Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Response from State Greffier Michael De La Haye.

Further to our previous posting where we published the PRESS RELEASE concerning the nomination of the Chairman for the Committee Of Inquiry into the decades of Child Abuse Frances Oldham QC. We publish a response from States Greffe Michael De La Haye.

In our previous posting we told readers that we were in contact (and still are) with Mr. De La Haye, all through the weekend. Before we published our previous posting, the relevant part was sent to Mr. De La Haye in order to give him a right of reply before publication.

Yesterday we received an e-mail from Mr. De La Haye, in response to the Blog Posting, and e-mail exchanges, which was considered for publication in the comments section of that posting. However, in the interest of fairness and balance, it has been decided that it should be a stand alone Blog Posting.

State Greffier Michael De La Haye. 

"I am writing in connection with our exchanges of emails over the weekend and today and in particular in relation to your request to be interviewed for your blog. I should mention at the outset that I have not given any media interviews about the nomination of Frances Oldham QC and the reports in today's media have all been simply based on the media release that I forwarded to you under embargo as requested at the weekend.

As I mentioned at the weekend I do not believe it would appropriate for me to be interviewed by you. As Greffier of the States I have to be scrupulous in everything that I do to ensure that I am never seen to do anything in my work that could be perceived as political or politically controversial. I hope all members of the States would confirm that I endeavor in everything I do to comply with this requirement so that no-one can ever claim that I am not at all times a totally impartial and independent officer of the States.

Although there are a range of political views about blog sites in Jersey I know you would not disagree if I say that it is clear that there are some States members who consider blogs are important and some of these are willing to engage actively with you and other bloggers to give interviews etc whereas there are other States members who do not wish to engage at all with you. It is not for me to comment on these varying views as to do so would be to be entering the political debate that will no doubt continue on this issue for the foreseeable future as the media landscape and the influence of the internet continues to evolve.

The immediate problem for me is that if I agreed to be interviewed on this issue my decision would be seen by some as a political statement on my part by those States members who feel it is inappropriate. These members could then be critical of my decision to be interviewed. I simply cannot, in my position, unilaterally decide that engaging with a blog site is a correct thing for the Greffier of the States to do. I'd stress most strongly that in taking this decision I'm not, as a result, 'siding' with those who think that engaging is incorrect but until there is general political agreement on what is appropriate I simply cannot be seen to be expressing a view either way.

I hope all who know me would agree that it is not in my nature to be awkward or obstructive and I am more than happy to explain briefly for you some of the steps that we followed in identifying Mrs Oldham so that you can be satisfied that she is a suitable person to chair the inquiry.

After the sad news about Sally Bradley QC's ill health the selection panel of Belinda Smith,Ed Marsden and myself met urgently to discuss how we could identify a new chairman. I should stress most strongly that we have never, at any time, sought any advice or guidance from anyone in Jersey about the appointment of a chairman and I can also confirm that luckily no one in Jersey has ever actually tried to tell me how I should go about the task of finding a Chairman. I have not, in fact, discussed the appointment process with anyone in Jersey until we had concluded it and even my own staff might say that I have been unusually secretive about what I have been doing! To avoid any 'Jersey' connection all the practical arrangements to contact people and arrange meetings etc were made through Ed Marsden's office.

We relied on a number of sources such as legal directories and enquiries with organisations in the UK to identify a number of potentially suitable QCs to chair the inquiry and Ed Marsden and I then met them for an initial discussion to explain what would be involved and to hear from them about their experience. We made extensive inquiries before and during the informal meetings that those we were seeing had absolutely no contacts at all with anyone in Jersey who was in any way involved with the issues to be covered in the inquiry and we made sure that they did not know anyone in Jersey who was in any way connected with the inquiry. A number of people were excluded because of connections and I think it is fair to say that we erred significantly on the side of caution when assessing any possible conflict.

When we saw potential chairmen we were keen to assess their proposed approach to the inquiry and ensure that they were aware of the importance of engaging in a sympathetic way with all who wanted to give evidence. We also wanted to hear what practical experience they had of dealing with victims of abuse and how they would ensure that appropriate arrangements were in place to handle all witnesses sensitively. We made sure that they appreciated how important the inquiry was for Jersey and wanted to know what experience they had of hearing potentially conflicting evidence and reaching an accurate conclusion. We were particularly keen to talk to QCs who had experience sitting as judges in the Family Division or the Crown Court as presiding in these courts and dealing with witnesses and lawyers for both sides would give very relevant experience for presiding over a public inquiry.

We shortlisted down to 3 QCs and the full selection panel then conducted a formal interview with these 3. We were unanimous at the end that Mrs Oldham had all the right experience to chair the inquiry. She has many years experience dealing with abuse cases and she explained to us that a huge proportion of the cases she deals with involve some form of physical or sexual abuse. She is determined to ensure that the inquiry allows people to tell their stories so that the inquiry finally brings closure and establishes exactly what happened over the period covered by the inquiry terms of reference. She has absolutely no connections at all with Jersey and has never met or come into contact with anyone connected in any way with the issues to be covered by the inquiry. She had never been to the island before coming for the interview we held. She convinced us that she will be fearless in getting to the truth to the best of her ability. She has sat as a judge for several years and in this capacity has to hear evidence and come to a reasoned conclusion. Importantly she has an extremely engaging and pleasant personal manner and we were convinced that she will be seen as a very suitable person to chair the inquiry by all who come into contact with her in the coming months.

Having been charged by the States to lead the selection process for a chairman I have done everything I can to ensure that the most suitable person possible (who was available to commit to work for some 12 months on this) was found. I recognize fully how important the inquiry is for the Island and was determined to do all I could to the best of my ability throughout the selection process to find the best person I could.

I hope this helps. For the avoidance of doubt I would mention that although I do not feel it would be appropriate for me to be interviewed I have no objection if you wish to publish this email on your blog site.

Michael de la Haye
Greffier of the States"(END)

It should be noted that in all our dealings with Mr. De La Haye we have found him to be extremely helpful, professional and impartial,willing to engage and answer any questions. If only some (most) of our politicians could take a leaf out of his book then maybe we could all work together in doing what is right for the Abuse Victims/Survivors and the Island as a whole......




27 comments:

  1. Dear Michael De La Haye, thank you for your letter. As someone who would like to come forward and 'tell my side of the story' I do feel your letter shows the correct approach and I for the first time feel at long last Jersey is going forward in the correct way, thank you. Jersey has a large hill to climb in this respect as far as I am concerned but at least it is trying.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Rico, thank you for this. As an interested bystander I feel very reassured by this and Mr de la Haye's open attitude. I get the feeling that some will say 'conspiracy and whitewash' whatever the arrangements for the COI are but I do think this is a hopeful beginning

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mr. De La Haye, and many others, expect people to claim "white-wash" or "conspiracy" which usually only happens when the State won't communicate or engage with those questioning the party line.

      Thankfully, for the credibility of the nominated Chairman, and the COI, Mr. De La Haye HAS engaged and has been available, beyond the call of duty, to answer questions and supply documentation when asked. He fully expects to be challenged, and scrutinised, and unlike the Powers That Be he is meeting this head on. His engagement should keep the conspiracy theories at a minimum and allow a debate based on facts from both sides to ensue.

      The Powers That Be would do well to take a leaf out of his book.



      Delete
  3. Firstly a huge 'thank you' to Michael de la Haye for a most credible, open and honest reply. He is a most honourable man, as indeed were the other people charged with finding a suitable Chair for the Committee of Inquiry. I am well aware that throughout the process Mr de la Haye's priority has been the abuse survivors when finding just the right person for the job. I think they can now rest assured that this is the case.

    I agree with you VFC that there are many who could take a leaf out of his book and gain respect to boot. Sadly they are very lacking.

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mr de la Haye's integrity and motives aren't in doubt but there is no getting away from the Bedford Row connection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Bedford Row connection still remains a bone of contention that will hopefully get resolved.

      Delete
  5. I have had dealings with Mr De La Haye over my doctored trial tapes, and let me tell you, he was less than honourable. It never ceases to amaze me how a simple yet well written letter can invoke such blind trust by the people of Jersey. Does anyone really believe that he would be in the position he holds if he was squeaky clean?

    Trust everyone, but dwell on the side of caution with these people....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On reading the letter I also wondered who drafted it and approved it being released.

      Not saying I am right just adding my thoughts

      Delete
    2. Mr. De La Haye wrote and published the Press Release. Unlike the Chief Minister and Ministers, he does not/did not use the States Communications Unit.

      Delete
    3. Voiceforchildren Thanks for the explanation. Will perhaps tame my cynicism. Apology to Mr De la Haye no slur intended.

      Delete
  6. Likewise, I have always found Michael de la Haye to be highly professional and definitely capable of maintaining his impartiality when I am normally very blunt about my biased views!

    He also, in my opinion, makes a much better chair of the States than either the Bailiff or Deputy Bailiff.

    Hopefully his attitude and professionalism so far is a sign of how things with proceed with the CoI.

    Let's just hope Mrs Oldham isn't met in Jersey with a 5 course meal at the Atlantic Hotel with Jersey's rulers when she arrives...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sam.

      Agree with you and it is very uncomfortable listening to an election being debated in the States when the Chair is the brother of one of the candidates, although most of those in the chamber think this is quite "normal."

      After talking with Mr. De La Haye today, I believe Frances Oldham QC is aware of the scrutiny she'll be under by Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) and others and won't be in a hurry to be dining with those who stand accused of the cover-up, at the Atlantic, or anywhere else.

      Delete
  7. Although it is indeed a reassuring and well-written letter, I note he is not expressly ruling out interviews with the local mainstream media, so perhaps Michael De La Haye is simply unaware of the controversy intricately bound to their complicity in the very subject of this COI. "Blogs" are only more controversial than a print newspaper in the way email is more controversial than snail mail: different media. Most larger mainstream media outlets have their own self-described blogs, and reputable mainstream outlets credit independent outside blogs for evidenced scoops. If this inquiry to be seen as just and complete, the evidence itself, some of it published on blogs like this, must play a vital role.

    Elle

    ReplyDelete
  8. Respect for Michael de la haye meeting with you but will Frances Oldham meet with you when she comes over?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am hopeful Frances Oldham QC will engage with those of us who have been instrumental in formulating her Terms Of Reference and campaigning for the Abuse Victims/Survivors.

      Hopefully she will see that sidelining Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) can only damage her and the COI's reputation and will not get involved in "The Jersey Way" by granting us access to any Press Conferences etc.

      Delete
  9. Was Frances Oldham interviewed durin the process when Sally Bradley was appointed?

    ReplyDelete
  10. What makes people think Frances Oldham will be spending anytime with people un-connected to HDLG?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You mean people like Michael De La Haye, Belinda Smith, and Ed Marsden?

      Delete
    2. They should only be speaking to proper witnesses.

      Delete
  11. Of course the standards as described above are what should be expected from any governmental administration and the Greffier is generally very helpful...but lets not carried away. I shall be posting a short blog soon on www.tomgruchy.blogspot.com about yesterday's Complaints Board hearing at St John re Mr Dave Manning v Planning...these are handled by the Greffier's department if not by him personally and the hearings are supposed to be "in public". But who even knows that they will take place or where and when? I attended as the only member of the public because I make it my business to monitor such hearings. A neighbour of Mr Manning also attended with his adviser as as an "interested Party" but no "accredited press" did and there is no official recorded transcript of the proceedings - just the notes of the Greffe clerk. There was not even a notice outside the St John's Parish Hall to indicate that a public hearing was taking place....and so it goes on... but read my blog in a few hours for a fuller description of this failed process.
    Mr Manning was extraordinary and presented his case impressively by the way...

    ReplyDelete
  12. 'I am hopeful Frances Oldham QC will engage with those of us who have been instrumental in formulating her Terms Of Reference and campaigning for the Abuse Victims/Survivors.' - Why should she 'engage' with you ? Unless you have direct experience of the events being investigated, all you would be adding is a demonstrably biased opinion.

    'Hopefully she will see that sidelining Bloggers (Jersey's only independent media) can only damage her and the COI's reputation'

    I think MDeLH's comments above are pertinent in this case. It is difficult to see why Frances Oldham would feel any differently:

    'As I mentioned at the weekend I do not believe it would appropriate for me to be interviewed by you ....I simply cannot, in my position, unilaterally decide that engaging with a blog site is a correct thing for the Greffier of the States to do'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Francis Oldham QC is not the Greffier of the States.

      Delete
  13. In one email, Mr De La Haye demonstrates how he could comfortably take over the role of (non-partisan, non-political) President of the States Assembly, aka speaker. He could probably do it in his lunchtime, with time to spare! He is the definition of 'independent'. Ergo, the role of the Bailiff (chief judge) and Deputy Bailiff (deputy chief judge) within the States Assembly is completely redundant, as very ably demonstrated by the email and his previous performances in the chair. Carswell Report, anyone?

    ReplyDelete
  14. ch5 the butcher boy countdown Exploring Key murder cases in 1987. Newall case is featured. Former Detective Inspector Nimo appearing with possible controversial comments. 21:00

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi VFC,

    Hope you don't mind but I thought this anonymous comment left on Rico Sorda's blog was too just good and too relevant not to re-post here:

    "The chairperson of the committee of enquiry is not going to have experienced anything like Jersey before. A child gets shot in the face by a teacher, the gun takes the rap for it - the teacher carries on teaching - the scrutinisers won't scrutinise - the top man at education is accused of being a child abuser and the Attorney General who didn't prosecute him and lots of other child abuse suspects chairs the government meetings.
    October 24, 2013 at 10:09 AM" - Anonymous

    Elle

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.