will, or leaves property under a will to his or her children without identifying them by name. Examples of such occurrences might be where, for example, previously unknown adopted children, or children from a previous marriage, come forward to claim a share of the estate.

Where protection had been afforded to a purchaser or donee by virtue of this provision, the heirs disposing of the property would still be liable to account to an unknown heir for the value of the latter's share. However, this liability would come to an end after 10 years had elapsed from the date of disposal of the property. The 10 year period is consistent with the prescription period in Jersey contract law.

What is not mentioned - as presumably it can now be taken care of by DNA testing - is people who are "chancers" coming forward to make spurious claims. It is also not clear who would be responsible for incurring the costs of such testing, especially if the results were negative.
But there are other problems with inheritance not addressed.

An area where I have found problems with inheritance was the practice in the 1940s and 1950s whereby, in place of an adoption law, Guernsey (and I believe Jersey as well) used a legal fudge of (1) a deed poll to change the child's surname, and (2) an order granting the prospective "adoptive" parents rights as legal guardians.

Later, proper adoption laws were brought in, but for those "adopted" under this practice, if the "parents" died intestate, there were no rights of inheritance.

I know of one case from personal experience (where I acted as administrator for an estate) where this came as a distressing blow after a parent's death - not that there was much estate (which was purely personal property), it was simply the knowledge that they had been "cut out" by the archaic practices, and no one had thought to amend the law to stop this loophole. It came as quite a shock. As far as I know, this would still apply.

Obviously, now there are proper laws in place for adoption, this no longer applies, and as time goes on the number of people affected by it will diminish as the older generation dies out; also if wills are made, this can circumvent much of the problem. It will become a legal curiosity, a legacy of the past.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The King of Shadows

The King of Shadows by Susan Cooper: A Review

Nathan Field, a young actor from South Carolina has been chosen to play Puck in Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. He is a young man troubled in many ways by losing his father at an early age.

In England, he falls into a coma and wakes to find himself back in Shakespeare's England, one of a group of actors playing A Midsummer Night's Dream. The England of 1599, where poor sanitation, plague, and cut-throats are part of the fabric of the time is so vividly brought to life, the reader can feel it, and smell it; it is so well done, and so clever too, as we explore it through Nat's eyes.

Nathan is taken under Shakespeare's wing, who becomes a father-figure to him, and plays the part of Puck in the play at the new Globe Theatre.

Meanwhile, back in 1999, a boy believed to be Nathan is feverish in a hospital bed in London. Doctors are amazed to realise he has caught the bubonic plague, a condition fortunately treatable by modern antibiotics.

But I'm not going to say what happens next. Read it yourself....

In case you are wondering, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Oberon is described by Puck as the "king of shadows," telling us that as poet and playwright, Oberon is a master of the art; so equally, it can be seen that Shakespeare himself is "the king of shadows" in the theatre, , the place of shadows.

This is a magical book, which lingers in the mind long after having finished it.

Point and Counterpoint

Ian Le Marquand on Talkback noting:

1) Some recommendations given verbally were left out of the ACPO report

Apparently some verbal recommendations mentioned to Graham Power and Lenny Harper were, on Mr Power's insistence, excluded from one of the reports. We will have to wait for Tuesday, and the States sitting for more details, as Senator Le Marquand was not prepared to go further before making a statement to the house, although given his past form, I'm not sure how much will be forthcoming.

However, some speculation might be made about this. The recommendations cannot be such that they would negate the commendations of ACPO on the way the procedures and investigations were continuing. Therefore, they must be other recommendations covering ground not mentioned. There is some scope for this - for example, it may have been recommended to use "on the ground" resources such as a local force in Australia rather than sending officers there, and whether it was the wisest course of action - despite Frank Walker's "money no object" message, and perhaps political pressure to spend money. Or there may have been a public "money no object" and a private message to cut back on costs. Or it may have been Lenny Harper's decision to proceed with the Wateridge arrest and charge, despite the Attorney-General's advice to drop the matter. We simply cannot know at this stage, but there are certainly possibilities, and perhaps Lenny Harper himself, as he can speak out, can enlighten us if Ian Le Marquand will not. I will happily post any comments by him on this blog.

At the moment, until we are enlightened, it is unclear whether what is missing is significant (as in Archimedes method) or in fact only supposal (the missing proof of Fermat's Last Theorem).

Since writing the above, Lenny Harper has very kindly replied on Stuart's blog as follows:

As for the alleged recommendations which were supposedly left out of the report - this is just invented nonsense. There were none. There were recommendations which we decided not no implement, such as the Janet and John points systm for different crims, but they all appeared in the report anyway. There was no recommendation about using local officers in Australia -if there had been I would have rejected it. How could officers who know nothing about this case have interviewed traumatised victims? I still have e mails from the victims in Australia saying how much the caring and sensitive approach of our officer meant. No, ACPO would never have recommended that. Bear in mind also, if my memory serves me correctly, even the AG wanted officers sent out to Australia again to carry out further enquiries. Furthermore, ACPO made it cear they supported our use of resources. If you look at their reports you will see they frequently speak of the need for further resources. And finally, if there were some recommendations that they felt we had unjustly ignored, would they not have told Walker, Lewis and Ogley in their private meetings which neither Graham or I attended and which according to ACPO they have a written record of?

2) There is a "scandal"

This seems to be over one member of the team, clearly not Lenny Harper, who perhaps had leaked information or who had some question mark either over their abilities or on other grounds - they had perhaps connections with victims or accused that did not immediately come to light. Or it might relate to "Operation Blast". I thought I detected a certain relish in Senator Le Marquand's as he enunciated the word "scandal"; I have no doubt this is the kind of Tabloid headline that the Jersey Evening Post will relish. My prediction: the JEP will headline the word sometime over the week! I am not sure the word "scandal" is a very wise one to use in these circumstances, especially given Ian Le Marquand's comments on a "runaway media circus".

While on this subject, remarks that he made on 40 teeth falling through cracks in the floorboards do not seem measured or balanced, and belong to the realm of folklore - for example, eastern traditions required the child to throw the tooth into the air or under floor boards, the belief being this would keep the teeth from growing in crooked. There is not the slightest evidence of this being true at Haut de La Garenne, but it has been suggested that if teeth had somehow fallen beneath the floorboards, other small objects would also be expected to be found there. None have been reported as yet.

3) The suspension process

Ian La Marquand has no doubt the suspension process was carried out badly and rushed, without proper time taken. His own review, according to Dr Brain, left a lot to be desired. For example, at the start of the review, he stated:

Senator B.I Le Marquand:
What I am suggesting, as a way forward, just to clarify that, is that I simply go upon the basis of the earlier paragraphs of the letter which are those in which Mr. Warcup expressed a view. You see what effectively happens is Mr. Warcup expresses concerns and then he calls in aid the Metropolitan Review Interim Report as support for his already expressed concerns. That is my understanding of the situation.

Dr Brain then addressed the Warcup letter, only to find that the basis for the review of the suspension was then made on quite different grounds!! Politely, but with some degree of exasperation, he noted in conclusion:

What I would say is that I have had some difficulty, both on the previous occasion we convened and on this occasion, in discovering exactly what has been expected of me. I have been required to state criteria against what I think you should conduct a review on. I really do not think that is my job. I have done it because I have respected your role and the process that I am part of. I think it would have been much more helpful had I been given notice of that before I attended this morning. I am sure that is a matter to which Mr. Power will refer to in future judicial circumstances.

Again, it perhaps would have been helpful before we started this process to discover that was the essence of the test that you would have applied and indeed I would have endeavoured to construct my arguments around it. As it was, I was supplied with a limited amount of technical information that seemed to form the basis of the decision of 12th November upon which the previous Minister made his decision. It, therefore, struck me as entirely reasonable to construct a case around addressing those issues. To frankly discover that perhaps I should have been addressing something else is unhelpful at this stage and I must register my concern at that process.

This does not read to me like a well-conducted review, although I will give Ian Le Marquand the benefit being new to the post, and very much trying to conduct the review from scratch, without really having any experience of reviews like this. I think he should have called for someone with more experience of the review process to chair the review, and hope lessons may be learnt.

I would also point out (as it has been brought to my attention) that Dr Brain is acting on behalf of Graham Power, and is not, insofar as that is the case, completely independent. He has to accept Mr Power's statements at face value where those are not corroborated by other reports, and where there are differences in recall between Mr Power and others, he is likely to privilege the accuracy of Mr Power's point of view. Nevertheless, as he is also a historian as well as a policeman, I would suggest that his handling of sources will, for the most part, be impartial rather than partisan, and where there are ambiguities or matters of opinion, it will be seen that he does state these as a good historian should be expected to do.

5) An apology should be forthcoming

Senator Le Marquand must be praised for suggesting that an official apology should be forthcoming - after all, the States are responsible for failings at Haut de la Garenne and elsewhere. He suggests this should happen after the all the court cases are complete, which seems eminently sensible.

In this, he is being consistent with his own arguments. If he sees States members offices (such as Home Affairs Minister) as each being a "corporation sole", then the holder of the office has to take responsibility for the decisions of the office. There are numerous precedents for official apologies. He is the first States member in the Council of Ministers to mention an apology, and I think he deserves to be commended for this. I am also pleased that this was highlighted on BBC Radio Jersey this morning.

It is a shame the former Bailiff could not be so magnanimous in spirit in the infamous Liberation day speech when he derided the notion of apology.

6) The Official Version

There is clearly an "official" view taking shape in Ian Le Marquand's mind about what happened. This involves (1) a runaway media circus which was badly handled, and (2) the cases which did go to court were "rescued" by the concerted efforts of David Warcup and Mick Gradwell.

Dr Brain, it is clear, approaching this as an outsider, and perhaps better placed to be more objective, took a different view. He saw no evidence of "combative media statements" in Lenny Harper's media presentation, and noted that:

Although a media strategy was developed, it is clear that its application led to an unprecedented level of media interest and public concern. Having dealt with the Gloucester floods of July and August 2007, Minister, I can assure you that Chief Officers of Police are not in control of unprecedented levels of media interest or public concern. So, it is not really clear how this amounts to criticism of the Chief Officer. It certainly was his job to ensure that there was a media strategy in place and this he did. He can in no way be held responsible for the media circus that followed.

On the Wiltshire report, Ian Le Marquand says they have expressed "a view", which is perhaps cautious.

Even in recent history, it can be very difficult to reconstruct "what really happened". The story in the book Wittgenstein's Poker shows how the ten minute argument between Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper at Cambridge in 1946 had lots of witnesses. Yet, even after the authors had checked with living witnesses, and gone over differing accounts, it was still not possible to agree exactly what happened or was said in those ten minutes. There is agreement on some basic elements, but disagreement on others.

The danger is in prematurely taking sides, and assuming the priority of one report over others just because it is the latest. In fact, in historical research, regarding oral traditions, later reports are generally not seen as reliable as earlier ones in the matter of oral testimony, as the memory of events becomes distorted over time. There certainly seems to have been quite a lot of oral testimony emerging that somehow hasn't made its way into written records, and it would be a mistake to assume that because it finds its way into more recent reports that it is thereby more accurate. What we really need are more file notes like those made just after events, like those of Graham Power made just after a meeting with Bill Ogley.

"Note book entry made of 25th July, 2007. 16.00. I am at HQ having just returned from a meeting of the CMB (Corporate Management Board.) During the meeting BO (Bill Ogley) said that he would wish some of us to remain afterwards to discuss the comments of the Health Minister Senator Syvret in relation to child protection issues.... I was handed a copy of a report to Ministers and associated papers, which I have stamped and initialled. The discussion was led by BO who disclosed that the C.P.C would, this afternoon be discussing a vote of no confidence in the Minister. MP and TMcK did not seem surprised at this. MP seemed to be fully signed up to this course of action. Attempts were made by BO to draw me into this. I was told that my people were "part of" the island's arrangements and I should show collective support by opposing the criticism made by the Minister. I was taken aback by this but responded in two ways. Firstly I said leaving aside issues of style and manner the questions raised by the Minister were valid. Particularly in respect of the time it had taken for the abuse of a [child] in [a] case to come to the notice of the police and the apparent failure of child protection to give it priority. I said that the SCR (Serious Case Review) was a poor effort which missed the hard questions and I was not surprised that the Minister was not impressed. I conceded that all of the questions might have answers, I just thought they were good questions and ones which a Minister could validly ask... BO and the others were persistent and I was left with the clear impression that they were attempting to draw me, in my capacity as Chief of Police, into a civil service led attempt to remove a Minister from Office. Having concluded this I then moved on to my second point which was that even if I agreed with everything they said I would still have nothing to do with it. They were engaging in what I saw as political activity and it was entirely inappropriate that I should be involved one way or the other. The fact that "I will have nothing to do with this" was made clearly. At this point BO said "in that case, goodbye", or something very similar. I picked up my papers. There was no bad feeling or bad words, we just disagreed. As soon as I was outside I rang SDV (Shaun Du Val, Head of Operations) and alerted him to the possible problems at the C.P.C. AF rang me not long afterwards and told me that she had abstained. I told her to put this beyond all doubt by a follow-up e-mail to the Chair. I made this notebook entry then walked over to Ops for it to be timed in the relevant machine."

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Equinox Rising

There is a stone table to the west, but what was it really used for? Was there a sister table in the east?
Equinox Rising
Prologue: Around 1850.
It was a cold, windy day, and I climbed the hill to where my men were waiting for me. There it was, a stone table. It looked exactly the same as the table they had found in the West.
The local name for that was "La Table des Marthes", the witness table, where people would come to sign important documents, as was the custom as far as living memory could tell.
It was a large flat granite slab supported at each end by pillars of stones and earth, and no one really knew what its purpose was. And now my workmen had unearthed an Eastern table, the twin of the Western one. No one else had seen it, and it was here for the taking; material for building dry stone walls. I lit the fuse, and retired.
Around 4,000 BC
My sister had always been special. In the speech of our tribe, her name was Sulis, the wise one, and she was born one night when the moon had turned red.
Sulis was a quiet young woman, but sometimes we would catch a glimpse of her dancing in the groves, delighting in the songs of the birds; more often, she would wander off, by herself, and come back with leaves and berries. Healing was a gift with her, and she could reach out and take the pain, gather herbs, and apply a salve of her own making upon sores and wounds. She would intone softly, and charm away the wart, and make a brew of leaves to ease those troubled and unable to sleep. Her face shone with joy, and we loved her dearly.
One day, Sulis gathered the young and the wise of the tribe, and she went up on the mound above the tomb of stones, and opened her mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed is the earth, for she is our mother, and she shall take away your hunger. From her womb shall come forth food in abundance. The cattle that graze on her shall bring forth sweet milk for us to drink.
Blessed is the sun, for he brings us warmth and life to our seed, and makes fields white for harvest. And the flowers reflect his joy in the beauty of our world.
Blessed are those that weep, for your tears shall water the earth, and it shall bring forth fruit.
And blessed are those who are least in the tribe, for the mighty will fall, and their names will be lost, but your children will endure for ever on this island home.
But woe to you that take most, and leave others hungry, because only your bones will endure.
Woe to the leaders of the tribe, for you take the paths of darkness, and close your eyes to injustice, and you will never see the light.
Woe to you that sacrifice to the old gods of blood and soil, for those gods are dead, and your prayers go unheard, and the land will be barren.
Now the chieftains of the tribe heard what Sulis was saying, and they were angered, for they saw a threat to their rule. And so they decided to make a lesson of her, to teach others the laws of the tribe, and bided their time.
We had survived the winter, but it was another year of hardship, of poor and failing crops. Sacrifices had been made to the gods, burnt animals, but it had been in vain. And last year, when the sun god was at his weakest, the elders had decided that animals were not enough.
There had been sacrifices before to the old gods when times were bad. And the elders spoke of how the dark gods reached out and took life from the earth, when they were angered, and how their fell breath caused a blight upon the harvest. Then the shaman scattered powders on the fire, and the flames burned green and blue.

And the shaman told of how Sulis had mocked the old gods, and caused the harvest to fail. This was a sign that the old ways should not be neglected, and animals had not been enough; only the death of one of the tribe would appease them, and stay their hand. Only blood would appease them, so that they would return to their slumbers, satisfied, their hunger fulfilled.
So they bound Sulis, and took her to the stone of sacrifice in the East. There they bound her with chords. And the shaman took a stone knife, and as the sun set on the shortest day, they ended her young life, and took her deep within the passage of the ancestors, and laid her there to appease the gods. Then they sealed the entrance with large boulders, and we who loved her so dearly wept bitter tears.
Now three full moons had passed, and the time had come when night and day are as one, equal partners in the dance of the heavens. We came to the threshold of the stone passage, and the chieftains called forth strong men, and they rolled back the stones. The sun began to rise, and a thin beam, like a spear drawn along the ground, white and gleaming, moved softly down the dark passage, towards where Sulis had been placed, their sacrifice to the gods. Her skins lay there, but they were empty, and the light struck the back stone, and it was not hindered because she was not there. And the chieftains were afraid, and the shaman confounded, and all was in disarray.
We heard the wind passing through in the trees, the branches swaying, and we saw the grass move gently as if someone was dancing lightly. And in the whispers in the wind, as dawn was breaking, Sulis spoke to us, and told us to leave the paths of the dead; and we left the tribe with their gods of blood and soil, never to return.
Many years later, a traveller passing by told us that the shaman had sealed the tomb, but the tribe was no more, and all that remained was the tomb, now covered in earth and grass; it would be forgotten and become even less than a distant memory, with no songs of the cruel tribe, but only with the spirit of Sulis, ready to awaken again one bright clear morning.
Epilogue: Spring 2010
It was a cold March day, and fifty of us were waiting in the darkness, as the light changed from the black of night to the orange shadows that foretold the break of day. And then, at first a speck of brightness, and gradually a growing circle, was the rising sun. As it rose higher, the light travelled down the empty passage, lighting the darkness, until it touched the far upright stone.
The air was alive with the sound of birds, the wind was rustling in the trees, and it seemed to me that it was whispering, with the soft voice of a young woman. Rejoice, rejoice, the wind said, for the light has come, and the tomb is empty, and the goddess of spring is awake once more.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Inconsistent Minds

The following States members just can't make their minds up! There were two votes to go into camera in the States recently:

View Vote P1/2010/(re-issue)
 Waterfront Planning Application: Zephyrus Scheme. Proposal of the Deputy of
St Mary to go into camera  03 February 2010

View Vote P1/2010/(re-issue)
 Waterfront Planning Application: Zephyrus Scheme.Proposal of the Connetable
of St Brelade to move to 'in camera' debate  03 February 2010

Now some of the States members voted consistently for both propositions the same way. As the propositions are listed, there seems no basic difference - there is a vote to move to an "in camera" debate on the same applications. But half the house changed sides, making it look as if the voting was on partisan grounds rather than the eloquence of Deputy Wimberley or Constable Jackson. Do some people always vote against an "outsider" proposition and change sides if it comes from a Minister? Do others do the opposite? It certainly looks that way.

If you have any knowledge of why the States members seem unable to make up their minds consistently, please post a comment! As it stands, these votes make these members all look a little idiotic. I'd be willing to bet that some of them have even forgotten why they voted the way they did!

Senator Philip Francis Cyril Ozouf

 Senator Terence John Le Main

Senator Frederick Ellyer Cohen

 Senator James Leslie Perchard

Senator Sarah Craig Ferguson

Connétable Michael Keith Jackson

Connétable Deidre Wendy Mezbourian

Deputy John Benjamin Fox

Deputy Judith Ann Martin

Deputy Jacqueline Ann Hilton

 Deputy Shona Pitman

 Deputy Kevin Charles Lewis

 Deputy Philip John Rondel

 Deputy Montfort Tadier

Deputy Daniel John Arabin Wimberley

Deputy Anne Teresa Dupre

 Deputy Edward James Noel

 Deputy Michael Roderick Higgins

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Warcup Letter

From my reading of the minutes of the second review meeting (thanks to Voice for Children Blog), the suspension of Graham Power seems to be specifically based on allegations made by David Warcup, who is at present Acting Chief Officer, and who is now Chief Officer designate. Senator Ian Le Marquand makes this plain when he says:

The decision which I am making today is based upon Mr. David Warcup's letter of 10th November 2008, Briefing Notes of 12th November 2008, and the accompanying images and the submissions made to me today by Dr. Timothy Brain on behalf of Mr. Graham Power.

Dr Brain, the recently retired Chief Constable of Gloucester, commented on the significance of this letter:

I think we do have to enter into consideration of some of the facts that might have emerged from the investigation because it seems to me that a great deal of significance was played on the David Warcup letter of 10th November. That certainly does not have the status of a preliminary investigation. It amounts to a list of allegations. Now, it is clear from the David Warcup letter of 10th November that he had spoken to the Chief Executive in September about his concerns. If I understand the situation correctly he had not been in post for many weeks at that point. It seems also from the David Warcup letter that there was a further conversation with the Attorney General, and I quote: "Confidential matters as well as my concerns [that is the concerns of David Warcup] regarding the conduct of the inquiry."

What did the letter allege? And was this well-founded? Dr Brain commented on each of these points in turn, and refuted them - "I will try and simplify some of the issues raised by David Warcup."

These are available on Voice's site, but I've bullet pointed them for greater clarity, and singled them out from the mass of reportage on those minutes. It will be seen that Dr Brain, who has this year retired as Chief Constable of Gloucestershire, has a firmly argued rebuttal of each point made. So why did David Warcup think they were justified? And should the next Chief of Police be someone whose judgement of the situation is seriously called into question by the comments made by Dr Brain? And how could he have the judgement that there had been no "serious corruption and malpractice" in the police before Mr Power's tenure when the facts (and Dr Brain) blatantly contradict that?

I'd also like to briefly summarize Dr Brain's qualifications for speaking on these matters. This is a brief précis of some of his achievements. I don't think, on reading them, that one can take his judgement of these matters lightly; he is a vastly experienced police officer who also has achieved high standards in the world of academia - in short, a very clever man:

Dr Brain has received a number of accolades, including the Queen's Police Medal (QPM) in the 2002 Birthday Honours. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA) in 2004. He was elected a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute (CCMI) in 2007. And in the Birthday Honours of June 2008, Dr Brain became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to the police and community. He also played a major role in shaping police strategy through the 90s and 2000s - a time which saw a watershed in the police service with the introduction of PACE - the police and criminal evidence act - and the creation of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). More recently, Dr Brain received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws at Gloucester Cathedral in recognition of his service in Law Enforcement, and in particular to the county of Gloucestershire.

Here are the allegations made by the Warcup Letter, and Dr Brain's comments. Dr Brain was a leading member of ACPO, so he is speaking from firm knowledge of his case. His comments on "financial mismanagement" are also worth noting, as this was raised as an issue by Ian Le Marquand only this morning.

I would point out that Dr Brain is acting on behalf of Graham Power, and is not, insofar as that is the case, completely independent. He has to accept Mr Power's statements at face value where those are not corroborated by other reports, and where there are differences in recall between Mr Power and others, he is likely to privilege the accuracy of Mr Power's point of view. Nevertheless, as he is also a historian as well as a policeman, I would suggest that his handling of sources will, for the most part, be impartial rather than partisan, and where there are ambiguities or matters of opinion, it will be seen that he does state these as a good historian should be expected to do.

1) Poor Command Structure

The first one was that a Gold - Silver - Bronze command and control structure was not put in place. That is an important point raised by David Warcup. In fact, it is his first point and a cardinal point for much of what follows. I have to tell you that the institution of a Gold - Silver - Bronze command and control structure in the context of murder and major investigations is entirely a matter of judgment. It would not seem to me to be necessary in the circumstances of the Island of Jersey. It certainly does not represent a breach of discipline, or amount to gross misconduct. The inference is that a Gold - Silver - Bronze command and control structure would have been put in place in England and Wales under A.C.P.O. and N.P.I.A. (National Police Improvement Agency) major murder and associated crime investigation guidelines. In fact, the A.C.P.O. murder investigation manual 2006 only requires that a Gold group be created, not a Gold - Silver - Bronze command structure, if an investigation is also declared a critical incident.

What the A.C.P.O. murder investigation manual does require is that a senior investigating officer is appointed and this Graham did; first in the form of a detective inspector, who ran the investigation for the first 18 months and then as the matter gathered seriousness, he properly reflected the seriousness and status of the forthcoming investigation by putting his own deputy in as S.I.O. (Senior Investigating Officer). I think this clearly emphasizes the seriousness with which Graham approached the whole question of the historic child abuse inquiries and the Haut de la Garenne investigations in particular.

Now, National Police Improvement Agency professional practice, and I emphasize professional practice, advice is that for the management of critical incidents the guidelines, the professional practice guidelines, provide assistance for policing, and I emphasize these words "in the United Kingdom." It is contained on the inside page of the practice advice. This practice advice contains information to assist policing in the United Kingdom. So, there is no automatic transference from the practice advice of the N.P.I.A. in the United Kingdom to the States of Jersey. The introduction to that practice advice also states that it should be used by chief officers to shape police officers to ensure that the general public experience consistent levels of service. It goes on: "The implementation of all practice advice will require operational choices to be made at a local level in order to achieve the appropriate police response." It will therefore be noted that the practice advice on critical incident management applies strictly to the U.K.

However, even if it were to apply strictly to the States of Jersey it still requires adjustment and choices to be made at a local level. It does not remove the judgment of a chief officer or any other senior rank involved in the incident. Now, the N.P.I.A. practice advice was created in order to ensure that incidents which might become critical received an appropriately high level of response at their instigation. It can in no way be suggested or inferred that the States of Jersey Police underestimated, or understated, their initial or subsequent response to the emerging historic child abuse inquiry and the specific investigation at Haut de la Garenne.

A critical incident is defined by A.C.P.O. as, and I quote: "Any incident where the effectiveness of the police response is likely to have a significant impact on the confidence of the victim, their family, and/or the community. It will be noted that the order of priority is the victim, the family, and the community." Both the historic child abuse inquiry and the Haut de la Garenne investigation conspicuously put the needs of the victims and their families first, but they still had regard to the impact on the wider community, given the need to ensure that the chain of alleged abuse was finally halted and that the victims and their families were protected from threat and intimidation. The N.P.I.A. guidance goes on specifically to say that each incident must be assessed on its own merits. Those are the words used: "Each incident must be assessed on its own merits." It adds, and I quote: "There is an obligation on chief officers to ensure that critical incidents are not only declared, when it is necessary and appropriate to do so, but also that the response is proportionate to the scale of the incident." The response is proportionate to the scale of the incident.

Respecting the command structure, the practice advice simply states that there should be: "Unambiguous command and control." The N.P.I.A. advice does indeed allow for a tiered response at 3 levels; local, cross-border, and force. Crucially these are only suggested. That is the word used "suggested." So, the tiered response is not a mandate, even within a manual
that amounts only to practice advice and in which flexibility of decision-making is not merely permitted but encouraged and which explicitly applies only to the United Kingdom.

The practice advice furthermore relates to the structures and circumstances of forces in England and Wales and would be manifestly inappropriate in circumstances which are as compact as those on the Island of Jersey. It should be noted that in the last H.M.I.C (Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary Inspection) for the Island the matter of the arrangements for major investigations or critical incidents was not raised. Explicitly, it did not recommend the adoption or even the adaptation of any A.C.P.O. N.P.I.A. guidance or practice advice on major investigations or critical incident management.

Therefore, the institution of Gold - Silver - Bronze and the command structure, in the circumstances of the historic child abuse inquiry and the Haut de la Garenne investigation is at most a matter of professional judgment, even argument, and certainly not a matter per se of gross misconduct which merits the imposition of an initial suspension or its continuance now.

2) Key Partners not included

The second issue raised in the David Warcup letter is that key partners were not included at a strategic or operational level. There were sound operational reasons for not including key partners in the investigation, as suspicion had fallen on a number of senior individuals in both the departments of education and social services. The involvement of the N.S.P.C.C. (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) which Graham instigated, was a perfectly valid alternative.

3) Independent Advisory Group

The use of an independent advisory group was not effectively managed. It is a matter of record that the Attorney General viewed the involvement of an independent advisory group as dialogue with potential jurors and that he wanted the group disbanded on the basis that it was a U.K. structure with no proper place in a small jurisdiction and that its activities could be seen as prejudicial to a fair trial. I in no way invite a critique of the Attorney General's decision, but I do ask you to observe that it can hardly be levelled as a reason for suspending or investigating Graham.

(4) Bad Media Strategy

Although a media strategy was developed, it is clear that its application led to an unprecedented level of media interest and public concern. Having dealt with the Gloucester floods of July and August 2007, Minister, I can assure you that Chief Officers of Police are not in control of unprecedented levels of media interest or public concern. So, it is not really clear how this amounts to criticism of the Chief Officer. It certainly was his job to ensure that there was a media strategy in place and this he did. He can in no way be held responsible for the media circus that followed.

(5) Improper disclosures to media and breaches of Data Protection

That there had been improper disclosures to the media and breaches of data protection. There is no suggestion that any of this is attributable to the Chief Officer, even if they have occurred, and it is the position of Graham that he knows nothing of any improper disclosures. He certainly did not sanction any.

(6) No Attempt to Correct Inaccurate Reporting

Where inaccurate and misleading reporting did occur there was no evidence of any attempt to issue corrections. That is not the case and examples of correction can be given, although I would suggest that that is probably more appropriate for the investigation and any possible tribunal.

(7) The adversarial and combative stance of Lenny Harper

The adversarial and combative stance adopted by the S.I.O. was allowed to continue unchecked. This is entirely a matter of opinion and it certainly is not a disciplinary matter for the Chief Officer. It certainly does not merit something that would amount to suspension, but in that context I would invite you to consider some of the statements that were made by Mr. Harper on 31st July in this statement that was recorded by the BBC then.

He said: "For the moment it is unlikely that a murder inquiry will be opened. It has so far been impossible to date the remains precisely. We are pinning our hopes very much on the process of carbon dating. The latest information we are getting is that for the period we are looking at it is not going to be possible to give us an exact time of death. The small number of bones that we have carbon dated up to now have given us different readings. On one bone we were told there was a probability that they died in 1650, but also a smaller probability that they had died in 1960. So, while that possibility does exist then you have to ask your question ." I could go on. This hardly sounds to me like a combative media statement.

(8) Allegations of corruption within the States of Jersey Police

Allegations in the media of corruption within the States of Jersey Police by the former S.I.O. have not been evidenced. The Chief Officer will plainly state that there is an abundance of evidence of serious corruption and malpractice in previous years. The reports of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary prior to his appointment described a failing force with significant problems of standards and performance. There is now a well-documented record of robust actions taken by the Chief Officer since his appointment to address and turn around this culture.

(9) Financial mismanagement

An absence of financial controls. This simply is not the case. The Chief Officer will assert that he was not the accounting officer in the States of Jersey Police. This is a matter of legal status, and that he did formally table financial issues to the appropriate accounting officers at fortnightly meetings.

(10) No grounds for a search at Haut de La Garenne

Media reports have suggested that children have been murdered and buried at Haut de la Garenne. An assessment of the evidence casts significant doubt on this hypothesis. The evidence on which the searches were commenced was not strong and does not appear that there were grounds to commence a search of the home at Haut de la Garenne. I will refer you once again to that media statement of 31st July. But it is simply inconceivable that once information was received that a thorough search and excavation of the home at Haut de la Garenne was not carried out. To do otherwise would have risked justifiable accusations of a cover-up.

(11) Misidentification of Artifacts

I paraphrase here. The skull that was supposed to be found was not a skull. The shackles were not shackles and the cellars were in fact voids under the floor. Some facts. It was a scientist that originally investigated the trench and it was that scientist who identified an item of remains as a skull.

Initially, the Oxford laboratory that inspected that remain stated that it had extracted collagen which can only come from bone. Only later did they express doubts. The Chief Officer can in no way be held responsible for this chain of events and the eventual outcome.

As regards shackles, it was builders interviewed by the media who stated there were shackles.

As for the teeth that were found, a local orthodontist specified that the teeth were from children and that they could not have come from children that were alive. It was only later that U.K. experts offered an opposing view and indeed that opinion remains divided.

I will go back to the Lenny Harper statement of 31st July. This is the BBC here: "Police have been investigating allegations of abuse at the home from the late 1940s onwards. Many witnesses have given evidence of sexual and physical abuse in the 1960s and 1970s but Haut de la Garenne was built as an industrial school in the late 19th century and Lenny Harper said it was possible the remains could date from that time, though the police have other evidence indicating that the remains were burned and efforts made to conceal them in the late 1960s or early 1970s." This is a quote from Lenny: "So, while that possibility does exist then you have to ask, why should people go to all the trouble of moving the bones, of burning them at some stage, and of hiding them in a different place and then covering them up? We do not have answers to that and that is part of the problem" he said.

(12) Lenny Harper was not effectively supervised

S.I.O. Harper was not effectively supervised. This is simply wrong. There is no issue that S.I.O. Harper was properly supervised by Graham Power and that he did so to the best of his ability, under the guidance of an A.C.P.O. advisory group which formed the function of a Gold support group in a critical incident in the United Kingdom. His evidence of supervision is
recorded in notebooks, to which regrettably he does not now have access.


Now, much has been made of the review of the 2 Metropolitan officers and that was the report, Minister, which you kindly offered to make available in a redacted form but for reasons that we have discussed is not now available to us. What I will say in respect of that though is that unless there are specific allegations of misconduct, indeed gross misconduct, contained in
that report there is no reason why Graham should not have been shown a copy prior to his suspension on 12th November.

Furthermore, the Metropolitan Police report is only one point of view. You are fully aware now that there are other reports by a very senior and experienced U.K. investigating officer which offers a different perspective. I repeat that these should have been considered before any action was taken to suspend Graham in November. That that opinion exists should certainly be
taken into account now, for to do otherwise is simply to decide the case without the full consideration of all the evidence that is available to us even now and that cannot be right in terms of Graham's human rights or the principles of natural justice.


The Invisible Rabbits of Ian le Marquand

The point is that the suspension was initiated on the basis of a partial consideration of the available material. (Dr Brain, Suspension Review Meeting, 2009)

There has been completely adequate time to find out all of the essentials of the investigation in that time and therefore a return to work could not in any way inhibit the conclusion of our investigation.(Dr Brain, March 2009)

ACPO Report: Recommendation 13: That the Chief Officer maintains a safety zone between the investigation and any demands of politicians. Other than from a supervisory and responsibility standpoint Mr Graham Power Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police is not involved in the actual investigation. He is, and has been, responsible for attending to any issues of a political nature or in an advisory capacity to the Chief Minister, Ministers and politicians. It is very important that this continues to protect the investigation and allow for the investigation to be unfettered by any demands.

Senator Ian Le Marquand was on BBC Radio Jersey this morning defending his quite extraordinary stance over not reviewing the ACPO reports as part of the suspension on the grounds that they were not directly related to the suspension, and that the Royal Court had backed him up on that.

That the Royal Court could make a mistaken decision seems not to be a matter for consideration, and yet the very fact that Appeal Courts have ruled against Royal Court decisions surely indicates that they are not the last word. One has to remember that lawyers (and Home Affairs Ministers) argue cases to win; it is an adversarial system, not a scientific or historical inquiry where the only question is to get closer to the truth, even if it means giving up one's own notions as mistaken.

In the "Yes Minister" Sir Humphrey Appleby style in which he often speaks on these matters, his exact phrasing has been "Simply, putting my concerns very simply, if I start to open up an aspect of the matter then I am effectively being drawn into a consideration of the underlying evidence which is not, in my view, an appropriate thing to do at this stage."

Now that some reports are in the public domain, he feels that he can speak on them, and he sounded (to my ears) to be extremely irritated and indignant at Deputy Bob Hill's recent comments.

Senator Le Marquand noted that the ACPO report had NOT said (as he understood Bob Hill to be saying) that Mr Power should not be engaged in the investigation at all, but that he should be engaged at a "supervisory" capacity, and he suggested that in a major investigation like this, that would involve a considerable amount of supervision to be done properly, with the implication that it was not done so.

However, I would have thought that a major part of the supervisory process would have involved taking on board the advice of ACPO and seeing that their recommendations were carried out. Otherwise, why involve ACPO if he was going to cover the same ground himself?

As far as receiving the ACPO reports, and carrying out the recommendations, Graham Power clearly did not fail in his task or shirk his duty of supervision, which must surely have involved resourcing their recommendations. And yet strangely, Ian Le Marquand, despite being asked to look at the reports by Graham Power, repeatedly refused to do so, on the grounds that he had to be impartial, and could not consider "the underlying evidence".

He did mention that he had received some interim reports from the Wiltshire enquiry, and some from an audit of expenses, and hinted very darkly that there were a lot of questions, particularly on the expenses front. For some reason, known only to himself, clear in his own mind, but to no one else, he is very happy to review and comment vaguely on some reports (which we can't see) but not others.

But no one can make an independent review of whether he is talking through his hat, or not, because those reports are not in the public domain. His argument was effectively:

- I have information that you are not privy to
- I am not going to make this public
- This confirms my opinion that I was right
- Trust me

It was little wonder that the poor presenter did not have much in the way of questions, when he produces, like a rabbit out of a hat, like a conjuror, a secret trump card that he says trumps anything Bob Hill says, but he won't say what it is. But we know a little of his thinking from the suspension meeting, where he says:

The suspension letter to Mr. Power makes reference to a number of things. It refers to command and control structures in relation to the historical child abuse inquiry, Operation Rectangle. Issues are raised in relation to the terms of reference, to the possible lack of supervision of Mr. Harper, in relation to the forensic strategy, in relation to the decision that had been made that it is to be a single agency matter, that is police only, in relation to the command structure, in relation to strategic oversight and tactical plans, and in relation to inquiry parameters and financial controls.

As far as the "possible lack of supervision of Mr Harper", unless Graham Power was not getting the ACPO reports or acting upon them, then he was clearly supervising - in getting an extra set of eyes to take a close hard look at the investigation, and come back to him with recommendations.

The recommendations from the initial visit have been acted upon, some within a very short period following delivery of the initial report. The States of Jersey Police are to be commended for their positive reception of the report and for their extremely prompt response in implementing the recommendations.

Lack of supervision of Mr Harper? I don't think this holds up at all. Unless there is some strange legal meaning of "supervision" that somehow means something else apart from its common meaning. Could Senator Ian Le Marquand, when he next speaks on the Radio, please explain what he means by "supervision" and what a Chief of Police should have been doing.

Of course, if a decision is made not to even look at the ACPO reports, as Senator Le Marquand did, it is not surprising he would see little evidence of supervision. It's like an optician putting on a blindfold before they test someone's sight, and then declaring that the person has poor eyesight.

So I don't think we have an obligation to give trust on the basis of blind faith - his own assessment might be correct, or ambiguous, or incorrect - as he says Bob Hill's analysis of ACPO has been, and there can be no assumption that he is right until we can see the evidence for ourselves. There is no promise from Ian Le Marquand that this will be forthcoming in any specific time frame, and the way in which the suspension dragged on is extraordinary. Arguments involving invisible rabbits do not inspire public confidence.

Monday, 15 March 2010

John Henwood's Utopian Fantasies

While the Government regards policy as the responsibility of Ministers and administration as the responsibility of officials, questions of administrative policy cause confusion between the policy of administration and the administration of policy, especially when responsibility for the policy of administration conflicts with responsibility for the policy of administration of policy. (Sir Humprey Appleby, Yes Minister.)

John Henwood was on BBC Radio Jersey this morning, on the subject of "Who runs Jersey?" citing the ever popular mantra "Ministers decide policy, civil servants administer that policy. It really is as simple as that."

Actually, if such a simplistic state of affairs really existed, no one would have ever written "Yes Minister". In "Yes Minister", the only thing the Minister cannot really do is decide policy; what happens is that he is presented with policy choices by the Civil Service, of which only one really can be chosen. Hacker asks about this at one point:

Hacker: How should I know which one to choose?
Bernard: It's like any Civil Service option. It will be a conjuring trick. Take any card, you always end up
with the card the magician forced you to take.
Hacker: Suppose I don't take it?
Bernard: You will.

When Hacker tries to write his own policy documents, he is heavily leant on by Sir Humphrey who advises him that he will have to get it "checked over" by the department for all kinds of reasons - feasibility, budget, manpower requirements etc etc.

Is "Yes Minister" truer to real life than the John Henwood scheme of things?

Here is a real example of how government and civil service interact, not in John Henwood's fantasy Utopia, but in real life:

Jack Straw: I sometimes got irritated with the Prime Minister and would tease him 'was this another injunction to push water uphill with my bare hands?' but there was a creative tension, which I think worked. I'll just give you a good example of this; he started to look at longer term targets for getting crime down. He said 'Look, I think you ought to be able to get car crime down and burglary down by' I think the figures were 50% and 40% respectively, so I thought 'Cripes this is a bit of a tall order', and the I went back to the department and I said 'Well what do we think, if we really got our act together?' and I had a negotiation and we fetched up with targets of 40% and 30% and achieved them and unless that monitoring had been taking place externally, frankly we wouldn't have done that.

So there we have a Minister, Jack Straw (then Home Secretary) coming to his department with policy, and it is as he says "a negotiation"; it is not simply a case of deciding policy and that's it, which is what John Henwood was saying on BBC Radio Jersey.

Why is this? Because there is a degree of power within the civil service. Again, another real case - this time from Sir Michael Barber, brought in to reform the way the civil services did things:

Sir Michael Barber: A lot of what I was doing in relation to the Civil Service, was changing a mindset where people said, 'oh we've tried that before and it doesn't work' or, 'why not have some more pilot studies, or slow it down?' and I was saying 'but that what we're here for, this a mission, it's a moral purpose, we're committed to this' and injecting that sense of ambition and saying, 'supposing you wanted to do it really well how would you do it?' rather than 'how do you get through the day?'

But from the Civil Service point of view, they are not conspiring to "block" Ministers, they are just doing their job to the best of their ability. This is the commentator Anne Perkins, in the excellent BBC Radio 4 documentary "Shape Up, Sir Humphrey"

Anne Perkins: Commitment or partisanship? Impartial advice or obstruction? Whitehall's full of subtle calls. Civil servants have to judge how far to take the duty described with a quaint Victorian dignity as 'speaking truth under power'. Mike Granatt, a former Head of Government Communications, thinks it's become very hard to tell ministers things they don't want to hear.

So responding to policies by challenging what the Minister wants, is , according to Michael Grannatt part of the Civil Service job. They have to make sure they are "offering unwelcome advice and telling people about options that might not be palatable but were necessary to describe" rather than "people just deliver what they think ministers want to hear". If they are badgered into acting the way the Minister wants, he sees this as "politicisation" of their role, they are not impartial.

Against this, of course, are politicians like David Blunkett who complaints is that civil servants try to force their policies onto the minister.

David Blunkett: The Home Office above all departments had what they thought of as departmental policy. It had evolved over the years and in the first few months they actually said 'but, Home Secretary, that isn't Home Office policy', and I said, 'no, Home Office policy is what I and my ministers tell you it is'.

So the situation in England is palpably more complex than John Henwood makes out. Is that true of Jersey? It would be surprising if it was not! We do not live in a utopia, and to pretend that we do, that all we need is "Ministers to make policy, civil servants to carry it out" is a nice ideal, but not one which bears much scrutiny in the real world in which most of us (but perhaps not John Henwood) have to live.

Is it the duty of civil servants to give honest but unpalatable advice where necessary, rather than just being "yes men"? Surely it is. Can they overstep this mark so that the advice feeds into the policy making process (as "guidance") so that it is the civil service, rather than the Minister, who is actually making the policy? Surely that can happen as well.

I think there has to be a balance. Civil servants should be able to deliver "unpalatable truths" to Ministers, but not to the detriment of policy making. How this is perceived by either group is interesting.

Civil Servants, on watching "Yes Minister" told the writers that they had the Ministers spot on, but the Civil Service was a parody of the truth. Ministers, on the other hand, commented that the Civil Service was spot on, but the Ministers were a parody. Of course, as Jonathan Lynn explained, they wrote the series deliberately from two points of view - how Ministers perceived Civil Servants, and how Civil Servants perceived Ministers.

Perception is not some impartial "god like" view; it is always from a point of view, and that is why there will never be a settled consensus between the administrators (and don't forget, that is the background from which John Henwood is coming) and Ministers.

All that can be hoped for is more transparency in the decision making process, so that any conflicts or prejudices can be made open (they might, in fact, be justified).

Senator Terry Le Sueur, on Talkback, was saying that since Stuart Syvret's time, there has been more consultation, and there have also been more independent and public overviews of departments - as for example, the Verita report, which he mentioned. It is such a shame that he contradicted himself by recently opposing Bob Hill's independent enquiry into Graham Power's suspension, and instead proposing his own "internal enquiry".

And viewers of "Yes Minister" have little doubt about what that might well mean!

Hacker: I don't expect you to understand, but government is not just a question of fixing and manipulating. There is a moral dimension.
Humphrey: Of, yes, of course, the moral dimension. It is never out of my thoughts.
Hacker: So if questions are asked in the press, I shall announce an inquiry.
Humphrey: Splendid idea. I shall be happy to conduct it.
Hacker: No, no, no, no, no. No, not an internal inquiry, a REAL inquiry.
Humphrey: You can't be serious!
Hacker: A real inquiry.

BBC Radio 4 "Shape Up, Sir Humphrey"
The transcripts are here, and well worth reading.