- The COI should not only be looking at the decisions taken by the political and senior management of the Children’s Services in Jersey, but all other service providers also (e.g. H&SS, Home Affairs, Crown Officers and the Education Dept) and also the States and Honorary Police. Furthermore the period should extend from 1960 to the current time and not the cut off point of 1994, amongst other reasons being the politicised and alleged illegal suspension of the Chief of Police at the time of Operation Rectangle, Mr Graham Power. The COI should encompass all the Terms of Reference contained in the Verita Report.
Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Open Letter to Chief Minister Gorst.
Jersey Care Leavers Association has published an open letter to jersey's Chief Minister senator Ian Gorst.
After Verita were asked to draw up suggested Terms Of Reference for a Committee Of Inquiry into the decades of Child Abuse in the island, which they produced, Chief Minister Gorst, for reasons that still remain a mystery, asked Alan Williamson to come up with something, just what he asked him to come up with is still pretty unclear.
Verita's TOR's appeared to most as robust, fit for purpose, and a good starting block. What we now appear to have (although we stand to be corrected) is another "Our Chap" Report coming up, or similar to the "Napier Report" rather than a full and open public Inquiry, or an "In House Job."
What Chief Minister Gorst does with the Verita TOR's or the Williamson.........."Whatever it is" remains to be seen. He (Senator Gorst) tells us he will soon be bringing a proposition to the States with a Terms of Reference based on the Verita TOR's and the Williamson thing.
Whatever Senator Gorst brings to the States (Jersey's Parliament) will be HIS legacy and we hope that he is ready to say "enough is enough" the culture of secrecy and cover-up has got to end now. Early indications don't hold up much hope for this.
Open Letter to the Chief Minister
25th September 2012
Dear Chief Minister
Thank you for your time yesterday morning and the opportunity to meet with yourself, Mr Williamson and Mr Richardson. We were also pleased and grateful to know that you are committed to a Committee of Inquiry, and sincerely hope that fellow States Members share your sentiments.
We are now in a position to let you know our thoughts on the meeting and the matters discussed. First of all we think it is quite clear, and we can only reiterate that we can only support a fully robust and open enquiry, and we do not feel that Mr Williamson’s suggestion of a three pronged approach is the correct one, and would reject that out of hand. We feel that all should fall under one umbrella of one Committee of Inquiry.
To elaborate on Mr Williamson’s conclusions and what we feel we would make the following observations: –
2 We feel very strongly that an independent review should not be undertaken, and this should form part of the Terms of Reference (again as per Verita). To undertake an independent review would mean litigation behind closed doors which could last for years. It would not be compulsory for those who do not wish to give evidence to do so, and those who do wish to can come forward on a voluntary basis, whether they are victims or those accused of being abusers who wish to clear their names. This, as we have said before is not a criminal investigation, but a COI to ascertain the truth. What is being proposed is akin to the Napier Review which was in house and secret and lacked credibility. The public are fed up with the secrecy which now appears to be the hallmark of political thinking and we will not give any support to it.
3 A service as suggested by Mr Williamson would be a very welcome addition as any abuse survivor who requires assistance to enable them to talk with a professional person, separately from the COI would feel comfortable doing so. However if this is implemented and a name is required for the service, we would recommend the name be changed from ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ to something which would not be seen as quite so intimidating.
Those then are our thoughts on Mr Williamson’s conclusions, which we hope you will take good account of. There are however, certain other considerations and anomalies in Mr Williamson’s report that we would wish to point out to you.
Firstly, with the exception of Brig Y Don as noted in Mr Williamsons report, not all Children’s Homes have closed since the completion of the Verita Report. La Preference in St Martin’s is still operating.
Secondly, the information Mr Williamson was given by the SoJP is incorrect. The number of convictions secured against HdelaG members of staff was actually only four and not seven as stated. These were Gordon Claude Wateridge, Morag and Tony Jordan and Michael Aubin, who himself as a child in Haut de la Garenne was abused and then turned abuser whilst still in the care of the Home. The other convictions relating to Claude James Donnelly, Ronald Thorne and Leonard Vandenborn were in no way connected with States of Jersey Care Homes.
We are given to understand that some of the abused do not wish to give evidence to a Committee of Inquiry. We suspect that some of those victims have had their day in Court and have seen justice and quite understandably, would not want to go through the harrowing experience of having to give evidence again at a COI. There are however, a large number of victims who have NOT had the satisfaction of seeing their abuser(s) stand in a court of law and would wish to give full and honest evidence to a Committee of Inquiry. Furthermore, this is in conflict with what Verita have said in their report that a Committee of Inquiry is not just about statements from victims
We also fail to see why there would be any conflict with a COI running in parallel with the Redress Scheme, and are puzzled at the mention of ongoing police inquiries. To all intents and purposes Operation Rectangle was closed down very hastily when Messrs Warcup and Gradwell replaced the previous incumbents, and, if it is indeed the case that these ongoing police inquiries involve historical child abuse, it may well be that it would be prudent to extend the closing date for claims.
We note that unlike Verita, Mr Williamson has not given any indication of the likely cost if his recommendations are implemented. Please may we have the estimated cost.
Finally, we agree that the chair of the COI be totally independent of the Island with no vested interests in Jersey, and be a judge (retired) or senior lawyer. We were pleased to have your assurance that the selection process of the panel would be without political interference, and feel that panel members also should be from outside the Island apart from one who must be neutral and have knowledge of local laws/policing etc. Due to the trust issues the abuse survivors have emphasis must be placed on finding the right person to fill this role.
We hope you take our thoughts and feelings into great consideration. We have said it before and will repeat that this has got to be right, robust and open.
Then - and only then will there be satisfactory closure for all.
Chair JCLA (END)
The Williamson thing and Verita TOR's can both be viewed from HERE
The Victims/Survivors of Child Abuse and Jersey as a whole deserve nothing less than what is being asked for by the JCLA.
Has Jersey's Chief Minister got the back-bone to finally do the right thing.........We will find out soon.