Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Jersey Child Abuse Inquiry (Costs).

There seems to be a sudden interest in the costs of the Jersey Child Abuse Inquiry now that the alleged Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, has lodged a PROPOSITION requesting another £14m funding. 

VFC has had concerns about the Inquiry's expenditure for quite some time and back in September 2014 e-mailed (below) the States Greffe in an attempt to allay these concerns by requesting a break-down of certain costs.

Readers will come to their own conclusions as to whether the questions were answered adequately.

E-mail to States Greffe September 2014

“I have become increasingly concerned over the performance of the Jersey Care Inquiry and am starting to question if the taxpayer is getting value for money. I am also questioning the "equality of arms" concerning the representation of the victims/survivors and the States of Jersey and, what appears to be,a lack of media involvement from the (four strong) media team employed by the Inquiry Panel.

With this (costs) in mind I bring to your attention from the Care Inquiry's website and in particular paragraph five.

"At agreed intervals, the Inquiry will account to the States Greffe for its spending, within the parameters set."

1) Could you please tell me how often the "agreed intervals" are and how/when these interval were agreed?

2) Have you received any sets of accounts, to date, from the Inquiry Team, if so how many, if not why not?

3) What is the hourly rate for accredited Lawyers, for Interested Parties?

4) Are all accredited Lawyers on the same hourly rate, if not why not?

5) How much money have the accredited Lawyers, either been paid, or billed for?

6) Could I have the individual bills/payments for Carey Oslen (SOJP Lawyers) Beverley Lacey (Chief Ministers Department) Allan Collins (JCLA Lawyers) Lewis Hymanson Small LLP (Mick Gradwell's Lawyers)?

7) Is the hourly rate any different from time spent working at the office to time spent attending the public hearings?

8) Is the four strong Media Team paid on an hourly rate, if so, what is that rate?

9) How much money has the Inquiry's Media Team been paid, or billed for, to date?

10) Could I please have a breakdown of the costs incurred by the Media Team?

11) Could I please have a copy of the documentation where the costs' "agreed intervals" were agreed?

12) Could I please have the set of accounts you have received from the Inquiry Team if you have received any?

Thank you, in advance, for your assistance with this matter and I'm sure you can appreciate, in such austere times, £6m is a lot of money and the Inquiry's spending will need to be monitored and kept under control in order to best serve the taxpayer.”(END)

Reply from States Greffe.

“Apologies for the delay in replying but you will hopefully have received my out of office reply when you sent your email and seen that I am currently out of the Island.

I think it is important at the outset to make it clear that the decisions on expenditure by the Committee of Inquiry are decisions for the inquiry itself to make and it is an important principle of the total independence of the inquiry that the States of Jersey are not able to interfere with those decisions. I am sure that you and others would quite rightly be very concerned if you heard, for example, that I or anyone else in the States administration was trying to dictate how the inquiry operated, how it spent its funds or how much it could spend. The principle of independence also, of course, means that the inquiry itself is accountable for the decisions it makes about expenditure in the areas where it has responsibility.

The inquiry does, as its website states, report expenditure on matters over which it has jurisdiction on a regular basis to the States Greffe/ Treasury and that is being done on a monthly basis so that I can monitor at the end of every month how much has been spent and how much of the allocated £6m remains. I also understand that, as stated on its website, the inquiry will publish details of its expenditure when a mechanism is agreed with with the States (I have made enquiries today to ascertain what needs to be done to enable the publication to happen).

I am advised that the inquiry has sought to control costs by setting fees for the services it is responsible for in accordance with established UK rates and through careful stewardship of its resources. All legal services procured by the inquiry have been been contracted at the most recent (2008) UK Treasury Solicitor rates. Identical rates are used for Interested Parties legal fees for which the Inquiry has responsibility. There are some Interested Parties, most notably the States Police and the States departments represented by Advocate Lacey, where the inquiry has no involvement in the setting of rates as it is not funding these costs and they do not form part of those that are reported to me regularly. The costs of legal representation for the States Departments and the States of Jersey Police are not matters that either the inquiry or I have any involvement in and is a matter for those parties.

I am advised by the inquiry that it has decided to use part time services of a UK media company. Two of its staff are employed on a part time rota basis at current NUJ rates. A student intern is also employed intermittently for a nominal fee. The inquiry had previously been assisted by local media services provided through an arrangement negotiated by the States Greffe but that contract has now been terminated.

You will appreciate that I do of course know many of the rates that you are asking about below through the financial reporting that the inquiry makes to me but for the reasons given above I believe it is a matter for the inquiry itself to decide when, and it what extent, it intends to publish information about the costs it is incurring as responsibility for those decisions rests with the inquiry and not with me. Totals of expenditure incurred in 2014 will, of course, be published in the States accounts after the year end.

I would simply conclude by saying that the States have allocated a budget of £6m to the inquiry - I agree with you that it is a lot of money but the inquiry is an extremely important one for the island and experience elsewhere has shown that such public inquiries, if they are to be done properly and comprehensively, will cost a considerable amount.”(END)

All that said, there is no question this Inquiry MUST proceed, and the local State Media MUST NOT be allowed (as it did with Operation Rectangle) to turn this into a story about the price of a prawn cocktail in a London Restaurant.

It's about decades of covered up Child Abuse and wrecked lives and the Inquiry needs to get to the bottom of how this was able to go on for so long and make sure it can't happen again. The Victims/Survivors stories need to be told/heard and although the expenditure needs to be monitored costs should not be used as an excuse to shut the inquiry down.

Those wishing to give evidence to the Inquiry can do so HERE.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Complaint To PPC (2)

After publishing my OPEN LETTER to disgraced former Home Affairs Minister, Deputy Andrew Lewis, and eventually receiving some kind of a REPLY where he attempted to distance himself from his actions of (illegally?) suspending the then Chief Police Officer, Graham Power QPM, DURING the biggest Child Abuse Investigation (Operation Rectangle) the Island has ever seen (in the only significant Ministerial Decision Deputy Lewis made during his very short tenure as Home Affairs Minister). Due to his refusal to answer straight forward questions concerning his integrity, honesty, and contradictory statements he made regarding his (illegal?) suspension of the former Police Chief, I was forced into making a COMPLAINT to the Privileges and Procedures Committee (PPC)

A number of e-mail exchanges took place and PPC refused to hear my case (with me in attendance) in a constituted hearing where I would have had the protection of privilege and could elaborate further on my evidence against Deputy Lewis and conflicted parties of PPC. The Committee found against me believing it to be fair and just that Deputy Lewis is protected by privilege although I am denied the same protection and unable to give full evidence as a result. (The Jersey Way)

Below is the latest e-mail I received from the PPC Officer after being granted a meeting with the officer and PPC Chairman Constable Len Norman. Below that is my response.

Latest e-mail from PPC Officer/Chairman. 

"Apologies for my delay in responding but I did not receive your e-mail and was only advised of it by Connetable Norman after the States meeting today.

I am sorry that you do not feel our meeting last week was productive. I am afraid that there is nothing else which the PPC can do at this juncture, other than to request that you consider sending us details of the complaint to which you eluded at our meeting.

To reiterate –

PPC is not able to investigate any complaint relating to matters spoken in the States Chamber six years ago. As you are aware, anything said by States Members in the Chamber is covered by parliamentary privilege. If other members had considered that Deputy Lewis had mislead the Assembly, then it was their right to bring forward a vote of censure or no confidence in him at that time.
Your complaint which was considered by PPC related to two issues. The first, that Deputy Lewis lied in the Assembly 6 years ago, is not something which the Committee is able to investigate as it is covered by parliamentary privilege. The second issue that Deputy Lewis had behaved poorly in not responding to your efforts to communicate with him, was considered by the Committee and it was felt that, although he had taken his time, he had responded and explained the reasons for the delay. The Committee therefore did not feel that he had breached the Members code of conduct.  
PPC  has to work within the remit outlined in the Standing Orders of the States. It has no power to extend beyond this remit and certainly no power to challenge matters covered by parliamentary privilege. 

It is of course always open to any States member to bring forward a proposition in relation to Deputy Lewis’ conduct, past or present. I appreciate your frustration with the process currently available, but please do not assume that PPC seeks to ‘protect wrongdoers’. The Committee as previously constituted took steps to address the issue of members’ standards and codes of conduct and hopefully when the Commissioner for Standards is established (as approved by the States in late 2013) then the revised procedure for dealing with complaints against States Members will be robust."(END)

My Response

Apologies for my delay in replying.

 You said in your email; I am afraid that there is nothing else which the PPC can do at this juncture, other than to request that you consider sending us details of the complaint to which you eluded at our meeting.

Firstly I disagree that there is nothing PPC can do as I believe we agreed that it (PPC) could bring a vote of confidence/censure against Deputy Lewis but for reasons only known to PPC and yourself a blind eye approach has been adopted.

Secondly as I have explained (exhaustively) I cannot elaborate further on my complaint without the protection of privilege but PPC is denying me this protection by refusing me a properly constituted meeting. Andrew Lewis has the protection of privilege so I am at a huge disadvantage by being denied equality of arms.

Thirdly Attorney General Tim Le Cocq who is hopelessly conflicted is advising you and he knows more than anybody why I need the protection of privilege because (redacted for legal purposes). As if that didn’t make him conflicted enough he was the very person who was advising Andrew Lewis before, during and after Deputy Lewis’ (illegal?) suspension of the then Chief Police Officer. He is now advising PPC on how to deal with a complaint made against his own advice!

The advice given to PPC (presumably by the conflicted AG) is, to quote your e-mail; “If other members had considered that Deputy Lewis had mislead the Assembly, then it was their right to bring forward a vote of censure or no confidence in him at that time.”  

The AG knows full well, and if PPC had done even the slightest of research would be aware that NO action could have been taken against Deputy Lewis at the time because a matter of weeks after he suspended Mr. Power he retired from politics and his apparent lies didn’t come to light until the Napier Report, Wiltshire Report, and the disclosure of the in-camera debate was made public, by which time Deputy Lewis was long retired.

With all this in mind I would like to suggest that PPC takes legal advice from an advocate who is not conflicted which would have greater credibility than an opinion from one of the parties who was involved (Tim Le Cocq) in the original suspension and who would have known that Deputy Lewis was apparently telling lies to the States but did nothing to enlighten members to the deception.

You also state in your e-mail; “It is of course always open to any States member to bring forward a proposition in relation to Deputy Lewis’ conduct, past or present. I appreciate your frustration with the process currently available, but please do not assume that PPC seeks to ‘protect wrongdoers’.  

Firstly it is also open to PPC to bring forward a proposition in relation to Deputy Lewis’ conduct but, as mentioned earlier, it has taken the blind eye approach. (The Jersey Way) Furthermore there are seven members of PPC, including my own Parish Constable, and not one of them has contacted me, as a States Member, in order to bring any such proposition. What chance have I, as a member of the public got, in convincing any States Member to bring a vote of confidence/censure against Deputy Lewis when the body tasked with upholding Members Code Of Conduct, including its individual members, as well as my own Parish Constable flatly refuse to represent me in this matter and are all turning a blind eye? I am refused the protection of privilege afforded to the alleged “wrongdoer” and I shouldn’t assume the wrongdoer is being protected?

I maintain, due to the conflict of Senator Ozouf and that of the AG, the decision made by PPC to deny me a hearing to make my case is based on flawed and conflicted advice, particularly that of the AG who, in my opinion, has an interest in brushing this under the carpet. (The Jersey Way)

With that in mind I request that PPC reverses its (flawed) decision and either bring a vote of confidence/censure against Deputy Lewis or grant me the same protection he is afforded by allowing me to make my case to the Committee and grant me a properly constituted hearing?

To conclude; I would like to bring attention to PPC’s “minimalist” approach in its duties and suggest that the lack of pro-active commitment on its part is typical of the "hear no evil-see no evil" (The Jersey Way) attitude that got Jersey into the mess it is in over Child Abuse in the first place. Among all the legalistic waffle, and so-called protocols there is a plain issue. There is evidence that Deputy Lewis was part of a conspiracy to terminate the Child Abuse enquiry (Operation Rectangle) by (illegally?) suspending the Police Chief and that in order to achieve this he was apparently willing to lie to the public and to the States. If PPC is not willing to confront this issue but prefer to hide behind advice from one of the alleged conspirators then let the record show that is its position.

The Jersey Care Inquiry is copied in so that it can draw its own conclusions as to how much the culture in Jersey has changed since the Paedophilia was so rife on this Island and indeed how safe children really are today. How accountable authority really is and how whistleblowers are treated.

All members of PPC are also copied in (excluding the conflicted Senator Ozouf) so that they can (as private members) explain why they are not willing to take ANY action concerning Deputy Lewis’ apparent lies.(END)

What PPC's stance demonstrates is that nothing in Jersey has changed. We have an ongoing Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry where we hear abuse Victims/Survivors DID complain about their horrific ordeals but their complaints fell on deaf ears. Those in a position of authority were protected and unaccountable. They were seen as trouble makers if they dare question the State, they were brushed off and denied a hearing/voice. In 2015 the very same culture exists where whistleblowers are not afforded the same protection as those in power and look to have serious questions to answer.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Complaint to PPC (Part 1)

On the 12th November 2014 I published an OPEN LETTER to disgraced former Home Affairs Minister Andrew Lewis. Deputy Lewis, in 2008, (illegally?) suspended the Chief of Police during Jersey's biggest ever Child Abuse Investigation (Operation Rectangle). In that Open Letter I pointed out that Deputy Lewis had given different versions of events to what report(s) he had, or hadn't seen, and indeed the alleged content(s) of said report(s).

I wrote, in the Open Letter;

"In an in-camera STATES DEBATE (2008)  in explaining your decision to suspend the Chief Police Officer you told the Assembly;

“If the preliminary report is that damning, Lord knows what the main report will reveal. So my successor will have an interesting time. The report that I was shown gave me no doubt at all.”

Further during the in-camera debate in answer to a question from former Deputy Paul Le Claire you told the States Assembly;

"I have read an alarming report from the Metropolitan Police which led me to this decision in the first place.” 

You were referring to the alleged MET Interim Report .So it is clear by these statements that you had read the MET interim Report. But in the Napier Report (paragraph 101) it states;

As previously has been noted, neither Mr Lewis nor Mr Ogley saw the Interim Report. Neither did they seek to see it. The reason given was the nature of the information that was contained therein. It was, said Mr Ogley, a police document and it was inappropriate that he (or anyone else) should have
access to it. Mr Ogley says that he was told both by the Attorney General and Mr Warcup that he should not look at the interim report and neither he nor Mr Lewis did so.”

Furthermore, according to the former Chief Police Officer Mr. Power your testimony to the discredited Wiltshire Constabulary’s Investigation stated;

“Until I received the letter from David WARCUP, (on 11th November 2008 – the day before the suspension) I had no reason to believe that they were not managing the investigation well.” (Paragraph 3.)

In February 2010 you issued a STATEMENT in response to the former Chief Police Officer’s AFFIDAVIT where you wrote; 

“I am not at liberty to disclose the contents of the Met Report as I am bound by the disciplinary code.”

So it would appear that you have given two different accounts concerning your sight (or not) of the MET Interim Report.

Question 1. Could you please tell me which account is correct? The account you gave to the Wiltshire Constabulary and the Napier Review or the account you gave to the in-camera States debate? Did you, or did you not see the MET Interim Report?

Both can’t be true and on the face of it you have either misled the States Chamber or potentially committed a criminal offence by misleading the Wiltshire Investigation and the Napier Review.

To address this part of your statement to the in-camera debate;

“If the preliminary report is that damning, Lord knows what the main report will reveal.”

You might be aware of a complaint made by the former Deputy Chief Police Officer, and Senior Investigating Officer of Operation Rectangle, Mr. Lenny Harper to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (OPERATION TUMA)?

Mr. Harper complained that he, and others, were criticised in the MET Interim Report after your statement. Operation Tuma was unequivocal in this regard, and found against Mr. Harper, where it states;

"In the Heads of Complaint made by Mr Harper he states that the review criticised a number of areas of the investigation. The review does not criticise the investigation. The Review does not criticise any individual involved in Operation Rectangle." (para 4.36)

Question 2. Could you please tell me (if you did see the MET Interim Report) do you stand by your words “If the preliminary report is that damning, Lord knows what the main report will reveal?”

Either yourself, or the Independent Police Complaints Commission, are being dishonest.

Question 3. Could you please tell me who is being dishonest here, is it you or the IPCC?

I’m sure you can appreciate the seriousness of these questions/contradictions as a Chief Police Officer with a 42-year career was suspended on what looks to be spurious, if not illegal grounds, and answers are needed in order to clear your own name in this debacle.

It has been reported that Mr. Power is in the process of giving a comprehensive statement to the lawyers of the on-going Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry (COI) and he will be called to give evidence at a public hearing. It is also believed that his suspension is being looked at by the COI and you clearly have questions to answer in this regard.

Question 4. Have you been asked, or have you offered to, submit evidence to the ongoing Jersey Child Abuse Inquiry Chaired by Francis Oldham QC, if not, why not?"(END)

Deputy Lewis ignored that particular e-mail (Open Letter) for as long as he could and finally responded HERE and offered NO answers to my perfectly legitimate, public interest, questions. The only official avenue left open to me was to complain to the Privileges and Procedures Committee (PPC) under the States Members Code Of Conduct.

Complaint to PPC.

Dear Chairman/Panel.

I have been forced to make a complaint against Deputy Andrew Lewis in his capacity as a States Member. I have sent a number of e-mails to the Deputy (attached) that you will see he ignored until I threatened him with a complaint to PPC and informed him I will be door-stepping him. You will also see that he refuses to communicate with me so I am unable to resolve any matters with him and have no choice other than to submit this complaint to PPC.

I believe It should be up to the Panel to decide how he has breached the Code of Conduct for States Members but I would suggest paragraph 5 (and possibly others) of the code has been breached in his ignoring of my e-mails, refusing to answer (public interest) questions and his refusal to engage with me any further.

“Maintaining the integrity of the States
5. Elected members should at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of the States of Jersey and shall endeavour, in the course of their public and private conduct, not to act in a manner which would bring the States, or its Members generally, into disrepute.
Elected members should at all times treat other members of the States, officers, and members of the public with respect and courtesy and without malice, notwithstanding the disagreements on issues and policy which are a normal part of the political process.”

However this is only one aspect of my complaint and the second aspect goes right to the heart of the honesty, and integrity, of Deputy Lewis, as a States Member, and the States as a whole.

The attached e-mails should be self-explanatory where I argue that Deputy Lewis has been dishonest and misled the Island’s Parliament and the electorate concerning his sight (or not) of the Interim Metropolitan Police Report (Operation Haven 1) and indeed the alleged contents of the said Report.
I believe my complaint has been correctly framed and addressed within the spirit of the code and should be clear of what it is I am complaining about. However if the committee feels that my complaint has not been appropriately set out, or that more information is required then please let me know?

I am able, if needs be, to elaborate further on the details of my complaint and would invite an opportunity to meet with the committee in order to do so.

I look forward to your response.(END)

In part two I will publish PPC's response and set out to demonstrate that the very regime/culture that enabled paedophiles to prey on Jersey children for decades is the exact same regime/culture that exists today.

Needless to say that the day after  the Council Of Ministers published its new MINISTERIAL CODE OF CONDUCT PPC's (in)actions concerning the disgraced former Home Affairs Minister will show that it is not worth the paper it is written on.