I have been approached by the “Voiceforchildren” website and asked if I want to comment on the apparent publication on another website of my 62,000 word written statement to Wiltshire Police which I prepared in response to the disciplinary investigation into my management of the Jersey Historic Abuse Enquiry, when I was Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police. The Chief Constable of Wiltshire was appointed to conduct the disciplinary investigation in December 2008.
I have viewed the website on which the statement is said to be published. I have not read the full publication or compared it word-for-word with my copy of the original. I have however checked some randomly selected extracts from the website and found them to be an accurate reproduction of the original document. It appears from the available evidence that the publication on the website is a true copy of the original document, albeit with some redactions for the protection of third parties. I did not provide a copy of my statement to the website or the person who operates that website.
I prepared the statement in 2009 because I was required to do by the Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Ian Le Marquand, who activated the relevant part of the Disciplinary Code for the Chief Officer of the Force, which requires that such a statement be provided. I should perhaps record at this stage that the provision of a statement was not the first option which was considered. I was at first approached by the Chief Constable of Wiltshire, Brian Moore, and asked if I would agree to be interviewed. It was proposed that the interview would be conducted in a Jersey hotel or similar location and would last for about a week. I know of no precedent for an interview of that duration in a disciplinary enquiry. In a criminal investigation the law would normally prohibit an interview of that length other than in exceptional cases with the agreement of a Court. Terrorism investigations are an example of the type of enquiry where authority might be given for an interview lasting for a week.
In spite of the exceptional nature of the request I nevertheless entered into correspondence to establish whether it would be possible for me to give my agreement to what was proposed. I noted that Mr Moore and his team were benefiting from legal advice funded by the Jersey Government. I therefore asked for a similar facility which would enable me to be advised in respect of the request for an interview, and to be represented during any interview which was agreed. This request was considered by the Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Ian Le Marquand, who decided that he would not allow funding for me to have any legal advice or representation, stating that any legal costs would have to be met from my own personal resources.
Given that the subject matter of the interview was entirely concerned with things I had done in the course of my duties as Chief Officer of the Force, and that the investigating Officers and the Minister were benefiting from full legal advice, I did not think that the Ministers decision was fair or consistent with the principles of Natural Justice. I therefore declined to attend for interview but said that I would comply with the Code and provide a written statement. I was then given a list of points to cover and a deadline for the submission of the final document.
It might be worth recording at this point that apart from the lack of fairness, I did not think that the Ministers decision to require me to provide a written statement was wise. In my opinion few people in his situation would have done the same. The consequence of his decision was that I would produce a full and candid written account of the investigation from my perspective. This would include previously undisclosed information regarding the role and actions of Jersey Ministers and other key figures. Once the statement had been created it would exist thereafter, copies would be made, and interest would be expressed in its content. Given the nature of things in Jersey it would inevitably find its way into the public domain by one means or another. If another person had been the Minister they might have preferred not to have compelled the document to be created in the first place. They may have seen it as a future source of conflict and embarrassment. They could have found another way of dealing with the situation. Senator Le Marquand apparently thought otherwise. That might be one of the reasons why the controversy is still live over three years afterwards. In the circumstances another Minister may have sought a way to “close down” the matter of my suspension and move on to address the core issues of the decades of child abuse, and the reasons for the abuse being covered-up by people whose duty it was to act. That has not happened.
If the publication of my statement and any issues which arise from that publication are troublesome to the Minister, then it is trouble that he has made for himself. He took the decision to require me to write it. All that has followed could have been foreseen.
Once it was clear that I would be providing a written statement and that there was a deadline to be met I set about the task. At this time both the Wiltshire Police team and the Minister were benefitting, not just from the comprehensive legal advice which I have described earlier, but also from fully staffed administrative support and modern office facilities. I on the other hand did my own typing on a laptop computer with family members acting as proof-readers. Looking back on those events I am confident that a situation was deliberately contrived in order to create feelings of isolation and hopelessness on my part. This would have been done in the hope that I would break under the pressure and quietly slip away. That did not happen.
It is now a matter of record that in spite of a long investigation and suspension costing well over a million pounds, no disciplinary charges were brought and no hearing was ever called. I retired in July 2010 three years after my “normal retirement age” as set out in my conditions of service.
I was surprised when, shortly before I retired, the Minister made it clear that he intended to publish a redacted version of the Wilshire report. This document was effectively the “prosecution case” which would have been used at the hearing which the Minister never called. I thought that this was unfair and said so in clear terms. It had been made clear from the onset that all documents in the case were to be kept strictly confidential. The Minister was breaching that rule. He also sought to present the Wiltshire report as some form of “independent review” which it plainly was not. The idea of a thorough management review of the investigation, and the lessons to be learned, to which I was happy to contribute, had been considered and turned down by the Minister early in 2009. The document which he eventually published was designed to be presented at a disciplinary hearing which never happened. Had the hearing taken place the contents of the report would have been subjected to significant challenge and opposing evidence would have been brought.
When I learned of the Ministers intentions I said that firstly, the Wiltshire report should not have been published, but if it was to be published, there should be at least a parallel publication of my own written statement. This was communicated by a variety of means including a letter to the Chief Minister dated 3rd April 2010. Under some political pressure Senator Le Marquand promised that he would do this, but his promise was never kept and it has now been overtaken by events.
All that said, I believe that the statement which has now entered the public domain is a valuable contribution to the understanding of a significant period in the Island’s history. I believe that it is revealing, not only with regard to the abuse enquiry, but also the cultures, attitudes, and style of governance which existed at the time.
If it serves any purpose in assisting the victims, or preventing similar events in the future, then the time spent compiling it will have been worthwhile.