The Press Release below from Hanson and Renouf is self explanatory.
As regular readers will be aware the case of family “X” brought about the “Serious Case Review” (SCR) that was scathing of just about every department of our States and Law Offices who are involved with the “care” of our children.
Senator’s Jimmy Perchard and Ben Shenton have been critical of former Senator Syvret’s tenure as Health Minister, but what happened on their watch? Could further horrendous ABUSE of family “X” have been avoided? Did SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS of tax payer’s money need to be spent? Are Senator’s Ben Shenton and Jimmy Perchard qualified to ignore the advice of Childcare Experts? And what is the human cost when they do?
In a week where the States is concentrating upon budget cuts Senator Jim Perchard has finally been counting the cost of his intransigence. In a written answer to his own question it was revealed this afternoon that some £600,000 in costs were incurred by virtue of his steadfast refusal to agree that Family X received the correct care that all the experts said that they needed.
In November 2008 Children’s Service and all experts were agreed that the children in Family X needed specialist therapeutic care in England that could not be delivered in Jersey and so as to attempt to put right the decade of abuse which they had experienced when the system failed to intervene and protect them. At that time the Health Minister Senator Ben Shenton declined to make the monies available and this decision was persisted in by his successor Senator Jim Perchard until he eventually resigned and was replaced by Deputy Anne Pryke in 2009.
Whilst the current Health Minister apologized publicly for the failures that led to the X children suffering over a decade of abuse, and also agreed to the funding being made available, the intransigence of her predecessors had already led to a costly legal battle involving Jersey lawyers, medical experts and specialist English barristers.
The case involved contested care proceedings in the Royal Court, two Judicial Review applications and two appeals to the Court of Appeal where the children eventually overturned the position defended doggedly by Senator Perchard.
Barbara Corbett, Head of Hanson Renouf’s Family team commented that:
“As early as November, 2008, I had spoken to Senator Shenton advising that his department’s plans to warehouse these vulnerable children in unsuitable care homes in Jersey would be opposed and that it was inevitable that significant legal and expert costs would be incurred if his department continued to ignore the recommendations of all the experts, including Children’s Services. Ultimately, the Court of Appeal confirmed what we had been saying all along, including that the Minister and certain key officials had acted in breach of natural justice and had acted unfairly. Unfortunately, it was not until the outcome of the Serious Case Review earlier this year that the children received a public apology for the system’s wider failure to halt their appalling treatment. ”
On the issue as to why it is important for children to have representation from a Guardian and a Jersey lawyer, Advocate Hanson stated:
“This case and the failures referred to in the Serious Case Review demonstrate why it is important for children to be properly assisted in legal proceedings. The result would have been completely different without legal and expert advice being made available. We can however cut future legal costs by efficiencies and competitive tendering without hacking away at children’s rights.”
As to feeling any anxiety from politicians who have different agendas, Advocate Hanson said this:
“We all know that funding for anything is tight but we do need someone to be speaking up for children’s rights as otherwise they risk being overlooked. Jersey is a wonderful place but unfortunately complacency and fear often mean that people who could make a difference, keep quiet.”
In July 2008, when Senator Perchard was the Assistant Minister for Health and Social Services, he welcomed the Williamson Report and its recommendations saying that he was delighted the report had given the island’s child protection services “a clean bill of health”. The Serious Case Review published in February, 2010 showed how complacent such an observation had been and the apparently superficial approach by some Ministers to legitimate child protection concerns.
Submitted by VFC.