There's a lot of comment recently about "confidentiality" with respect to the Sharp Report on incidents of child abuse taking place at Victoria College under the Headmastership of Jack Hydes by a teacher Mr Jervis-Dykes . While it does have "Strictly Confidential" on the first page, and Patrick Ryan, Education Minister correctly states that the report was given in confidence in the strict understanding that it would not be published, it's not clear whether there is a precedent for Ministers violating confidentiality in the public interest.
In particular, I am thinking of the Wiltshire Report, which has a raft of statements about confidentiality - "highly confidential", "disclosure of information would be likely to prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and Jersey". It does allow the Minister to disclose details, but only "after the outcome of the case", i.e, the disciplinary case with respect to Graham Power. But of course, no case reached any outcome, as it ran out of time, and Ian Le Marquand took it upon himself (no doubt with legal advice) to publish a redacted Wiltshire report in place of the "outcome of the case"! So there seems to be some kind of a precedent for Ministerial decisions deciding that disclosure would be in the public interest.
This has been seen also to be the case with regards to the golden handshakes of Bill Ogley and Mike Pollard - matters can be reviewed, and with the agreement of Mr Ogley and Mr Pollard, details published. Why can't that happen with the Sharp report?
In the case of the Sharp report, apart from the names of those involved which appeared in the JEP, and in the Courts, and in DYKES v. ATTORNEY GENERAL (Court of Appeal, transcript in public domain), there is not that much that might need redaction - perhaps one or two of the investigating officers names, but the victims are simply referred to as Victim 1, Victim 2 etc, with nothing in the report capable of identifying them.
A lot of the information was published in the JEP, and can be found online. It is a matter of public record. For example, this report neatly gives a précis of the court case, and also how the JEP got hold of the report via Senator Stuart Syvret:
In 1999, Andrew Jervis-Dykes had been given a four-year sentence for a series of indecent assaults on teenage pupils who he had plied with alcohol and sometimes shown soft porn before abusing them.
Allegations had first been made against Jervis-Dykes four years before he was eventually arrested. It was only after his arrest that the school suspended him. According to the report, the head teacher had told a senior school governor - later deputy bailiff of the island - Francis Hamon about the earliest allegations over a game of squash, and had been told to keep quiet about it. It was not clear when the rest of the school governors knew - these included the still-serving bailiff, Philip Bailhache.
After Jervis-Dykes's arrest, a colleague, Piers Baker, who had also been on the trips, wrote a letter supporting Jervis-Dykes to the police and then refused to give the police a witness statement, allegedly with the backing of the head teacher. When called to the police station to watch a video, apparently showing Jervis-Dykes masturbating a sleeping boy in a ship's bunk, Baker said he could not identify the boy.
Baker resurfaced as a civil servant in the States soon after, as a maritime official, where his role, among other things, gave him responsibility for child protection at sea.
The parents of one of the victims had approached Syvret, trying to obtain a copy of the Sharp report, which criticised Baker, among others, and highlighted the years of failure to act against Jervis-Dykes - years in which he was free to continue to abuse. Syvret could not get the report from official channels, even though he was a States minister. Neither the attorney-general nor the education minister would give it to him. He eventually obtained it from a mole and leaked a copy to the Jersey Evening Post that, he said, never bothered to publish it.
The appellant was charged in the Royal Court with six counts of indecent assault and one count of possession of an indecent photograph of a child.
The assaults all occurred over a seven-year period when the appellant was a schoolteacher. The victims were pupils at his school and all were boys aged between 16 and 17 years of age when the offences occurred. The assaults usually took place during school expeditions led by the appellant and often occurred after the boys had been drinking, with his encouragement. Evidence was given of interviews conducted with the boys with the purpose of determining their psychological damage. However, the way in which these interviews were conducted was criticized by an expert witness. The appellant was convicted after pleading guilty to the offences and sentenced to four years' imprisonment (1)
The Court of Appeal case also makes plain all kinds of material, which again is a matter of public record:
The appellant [Jervis Dykes] was charged in the Royal Court with six counts of indecent assault and one count of possession of an indecent photograph of a child. The assaults all occurred over a seven-year period when the appellant was a schoolteacher. The victims were pupils at his school and all were boys aged between 16 and 17 years of age when the offences occurred. The assaults usually took place during school expeditions led by the appellant and often occurred after the boys had been drinking, with his encouragement. Evidence was given of interviews conducted with the boys with the purpose of determining their psychological damage. However, the way in which these interviews were conducted was criticized by an expert witness. The appellant was convicted after pleading guilty to the offences and sentenced to four years' imprisonment.
The indictment charged him with six indecent assaults upon male adolescents, spanning a period of approximately seven years. Each assault involved a different boy and each boy was aged between 16 or 17 years at the time he was assaulted. Usually the boys were in the appellant's mathematics classes and most of the assaults took place on 40 board a yacht in the course of school trips organized by the appellant.
The Appeal Court (which dismissed the appeal for a reduced sentence) noted that:
The aggravating features of these offences are, firstly, the nature of the relationship between the appellant and the victims. The appellant is a well-educated man with many of the advantages in life so often denied to many of those adults who commit these kind of offences with young children or adolescents. The abuse of trust was the greater because the appellant was the sort of teacher in whom his pupils found it easy to confide and had done so. Until these incidents, the victims held the appellant in the highest regard. They were at an age when confidence in a particular adult is especially valued by an adolescent. The appellant betrayed that trust which the boys in particular and by extension their parents placed in him.
The second aggravating feature is that each offence involved a different victim. Furthermore, the offences were persistent, occurring with some regularity over a seven-year period.
Thirdly, there was evidence of deliberation and system. Usually the victim had drunk too much with the knowledge, if not the encouragement, of the appellant. The advantage the appellant took of the disinhibiting effect of alcohol on these boys must be regarded as an aggravating feature of his conduct. Furthermore, the assaults took place out of the Island on board yachts in circumstances in which the appellant had complete responsibility for the welfare and well-being of the boys concerned.
Fourthly, there is the question of psychological and emotional damage to the victims. The accounts given by the Children's Service in the reports which were placed before the Royal Court and to which we have had access go some way to giving insight into the nature and extent of the impact on the victims of these assaults.
The Sharp Report reviewing the case noted that "The handling of the complaint was "more consistent with protecting a member of staff and the college's reputation in the short-term than safeguarding the best interests of the pupil."
The Irish Independent and the Daily Telegraph also has reports on this - as you can see - there is a lot of information in the public domain:
According to an independent report into the case, allegations about Jervis-Dykes surfaced in 1992 and 1994. Both times, the school's headmaster Jack Hydes failed to notify the police or investigate further, the report said. Former chief education officer of Buckinghamshire, Stephen Sharp, who conducted the inquiry, said Mr Hydes instructed his staff not to discuss the allegations. He accused Mr Hydes and his deputy Piers Bakers -- who was in charge of pupils alongside Jervis-Dykes on one yachting trip -- of putting the interests of the college and supporting a colleague above protecting its pupils. The pair subsequently resigned. "If the correct procedure had been followed, it is most likely that Jervis-Dykes would have been suspended and perhaps arrested in 1992,'' Mr Sharp said. (4)
Jack Hydes was in many ways not a typical head teacher for a public school, coming from being a Deputy Head of a Comprehensive school in the UK. This was his first appointment to such a prestigious position (or him). Jack Hydes was also a strange individual in other ways. As a Head of Junior school recalled:
He [Jack Hydes] proceeded to wrap himself in these long drapes of multi coloured cloth and dance around his study. I was supposed to tell him how the material responded to the movement. How the light bounced off the sheen. Yet, all I could think about was, keep a straight face, this is bizarre, I cannot believe this is happening.
There were difficulties with him attending the headmasters conference, perhaps because the school was not considered to be a proper public school, and also perhaps because of his own background outside the public sector - as a 1995 article in the Times Literary Supplement noted "Jack Hydes is headmaster of Victoria College, one of Jersey's two secondary grammar schools."
This lead to the school becoming more "arms length" from the States of Jersey (the 1994 amendment to the Loi sur Le College Victoria), and hence from oversight from the Educational department, and a more independent board of governors. However, there is no indication in the Sharp report that Jack Hydes reported his internal investigation into Mr Jervis-Dykes to the governors.
Aside from those mentioned in the JEP reporting of it, the main individual missed out in the Sharp Report might have been one of the Deputy Heads at the time, who as the report notes, "asked that Mr Jervis-Dykes be allowed to leave with some dignity", after he had been found showing boys porn videos. When a boy disclosed a sexual assault, the Deputy Head was also present in the Headmaster's study along with parents, when the boy was summoned and questioned about his statement.
Clearly that "internal investigation" ran completely contrary to all the guidelines (as Sharp points out), but the Deputy Head had no training in the new guidelines; the one individual competent to give advice was the Headmaster's wife, and she give completely the wrong advice. In those circumstances, the Deputy Head while in hindsight acting unwisely, could not be expected to know the proper procedures, and the old style internal review probably seemed the right way to go.
However the Sharp report, as was noted by the JEP at the time (from the leaked documents), does say that "There had, however, been enough warning signs from 1984 onwards for the Headmaster and [the Deputy Headmaster] to be jointly more vigilant and suspicious". I would mention there were two Deputy Heads; this refers to one of them.
But the old style internal way of doing things that we would now regard as grossly mistaken was still very much part of the culture of the 1980s. Changes were taking place, but they hadn't quite caught up with Victoria College, and in 1988, the College had indicated that it saw no need for in-service training on child protection matters. It must be remembered that this was relatively new to the Island - in 1987, the Jersey Child Protection Committee had only just been formed under the chairmanship of Jurat Mabel Le Ruez.
By 1988, there was a survey to established a list of "named persons" , and the named person for College was the headmaster, Jack Hydes. His wife was the only individual with any knowledge of child protection procedures from her time as "named person" in the UK in 1992, and she proceeded to give information on how to proceed to Jack Hydes which directly contradicted that of the UK school guidelines for child protection in 1992. So it is perhaps not surprising that both the Headmaster, and one of the Deputy Heads, took it upon themselves to conduct their own investigation. The other was purely a witness at some meetings with parents, and had no active part in the investigation.
Handling matters "in house" was accepted practice. I know of two cases in schools back in the 1970s where pupils were asked to leave or suspended, and no information concerning this leaked into the outside world. In one case, the pupil threatened a teacher and class with a home-made bomb, which I gather from my sources was something akin to a Molotov cocktail. In another, a pupil was involved in a case of arson in a derelict building used for lost property. In both cases, the matters were dealt with internally. A third case involved a physical assault of one pupil upon another, and the parents were informed, but it was decided not to take the matter further. In a fourth case, a new and popular English teacher who frequented shower rooms left suddenly.
These are not cases of pupils being abused, but they do highlight the kind of mentality in which matters which could cause reputational damage to schools were dealt with internally, in such a manner that incidents would not be logged or flagged up. The 1980s saw the transition between that kind of practice, and a better regulated and monitored environment, so we must be careful in not wholly applying retrospectively modern standards to incidents of those days. I think the Sharp report is aware of this, which is why it comments that "The attitudes of the Headmaster, one of the Vice-Principals, and the Head of the 6th form during the police investigation were in some respects inappropriate."
The case of Jervis-Dykes straddles that divide, and betrays a certain slackness in the leadership of the need to be fully appraised of the new protocols for child protection. Sharp noted that "there is a substantial need for training of all the staff, and particularly staff with pastoral responsibilities". The old way of doing things was no longer adequate.
But most of the content of the Sharp report is in the public domain, either in JEP, or newspaper reports, or other blogs, Appeal court judgments, or indeed, (if you search diligently enough), several sites have the PDF file itself. It seems rather perverse to not let it out into the public domain, or at least make it available to States members. Otherwise it will no doubt ferment notions that there is something to hide.
It would be wise for Patrick Ryan to reconsider his position - the position on Sharp surely has altered since the apparent violation of confidentiality by Minister for Home Affairs with the publication of reports by Wiltshire, BDO Alto, and those on so-called Operation Blast, but I suspect that the political instinct to keep secrets will prove too strong. Of course, principles will be stated for retaining confidentiality, but I suspect these are more to justify and provide a plausible rationale to an already agreed a priori position. Maybe the Deputy needs to take stock of the changing world of transparency, which should also see a redacted hospital report released next week.
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