Thursday, 4 August 2011

Letter from Jersey Care Leaver's Association

"If you attempt an actual argument with a modern paper of opposite politics, you will have no answer except slanging or silence." (G.K. Chesterton)

This was posted on Rico's blog, and the JEP have so far refused to publish it. I am also publishing a copy here, so that it is widely available. The JEP has chosen not to print it for whatever reason, which may not be any vast conspiracy, but simply that the editor (Chris Bright) thinks the matter will not interest his readers. Yet he gave three critics of Lenny Harper front page coverage and pictures. Big names and suggestion of scandal may sell newspapers, but they don't provide balance. But this is not new - as Chesterton, himself a journalist and editor, noted of many of the other papers of his day:

"Modern man is staggering and losing his balance because he is being pelted with little pieces of alleged fact which are native to the newspapers; and, if they turn out not to be facts, that is still more native to newspapers."
Letter from JCLA to the JEP

28th July 2011

Dear Sir,

May we, through the columns of your paper, express our incredulity and dismay at the rather prominent and misleading headline in the JEP, Tuesday 26th July - 'Call for investigation into police links with newspaper'.

Firstly, it appears you have proven the link of the leak to the police before any investigation has even been agreed. This leak could have also come from politicians or other sources. Your headline is therefore only a misleading assumption.

Since the commencement and revelations of the ongoing BDO Alto enquiry, there appears to have been a renewed interest in damning Mr Harper, when in fact, there are others whose 'misdemeanours' rank above and beyond those of which Mr Harper is being made a scapegoat for.

In regard to the Child Abuse Investigation and the ensuing related matters may we make mention of Senator Perchard and Deputy Sean Power.

Senator Perchard is known to have leaked a confidential police e-mail to known child abuse denier David Rose in regard to the Haut de la Garenne investigation. Mr Rose himself has confirmed this in a recorded telephone conversation. This seems most contradictory behaviour from the Senator. Can we assume that he agrees that his leak should be investigated?

Deputy Sean Power also who just 'happened' to find a confidential e-mail to another States Member. Not only did he just read it, but scanned and copied another party in on the private document. Subsequently this was published on a now defunct blog which was hell bent on destroying the Haut de la Garenne and child abuse investigation. Whilst he fell foul of the Data Protection Law, his only punishment was a slap on the wrists and his resignation as Housing Minister. How and why can this States member exhibit such double standards?

Senator Shenton also undertook to fall foul of Data Protection laws by recording a private telephone conversation, keeping it under wraps for quite some time until he had the opportunity of using it as evidence against the person he had recorded. Not really the actions of an honourable man, who again was let off very lightly.

Add to this his naming of Lenny Harper as Lenny Henry, and we have another politician who appears to show contempt for the law and the child abuse investigation.

The evidence regarding Mr Warcup and Mr Gradwell (the latter also leaking information to the press), which is emerging from the Scrutiny Inquiry, and we have a far bigger and wider picture than you choose to portray would also indicate these issues need to be addressed further. 

The constant, ongoing vilification, unfounded allegations and innuendos of the SIO of a most distressing episode for those who were abused mentally and physically, raped,  whilst in the care of the States of Jersey, only serve to act as a constant reminder for those victims, not only the members of the JCLA but other victims also. Some of these victims are still living each day with the damage that this has caused them. Mr Harper and Mr Power were held in the utmost respect by us, and were trusted also.

Neither bear any responsibility for all this.

We would therefore hope that in the interests of justice, balance and fairness, that the Attorney General and Chief of Police will also make investigations into the behaviour of the above named also, and again with those same sentiments in mind, we are also sending a copy of this letter to both the AG and Mr Bowron.

We trust you will publish this letter in its full form. There is nothing contentious or untrue contained in it, and we have managed to withhold our feelings on all this over the past few weeks, but now feel that it is time our thoughts are also put into the public domain as an alternative view to this whole sorry affair.

Yours sincerely,
C Modral - Chair JCLA


Anonymous said...

I think I recall seeing Chris Bright's response giving his reasons for non-publication. I can't quite remember the exact reasoning but it seemed a bit weak!

However, I might be able to accept that reasoning if the JEP were to be consistent in its approach.

The fact is that the JEP is consistent - but in only one respect - i.e. it consistently refuses to publish a balanced argument.

It is becoming clearer, almost by the day, that the JEP is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to maintain its chosen stance despite the mountain of growing evidence against that stance. The effect of this is the denial of a voice to those who do not share the paper's views.

In reality this is nothing short of propaganda and a serious form of censorship.

The frightening result is that ordinary, decent people in Jersey are daily being seriously misled by the repeated publication of often false and misleading information and the deliberate suppression of evidenced arguments which contradict the paper's chosen view.

Most people in the Island simply do not realise this - and therefore do no see a problem.

It is difficult to think of anywhere else in the modern civilised world where such propaganda could be so successful!

James said...

This, of course, is not the JEP's only major failing.

The headline story on Tuesday (regarding the need for major improvements at the hospital) is a case in point. I quote:

The building has a lack of fire evacuation procedures, raw sewage leaks, a maternity unit with facilities behind those of a developing country and practices still in place which were stopped by the NHS over 20 years ago.

Note the combination in this piece of things that are documented failings and simply opinion (such as the comment about the maternity unit, which is a twisted version of what the hospital MD actually said). But given that some of it is fact, people will believe all of it is fact.

It's not quite an outright lie, but it's certainly not being honest.

TonyTheProf said...

In 2008, the Guernsey press were sufficiently happy with the evidence to print a letter from Lenny Harper in which he said:

I hope that more effort is expended on investigating this leak than was when the States Police complained to the chief minister’s office of the leaking of an official email by Senator Perchard (the minister responsible for child protection) to Mr Rose, the anti-historical abuse investigation journalist.

Mr Rose admitted that Senator Perchard had leaked the email to him and we complained, but the allegation seems to have been buried without trace in the chief minister’s office.

Read more:

Anonymous said...

Tony, usually your postings are intelligent and relatively balanced in content, however I do not believe that you have applied your usual scrupulous reasoning with this post.

There are a number of inaccuracies within the letter (A call for an investigation is not proof of anybody's preconceived guilt of police, amongst others, that's why an enquiry is necessary) however the overall tone is one of attacking politicians who have called for the enquiry. Whilst these individuals may or may not be guilty of their own indiscretions, this does not excuse the behaviour of other parties, which might be discovered by an enquiry. 2 wrongs etc..

I didn't see a similar letter decrying any previous behaviour of the Pitmans or Tadiers, simply because they were involved in the recent BDO scrutiny enquiry.

As to the 'constant, ongoing villification, unfounded allegations and innuendos of the SIO' being distressing for the victims of abuse. I'm sorry, but this is about an enquiry to police officers conduct whilst they were employed by the people of this island, and whilst the victims undoubtedly found succour and support from the 2 officers concerned, this does not make them immune from investigation into their conduct. (As unpleasant as the abuse victims might find this).

Please don't misinterpret this as criticism of the officers or the JCLA. However there seems to be an insinuation that any mistakes they might have made as part of their job should be excused because, either the politicians calling for the enquiry have their own issues, or because they acted well in other aspects of their work.

Anonymous said...

The points made by anon at 14.47 are worth considering.

However, I think that the most crucial - and worrying - issue is not whether or not there should be an investigation into (at present) unfounded allegations against Mr Harper and his dealings with the NOTW. Nor is it about the character of the three politicians calling for the investigation, although their concern does seem a little tenuous.

No - it is about the constant attack on Mr Harper (and Mr Power) which has been perpetuated by the media - especially the JEP - when there are so many other individuals whose behaviour has demonstrably been appalling and yet they seem to be beyond reproach as far as the media and Ministers are concerned.

I seem to recall that Mr Harper has recently said that he is not at all worried about any proper investigation into his conduct. I wonder if the same can be said about Messrs Gradwell, Warcup and others whose evidence has been at best inconsistent. Indeed, I wonder if the same can be said about the three politicians who are calling for the investigation?

My overall concern is about balance and fairness as, I believe, is Tony's.

TonyTheProf said...

I have to disagree with the last poster. The tone and the way in which the call for an investigation was presented by Messrs Power, Shenton and Perchard suggested they had already made up their minds, and simply wanted to substantiate their opinions with "evidence".

There must have been some transmission of information for the News of the World reporter to be on site, sniffing around, before the Haut de La Garenne side of the abuse investigation became public and certainly it is possible that Lenny Harper had tipped them off.

However, no other instances of this occur in his career (or it would have certainly been used as a stick against him), and it seems unlikely that he would suddenly break with his usual modus operandi.

There were, however, police officers who had been found guilty of passing information to members of the public, in return for favours or monetary gain. If the splotlight would be anywhere it would be with disaffected officers, some of whom may have already faced or be facing disciplinary charges.

The JEP has notably moved from informative headlines to "grabby" sensationial headlines. I've been working with copies of papers from the 1950s, 1960s and even the 1980s, and the presentation is quite different; in many ways, they have moved towards the News of the World "make a front page slash" kind of news.

That's not to say there are not good articles there, or good columnists; it's just that the front page (from a historical perspective) has been often hijacked by the low standards of modern journalism, to grab attention by whatever means.

This, of course, leads to Private Eye "Street of Shame" inconsistency, when one journalist used the word "shackles" (which had not at that time been used by Mr Harper) and then later criticised him for using the word, when they had introduced it.

But "Street of Shame" shows this is common to the tabloids in particular.