Thursday, 1 April 2010

Inconsistency and Ian Le Marquand

Put at its simplest, the issues boil down to this. Was the historical abuse inquiry mismanaged, with resulting unnecessary adverse international publicity for Jersey and its people, difficulties in the conduct of resulting prosecutions and wasted expenditure? (Senator Ian Le Marquand)

Senator Ian Le Marquand has said - according to the Jersey Evening Post headline - that if the States do not vote in favour of David Warcup as next chief of police, he will resign. I think he is being inconsistent with his own framing of the arguments over Graham Power's continued suspension, and I am not convinced that a delay would harm Mr Warcup.

On the contrary, should he be vindicated as a "whistleblower" over mismanagement by Graham Power, then he will be able to take up the position with no political baggage.

Let me explain where Ian le Marquand's thinking goes with relation to the suspension of Graham Power. In the 2nd Suspension Review meeting with Dr Brain, Senator Le Marquand makes it clear that the suspension is based on concerns raised by Mr Warcup:

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.

Now following these concerns, the Wilshire police were asked to undertake a detailed investigation to see if the concerns raised by Mr Warcup were substantial. We still do not know how this inquiry is being framed. Dr Brain noted that this information was simply not forthcoming:

Dr Brain: I have some observations to make about the nature of the Wiltshire Inquiry. I wrote to Mr. Moore on 20th February and I asked him on that occasion that I wished to understand from him what the nature of his investigation was and my critical sentence is: "Is it a management inquiry, a full discipline investigation, or a preliminary investigation?" After 3 months I did not think that was a staggeringly difficult question to ask or required much in the way of deliberation before I received an answer. The answer I got was: "I acknowledge receipt of it [that is my letter] and will respond substantively as soon as I have clarified one or 2 points of detail."

Given this, it is clear that Ian Le Marquand takes the view that the Wiltshire inquiry has to be seen as forming grounds for "a full discipline investigation". This seems to me to be reasonable. Given a number of scenarios, the "worst case scenario" has to be addressed as one possible outcome, and to act as if it was not likely is simply not prudent. I have no problems with this action.

Following this assumption by Ian Le Marquand, and trying to follow his thinking, when it comes to the grounds for maintaining Mr Power's suspension - given the potential seriousness of the Wiltshire inquiry outcome - it seems to me that Ian Le Marquand produces at least two very solid arguments for continuing the suspension.

1) The Worst Case Scenario and Graham Power

The issue as to whether the Wiltshire investigation can properly continue while Mr. Power remains in post. I cannot see how the Wiltshire investigation, which involves the evidence of other police officers, all of whom are alleged to be very much junior to Mr. Power, can properly continue ... and which will also involve the use of police systems. I cannot see how this can properly continue while Mr. Power remains in post. He is the Chief Officer of Police and not some junior who can be moved across to some other section.

The other one relates to public confidence, and it has to be remembered that when he refers to the "November 2008 information", he must be considering the press conference by Mr Gradwell and Mr Warcup, and the letter expressing serious concerns by Mr Warcup:

2) The Matter of Public Confidence and Graham Power

Public confidence. This is a major issue here. The November 2008 information led to great public concern about the management of the Haut de la Garenne investigation and, consequently, to great public concern in relation to the senior leadership of the States of Jersey Police, including that provided by Mr. Power.

So let's look at these arguments in relation to the appointment of David Warcup. And let's me clear. I am taking them as good arguments for continuing the suspension of Graham Power, even if some people may dispute them.

3) The Worst Case Scenario and David Warcup

Let's look at the worst case scenario argument. If it turned out that David Warcup's concerns were essentially not substantiated, or even worse that Graham Power raised some kind of action against the outcome of the inquiry in the United Kingdom, and David Warcup's part in the suspension proceedings, then where would that leave public confidence in David Warcup? If Mr Warcup's position should prove untenable, or there was some claim against him for damaged reputation, would it not be better that he had not been appointed?

The "worst case scenario", to be consistent, must apply to both Graham Power and David Warcup. This might not be the outcome, and Senator Le Marquand may have more information to suggest that it is not ( as yet unreleased to the public domain), but until the suspension inquiry (and not just the Wiltshire inquiry) is concluded, he simply has to assume on the grounds of prudence that it might apply - by his own arguments.

And reading between the lines, I am not sure that some kind of action in the U.K. may well ensure:

Dr. T. Brain: Minister, I am sorry, you made several assumptions about the way the law is applied in the U.K. It is not for me to determine whether those were correct. They will be determined elsewhere now

4) The Matter of Public Confidence and David Warcup

Rephrasing Senator Le Marquand's question, I would ask:

Was the November 2008 information mismanaged, with resulting unnecessary adverse international publicity for Mr Power, difficulties in the conduct of resulting suspension reviews and wasted expenditure?

In other words, the argument for public confidence goes both ways. If the public are to have confidence in David Warcup, the suspension hearing must be concluded, with a visible public outcome. Who was responsible for the extraordinary public 2008 press conference in which "facts" were cited contrary to established sources? If it should turn out that it was promoting more a potent myth about events rather than accurate factual information, who was responsible - David Warcup or Mick Gradwell?


So here are the inconsistencies. The "public confidence" argument has to apply both ways. If it is sufficient as a ground for continuing the suspension of Graham Power until the inquiry is resolved, then it is also sufficient as a ground for maintaining David Warcup as Acting Chief of Police until the inquiry is resolved. Likewise, the "worst case scenario" has to look at the possibility of David Warcup's concerns (or allegations) being unsubstantiated. That is not to say that David Warcup's concerns may not be vindicated, but simply to say that until they are, he should remain as Acting Chief, which is very much more a neutral act than a suspension.

Having waited so long, and Ian Le Marquand on BBC Radio Jersey was now looking at another 8-9 months for the outcome to be finalised, what grounds are there for rushing through the appointment of Mr Warcup? It is not a matter of a lack of confidence or trust in Ian le Marquand, but on the contrary, applying his very own arguments for being prudential to the situation until it is resolved.

To say that he will make this a resigning issue, is in my opinion, rather childish. I have a good deal of respect for Ian Le Marquand, but a delay does not mean a lack of confidence in his ministry, and to use resignation as a tool of persuasion rather than solid argument is really a kind of political blackmail. It is reminiscent of the Barclay brothers closing all their businesses in Sark just because they didn't get their own way in the elections. It is not a good way to conduct politics.

I hope that he will have the courage to say that he was mistaken in making that declaration, and instead brings a vote of confidence in continuing to have David Warcup as Acting Chief Officer until such time as these matters are resolved. That certainly would be a fair issue for resigning on.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.". Nevertheless, pace Emerson, I would like to see a little consistency in Jersey politicians.

Postscript: since writing that posting, I have since discovered from Ian Le Marquand that ther Jersey Evening Post have produced a misleading account of his position, and that he will in fact be looking at a delay - see

which just goes to show how wonderful our "accredited media" can be in reporting!

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