Monday, 21 October 2013

APPOINTMENT OF CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY INTO HISTORIC ABUSE.

Being the responsible and trusted media that we are we have adhered to the strict embargo placed on the Press Release issued by States Greffe Michael De La Haye (below) which is 00.01 Monday 21st October 2013.

This however didn't stop Jersey's ONLY "News"paper breaching the embargo by publishing information from it on Saturday 19th October.........Because they CAN breach embargoes being the ONLY "News"paper on the Island. If we Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) were to act so defiantly/irresponsibly we would never be given another embargoed Press Release. Thankfully, as mentioned above, we are more responsible than that and won't lower our standards to that of the discredited, and disgraced JEP.

As regular readers would expect, Team Voice will be reporting extensively on the (possibly controversial) appointment of Frances Oldham QC, and indeed the whole Committee of Inquiry and related issues.

But for now, at least, we give our readers the official Press Release (embargo respected).

"A senior UK lawyer with 36 years experience of family and criminal law matters is being nominated to chair the Committee of Inquiry into Historical Abuse.

Frances Oldham QC was first called to the Bar in 1977 and was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 1994. She is regularly instructed in high profile cases in both criminal and family matters and has considerable experience dealing with cases involving sexual and physical abuse. She was appointed as a Crown Court Recorder in 1994 and is authorised to try serious cases involving rape and serious sexual offences. She has been a Deputy High Court Judge in the Family Division for over 10 years and she spends several weeks each year sitting as a judge in the criminal and family courts. She is also a judge for the Mental Health Restricted Patients Panel Tribunal and in 2012 she was appointed as a member of the QC Appointments Panel. She was leader of the Midland Circuit between 2002 and 2005 and Head of her Chambers for 7 years.

Mrs. Oldham’s nomination comes after the lawyer initially appointed to chair the inquiry, Mrs. Sally Bradley QC, became unwell in July and was unable to take up the position. The recruitment process for the replacement chairman has been undertaken by the same selection panel comprising Michael de la Haye, Greffier of the States, Belinda Smith, Senior Legal Counsel – Child Protection at the NSPCC and Ed Marsden, the Managing Partner of Verita. Informal discussions were held in the United Kingdom with 9 potential chairmen before 3 people were invited for a formal interview.

Mr. de la Haye said “The selection panel is unanimous in recommending Frances Oldham QC for this position. She has very extensive experience in many high profile cases in the UK and her combination of criminal and family law experience at the highest levels makes her eminently suitable to chair the inquiry in Jersey. She sits regularly as a judge in both the Crown Court and the Family Division of the High Court and she has vast experience of dealing with some of the most vulnerable members of society. Frances started her working career as a management trainee in the NHS before qualifying as a barrister and she was keen to point out to us that she
did not come from a privileged background which undoubtedly, in our view, helps her to relate well to people from all walks of life. The selection panel is convinced that she has exactly the right combination of empathy and firmness to chair the inquiry successfully in a totally independent and objective way.”

Following the selection of Mrs. Oldham to chair the inquiry the selection panel is now working with her to finalise the appointment of 2 committee members from the United Kingdom for the inquiry. The selection process for the members was already well underway before the summer but had to be placed on hold following the news of the previous chairman’s ill health. The selection panel is hopeful that the recruitment of 2 committee members can be concluded by the end of October so that the Chairman and members can begin to make plans for the inquiry to start.

Mrs. Oldham said “I am very pleased to have been nominated to chair this important inquiry and I am keen to ensure that the inquiry starts in early 2014. I am determined to run the inquiry in a way that will encourage all those who want to come forward to speak to us to do so. It is essential that the inquiry is able to establish exactly what happened in the care system in Jersey during the period covered by our terms of reference and I will ensure that everything possible is done to achieve that aim”.

The nominations of Mrs. Oldham and the 2 committee members will need to be approved by the States and the Chief Minister will be lodging the necessary proposition in due course so that the appointments can be considered by the Assembly in December."(END)

FRANCES OLDHAM QC

Team Voice, as regular readers would expect, have a number of REAL probing questions to ask that won't be asked by the State Media concerning the nomination of Frances Oldham QC.

Unfortunately, after repeated requests, we have been refused an interview with/by Mr. De La Haye (States Greffe) although he has been extremely helpful with supplying us with the embargoed Press Release (breached by the JEP) and has been in constant contact with us over the weekend.

We are still hopeful that we can reach some kind of a compromise on the interview front and Mr. De La Haye has said he is willing to answer our questions, it's just what format they take that is the sticking point right now, and hope to bring readers an update on that front as soon as we can.

Our argument is that we ARE the trusted media on the Island and the State Media stands accused of complicity in the whole cover-up of the Child Abuse and it's not us who breached the embargo or are accused of covering up any Child Abuse.

We believe the Committee of Inquiry will gain more credibility by engaging with those of us who have been at the forefront of investigative journalism on the island for the last 5 years or so and have campaigned heavily for the Abuse Victims/Survivors and indeed for the COI itself, for which we have been praised by a number of national/international journalists and local politicians.

The myth that surrounds the State Media being the trusted local news source, is just that,......a myth. If the State Media is granted an interview and Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) are refused, then it won't be our reputation/credibility that suffers, it will be that of the Committee of Inquiry itself.

This IS NOT a good beginning.


29 comments:

  1. A very considered post. Congratulations.

    As you say, it would be a disgrace to have the States Greffier grant an interview to the JEP, which is complicit in the broader cover-up and which has breached what is, no doubt, one of the very few embargoes he has ever issued, and refuse one to a Jersey blog whose credibility in these matters is second to none.

    I have the impression that the JEP, as the island's only newspaper and the mouthpiece of the oligarchy, does not really feel itself bound by an embargo set by a mere clerk, however appointed.

    The JEP's main criterion when it comes to printing any potentially controversial story seems to be whether or not it is required to be covered-up. God forbid that the Rag could ever be accused of "shafting Jersey internationally" :)

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  2. PS: I note the timestamp on the post. Now that's dedication for you.

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  3. It remains to be seen if ANY of the local State Media challenge/scrutinise this Press Release/nomination (as we will) or if it carries on, business as usual, and just repeat it.

    In light of the HDLG decades of atrocities one would have hoped lessons might have been learnt and SOME questions might be asked?

    The discredited, and disgraced, JEP would have breached this embargo purely because it can as there is no rival "news"paper on the Island so can't, in reality, be excluded from futurePress Releases.

    One wonders if, out of desperation, it breached this embargo in order to beat the Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) to press?

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    1. Possibly. Although even if they breached the embargo to beat you to publication, anyone who has an interest in the facts related to this topic will come to you for the evidence, the follow-up, the intelligent commentary and analysis. The COI would not be taking place without the independent media keeping it at the forefront.

      Elle

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  4. hansard.je

    States of Jersey media relations code of conduct

    Accreditation


    The States aim to promote wide accreditation and welcomes local, national
    and international media organisations, all of which may apply for media
    accreditation. Accreditation applications for media organisations can be
    made to the States Greffe, Morier House, Halkett Place, St. Helier, JE1 1DD.
    Applicant organisations will be required to demonstrate that their work meets
    the following criteria:
    (a) They operate in a regulated environment. They and their employers
    adhere to principles and standards set down by independent bodies
    such as the National Union of Journalists, Ofcom, the BBC Trust or
    the Press Complaints Commission.
    (b) They do not act as lobbyists, paid or unpaid, for any individual or
    organisation that might seek to influence the political process or
    benefit from inside knowledge of the political process.
    If requested, individual journalists and media personnel should be able to
    provide identification which specifies the media organisation they work for, so
    that accreditation can be verified. Freelance media who require accreditation
    are required to demonstrate that they work in a professional capacity and that
    their work is likely to be used by an accredited news organisation and will
    require a supporting signature of an Editor/Head of News/Pictures Editor or
    equivalent.

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    1. "They and their employers adhere to principles and standards set down by independent bodies such as the National Union of Journalists, Ofcom, the BBC Trust or the Press Complaints Commission."

      Given the evidenced fact that the JEP, CTV and Jersey BBC do not adhere to the stated principles, that leaves a few independent online journalists as the only media qualified for accreditation in Jersey. The rest of the rules eliminate all media in Jersey, because the only supporting signature would have to come from the Guardian or equivalent outside organisation.

      Elle

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  5. The more interviews with people that really matter carried out by blogs such as VFC is obviously deeply resented and not in the interest’s of the JEP, BBC Jersey or the troll filled CTV.

    As sure as night follows day it was only a matter of time before inquisitive islanders, used the internet as a source of local information. There is deeper detailed reporting, and its free and interesting and comments are normally allowed.
    The biggest problem obviously, is that the state complicit local media come into their own come election time, where thousands will read the words of the Chief Ministers spin doctors, chosen champion. Last time it was Bailhache.

    If the blogs are to make a deep impact then the excellent reporting must continue, and closer to the elections an advertising campaign would be an excellent idea mounted by the leading blogs, as an organised group. That would scare the hell out of the local paid professional media and may balance out their biased articles which indeed are lobbyist based.

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  6. Hasn't anybody made the connection? Frances Oldham is from Bedford Row. This doesn't look like a good start at all.

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    1. Yes the connection has been made and it doesn't look good. That said, none of the State Media seem to have made the connection, or they are dutifully keeping it buried.

      As mentioned in the main posting there are a number of probing questions we will be asking and the Bedford Row connection is on the list.

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    2. Mrs. Frances Mary Oldham QC – biographical information

      Mrs. Frances Oldham QC was called to the Bar in 1977 and appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 1994. She was appointed as a Crown Court Recorder in1994 and has also been a Deputy High Court Judge for over 10 years. She is a judge for the Mental Health Tribunal Restricted Patients Panel, is a Master of the Bench at Gray’s Inn and was Leader of the Midland Circuit from 2002 to 2005. She has been a member of the QC Appointments Panel since 2012 and was Head of Chambers at 36 Bedford Row for 7 years until 2011.

      Mrs. Oldham is regularly instructed in high profile and complex cases of the most serious and sensitive nature. Her practice encompasses all aspects of both serious and complex crime and child law. She has substantial experience in family law and is regularly instructed by local authorities, parents and guardians ad litem. Her criminal practice includes all aspects of serious crime particularly murder, manslaughter, sex offences, armed robbery and drug related offences. Many cases involve complex medical and scientific issues, and mental health issues. In the Family Division she appears in substantial matters and has extensive experience of cases involving S.I.D.S; factitious illness syndrome and sexual abuse.

      Mrs. Oldham practises from Chambers in London and Leeds and she lives in Leicestershire. She is married with 2 children and 3 step-children and her interests include sailing, theatre and medieval history.

      The Legal 500 states that Mrs. Oldham “straddles criminal and family matters to great acclaim”.

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  7. I do not jump to any conclusions normally without reviewing the evidence first, but this has a little bit of a whiff about it.
    So they got their "man" then.

    The Beano is not the Rag

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  8. Beano.

    Like yourself, I don't want to jump to conclusions, and is an area being explored. Let's hope we are able to eradicate that whiff!

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  9. Mrs Oldham is at 36 Bedford Row. I thought the concerns were about 7 Bedford Row? Bedford Row is a street full of lawyers offices a bit like Hill Street in Jersey - look on Google and see how many law firms are in that road. You cant simply say that someone from one office has any connections with another one.

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    1. Nobody HAS said that but it is a legitimate question is it not considering the circumstances?

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    2. 7 Bedford Row and 36 Bedford Row are completely separate organisations. It is also worth pointing out that the NSPCC and Verita assisted Mr De La Haye in the selection process. Nothing to see here, move along people.

      One very positive aspect of the selection of both Sally Bradley and Frances Oldham is that they are FEMALE. By definition, that means they cannot be members of any all male secret societies that might cover up for one another.

      An empathetic female is also far more likely to be acceptable to the most important people in all of this, the victims.

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  10. Everything needs to be questioned this woman needs to be seen as whiter than white to get the trust of the abuse victims so please keep asking the questions.

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  11. Does this QC have any experience in historical child abuse. I have read the above and not sure what experience she has in this field.Please keep asking the questions Vfc

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    1. Going by the Press Release, it would appear that she has very little experience in this field. Hopefully as time progresses we will find out a little more of her credentials but the Press Release wouldn't suggest she is an expert.

      Predictably, as far as I'm aware, the State Media has only published the Release and has not asked any challenging questions. Nothing has changed on that front then. But rest assured we will be asking the questions that need asking/answering.

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  12. dear vfc
    you may as well have the thing that is bailhache as chairman as one and both are the same i,m sure you can see where this is going nothing to see here move along?time is running out.

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    1. Martin.

      I think we should wait until some real questions have been asked/answered before writing the COI off. As said in the main posting this is not a beginning and with the media just churning out the Press Release, without challenge, it looks like any questions will have to be asked by Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) yet again.

      Judgement should be held until questions are answered.........Or not!

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  13. This time the whole world will be watching for any hint of a whitewash. Keep in mind that the JEP has no significant impact on outsiders, and millions around the globe remember Haut de la Garenne. The Savile connection will amplify this too.

    Elle

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  14. Frances Oldham QC has before her a task of monumental importance, she MUST NOT be lulled into 'dinners' at the Atlantic, she must be seen to be completely impartial and above all 'transparent' in all her dealings. This abhorrent pustule on our collective conscience must be lanced once and for all, otherwise this whole sordid mess will fester on. I do not care 'who' or how mighty the guilty parties may be I only care about the good name of my Island home. What is most fundamental (and let's face it whoever may feel they have evaded the truth of their crimes they are only living in a deluded world of their own) is the simple fact that time will in the end bring them all to justice, and God help them because I would not want to be going to my grave with that on my conscience.

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    1. I have received a substantive e-mail from States Greffe Michael De La Haye explaining his position and documenting the appointment process. I will publish it as a Blog Posting tomorrow. He does, in my opinion, see the need for this appointment to be completely non conflicted and whiter than white. The question still remains did he get what/who he set out to get?

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    2. VFC,

      Thank you for this update. The world will be watching, indeed. Expect to be the primary source for all outside eyes on the COI.

      Elle

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    3. I think you are already hoping for an outcome that the inquiry is unlikely to deliver. The investigation is likely to focus on corporate and procedural failings, and your expectation that it will identify new 'guilty parties' , I.e. those guilty of abuse, rather than procedural failings, is I think misplaced. I think it will be a high level review, and wont have the remit to reopen individual cases, or lead to any new charges against those who have already been cleared because of lack of sufficient evidence to prosecute. It is not a new criminal investigation.

      I know that's not what many will want to hear, but pursuing individuals and laying new charges is not what this type of inquiry usually accomplishes. I note that Trevor is already talking about giving evidence about local trolls and such, and again, I think he has seriously misjudged the inquiry's remit.

      I may be wrong, but I already sense disappointment ahead when people don't get the results they expect.

      Sorry to bring that up.

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    4. Anon @ 20:32

      You claim it is not likely to "...lead to any new charges against those who have already been cleared because of lack of sufficient evidence to prosecute. It is not a new criminal investigation."

      Yes, the disappointment will continue because of many procedural failings, not least of which was brazen political interference when police investigators expected prosecutions because there was more than ample evidence for likely conviction. No one should be considered cleared when the brutal evidence was untested in court, and no inquiry is worth one second of anyone's time or money if the failure to prosecute evidenced institutional paedophilia and it's cover up are not addressed. A whitewash this time will get Jersey's reputation nowhere!

      Elle

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    5. I agree with the comment at 20:32

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  15. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-jersey-28408981

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