Monday, 9 March 2015

Budgets and Truth

"All child abuse, wherever it happens, is scandalous, but it is the unjustified and remorseless denigration of Jersey and her people that is the real scandal." (Sir Philip Bailhache)

It’s worth being reminded of these words, in a Liberation Day speech in 2008, which not only hijacked the ceremony for political ends – annoying a huge number of Islanders who were here during the war – but also put reputation above child abuse.

This speech was made confidently before the Jimmy Saville affair erupted into the public domain in 2012. It is almost inconceivable that anything so crass and thoughtless of victims of abuse could be made post-Saville, but what I want to point out here is something else it does.

It has to be remembered that in May 2008, the investigation into Haut de la Garenne was not completed. Witnesses were still being interviewed. Cases – some of which resulted in prosecutions and prison sentences for abusers – had not come to Court.

And yet here we have the Chief Judge, as Sir Philip was then Bailiff – pre-empting the judicial process, and making comments about it before it was complete.

They say that a leopard cannot change its spots, and it is notable that Sir Philip is back scaremongering, and making statements which attempt to interfere with the inquiry before it has finished. As the JEP reported:

“THE Independent Jersey Care Inquiry could cost taxpayers more than £50 million – eight times the original estimate, a Minister has told the JEP. Treasury Minister Alan Maclean said it was currently impossible to put a figure on the final costs, but External Relations Minister Sir Philip Bailhache said that he had been advised that the final bill could be £50m or more.”

This again is interference in the Care Inquiry, and if Sir Philip is making statements about "being advised", perhaps he could share with us lesser mortals, who it was that advised him, and make public the basis of their calculation, so that other cost accountants can check them out.

The inquiry has certainly gone over its original budget, and I for one, would like to see detailed accounts to see where the money has gone, and how it is being accounted for. That is only right and proper.

But it is equally proper that any estimates of projected expenditure by third party advisers to Senator Bailhache should also be made public, along with their names attached to the calculation. Let’s have some transparency here as well. If the third party is not prepared to go public, then it speaks volumes about the confidence they have in their calculations.

I have not great confidence in the lack of bias of Sir Philip Bailhache anyway. It should be noted that he was not in favour of an inquiry in the first place, and was notably absent from the States when the vote was taken – but was present the rest of that day!

In the meeting in the Royal Square on Sunday, Frances Le Gresley, who pushed for an inquiry to take place - after Senator Terry Le Sueur decided not to honour the promise to hold one – said that he had not spoken to Frances Oldham or any members of the inquiry team, either in the States or since, and it was important that politicians should not get involved.

Whether his words fall on deaf ears remains to be seen.

£50,000 or more? Is that a proper calculation by a reputable body who will be prepared to come out in public with it? Or is it Sir Philip Bailhache being economical with the truth?


1 comment:

Gillian Gracia said...

Good posting Tony, and these are the questions PB should be answering as I have said from the very moment he started his scare tactics.

Who is advising PB?
How is the figure of £50,000,000 arrived at or is he just plucking figures out of (not so very) fresh air?
Would he be able to provide some sort of breakdown?

I doubt we would ever get the answers.