One of the first people to congratulate CTV was former Deputy Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police and Senior Investigating Officer of "Operation Rectangle Lenny Harper (re-produced below). Although Lenny spells out some “facts” there are a few that he could have added. The fact that Gradwell and Warcup spent more on “Operation Rectangle” than he did, to the tune of more than HALF A MILLION QUID. How the hell did they manage that? And ultimately he was not responsible for the expenditure. Perhaps CTV will be interviewing Steven Austin Vautier or Frank Walker about their involvement and accountability?
Congratulations to Channel Television on winning the Regional Programme of the year for the programme on the Wiltshire report into the Management of the Historic Abuse Enquiry. It is a great pity that you did not check the facts or you would have had a really good story. Let me clarify a few points for you. I will deal with them in the order they appear in the story.
“Officers clocked up hundreds of hours overtime.” Show me a major enquiry anywhere in the world where officers do not have to work long hours. It is the nature of the job. There were hundreds of victims and many more witnesses. Did Wiltshire and Channel Television want officers to work to rule and only complete eight hours a day? I remember the fuss from CTV and others because I gave officers a Sunday off during the early days of the enquiry. By the way, did Wiltshire work only eight hours a day during the investigation which led to the long overdue and hugely expensive report of which something like only ten per cent ever saw the light of day? I think not.
The first class flight to Australia. How many times is this nonsense going to be resurrected? Let me make one thing clear first of all. This trip was carried out in perfect accordance with States rules on long haul flights, and the relevant regulations can be found at paragraph 2.5 of the States Travel Policy. Have a look at the trips carried out by States members and Civil Servants to long haul destinations. You will find that NONE of them have travelled economy. Let me once again explain that on 28th May 2008 I submitted a full report to Frank Walker through Steven Austen-Vaughtier which explained all the circumstances of this trip, (which incidentally led directly to the conviction of a child abuser who received a jail sentence.) I will summarise some of the main points in the report.
· The initial quote for the flights was £7,879 for Business Class including the five hour flight from Perth to Brisbane. This was by Emirate Airlines who were by far the cheapest option. However, when it came to making the booking the only option was to return first class at an additional cost of £700. To offset this, the officers opted to fly the five hour journey from Perth to Brisbane by economy class, which meant that the first class journey on the return leg only cost £122 more. Again this was offset by the free chauffer services which saved a further £86. Net cost, £36. Furthermore, whilst away, the officers took NO rest days thus saving on a further eight days hotel and food costs. This was despite lengthy interviews with emotional and nervous victims.
My report to Walker and Austen-Vaughtier not only contained a full explanation of the trip but also had attached receipts and a full daily itinerary. The report followed a meeting with Mr Austen Vaughtier and the female head of Finance, during which they fully agreed that the costs of the trip were properly incurred and totally justified. I received through the Accounting Officer the confirmation that Frank Walker had also agreed the costs were within the States Policy and fully justified, although I could almost hear his teeth grating. Isn’t it strange how all this was forgotten when I retired and left the island and the subject of the Australian trip was raised again? Mind you, Frank Walker has had a faulty memory on a lot of things involving the SOJ Police in the past few years.
Not for the first time, my instincts told me that desperate and dishonest attempts would be made to distort the truth of this, and I therefore kept a copy of the report to Frank Walker and the attachments which went with it. Anyone interested in seeing it need only ask, as the details have already been widely discussed incorrectly in the media.
Next, were the “unnecessary trips to London.” There were trips to London for three reasons as I recall. Firstly to interview victims and witnesses, and then record statements. Secondly, to arrange and secure the loan of specialist equipment from the Metropolitan Police such as the sifting machine which was borrowed from Scotland Yard free of charge and at a saving of many thousands of pounds. Thirdly, there were the trips to a department of the Met which advises on the operational security of investigations, both physical and other types of security. Not only was advice given, but Met officers visited the incident room at Jersey and carried out security surveys. Again, all free of charge. The officers from the department concerned at the Yard were all interviewed and provided full information on the services they provided. Funny how none of their statements have ever been mentioned.
And then of course, the revelation that visiting officers were put up in four star hotels in Jersey and in particular the “L’Horizon.” No mention of the fact that because of the hard work of our Admin staff and the fact that we were out of the tourist season and able to guarantee room occupancy, we actually only paid £70 a night at the hotel mentioned. How many States members and Civil Servants stay in hotels costing £70 a night when they go to the UK and other destinations on business? I can safely say that the answer, should CTV care to investigate will be none. Why, when you are at it, don’t you ask the SOJ Police to make the accounts for the hotels available? They will be revealing. Just where did Channel want us to accommodate officers living away from home and carrying out this difficult and important investigation? In tents?
One more thing I should add. Despite all of these allegations being aired as if true, and despite the several days and hours of fully tape-recorded interviews and statements that Wiltshire obtained from me, NOT ONCE was I ever asked by them about any of the above. Why not? Perhaps as part of their efforts to win the same award next year, Channel Television might ask them. They might also ask what expenses they incurred during their enquiry which I would venture to suggest was not nearly a fraction of the importance to the victims of the horrific abuse meted out by people working for the government of Jersey to innocent children.
South Ayrshire (End)
There is enough in this letter to keep any "journalist" busy for years should they want, or be allowed to get, "the truth", They could learn how to attempt this from some Bloggers. But one can't help focusing on the last paragraph, where I believe the former DCO appears to be asking, "how can you put a price on bringing Child Abusers to court?" Furthermore I would question the ethics of the "accredited" media for actually giving awards out for it!!
One must also remember that there are, at least, two sides to every story, so why didn't the Wiltshire Constabulary ask Lenny Harper for his side of this "story". Just as importantly, why didn't the award winning CTV ask him for it? We know CTV's interpretation of "Entirely Accurate" and trust they will abandon it in this instance and report the FULL story.