Thursday, 14 October 2010

And in conclusion?

For two years we have been told that the decision to suspend (the then police chief) Graham Power was taken after a report was received on 11 November 2008. We now know that preparations were being made months before that, in a series of secret meetings and exchanges; some of which did not even involve the minister. It also appears from the Napier report that the key letter from Mr Warcup used to justify the suspension was altered before it was used, and that. Mr Warcup. denies that he was the person who made the changes I know that Mr Napier says that he did not find evidence of a conspiracy, but firm evidence such things is hard to find.

However what he did find was evidence which contained many features of a conspiracy, including secret meetings; the suspicious alteration of a key document and the disposal of another key document. Whether we call that a conspiracy or not, what nobody can call it is good-government .or conduct. It also shows the lack of judgment of the heavily conflicted acting police chief whose surprise resignation shortly before the submission of the Napier report can now, be seen in a different light. It is now up, to the Chief minister to make a statement confirming that he will not only address the immediate issues arising from Napier; but will put an end to the secretive and seemingly sinister way of conducting government business that this report describes. It is important that Islanders can trust their government: The revelations in the Napier report destroy much of,, that trust, Firm action and leadership are needed if that trust is to be restored.

(Deputy Bob Hill, Letter to the JEP 13 October 2010, print edition of paper only)

The episode of "Yes Minister", entitled "The Greasy Pole", is particularly instructive with regard to the Napier report.

A chemical factory is being set up, and it is producing "meta-dioxin", an inert compound of dioxin. After the hazards caused by dioxin in Italy, Jim Hacker is under political pressure to turn down the application for the factory, but Sir Humphrey sees this as the wrong decision. The final decision is based on Professor Henderson, who is producing a report, which appears to be in favour of the chemical. Henderson is "a brilliant Cambridge biochemist, chosen with some care."

Jim Hacker decides to take matters into his own hands, and "coincidentally" arranges to bump into Professor Henderson, and tells him that the report "leaves some important questions, unanswered"; "some of the evidences are inconclusive", "the figures are open to other interpretations" and "and that some of the main conclusions have been questioned.". He then tells Henderson that if anything were to go wrong, that the press would be merciless, and it would be a millstone around the Professors neck, a black mark on his career.

Henderson: I don't know what to do! I can't alter the evidence, the report says it's a safe drug.
Hacker: Quite. I see you have no choice.

Another University don, Lord Crichton, supplies Henderson with his solution:

Lord Crichton: Stop talking shop. Our Professor of Economics is dying to talk to you.
Henderson: You're not worried about this report?
Lord Crichton: I've done lots of these things. It's the phrasing of the conclusion, that's all the press ever read.

Lord Crichton: Now... how does it end? "On existing evidence, the committee can see no reason not to proceed." Well, it's just a question of a tidy bit of re-drafting. "While the committee feel there's no reason not to proceed on existing evidence, it must be emphasised that metadioxin is a recent compound, and it would be irresponsible to deny, after further research, its manufacture might be proved to be associated with health risks."
Henderson: Yes, that seems perfectly fair.

Now we know that there was an earlier draft of the Napier report, which we might call Napier 1, which was produced earlier - there seems to have been one present by the middle of July - and this was subsequently sent off to "persons whose conduct was or might be seen as the subject of criticism" and amended accordingly after that:

In accordance with normal practice in investigations of this nature, a draft version of this report was made available to persons whose conduct was or might be seen as the subject of criticism. Comments and observations were made, and the final version of the report takes these replies into account. .

What we don't know is how the draft (Napier 1) was altered into the final version (Napier 2). However, as is well known in historical source criticism, evidence of changes often leave their mark because of odd inconsistencies, and the phenomenon known as "editorial fatigue" where an alteration is not consistently carried forward.

An example of this comes with the "not wholly accurate" statement, which could well be an amendment made to tone down the criticism of Mr Lewis in the draft version Napier 1. We know from the next section that Deputy Chief Officer David Warcup had been briefing Mr Lewis on the conduct of the Haut de La Garenne investigation "who had shared with him his concerns about the management of the investigation under Mr Power".

Mr Lewis' statement made to Wiltshire Police as part of their inquiry, to the effect that he had no reason to believe before reading the letter sent by Mr David Warcup (the Deputy Chief Officer of Police) to Mr Ogley (the Chief Executive) that the police were not managing the investigation well was not wholly accurate.

Compare and contrast with....

These briefings [by David Warcup to Andrew Lewis] had contained not only criticisms of how the inquiry had been managed when DCO Harper had been in operational charge of it, but also criticisms of Mr Power's failure to engage with the attempts that were being made (by Mr Warcup) to put right mistakes that had been made.

But the most significant finding of Napier was that there was clear evidence of meetings being held and the ground being prepared, weeks before the suspension, for precisely that eventuality and no other - and when Mr Power was summoned to the meeting with Andrew Lewis and Bill Ogley, he had no forewarning of what had been going on behind his back and was completely unprepared.

If we look at what is being said about conspiracy, we find a very narrow line being taken:

Mr Power believes that Mr Walker then coerced Mr Lewis into taking the decision to suspend him. But I have to say that there is no independent evidence of such a conspiracy

But we know that Mr Lewis was being briefed against Mr Power by Mr Warcup, so why was coercion by Mr Walker needed? At the time, Mr Power clearly would not have been aware of the extremely critical nature of the briefings, so he was clearly trying to find an explanation for Mr Lewis' behaviour, and he was also aware of Mr Walker's criticisms of the investigation.

And so we come to the conclusion:

There was no conspiracy to act against Mr Power because he was seen as a threat to the political status quo and to the vested interests of people of influence within Jersey.

I have found no evidence of a "conspiracy" to oust Mr Power for some improper reason.

But there is clear evidence that (1) proceedings for suspension were proceeding apace, in secret; (2) there was clearly a private collusion between Mr Ogley and Mr Warcup; (3) while the "highest level of the administration", and that could possibly include Chief Minister Frank Walker took no direct part in this, they were most probably aware of this, and had no objections to it - which might be construed as deniability.

Mr Power confirmed in interview that he saw Jersey society as characterised by a lack of integrity and a dislike for openness in government. He described Jersey culture as being one where things are kept secret unless someone can force you to tell it, and where there was little support for what he termed "proactive enthusiasm" on the part of the police. That view of the status quo fits with the reports which the consultant took away after his meeting with him, and which were then relayed to Mr Ogley via Mr Warcup.

and consider the lack of "openness" with the preparations behind his back, the political pressure, and these statements:

Efforts were accordingly concentrated on preparing for that scenario, to the exclusion of other possible mechanisms for resolving perceived failures in performance

I am inclined to think that the answer is that there was, at the highest level of the administration, a belief that the suspension and the taking of disciplinary action against the Chief Officer was not only what was likely to occur (by reason of the decision of the Minister, after the changeover from Senator Kinnard to Mr Lewis), but also what should happen.

Mr Lewis mentioned that immediately prior to the suspension he was coming under a lot of pressure from fellow politicians about how the historic abuse enquiry had been handled.

Having set up a "straw man" of a political conspiracy pretty much by Senator Frank Walker, in his conclusion, Brian Napier proceeds to knock it down. But what we have is clear evidence of some kind of private collusion between interested parties behind Mr Power's back, preparing for his suspension (or resignation) as the planned outcome, and briefing interested parties (such as Mr Lewis) against Mr Power, without making Mr Power aware of the full weight or details of those criticisms, and certainly with the approval of "the highest level of the administration".

The well known "Duck test" says that "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.". Applied to Brian Napier's conclusions regarding conspiracies, and given the evidence he did unearth, this would run something like "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably isn't a tortoise".

It ignores what Deputy Bob Hill calls "evidence which contained many features of a conspiracy, including secret meetings; the suspicious alteration of a key document and the disposal of another key document".

Now I'm not saying there was any pressure put on Napier like that of Jim Hacker to Professor Henderson, but there was certainly feedback (not just factual) from interested parties on the draft report, and this may well have led to a softening of its presentation, the apparent contradictions between first and final draft, and the definitive nature of its conclusion - "no conspiracy" being able to be blazed across the media headlines. And the lesson from "Yes Minister" is certainly true:

Lord Crichton: I've done lots of these things. It's the phrasing of the conclusion, that's all the press ever read.

Senator Le Sueur evidently wants to "put the matter to bed", as he puts it, and certainly as far as the press are concerned, the conclusion - "no conspiracy" is an end to the matter. Wiltshire - or the selective redaction of Wiltshire - is seen as the final word on the competence of Graham Power and Lenny Harper, despite it being clearly only half of a disciplinary process that ran out of time. Whether "put the matter to bed" is the best phrase, or "sweep the dust under the carpet" might be a better one, I leave to the reader.


voiceforchildren said...


Very well put together and presented. Strange that Napier won't come over and present his Report, hold a Press Conference, answer questions. Fifty thousand pounds of tax payers money and he's off quicker than a politicians handshake.

Unfortunately for TLS and co. This is not "going to bed". The local "accredited" media, have made their stance known. That is there was no conspiracy, and that's an end to it. Anyting else would require real journalism rather than going to the back page, reading the conclusions, spin it how the powers that be want it and the status quo remains.

I will be publishing, hopefully tomorrow, the "accredited" media's way of "informing" the public.

Why have none of the "accredited" media, interviewed Warcup, Lewis, Ogley, TLS, Napier? Why have the "accredited" media just copied, pasted and spun the report, rather than ask the probing questions that everybody else is? They play a major part of keeping the status quo, that's their job, in my opinion.

TonyTheProf said...

I don't know; I think the media are often just lazy - let's read the conclusion....

Anonymous said...

Absolutely spot-on again Tony.

It is most unfortunate for the vast majority of the people of Jersey that they do not have ready access to this kind of analysis. As you say, the soundbites in the conclusion are all they will remember because this is all that the media really publish.

The JEP editorial the other day was as blatant a piece of partisanship as I have seen. Mr Bright's soap box has rarely been so prominent.

Just as the Chief Minister's performance in the States on Tuesday was so obviously a rather arrogant effort to sweep the whole thing under a very large carpet. He clearly has no respect for the intelligence of his fellow members or the public as a whole.

Mr Power has now issued two media briefings this week which contain information that would, in just about any other jurisdiction, have at least some elements of the media asking some challenging questions. But here in Jersey - absolutely nothing!

Very frustrating ...........

Anonymous said...

shredded Napier 1 yet mr ogley?

voiceforchildren said...


One must remeber that Terry Le Sueur said that Deputy Hill will be kept informed of all progress, we now know that not to have happened.

Bill Ogley's immediate subordinate John Richardson saw two draft reports that Bob Hill didn't. As far as I am aware, and stand to be corrected, Deputy Hill didn't lay eyes on the Report until it had been through the Law Offices washing machine a couple of times.

So just what did that original Report contain? And one thing I am pretty sure of, that's that David Warcup's position is untennable, and like Deputy Hill said in his letter, do we now know the real reason as to why he doesn't want the job anymore?

As for Bill Ogley, well here's another question our esteemed "accredited" media won't be asking. "How do you/can you discipline or get rid of a man that could bring down this government?"........just name your price Mr. Ogley!!

Ugh, It's Him! said...

The key phrase is "no independent evidence". Even Napier stops short of saying there was no conspiracy, only that he could not cite clinching facts.

Rico Sorda said...

Hi Tony

Why do think Terry is willing to come over as a comical clown ( tuesdays states sitting ) and not just start telling the truth for a change.

Could it be that Terry knows he is conflicted in all this. He tried to stopping GP from obtaining his suspension dates at the Complaints Board Hearing.

Why didn't Napier want to present his report?


Anonymous said...

I believe this is your best blog posting yet. This is the type of honorable journalism which provides the checks and balances required of any proper democracy. Considering those who have died to protect representative governance and freedom of speech it is tragic that most in Jersey will only be exposed to the false media conclusion that there was no conspiracy.


Anonymous said...


Well written and factually evidenced, as usual. Now, would you be willing to add some speculative "Tony's Musings" as to the why?

Methinks it is still all about covering up whatever happened at HDLG. Taken in it's totality, a suspicious quantity of effort has gone in to the fighting against further forensic testing and disclosure of findings. There are reports of missing physical evidence and disputes about voids in what are usually described as cellars. It would be shameful if the answers were never found to the numerous questions about the teeth, for example.


Rob Kent said...

We can only surmise how 'hard' the initial report was on Walker, Warcup, Lewis, and Ogley.

What I find interesting is the slippage of meaning when the word 'conspiracy' is used in various places, particularly this one:

"There was no conspiracy to act against Mr Power because he was seen as a threat to the political status quo and to the vested interests of people of influence within Jersey."

That's ambiguous. There was no conspiracy to act against him for that reason, but what about another reason, ie HdlG?

The Napier report's narrative of secretive meetings preparing for the suspension of Power without invoking the Disciplinary Code at the beginning in attempt to solve their problems with him only seems to confirm what Graham Power told Napier:

"Mr Power confirmed in interview that he saw Jersey society as characterised by a lack of integrity and a dislike for openness in government. He described Jersey culture as being one where things are kept secret unless someone can force you to tell it."

Since it has taken Bob Hill and others about a year to get this out into the relative open, it seems he might be right.