Thursday, 3 April 2014

Francis Oldham QC Transcript



Today saw the official public launch of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry (Committee of Inquiry into decades of Child Abuse). Members of the public were invited to listen to the Chair of the Inquiry, Francis Oldham QC, set out the Inquiry's plans and protocols. It was well presented and lasted just under an hour.

Present, in the public seats, were Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media), State Media, members of the Police Force (with their lawyers) former, and current States Members, and most importantly Abuse Survivors and others.

Notably there were NO Ministers present, indeed very few current politicians at all. One would have thought that the Ministers for Education, Home Affairs and Health might have shown up as collectively they are the "Corporate Parent." They have responsibility for the Island's children, and have plenty of questions to answer, yet clearly they had none to ask as demonstrated by their absence.

I have been asked by an interested party to publish the opening address given by the chair this morning which I reproduce below. It is also be available from the Inquiry's official website HERE.  A permanent link to the website can be found on the main page of this blog on the left hand side at the bottom of "My Blog List."

Witnesses, Victims/Survivors are urged strongly to submit evidence to this Inquiry which can be done through its WEBSITE. The success (or otherwise) of the Inquiry will depend on what evidence it receives and if anybody needs any help/support submitting their evidence or any Abuse Victim/Survivor, or family member/friend of, need any kind of support, whether submitting evidence, or not, the Jersey Care Leavers Association (JCLA) are more than happy to help and can be contacted by e-mail jsycareleavers@jerseymail.co.uk or telephoned on 01534-738351.


Francis Oldham QC 

"1. Good morning and welcome to this preliminary hearing of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry. May I remind you please to turn off all telephones. This is the first public session of the Inquiry, and it provides me with an opportunity to explain a little about how the Inquiry will conduct its business and how you can contribute to it. We want to hear from anyone who has information relevant to our work.

2. Before I do that, I would briefly like to explain the purpose of the camera in the room today. The camera is being used by the Inquiry to film my address to you. This footage will be uploaded onto the Inquiry’s website and be available to all those who are unable to attend. I would like to reassure you that the camera will be directed solely at me and my Panel members, and it will not be filming any members of the public. A copy of the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference were available to you on your way in today. Further copies are available from the Solicitor team if required. The Solicitors to the Inquiry also have copies of my speech today and copies of the Inquiry’s protocols, to which I will be referring. These will be available when today’s hearing has concluded. These documents will also be added to the Inquiry’s website later today.

3. The Inquiry has been set up to establish what went wrong in the Island’s care system over many years and to find answers for people who suffered abuse as children. We have been asked by the States of Jersey to investigate the abuse and mistreatment of children placed in childrens’ homes and in foster care in Jersey from the Second World War.

4. On 6 December 2010 the Island’s Chief Minister made a formal apology to all those who suffered abuse in the States’ residential care system; acknowledging that the care system had failed some children in a serious way.

5. On 6 March 2013 the States Assembly agreed the Terms of Reference for a public inquiry to undertake a wide-ranging investigation into historical child abuse in Jersey.

6. The Inquiry’s aim is to be open and transparent to the public. Fair treatment of witnesses is a priority. In conducting all of this work, we will be acting independently: independently of the States of Jersey, independently of the police and independently of any other organisation or individual in Jersey or elsewhere. Our purpose is to establish the truth; the truth about what happened to children in residential and foster homes, how mistreatment of children remained hidden for so long and what was done when concerns were raised. We will investigate those matters robustly and fearlessly.

7. In summary we will be investigating what abuse took place, and whether abuse was covered up. We will examine whether abuse was reported and what was done, if anything, about those reports. We will be considering what safeguards were in place and whether they were adequate to prevent abuse and to ensure that reports of abuse were investigated properly and by the appropriate authorities. We will review the actions of the police, the justice system, the politicians and the various agencies of government, with a view to considering how each of them responded to concerns about child abuse in Jersey. In doing so, we will be asking ourselves whether the policies and procedures of those organisations were fit for purpose at the time. We will also consider whether appropriate decisions were taken in deciding whether to prosecute individuals and whether there was political or other interference in those decisions. Finally, we will consider what lessons can be learned for the current system of residential and foster care services in Jersey and make recommendations for the future of those services.

8. In conducting the work of the Inquiry, I will be assisted by my panel members, Alyson Leslie and Professor Sandy Cameron. Ms Leslie has a background in social work and her work includes Serious Case reviews into  child abuse. Professor Cameron is a former Director of Social Work in Scotland and former Chairman of the Parole Board for Scotland. He also has expertise in residential child care and fostering services. My legal team consists of Counsel to the Inquiry, Patrick Sadd and Harriet Jerram, and Eversheds, the Solicitors to the Inquiry. Between them, they have significant experience of public inquiry work and cases concerning the abuse of children in care.

9. The Inquiry hearings will take place at 11 Seaton Place in St Helier. These are dedicated premises for the Inquiry’s use, with a hearing room, private interview rooms for witnesses, a media room and offices for the Inquiry team. We have made special adjustments for any witnesses who will be giving their evidence anonymously or in private, to ensure that their anonymity or privacy is maintained.

10.I will be setting out today: • The Inquiry’s interpretation of its Terms of Reference, so that everyone understands the scope of our investigations;
• The way in which the Inquiry will work–its‘protocols’;
• Howwitnessesandorganisationscangetintouchwithus.

TERMS OF REFERENCE

11.I now turn to the Terms of Reference. They are set out on the Inquiry website and you should all have received a copy today.

12.The Inquiry is required to consider 15 terms of reference in all.

13.The Inquiry will not be treating each term of reference in isolation – there are many common issues all of which aim to address the following central concerns:

A. Establishing the extent of abuse in Jersey’s childrens’ homes and other statutory child care provision since 1945 – how pervasive was abuse in the statutory care system?

B. What systems operated in the child care system within which abuse took place and how effective were these?

C. Who was accountable for the running and oversight of residential child care ? D.How did the relevant government departments, politicians, police and prosecuting authorities deal with the concerns about alleged abuse. To whom were concerns raised and directed, what action did they take and

were these actions in line with policies and procedures of the day. E. What now is the state of statutory child care in Jersey and could it be improved?

14.It is our intention so far as possible to hear the evidence in 3 phases, each of which will aim to cover specific terms of reference.

15.In Phase 1 we will take evidence from those who have accounts of abuse to give and from those who worked or were in contact with child care. Phase 1 will also hear from those accused of abuse.

16.In Phase 2 we will look at the decisions taken in relation to the timing of the police investigation and subsequent decisions to prosecute alleged abusers.

17.Finally, in Phase 3, having assimilated a very large amount of evidence, we will examine whether the child care system in Jersey since the war was adequate. What went wrong? Has the system changed for the better and what is the way forward?

18.Taking each Term of Reference in turn –

19.The first Term of Reference requires the Panel to embark on an historical review of child care provision on Jersey since 1945, with a particular focus on the period since 1960. We will look at:

• The legislative framework for taking children into care and the reasons in law justifying a child being taken into care and how this was applied in practice;

• The scope and duration of care orders – what ability parents or the state had to review a care order;

• We will look at childrens’ homes on the island: their location and size, the mix of female and male, all aspects of provision within the homes; and

• We will consider boarding-out provisions and fostering: how fostering was organised and supervised: whether placing a child in a children’s home was seen as a preferable option to fostering: whether fostering in an island community presented specific challenges.

20.We will look at the use made of Jersey homes by local authorities in England and Wales when wanting to place children in their care and whether this presented specific problems.

21.It is essential to establish at the outset the context and to have an understanding of child care provision in Jersey. We intend therefore calling expert evidence on child care provision and that evidence will open the Inquiry, setting the scene for much of what will follow.

22.We consider the second Term of Reference to be an extension of the first, requiring us to look in detail at the management and governance of childrens’ homes. We will hear evidence on how residential care staff were recruited, their background and training, and the extent of supervision and support they received. We will find out how these homes were managed and what oversight they were given.

23.We are also asked to consider the culture prevalent in the homes. We need therefore to hear evidence from those who worked in the homes – care staff, those cooking and cleaning in the homes. We also need to hear from those who visited the homes, regularly or occasionally - child care officers and social workers, the local GPs, clergy, the board of visitors, outside inspectors. This list is not exhaustive.

24.We also hope to hear from those in the homes who were not abused, to give their account of their time in care.

25.We will be looking at a mass of documents which have yet to be obtained: day books, punishment books, placement records, medication records kept in the homes, correspondence between the homes’ management and the department running the home, inspection reports. Again, this list is not exhaustive.

26.By way of example, we know already that Haut de La Garenne was inspected in 1970 by two UK home office children’s department inspectors. We know too that in 1981 two UK social work officers carried out an inspection of the children’s section looking at statutory and voluntary child care services on the island and fostering arrangements. The inspectors went to Les Chenes Residential School, Haut de La Garenne, Le Squez, Clos des Sables, La Preference and Brig-y-don. We will examine all this work and establish whether recommendations made were in fact implemented.

27.We will assess the adequacy of the management and governance of these homes. We will determine on the basis of factual and expert evidence whether in fact, rather than in theory, the homes were adequately managed and overseen. Did the care of children in the homes and in the system meet the standards of the time?

28.The third Term of Reference sets out a broad remit requiring us to look at the role of the States’ government and of the administration in relation to childrens’ homes and fostering as well as child care services.

29.Did those responsible for administering and inspecting these homes do their jobs properly? If recommendations were made for improvements, were they followed? If they were not, why not? We want to know whether the various departments ensured that statutory child care provision was adequately maintained and developed.

30.We will form our own views based on the evidence received rather than seek to settle scores, however strongly and sincerely felt feelings may be.

31.The fourth Term of Reference is complex in structure. It requires us to establish what shifts have taken place on Jersey in the area of statutory child care in terms of public perception and understanding.

32.There was a time when police and child care officers would have been reluctant to accept the word of a child in care over an adult looking after that child; when a child in care would rarely be seen on their own. When the fact of the child being in care was seen as enough to doubt the story they were telling.

33.In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was a better understanding by social workers, teachers and police officers of abuse. We will look at the attitudes in Jersey over the whole period, and the changes that took place in the UK. We will consider whether and when those changes in attitude translated themselves to the Jersey care system and we will be helped by expert evidence on this issue.

34.The Inquiry appreciates that this is a particularly sensitive issue. There may be those who will be thinking “ how could abuse happen on Jersey?” There will be some who want to believe that it never did.

35.The very existence of this independent Inquiry, these Terms of Reference, the criminal convictions and the establishment of the redress scheme, puts that beyond doubt.

36.The fifth Term of Reference will be met by expert social work evidence: we will conduct a review of the legislation relating to child care practice and the governmental policy guidance in Jersey and the UK.

37.To understand the approach we will adopt to the sixth Term of Reference we need to set it out in full.

38.Under the sixth Term of Reference , the Inquiry is asked to,

Take into account the independent investigations and reports conducted in response to the concerns raised in 2007, and any relevant information that has come to light during the development and progression of the Redress Scheme.

39.Reports have been commissioned by the States of Jersey and by government departments. Some are in the public domain, and others not.

40.All these reports – and others whose existence the Inquiry may only become aware of in the course of collating the vast amount of information in preparation for the start of the Inquiry – will be critical to our acquiring a better understanding of the state provision for children in care in Jersey in 2014.

41.We will, in accordance with our remit, take those reports and investigations into account. As with much of the evidence the Inquiry will hear, we will have to monitor its relevance as the Inquiry progresses and if issues emerge which require further consideration, we will do that.

42.The seventh Term of Reference lies at the heart of this Inquiry and sets the scene for the important evidence that will follow.

43.We want to hear from anyone who feels that they have information relevant to the Inquiry, including people who have been in care homes or foster care in Jersey; anyone responsible for providing or monitoring these services; and anyone who had engagement with the care and fostering services, whatever their perspective.

44.Many of those taken into care will have felt, and may still feel, abandoned by the very system into whose care they had supposedly been entrusted.

45.I recognise that the Inquiry asks a great deal of you: quite simply , that you should come and tell us about what happened to you as a child - an account of your life both before being taken into care and whilst in care. We want to hear about how you were treated; complaints you may have made at the time, and complaints you may have made since; we want to know what the response was to your coming forward about your experience; we want to know what happened to you on leaving care. We want to hear from each witness what lessons can be learned. Only then can we move forward and begin to understand why abuse happened, how the care system allowed this to happen, how the care system has evolved and where it is today, and perhaps most importantly what checks and safeguards, if any, remain outstanding. Your evidence is the starting point for our investigation of why and how systems failed.

46.This evidence will be invaluable to the success of the Inquiry. It is your voice that the Inquiry needs to hear.

47.I am keen to ensure that witnesses who come forward to give their account of being abused only have to give their evidence to the Inquiry Panel once. The Inquiry envisages that this should be in Phase 1.

48.In setting out their accounts of abuse, witnesses may name abusers. Natural justice requires that those named and accused of abuse must have the opportunity to give evidence to set out their account, respond to allegations and give their perspective.

49.We will examine whether there was a pattern of abuse at any particular children’s home or in foster care, based on the evidence, without the need to make individual findings as to whether particular acts took place.

50.In a moment I will set out the rules – or ‘protocols’ – that will operate in the lead up to and during the course of the hearings. Those hearings will start in due course. These protocols are intended to assist all those who come forward to give evidence: they provide a formal structure and point of reference for all involved in the Inquiry as to how it operates and what safeguards (‘protective measures’ ) are in place.

51.The eighth Term of Reference asks us to consider who raised concerns about abuse, and to whom, and what, if anything, was done about them. It also invites us to conduct an historical review of the systems in place for handling the disclosure of abuse by children. Although not expressed as such, we will be looking at disclosure of abuse within the setting of children in care.

52.We anticipate that witnesses who were abused may name in their evidence individuals who were told about that abuse but nothing was done. We want to understand why that happened.

53.We may hear from individuals who were told of abuse, but did not know what to do. They may have felt powerless or fearful. They may have lacked the authority or experience to take action and may now feel responsible for not having done something. Such witnesses may be entitled to the protection afforded by the protocols.

54.The ninth and tenth Terms of Reference can be read together.

55.The ninth Term of Reference has two parts. The first, to be addressed in Phase 3 of the Inquiry, will involve an historical review of official responses to child abuse. Although we are still at an early stage of collating evidence, we are aware of official reports over the years looking at specific cases involving the handling of abuse disclosure in a variety of settings.

56.The second part, to be heard in Phase 2 of the Inquiry, asks us to ‘review the actions’ of government departments, the justice system and elected representatives following the start of the investigation into allegations of abuse at Haut de La Garenne in 2007. We want to hear from the Ministers for Home Affairs and for Health and Social Services at the relevant time and from the Attorney General’s office. Their evidence will assist us particularly in relation to the assessment that we must make of the lessons to be learnt.

57.The tenth Term of Reference I can deal with shortly, as it can be grouped alongside the other terms of reference that require the Panel to review the approach taken by government agencies, and in this instance, by government departments.

58.In assessing whether procedures were adequate we will hear expert evidence to supplement the Panel’s own specialist experience. Ultimately it will be for us to determine whether in fact the approach adopted by the Department of Education, and then of Health and Social Services, was adequate.

59.The 11th Term of Reference requires the Panel to conduct an historical review of the approach taken by different agencies to the disclosure of abuse.

60.We hope to hear from witnesses – social workers, GPs, teachers, police officers – who can provide the Inquiry with their first hand experience of how allegations of abuse of children in care were dealt with.

61.We are aware that there is a perception that in the past allegations of abuse may have been covered up. If this is correct, and if evidence does come to light that complaints were not followed up, then we will want to understand the reasons why this happened.

62.In relation to the 12th Term of Reference, we are asked to take note of the fact of Operation Rectangle and we will hear evidence identifying the concerns that led to the setting up of the formal investigation.

63.In relation to the 13th Term of Reference, we intend addressing this term in Phase 2 of the Inquiry.

64.The 13th Term of Reference asks us to:

“Establish the process by which files were submitted by the States of Jersey Police to the prosecuting authorities for consideration, and establish -

• whether those responsible for deciding on which cases to prosecute took a professional approach;

• Whether the process was free from political or other interference at any level.”

65.We have considered the issues raised by the first part of this Term of Reference:

• Did the police properly consider which cases to forward to the prosecuting authority; and

• Did the prosecuting authorities properly consider which cases to prosecute.

66.In assessing whether a professional approach was taken, we will consider the guidance applicable at the time, and the available evidence. It is only by an analysis of the files that the Inquiry will be able to discharge its function in relation to this part of Term of Reference 13.

67.The Inquiry’s approach to this Term of Reference is guided by two objectives. First, the need to ensure that confidence in the system of prosecution and procedural fairness is maintained. Secondly, the Inquiry will want to consider objectively whether the decisions taken were proper in the light of the evidence available. I emphasise again that the Inquiry is independent and will adopt its own course in relation not just to this but to all the Terms of Reference it has been engaged to consider.

68.The second part of the 13th Term of Reference asks us to consider whether, in either case, the process was “free from political or other interference at any level”. We are concerned with the legal and political responses to, and outcome from, the police investigations.

69.We will formulate our own view as the Inquiry evolves and when we have accumulated sufficient evidence. Only then will the Panel be in a position to

make findings as to whether the process was in fact free from political or other interference at any level.

70.Evidence in relation to the 14th Term of Reference will be taken in 3rd Phase of the Inquiry, by which time we will have gathered a wealth of evidence.

71.We will hear evidence from those who have conducted recent reports on statutory child care provision in Jersey; experts in this field and independent of the States. We will also be assisted by witnesses from the relevant departments, giving their views on the lessons to be learned. We wish to set out clear recommendations for the future structure and management of statutory child care services in Jersey.

72.The purpose and value of this 14th Term of Reference, and indeed the 15th Term of Reference, cannot be underestimated. It is to set out what lessons can be learned for the benefit of child and foster care services in Jersey.

73.I want to ensure that all who have a contribution to make are heard, and that those contributions result in an Inquiry that is judged to be fair, independent and constructive for the people of Jersey.

PROCEDURE

74.I turn now to explain the Inquiry’s procedure. Every Inquiry needs a set of rules to govern its work, so that all participants understand how the Inquiry will function and what is expected of them. This Inquiry is no exception.

75.Our procedure will be governed by a set of procedural protocols. These cover all the main areas of the Inquiry’s work, including:

• The gathering and presentation of evidence;

• How witnesses and their evidence will bedealt with;

• Legal representation of those with an interest in the Inquiry’s work;

• The measures that we will take to protect the identity of witnesses and ensure that sensitive personal information is handled appropriately; and

• Our relationship with the media and the public.

76.The full detail of those protocols will be published later today on our website: www.jerseycareinquiry.org. I am not going to explain each of our protocols exhaustively today. However, I will set out the basic principles and the key points. I invite all of those interested in the Inquiry’s work to read the protocols in full on the website.

General principles

77.For the Inquiry to operate effectively and efficiently, it needs to operate flexibly. The procedures set out in the protocols may be subject to amendment during the course of the Inquiry if we feel it is necessary. Where an amendment or clarification is made, that will be made available on the website.

78.In making any decision as to the procedure and conduct of the Inquiry, we will act with fairness and with regard to the need to avoid any unnecessary cost. Our aim is to be flexible, but fair.

79.We expect the full cooperation of all of those involved in the Inquiry to ensure that it runs as smoothly as possible.

80.This is an inquiry: no individual or institution is on trial. This does not mean that the Inquiry will avoid making criticisms, but it does mean that there are no parties and no sides; no scoring of points. Every witness will have a valuable perspective. There will be no cross-examination of witnesses.

81.The Inquiry will take on the role of investigating the facts and finding out the truth itself. All questions to witnesses will be put through Counsel to the Inquiry. This means that all questions will be asked by Mr Sadd or Ms Jerram during the course of the oral hearings. If there are particular questions that Interested Parties wish to be put to any witness, those questions must be submitted in advance, and Counsel to the Inquiry will ask appropriate and relevant questions at their discretion. This procedure strikes the right balance between ensuring that all appropriate and relevant questions are asked of witnesses, and avoiding the delay and expense that can go hand in hand with all participants being allowed to ask questions of witnesses directly.

82.The aim for this public inquiry is to be as open and as transparent as possible. Our proceedings will generally be held in public. However, there may be circumstances where it would be appropriate for some evidence to be given anonymously or for the evidence to be given privately.

83.We have also made a General Protective Ruling at this early stage. This is a ruling designed to protect the identity of certain persons and information by restricting the disclosure or publication of information contained in documents. Broadly speaking, the ruling provides that the names of individuals identified as having claimed to have been abused or witnessed abuse, and any individuals accused of abuse, except for those who have criminal convictions for that abuse, will be removed from documents before being disclosed or published by the Inquiry.

84.The precise terms of that General Protective Ruling will be published on the Inquiry’s website shortly after this hearing.

85.Over the course of our work, we will be gathering a great deal of documentary and witness evidence. Where that evidence is referred to in public hearings, it will be posted on the website and will be available for viewing by everyone. We will also be posting the daily transcripts of the evidence heard publicly at the Inquiry on the website, as soon as they are available. We will also publish our rulings and protocols on the website, as well as press notices. It will also carry all of our contact details, so that people can get in touch, whether by phone, email or in writing. We hope that the general public will make full use of the website.

86.In storing and managing the documentation provided to us, we will be using a secure electronic Document Management System.

Interested parties

87.I have just referred to – and you will see in our protocols – reference to “Interested Parties”. This is a term that will be given to those who have successfully applied for “Interested Party” status.

88.There will be a number of people and organisations who assist us by providing documentary or oral evidence. The vast majority of those who help the Inquiry will do so in this way. Others may have particular interests that warrant further involvement as an Interested Party. We must be satisfied that the individual or organisation meets the necessary criteria laid down in the protocols in order for them to qualify as an Interested Party.

89.We invite applications in writing within 14 days from today from anyone who wishes to be considered for Interested Party status.

90.Interested Parties will be able to submit questions to be considered by Counsel to the Inquiry, in the way I have described. They will also have access to the Inquiry’s Document Management System.

91.No one will be designated as an Interested Party unless they accept certain obligations as to confidentiality. This is to ensure that confidential information is not published or passed on to third parties. We will treat any breaches of these obligations very seriously.

Legal representation

92.I turn now to legal representation. I repeat this is an Inquiry, not a trial. You do not need a lawyer to provide your evidence to the Inquiry. The Inquiry’s legal team will assist anyone asked to give evidence or produce documents. You will be taken through your evidence by Counsel to the Inquiry and will not be cross examined by anyone else. Most of those who give evidence to us will therefore not require legal representation. They will give evidence to the Inquiry and may have no further role to play.

93.There are others, however, who may want to be represented by lawyers. In any case, the party will have to make an application and we will then decide whether to grant permission for legal representation. The test is whether we consider it desirable and necessary in the interests of fairness and justice for the person or organisation to be legally represented.

94.It may be the case that Interested Parties with similar interests apply for legal representation from different lawyers. We do not think it desirable for each and every Interested Party with a similar interest to be represented by a different lawyer, or for there to be more than one firm of lawyers representing the same class of witness. In those circumstances, we will consider whether it is appropriate for there to be joint representation of Interested Parties.

95.In appropriate circumstances, certain Interested Parties may apply to have the costs of their legal representation met by the Inquiry. This does not apply to public bodies or organisations, or other bodies with substantial financial resources at their disposal. Nor does it apply to witnesses who could reasonably expect their legal fees and expenses to be met by a public authority, organisation or body, or some other source. The criteria for the funding of legal representation are set out in the relevant protocol. We will, at every stage, be mindful of, and monitor the, cost.

Providing evidence to the Inquiry

96.In relation to documentary evidence, to the extent possible, we anticipate that any documents we seek will be provided voluntarily. We have no doubt that Jersey’s public bodies and the other organisations involved will wish to cooperate with our work and provide the documentation we request. These public bodies and other organisations have made us aware, however, that there are data protection considerations that apply to the documents. Therefore, cooperation and willingness on their part to provide the documents will not be enough. There are powers for the Inquiry to summons documents, meaning that we can compel their production. Summonses have therefore been issued and will be served shortly. The Inquiry understands that the public authorities and organisations generally accept that position. We are keen to avoid any delay in the Inquiry’s work and we anticipate that summonsing documents will help to minimise delays.

97.Where we request documents to be produced, we would normally expect to receive them within 14 days.

98.In relation to witness statements, there are likely to be many witnesses who have already provided statements for one reason or another. Some will have provided statements to the police; others to the Redress Scheme. In some cases, the Inquiry will wish to rely on or use the statements given previously and will write to the witness asking for their consent to do so. Potential witnesses should not, however, assume that we are not interested in meeting them to obtain fresh evidence. The work of the Inquiry is very different from what has gone before.

99.In some circumstances, witness statements may be obtained by the Solicitors to the Inquiry, Eversheds. They have significant experience of obtaining witness statements for use in public inquiries generally and, in particular, from vulnerable witnesses. They will conduct interviews with witnesses where necessary and a statement will be produced for the witness to sign.

100.Many witnesses will then be invited to give oral evidence, although by no means all of those who give a statement. All relevant evidence will be considered.

101.We would like to stress that the gathering and taking of statements will be done as sensitively as possible. The Solicitors to the Inquiry are available to discuss any concerns or provide any help that may be required.

102.We have put in place several arrangements to support witnesses and encourage their participation. On our website, we will provide details in due course of the independent witness support service that all witnesses can use, free of charge. We encourage all who need it to use it.

103.We have also put in place several measures to offer reassurance to witnesses. In an island community, we expect that one of the biggest fears of potential witnesses is the fear of recognition: having their name published, or details being published about them which, whilst not disclosing their name, would allow them to be identified.

104.To allay those concerns, we make allowance for witnesses to apply to give evidence on an anonymous basis or privately. “Privately” means within a closed hearing, where members of the public and press are not allowed to attend. We will only make such a ruling if it is in the interests of justice or the public interest. “Anonymously” means that the evidence is given in a public hearing, where the press and members of the public can attend, but witnesses have the facility to give evidence from behind a screen, and where there is a ruling to prevent the identification or naming of the witness. Such a ruling would extend to all of those present, including the press and members of the public. Any breach of those rulings will be treated seriously. In the event of a breach, the Inquiry may consider exclusion from the hearings.

105.However, these measures are not likely to be appropriate for all witnesses. For example, those in public office or in positions of responsibility are unlikely to be afforded such measures. Generally, we will expect those witnesses to give their evidence in public.

106.Finally, at the Inquiry premises, we have dedicated rooms where witnesses can meet with their legal representative, if they have one, or with members of the Inquiry’s legal team. Members of the media will not have access to witnesses in those rooms.

The media

107.This brings me to the role of the media in the Inquiry and what we expect of those members of the media who attend the hearings and follow our work.

108.We wish to strike an appropriate balance between ensuring proper access to the Inquiry and its work by the media, and ensuring that potential witnesses are not discouraged by what they might regard as intrusive media attention. We therefore set out in the protocols what we expect of the media, and members of the public, who attend the hearings.

109.Filming, photography and recording are not permitted in the hearing room by anyone, including in the area of public seating.

110.The Inquiry’s media protocol sets out the process by which applications can be made for media accreditation. These applications will be considered and

decided at the discretion of the Inquiry. Accreditation gives no privileges beyond access to the Inquiry’s dedicated media room, which will have power points and work spaces. The effect of accreditation is simply that the accredited members of the media may use the media room. There are no other special benefits or privileges of being accredited.

111.All press releases will be put on the website and there will be no advance briefing of members of the media, whether they are accredited or not. No media interviews will be given by the Inquiry Panel or the Inquiry team during the course of the Inquiry.

112.The privacy of members of the public attending the hearings must be respected. Once witnesses have been sworn in, they must not be spoken to or asked about any matter in connection with their evidence until the conclusion of their evidence. No interviews are to take place in any part of the Inquiry’s premises.

113.Any applications under the protocols should be made within 14 days of today. In particular, we request applications for Interested Party status, for legal representation and for media accreditation.

114.The Panel are not taking questions at this stage. There is a lot of material to digest in our procedural protocols and we think that they will answer a lot of the questions you are likely to have. You are invited to read the protocols and get in touch with any queries. However, my legal team are available now for anyone who has any preliminary questions.

CONCLUSION

115.I am calling on all those who have a contribution to make to come forward and give your account to the Inquiry. Everyone will have a perspective and the Inquiry wants to hear it. Whether your involvement was large or small, whether it reflected well or badly on you, we ask you now to step forward and tell us of your experiences. It is only with the cooperation of those involved that we will be able to reveal the truth about what happened to children in Jersey. And it is only with the full truth that Jersey will be able to move on, at the end of our Inquiry, and bring closure to this troubling episode in its history.

116.We ask you, then, to make contact with us. You can do so by phone, or email, or in writing. All of the details are on our website. Please come forward.

117.In concluding this hearing, I would like to reiterate what I said at the beginning. This is an independent Inquiry. We are not partisan and we favour no particular group or individual. We are here to do a job and we ask for your help in doing it. We look forward to starting our work in earnest.

118.This brings to a close our preliminary hearing. Details of the dates of the opening of the Inquiry and of the substantive hearings will be published on our website in due course. In the meantime, we will be working hard to obtain the evidence we need and preparing for those hearings. Until witnesses have made statements and documents have been provided, the start date of the first phase of the Inquiry cannot be confirmed. This is why we ask for witnesses to come forward as soon as possible.

119.Thank you."(END)






Friday, 21 March 2014

BBC Correction.

Further to our PREVIOUS POSTING (or possibly as a consequent of) the BBC has issued a "correction" (not an apology for knowingly misleading its viewer(s)) concerning its report last Thursday on the alleged "murder investigation" at Haute de la Garenne. (previous posting).

Readers of the previous post will be aware that former Senior Investigating Officer of the Jersey Child Abuse Inquiry, Lenny Harper, and VFC submitted a complaint to the BBC Trust after trying to rectify the situation quickly, and easily, at a local level but managing director of BBC Jersey, Jon Gripton, didn't acknowledge either of our e-mails.

This is a small victory for those of us fighting for accurate reporting, an end to the propaganda and cover-up, also a reminder to the Chair of the Committee of Inquiry, Francis Oldham QC, that it's not the Bloggers who knowingly broadcast false information.

Below is a video of the "offending article" and the BBC's "correction" (not an apology for knowingly misleading its viewer(s)).

For those who wish to give evidence to the Committee of Inquiry please make contact through its website HERE.






Wednesday, 19 March 2014

BBC Carries on Misleading the public.




"JERSEY MURDER INQUIRY UNLIKELY."


That was the headline on the BBC's website in July 2008. The article went on to quote the then Senior Investigating Officer of the Jersey Child Abuse Inquiry, Lenny Harper, who said;

"The indications are that if the results come back the same way as they have now, it is obvious there won't be a homicide inquiry."(emphasis added)

Mr. Harper is also quoted, in the same BBC article, as saying;

"But at the end of the day there just might not be the evidence to mount a homicide inquiry."(Emphasis added)

Former Senator, and Health Minister, Stuart Syvret, is quoted, in the very same article, as saying 

"it was important to remember the abuse that occurred at the home, even if there was no murder inquiry."(emphasis added)

The full BBC article can be read HERE.

So it should be safe to say, going by the BBC's own website, that the BBC knows full well no murder inquiry was ever launched in 2008 or any other time.

This Posting comes on the back of the last posting where, early indications show, that local Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) will not enjoy the same access to the Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry as the State Media. In the previous posting there were a number of links demonstrating why local Blogs are the most trusted, and accurate, news source on the Island when it comes to the Child Abuse cover-up, and it is the State Media who has buried documents, misled the public, and stand accused, in some circles, as being complicit in the cover-up.

The previous posting, including its links, should be read to put this posting into perspective and can be read HERE.

Hopefully readers will have read the previous posting and know that the Chair of the Committee of Inquiry, Francis Oldham QC, was on the Island last Thursday 23 March 2014 to appeal for witnesses to come forward and give evidence to the Inquiry. She was interviewed by State TV while Bloggers were not even told of her presence on the Island thus denied an interview.

I watched the local BBC's article, and interview with Ms. Oldham QC, and quickly realised that the broadcast, or its content, was completely misleading.

The BBC told its viewer(s);  

"It was the launch of a murder investigation at the site (HDLG) back in 2008 that thrust Jersey's care system into the international spotlight."

After hearing/watching this I e-mailed former SIO Lenny Harper, copied in was managing editor of BBC Jersey, Jon Gripton, and a number of national journalists.

I wrote;


"Mr. Harper.

As I'm sure you are aware an appeal for witnesses was launched yesterday by the Child Abuse COI Chairman Frances Oldham QC.

The local State Media was broadcasting its usual propaganda and not least the discredited, and disgraced BBC. (managing editor copied in)

On last night's (Thurs 13th March 2014) local 6:30 "news" programme we were told;

"But it was the launch of a murder investigation in 2008 that thrust Jersey's care system into the international spotlight." 

I am blacklisted by the BBC, that is to say that any e-mails/tweets/Facebook comments I submit are ignored because (according to Jon Gripton) I published, on my Blog, a photo of him he didn't like.

As you were the Senior Investigating Officer in 2008 and know (as does the BBC) there NEVER was a murder investigation launched, and you have repeated that fact many, many times, you might want to consider asking Mr. Gripton to correct the "mistake" with an apology by broadcasting the "truth" on tonight's "news" programme?

Like I said, I am blacklisted by the BBC, so it is not possible for me to ask him.

VFC"(END)

To which Mr. Harper promptly replied;

Good morning VFC.  Please forgive the brief nature of this response, as I am heading out for the day.
I am a little surprised that the BBC should repeat this bit of nonsense again, as I am clearly on record many, many, times, stating and re-stating that there was NO murder investigation.  Although we had evidence that children died there, or at least their remains were there, we could never find evidence that a child was actually killed there.  There are numerous open source references to this, and to myself repeating this over and over again, not least on the BBC news web site.  Perhaps the most obvious is the article on the BBC website of Thursday 31st July 2008, under the heading "Jersey Murder Inquiry Unlikely."  Here again I give a clear indication that there is insufficient evidence to launch a murder investigation not least because of the conflicting evidence from experts about the age of the bones.  It raises, once again, questions about the integrity of the BBC in Jersey.
Lenny Harper.(END)

A number of e-mail exchanges took place and I then wrote back to Mr. Harper the following day saying;

"Mr. Harper.

After watching the local BBC "news" last night where there was no attempt  made to inform the viewers of the truth I shall be submitting a complaint to the BBC Trust (for what it's worth)!

It might be that Mr. Gripton has had the professionalism/common courtesy to reply to your e-mail, if so, could you let me know and I will hold fire on my complaint? If not I will submit my complaint this morning."(END)

Mr. Harper wrote back telling me he hadn't had a reply from Mr. Gripton. Five days later and Mr. Gripton has still not had the common courtesy to acknowledge any of our e-mails, nor correct the misleading information broadcast on State TV. Both myself, and former SIO Harper have now submitted a complaint to the BBC Trust.

The question has to be asked as to why the BBC would want to knowingly broadcast such misleading information? Why (wrongly) mention anything about murder inquiries when the Committee of Inquiry is appealing for witnesses of abuse? Just what is the BBC'S agenda, and why, after its misleading, and non reporting of Haute de la Garenne issues including the Jimmy Savile scandal is the BBC trusted, by anybody, let alone the COI, over and above the trusted Bloggers?

We encourage anyone/everyone wishing to submit evidence to the Committee of Inquiry to make contact through its website HERE.

Below is an edited version of the misleading information broadcast by the BBC on 13 March 2014 and below that is the full version.


 







Sunday, 16 March 2014

Bloggers to be marginalised by Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry?

Bloggers (Jersey's only independent, and most trusted, media) look to be getting sidelined/excluded by the newly formed Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry.

Regular readers of the Team Voice sites will know that we have been reporting the "evidence and facts" concerning the Child Abuse cover-up and related issues. We have published the official documents buried by the State Media, exposed the State Media, for what looks to be their complicity in the cover-up of events ,since the original Child Abuse Investigation (Operation Rectangle) went public.

The State Media has given us Tooth Fairy Tales, told us, through the discredited, and disgraced, Mick Gradwell that the cellars at Haute de la Garenne didn't EXIST.

We've attempted (unlike the State Media) to discover how a piece of child's skull containing 1.6% collagen (only found in mammals) can turn into a piece of COCONUT.

Indeed, just in one posting alone, (including its links) we blew the lid off of the propaganda being fed to us by the Establishment and its media concerning the Child Abuse (and related events) cover up which can, and SHOULD be viewed HERE.

When the State media has been BURYING DOCUMENTS, kicking Abuse Victims/Survivors in THE TEETH, or just "OPINION MANAGING" Bloggers have been bringing you the bare facts and giving the Abuse Survivors/Victims a voice denied to them by the local State Media.

Team Voice has published official transcripts of "in-camera" (secret) States (parliament) DEBATES. We have published the letter which got our most Senior ranking Police Officer, Graham Power QPM (illegally?) SUSPENDED. Not to mention the infamous supposed MET INTERIM REPORT.


We have been able to do this by gaining the trust of concerned whistleblowers who have leaked us these and many more, published (on our Blogs) documents. We have their trust and confidence to publish these documents where the local State Media clearly DO NOT. 


We have published possibly the most in-depth interview the Former Police Chief has EVER GIVEN. We have published his AFFIDAVIT.

We have also extensively, and exclusively, video interviewed Former DCO and Senior Investigating Officer, Lenny Harper who has regularly contributed to this Blog to include a GUEST POSTING. Our last video interview was published HERE although we did publish a live interview Mr. Harper gave to Sonia Poulton HERE.

Mr. Harper has been the victim of a relentless smear campaign by State Media, and paedophile protectors ever since he unearthed Jersey's dirty secrets. A five part interview with Mr. Harper covering the topic of the State Media smear campaign and much, much, more can be viewed from HERE.

We have gained the recognition of National/International Journalists and featured in a number of broadsheet publications for our researched and credible published documents. We have contributed to a number of TV Documentaries some already broadcast and others yet to be broadcast. Most important of all we have gained the trust of Abuse Victims/Survivors.

What questions has the State Media ever asked? When has the State Media ever been leaked a document..........And published it.......JON GRIPTON? All the State Media has ever done is to regurgitate Establishment Press Releases and bury anything that is uncomfortable for the Establishment. Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) have challenged "The Party Line" and not just repeated/regurgitated it.

Below are a couple of e-mails between VFC, Mike Haden (Clerk to the Inquiry) and, who appears to be, the Press Officer Peter Jones. Where it appears the COI Panel are looking to exclude/marginalise Bloggers and not allow us the same access as the local, State Media.

Thursday 13th March 2014 I wrote to Mike Haden

"Mr. Haden.

Thank you for speaking with me yesterday on the phone. However you left me with the impression that the COI website was going to be "all singing - all dancing" and would answer all my questions you couldn't/wouldn't when it went live (last night).

After being on the website I am none the wiser. It is (far from being all singing all dancing) a very basic website that could have been thrown together in a matter of hours let alone the months it has supposed to have been under construction.

You assured me that the questions I've been asking (for months) concerning inclusion/exclusion of Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) would be answered on the website..............They're not. What's more these questions, I feel, have been ducked, and dived, by yourself, and Michael De La Haye before you and STILL remain unanswered.

On the 6th February 2014 (after asking for months before that) I wrote to you, in an e-mail, the following;

"Could you please also ask Francis Oldham QC if myself, and Rico Sorda, can be included in all Press Releases from the COI at the same time as the State Media bearing in mind that we Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) have adhered to EVERY Press Release embargo, unlike the State Media, the JEP being a case in point of the last Press Release from the COI where it breached the embargo.



I have discussed this with Mr. De La Haye in the past where I pointed out that myself, and Rico, have the trust and confidence of the JCLA and Victims/Survivors of the abuse. As a whole the State Media isn't trusted by, not only the Victims/Survivors, but (according to the latest annual social survey) 60% of Islanders who also DON'T trust the local State Media.


I hope this Inquiry, or Francis Oldham QC, will see the benefit in including myself and Rico in all Press Releases/conferences and will steer clear of "The Jersey Way" by excluding us, as I explained to Mr. De La Haye, It is not the trust and confidence of the Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) that is up for question. It is that of the Jersey authorities, its media and indeed the COI itself." (END)

It is now time I/we were given the answers and I once more ask you to get them from whoever IS able to answer them.

As mentioned earlier the answers are NOT on the COI website like you said they would be on the phone yesterday, and I don't know how many times I need to keep asking them and for how long?

I look forward to a prompt reply."(END E-MAIL)

Mr. Haden then phoned me and told me there is a NEW set of "correct channels", through the COI Panel's website, where I had to ask all the same questions, to the same people that he was supposed to have asked for me months ago.

I duly did this here on the same day/date.

E-mail to COI Press Person.

Dear Anonymous.

I have been attempting to get a number of questions answered concerning Blogger (Jersey's only independent media) inclusion surrounding the access to media releases/ Press Conferences/interviews coming from the COI Panel which I have been told, by Mr Haden, have been passed onto "somebody" at the COI panel. I have repeatedly been asking these questions since November 2013 and have never received any answers.

I have gone through the "correct channels" and have now been told by Mr. Haden that there is another set of "correct channels" I must go through in order to ask the SAME questions.

I reproduce (below) my latest e-mail to Mr. Haden sent this morning in the hope that you, or somebody, will finally give me/my readers the long awaited answers?

I am informed that the COI Panel read my, and Rico Sorda's Blog, and would have done sufficient research to now know that we are credible, and most importantly of all "trusted" by the JCLA, Abuse Survivors/Victims, national journalists, UK MP's, local MP's to name but a few.

The COI Panel SHOULD also be aware that the local mainstream media DO NOT share that same trust and stand accused of complicity in "The Jersey Cover-up." 

With that in mind I ask that the COI Panel allow the same media access to Rico Sorda, and myself, as the mainstream media are granted?

Please don't tell me that an announcement will be made on the 3rd of April concerning the media matters as this will give us NO chance to appeal the decision should it be concluded (as I suspect it will be) that Bloggers will be excluded.

I/we would like the opportunity to make our case before any decision is reached by the Panel and am dismayed that we (Bloggers) have not been approached by the Panel in order to make our case.

Finally it is a little off putting having to write to a media contact who is anonymous, could you please give us your name?(END)

Some 24 hrs later I received a reply from somebody called Peter Jones.

E-mail from COI Media person Peter Jones 14 March 2014.

Thank you for your enquiry about access to media releases / press conferences / interviews in relation to the IJCI.

Questions of media accreditation and access will be explained at the preliminary hearing on 3 April.  As you know, this is a public hearing. 

We are aware of the public interest in the Inquiry's work and, in the interests of fairness and impartiality, we will be making all relevant information available to everyone at the same time, by publishing it on the website.

Kind regards,

Peter Jones
Eversheds LLP
Solicitors to the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry

To which I promptly replied on the same day.

Thank you for your reply. However you have completely ignored my concerns and would like you to kindly address them?

For example I wrote, among other things;

"Please don't tell me that an announcement will be made on the 3rd of April concerning the media matters as this will give us NO chance to appeal the decision should it be concluded (as I suspect it will be) that Bloggers will be excluded.


I/we would like the opportunity to make our case before any decision is reached by the Panel and am dismayed that we (Bloggers) have not been approached by the Panel in order to make our case."


Then you wrote;

"Questions of media accreditation and access will be explained at the preliminary on 3 April."

It's almost as if I didn't ask the question when in fact I have been asking these questions since November 2013! Would you please (I did say "please" in the previous e-mail also) answer the questions, or give me a valid reason as to why Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) are not being given the opportunity to state their case as to why we should be included?

Furthermore I take issue with your assertion;

"We are aware of the public interest in the Inquiry's work and, in the interests of fairness and impartiality, we will be making all relevant information available to everyone at the same time, by publishing it on the website."

Why then, if you are to be believed, were the local State Media given an interview by Frances Oldham QC yesterday and obviously told about Ms. Oldham actually being on the Island when Ms. Oldham's presence on the Island was purposely kept hidden by Mr. Haden from myself, and as far as I am aware, the JCLA?

With that mind could you tell me, as you claim "in the interests of fairness and impartiality, we will be making all relevant information available to everyone at the same time, by publishing it on the website." Where on the website is it written that Frances Oldham QC was on the Island and available for media interviews?

I look forward to you very clear and concise answers in the interest of openness, transparency and to use your words  "in the interests of fairness and impartiality."(E-MAIL END)

Not surprisingly I have not, as yet, received a reply from Mr. Jones but will keep readers informed.

Former Jersey Politician, 30 year Met Police Veteran, and Blogger BOB HILL B.E.M who was instrumental in forming the Terms of Reference (as were Team Voice) for this Committee of Inquiry and avid campaigner/Blogger for truth and justice for Abuse Survivors/Victims has made his own submission, as a Blogger, to the COI Panel, and as far as I'm aware has not had a reply either.

Similarly Former Senator, and Health Minister STUART SYVRET who has campaigned tirelessly for the Abuse Survivors/Victims has also made his own submission, as a Blogger, to the COI Panel but he too, as far as I'm aware has not received a reply.

We can only hope that the COI Panel DO NOT exclude Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) from the process as we are arguably the most trusted and credible news source on the Island. The State Media is not trusted and has no credibility, as the links in this Posting demonstrate.

This Committee of Inquiry NEEDS to be seen as open and transparent in order to gain credibility and TRUST and for Jersey to be able to move forward after dealing with its sordid, and ghastly past. If Bloggers are excluded, and we have to rely on the discredited, and disgraced, State Media to report the TRUTH then we will have learnt that "The Jersey Way" still prevails and NO lessons have been learnt.

It's time to start doing things differently.

The Committee of Inquiry's website can be viewed Here and there is a permanent link to it on the left hand side of this Blog-Site at the bottom of the Blog Links.

To learn more of the related Postings published by VFC simply click on any name in the labels at the bottom of this post.