The Telegraph reports that “The police force under investigation for allegedly covering up sex abuse claims against Sir Edward Heath is to lead a national probe into the former Prime Minister.”
“The decision to put Wiltshire in charge comes just a week after it was announced that the force was being investigated itself by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over allegations that it failed to probe allegations against Sir Edward in the 1990s.”
Clearly officers will have changed – we are at least 15 years after the 1990s, but if Wiltshire are under investigation, are there still serving officers there, or ones with connections to officers who served in the 1990s? It seems strange and not a little incestuous to put Wiltshire in charge of an investigation when they are being investigated about the matter themselves.
Twisting the Tale
The story in the Mirror was “Edward Heath's secret Jersey hideaway” and it tells us that “the late Tory leader spent six months in the early 70s living in this luxury top floor apartment” which is in Bouley Bay. It also says: “A local resident, who did not wish to be named, confirmed: “Ted Heath stayed at the Waters Edge Hotel penthouse for six months in the early 70s.”
Heath was Prime Minister in the early 1970s, and what the story doesn’t say is that he would have been guarded day and night by security forces, and – thanks to a change Heath himself made as Prime Minister – was guarded as an ex-Prime Minister after he was ousted from office.
So the picture the Mirror paints, of a lone politician in a secret hidey-hole, where he can lure innocent youngsters to visit, after trips on his yacht, is rather a hollow one. As Prime Minister, he probably needed somewhere to simply get away from the pressures of office, but the notion that was alone is risible.
The Corbymite Manoeuvre
Linda Corby told how she stood with another local politician, Ralph Vibert, who has since died and watched as 11 children got onto Heath’s yacht, the ‘Morning Cloud’. Later that day they left St Helier Yacht club and they travelled to Bouley Bay and watched the youngsters get off again. She said after another head count they realised only ten had returned.
She doesn’t mention the rest of the crew, who presumably were all looking the other way as a body was dumped over the side, weighed down with chains. Or that no one else upon the boat, or for that matter, the security guards waiting at the harbour who would have also had to make the journey to Bouley Bay (and don’t get a mention) might have noticed. And would you really take children on board in broad daylight with people watching if you are planning on throwing one of them overboard?
In fact, bodies have a nasty habit of turning up, even with chains. In 2000, a young woman whose naked body was found weighted down with chains was found on a beach near Lowestoft, Suffolk. In 2001, a factory worker admitted killing his transsexual brother-in-law and then dumping the body at sea, bound in chains. The body was washed up at Kessingland, Suffolk four days later and police launched a murder inquiry.
The recommended way of getting a body to stay down (for licenced burial at sea, please do not use the guidelines if committing murder) is to place the body in a metal casket of four times the deceased’s body weight; then secure it lengthwise and from the top and bottom. Stainless steel chains are recommended. Drill at least two six-inch holes in the casket’s bottom and lid to ensure the required rapid and permanent sinking to the sea floor.
Lenny Harper and Heath
Lenny Harper, who headed the 2008 Operation Rectangle into child abuse in Jersey care homes and organisations said he never had any complaints about Heath in Jersey. Now Lenny was a thorn in the side of the political establishment, and had worked hard to gain the confidence of survivors of abuse, many of whom have now given testimony as witnesses to the Jersey Care Inquiry.
He is concerned that the Edward Heath allegations could be used as a smokescreen to cover-up other allegations on Jersey. I think he might have a point. We’ve all become familiar with the politician who looks for a good day to break bad news.
Philip Bailhache in the News
Sir Philip Bailhache appears to have not followed best child protection practice, during his time as Attorney General.
Sir Philip seems to have suffered from singular lapses of judgement, as notably he let Roger Holland stay as an honorary police, despite a known conviction, because it had resulted in a probation order and was therefore "clearly not very serious". He stated that: " the swearing-in of an honorary police officer before the Royal Court process is a solemn affair, and to ask the Court to review shortly after the swearing in an honorary police officer's suitability for continuing in office would have been a very serious matter"
It should be mentioned that it was pressure within the Honorary Police which led to Roger Holland’s resignation. Centenier Jackie Hilton, having discovered a previous conviction wrote to the Attorney General on 29th July 1999 expressing her concern that a person with such a conviction could be a member of the Honorary Police. Sir Philip in a statement much later said that “in hindsight” he had made a mistake.
Another case was that when he was when seen reviewing documents on an airplane flight by two businessmen regarding the case of the lady HG, whose mistreatment had led to the Dean’s suspension; he had stated that this gave “a fictitious and malicious account of my reading habits on aeroplanes” and impugned their integrity.
Accusing people of malice and lying when they are speaking the truth is not what one expects from holders of high office.
Only after considerable pressure was brought to bear did he apologise – “Having had time to reflect, I am sorry that I used language that was stronger than was necessary or appropriate... I do not impute dishonesty or malice to Deputy Pitman’s constituent or, for the avoidance of any doubt, to the Deputy himself”
As Bob Hill noted: “I believe that most people when being accused of something ensure they know exactly what they are being accused of before shooting from the hip and casting aspersions on the accusers.”
In 2008, Sir Philip used his traditional Liberation Day Speech to speak not about Liberation but about the Historical Child Abuse Investigation, and said that “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.”
The young lady, HG, commenting on this said that “it is not abuse that is denigrating Jersey’s reputation, it is your lack of understanding that abuse is wrong and harmful, and when someone is abused, they should be able to speak up, and they should be able to see their abuser punished and be safe from them.”
But this is precisely what appears not to have happened when Sir Philip was Attorney General in a case described by John Rodhouse this week.
Giving evidence to the Jersey Care Inquiry, John Rodhouse, former Director of Education, told how an abuser was sacked, but not reported to the police, and later convicted of abusing another boy:
“The then Attorney General Philip Bailhache called me to tell me that a named volunteer youth worker had acted improperly with a boy. The boy’s father [held a particular position] and did not want the involvement of the police. ‘Philip Bailhache wanted me to investigate and take action. I protested that it was a matter for police but Philip Bailhache said that the parents would not co-operate and that if I did not act nothing would happen. I interviewed the man who admitted the offence and, with the help of the Youth Office, the man was effectively removed from all youth work in Jersey.”
“As far as I was concerned I was caught between the legal authority of the Island in the person of the Attorney General and what I believed to be my professional and moral duty. I have since learned that the man was some time later convicted of a similar offence.”
“I believe that if Philip Bailhache had accepted my view that the police should have been involved then there would have not been the other case. One other child was assaulted and the man was convicted. [It] wouldn’t have happened, I believe, if the man had been dealt with properly in the first place.”
It is notable that had funding been cut from the Inquiry, it would have been wrapped up earlier and John Rodhouse may have never given his evidence in this way. One of those speaking against the continued funding of the Inquiry was Sir Philip Bailhache.
While – for the record - I do not think he had any idea that John Rodhouse would make this statement, he might have known about other possible skeletons in the cupboard, such as the case of the Maguires.
Here Anton Skinner (head of Children’s Services at the time) has told the Inquiry that the letter praising there good work was “balderdash” designed as a sweetener to get them to move from Blanche Pierres.
When asked if the failure on his behalf to notify the police or start disciplinary proceedings against the Maguires constituted a cover-up, he said:”‘ Well, if you are describing that, that would constitute a cover-up, then clearly in those terms it was a cover-up, but not something that I would have seen as a cover-up. It was something I would have seen as trying to deal with a situation as quickly as possible.”
Marnie Baudains, who attended a meeting with the Attorney General, Sir Michael Birt, police officers and other senior figures involved in the case, expressed surprise that charges would not proceed against the Maguires because of “insufficient evidence”.
She commented that “‘I was surprised that they said there was not enough evidence, because there were a number of witnesses rather than just one. To put it bluntly, I thought we were on the way.” But like John Rodhouse, she deferred to the much greater legal standing of the lawyers present.
In a brief statement to the JEP about the statement by John Rodhouse, Sir Philip said: ‘I am afraid that I have no recollection of this alleged incident and cannot therefore comment upon it.’
It appears that the passage of time and separation from official records have clouded his memory. In fairness, I know from my own experience that this does happen as we all get older, and Sir Philip’s inability to remember is perhaps no more than one would expect of a man of his age.
It is ironic that his 2008 Liberation speech – if he can recollect it - poured scorn on those who thought that the due process of law had been circumvented in the past – he said “a cover-up by government was suggested”.
Perhaps there was not the lurid and rather fanciful cover up featured in some of the more downmarket tabloids at the time, but there seem to have been a few cover ups nonetheless.