Friday, 5 June 2009

"Untouchables"

Yesterday I went to the Royal Square in the hope of filming, or interviewing the Attorney General on his decision not to prosecute a certain couple.

As I arrived in the Royal Square I bumped into Senator Syvret and two very disheartened and angry abuse survivors who were about to hold a Press conference, in the States building, concerning the decision of the AG not to prosecute, among others, the fore mentioned couple. I was invited to the Press conference and was extremely pleased to accept.

I filmed the entire 40 minutes of this very humbling and sad occasion. Anybody with even the slightest bit of compassion would have felt it near on impossible not to burst into tears and give the two ladies who have been through unimaginable torture and torment a hug. However with a room full of “journalists”, along with the strength and courage shown by the two survivors, it wouldn’t have been a good look!

As well as being a very sad and humbling occasion it was also extremely surreal. Once Senator Syvret and the survivors had outlined their concerns and gave, what appeared to me, to be a harrowing account of a horrific childhood and a totally failed “care” system the floor was open to questions from the media.

I thought I’d best not rush in with a question and let the “accredited” media go first which would enable me to see what angle they were coming from. Well, after an uncomfortable silence, and the feeling of embarrassment, I felt I’d better ask a question which I did. This pattern seemed to continue, there were uncomfortable silences and it was almost as if the media didn’t want to be there, it was truly surreal.

As I have said, I filmed the entire 40 minutes of this episode which I hope to publish in the next few days but not only will the editing of the footage be demanding, actually watching it is extremely emotionally demanding but will hope to get something published soon.

At the end of the Press Conference I asked all the media, in attendance if they had asked the AG for an interview, only one had and that was Adam Fowler of CTV. I asked him “what did he say” the answer came back “no” so I said “why don’t you doorstep him”? In fairness to Adam Fowler I believe he did want to doorstep him but isn’t allowed that choice because it’s not “the done thing” in local “news” reporting. If one of “the untouchables” refuse to give an interview then that’s good enough for our local “news” editors who believe it is good enough for the plebs.

It was then asked of me “why don’t you doorstep the AG”? To which I explained that was my purpose of being in the Square in the first place, the Press conference was a bonus.

Back out in the Royal Square I was talking with one of the survivors’ partners, and who should turn up? But the AG. I promptly switched the camera on and asked him to explain his decision not to prosecute the couple from the “care” home. Needless to say he didn’t utter a word.
The entire episode lasted 31 seconds; I switched my camera off and walked away.

The AG then came up from behind me and said “you do realize you have just committed an offence”. “What you have just done is harassment, but I won’t take it any further” and proceeded to walk off. So I asked him if he would mind answering a few questions off camera? Which he ignored and walked off. We must bear in mind I had just come from listening to abuse survivors and their partners describing the horror, they have and are experiencing and the devastation they felt at the AG’s decision not to prosecute the very people who had allegedly ruined their lives, and I’m the one who’s committing an offence????????

Surely the time is coming where the “accredited” Press is going to concede that a statement from one of these “untouchables” is just not going to suffice? There are over a hundred witnesses who have drawn the strength and courage to tell their story to the police. There were somewhere in the region of 60-70 suspects in the “historic” child abuse enquiry including Jersey establishment figures. There has been one conviction of a former HDLG “inmate” (for the want of a better word). The survivors need justice and answers not “statements”. The “untouchables” need to be brought to account; they are paid, in most cases, a six figure sum to administer justice. When it appears they are failing in their public duty, then they need to answer to the public.

Anyhow here is a problem I have (one of many!). The film footage I have of door stepping the AG I have mentioned the couple “by name” he decided not to prosecute. After reading and watching all the mainstream media reports their names have not been published “for legal reasons”. I, with my very limited knowledge of libel and defamation laws, go through great pains not to fall foul of any of them.

It is for that reason I am reluctant to publish the footage. If anybody could advise me on this subject it would be appreciated.

In the meantime my thoughts are with all the survivors of abuse and would love to be able to assure them they will see justice. Unfortunately, through the Jersey judicial system, I can’t do that, but that doesn’t mean to say they won’t get justice it will just have to come from elsewhere.

17 comments:

  1. "Anyhow here is a problem I have (one of many!). The film footage I have of door stepping the AG I have mentioned the couple “by name” he decided not to prosecute. After reading and watching all the mainstream media reports their names have not been published “for legal reasons”. I, with my very limited knowledge of libel and defamation laws, go through great pains not to fall foul of any of them."

    Edit the audio track at the point the names are mentioned using Windows moviemaker or something similar. It's very simple to use. Get an mp3 of a "beep" and you could glue that over the top of the sentence, like on TV.

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  2. Yes it seems the AG likes coming up from behind. You should have punched the smug pervert.

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  3. This sort of reminds me of what Stuart said, when the A.G. took him to one side and ordered him not to do or say anything about Reg Jeunne, that time.

    Seems to show his true colours 'behind closed doors' as it were, when no one else hears him, no witnesses to the 'real' him.

    Strikes me this man is rather sly and devious.

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  4. Good post VFC - you have put the contemptible Rag to shame today.

    It is a shame you cannot name the "couple" as I should imagine most of Jersey know damn well who they are!

    I cannot imagine how the survivors are now feeling after all they have gone through, with patience and dignity, to be kicked in the teeth in this way, not only by the 'judiciary', but our only paper.

    I think we will now find people are very, very angry, and 'things' will happen. All good thinking and decent people in Jersey, don't be afraid, these abuse survivors need love and support and it falls to us to find a way to get them justice.

    VFC - keep up the good work!

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  5. What a slimy creep, sidling up behind you and threatening you with accusations of a criminal offence, there should be a law against it!!

    Well done to you for getting the press conference on tape, hope to see it posted sometime soon.

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  6. Just got a contract from a well established Jersey law firm ,for something I have recently had to take some legal advice for .
    Partners charges £315 per hour,basic admin £150 per hour
    My case is pretty clear cut, a win win situation
    All I require is a letter or two to insurance companies ,but as is the Jersey way you can't do it on your own .
    Whatever I receive, in damages, will be peanuts compared to the fees that the Legal firm receive.
    They have it all stitched up
    Don't you just love the Jersey way of doing things !!!

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  7. Perhaps the AG could be charged with threatening behaviour!

    What a jumped-up idiot.

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  8. Grim reaper said...
    Yes it seems the AG likes coming up from behind. You should have punched the smug pervert.

    05 June 2009 10:10

    Hmmm..calling our illustrious AG a pervert but no details?

    Does he have any "form" thats being kept quiet?.

    Is it anything to do with dancin' danny by any chance?

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  9. "Anyhow here is a problem I have (one of many!). The film footage I have of door stepping the AG I have mentioned the couple “by name” he decided not to prosecute. After reading and watching all the mainstream media reports their names have not been published “for legal reasons”. I, with my very limited knowledge of libel and defamation laws, go through great pains not to fall foul of any of them.

    It is for that reason I am reluctant to publish the footage. If anybody could advise me on this subject it would be appreciated."

    The question is one of "risk." There is no criminality involved with naming the people. It's a civil matter. The "risk" is that the couple might decide to take action for defamation. To be totally safe and to avoid the risk you should "bleep out" the names. If you believe that the risk of being sued for defamation is very slight, or that you could successfully defend such an action, you may feel able to leave the names in.

    Re. "doorstepping" - all the main broadcasters (ITV BBC Sky etc ) follow very similar rules, which mean that any "doorstepping" must be given the go ahead by very senior editorial figures at a level way above the local people. Every time anyone in the mainstream media wants to "doorstep" a person, they must seek permission from above. Permission to doorstep is usually only granted if:
    a) there is a significant public interest argument for trying to force an interview.
    b) every other means of obtaining an interview have been tried and have repeatedly failed.
    Very often "doorstepping" is only permitted in cases where the subject is clear, serious criminality.
    There are lots of reasons why "doorstepping" is only rarely allowed: the risk of a broadcast confrontation prejudicing any future legal proceedings; the human rights of the interviewee; the harassment laws; the risk of indulging in "trial by media;" the fact that, usually, all that comes from it is repeated questions met by silence until the interviewee shuts the door, enters private property etc. "Doorstepping" rarely adds anything to the telling of a story.

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  10. I was once had dealings with the AG. I found him to be really rude and arrogant. I also didnt like the way his eyes move, its like he is concealing something. Did anyone see that interview of him? What a shady person. Or the picture of the Bailhache family in the JEP a few years ago. The whole family have establishment titles of one thing or another.

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  11. I admire your courage as a journalist to get a comment. Please put up the 31 seconds of footage. The AG’s conduct is a form of harassment itself; the big difference being that he holds all power and you none. It takes bravery to tell the truth in face of Power. Our Liberty rests on the courage of those like you.

    The AG is not used to journalism that is anything other than deferential. This is how our rulers behave; they really believe they are above politics and answer to no one other than themselves. The mystique of Monarchy cannot be questioned. When interviewed over the child abuse last year the AG replied to questions of a French journalist using words described as not just “langue de bois” (words of wood) but “langue de plomb” (words of lead) i.e. anodyne, evasive and wholly non committal.

    The AG’s behaviour was not unique. The Bailiff held a press conference to give his view on the Clothier Reforms when the document first appeared. He used the occasion to be highly critical, but in advance of the conference told journalists he would not be answering further questions. When a Channel TV journalist had the temerity to do just that at the end of his statement, he simply repeated that he was not taking questions and walked off. It was a classic act of arrogance in the face of legitimate questioning by the Fourth Estate. It’s the sort of behaviour all too characteristic of authoritarian governments and their leaders.

    Further, I cannot understand why the couple cannot be named; their name is well known. The BBC tracked them down in France and ended up chasing them around a farmyard before they drove off.

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  12. Just a thought.

    You can bleep out the names and refer people to the panorama link if they want to know the names.

    Another thought for you, sell it to to me or someone like me but out of the island for a small amount and I will publish on my blog or someone else can on theirs, which you can then link to,I have zitch, no valuables, nothing in the bank and own no property, suing me would be a waste of time, a holiday at the prison wouldn't bother me, the truth must be allowed to come out!

    I have a couple of other ideas but won't publish them for all to read.

    Keep up the good work!!!

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  13. VFC

    You were a complete star at the meeting and im so glad you were in the room..

    The A.G moment was surreal his untouchable days are over all there untouchable days are over..

    Im up for a bloody fight

    rs

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  14. With all the sh*t that's going on you seem to be getting more & more involved in this just like Stuart.
    You are doing a very good job, leaning on your feet as all the best journos do. But you have to stay within the Law for you to keep going.
    We need you to get us the truth when ever you can & show the local media up for the useless bunch of a**holes that they are.
    Reading your last Post shows your concern & your passion to get to the truth. It must of been hard for you to hear the victims stories & pain that they are going though. I watched that video on Stuarts blog posted by Polo, very hard to take in that a Man can say very personal things that have happened to him, it beggars me to think that people can sit there & say that you are Lieing.! Its Hart braking.
    This is what is happening to the victims over here.
    What the Dirty Rag wrote the other day standing up for the AG was in my mind the most disgusting thing that any paper could do, TELLING us that the AG has got it right. I could not believe what i was reading. Appsalutly disgusting, unforgivable & Appsalutly WRONG.
    There job should be asking why has he come to this decision.
    People ask why do you Blog well ask the Chinese why they Blog & they will tell you its the only way to get the truth, be able to discuss about what is going on & express them selves in a way that they cant in the public domain. Sounds like the same reasons that people Blog over here.!!!
    WE NEED THE TRUTH.

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  15. VFC - Would it not make sense if any survivors or groups (Care Leavers Association)etc, and interested members of the public boycotted the JEP for interviews or any developments of plans that they have to pursue justice and use you the 'Citizens Media' as a 'press' outlet.

    Let's face it, the JEP have disgraced themselves over this, and to starve them of news and place it in the hands of a capable and honest reporter such as yourself would be far preferable.

    You can do it! Power to VFC!

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  16. You should look at the Gibraltar News by Vox link through voiceforprotest.

    These people may well be Untouchable but a persistent whistle blower in Gibraltar has engaged the EU to encourage Prime Minister Brown to contact the Foreign Office to investigate abuses at a childrens home on the Rock.It's a long thread but it seems to be having a result - just like the people of Pitcairn did eventually.

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  17. Since the names are already in the public domain, you are not committing any offence, criminal or civil.

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