Friday, 28 April 2017

Jersey Child Abuse Inquiry Report to be Published July 3rd 2017.

The Jersey Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry has published an UPDATE on its website announcing its Report will be published on July 3rd 2017.

28 April 2017

The Panel of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry on Friday (28 April) made the following announcement:

"The Inquiry Report will be published on Monday 3 July, subject to any other unforeseen circumstances.

"Arrangements for the launch of the report will be published in due course."(END)

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Jersey Evening Post Editorials.

Chief Minister Ian Gorst

On Tuesday 18 April 2017 an answer was tabled by the Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, to a Written Question from Deputy Russell Labey. The question, and answer, revealed that the Chief Minister had spent more than £33,000 on UK Spin Doctors (Portland Communications) in order to learn how to be "open" and "informative" with the public regarding the long awaited, repeatedly delayed, publication of the Jersey Committee of Inquiry's final Report. VFC published the question and answer HERE.

It subsequently became known that what the Chief Minister DIDN'T tell the States (Island's Parliament), or the public, was he had spent a further £18,000 of taxpayers money on another Spin Doctor former Tory advisor  (Ramsay Jones) seemingly for the same purpose. That's more than £50k spent (squandered) to be told how to be "open and "informative" by Spin Doctors and already he's NOT being open and informative.

Team Voice offer the view that if you want to learn how to "open up" you might go to a Counsellor/Therapist but if you want to learn how to "appear" to be open then you go to a Spin Doctor. There is a big difference between being open and "appearing" to be open.

We ask; how much funding have Victims/Survivors been offered for training in dealing with the national/international Press when they are inevitably asked for comments or interviews? Will they once more be abandoned by our government and left to fend for the themselves? Is it that they don't need any training (media or otherwise) in being open and only those with something to hide do?
The States of Jersey has a "Communications Unit" who have a budget, we believe, of around £300k to deal with the press. What use is it if the Chief Minister has to go off island spending £50k to get media advice? 

The Jersey Evening Post published two Editorials last week (Thursday and Friday) which grapple with some of the issues raised in this posting (and some very poignant ones of its own) and in THIS POSTING. The Editorials were highlighted in the comments section (of previous link) and readers asked us if we could publish them (in the comments section).

Team Voice agreed that the Editorials deserved a Blog Posting of their own and we reproduce them below.

"A real risk of a PR disaster.
Thursday 20th April 2017

BACK in the very first days of the digging at Haut de la Garenne in February 2008, certain ministers within the States were accused of being more concerned about the Island’s international reputation than the abuse scandal unfolding in front of them.

It is therefore somewhat uncomfortable to learn that over £30,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent on UK spin doctors to help ministers answer questions from the ‘international press’ once the independent Jersey Care Inquiry report becomes public.

The States have a massive communication problem and some media training must be welcomed. But that problem is with getting the message to the people it governs. That is where money, if it can be found, should be spent in training politicians and their civil servants. Even in this modern world of media and its various facets, the basic principles – principles taught to us all by our parents – are still at the core of what should be done: stand up straight, take care of your appearance, look them in the eye and tell the truth. Can there be much more to it than that? £33,500 worth more?

Yes, journalists can be tough and they work very hard to ensure that all of the story is covered fairly and accurately. But there are plenty of courses available, both locally and nationally, for media training that don’t come close to the £33,500 bill Islanders have picked up so far. Can it be that difficult for a minister to answer a question if there is nothing to hide?

Further, have any of these senior ministers – or in fact any politicians representing the seat of power – considered some training in how to speak to the public of Jersey, or on a one-to-one basis with some of the victims of abuse, once the panel’s findings emerge? Surely the report’s impact upon them is far more important than dealing with foreign journalists and the media attention it attracts.

Whatever their intentions in undergoing media training, it is going to be seen by the public as an exercise in either more covering up, an attempt to manipulate the truth or putting Jersey’s international reputation before anything else, something the Council of Ministers can ill afford.

There is a real risk the media exercise could itself turn into a local PR disaster."

"ANOTHER day and another potential PR disaster.
Friday 21st April 2017.

Today’s front-page exclusive reveals that ministers have hired a top Tory spin doctor to advise on how they should navigate what is going to be a difficult time for this Island. Once again Jersey is going to be thrust into the national and international limelight to answer for its record on child protection and care.

It is not the cost which is going to be the main thrust of public frustration here in the Island at this news or even the fact that ministers did not think to mention that they had engaged Ramsay Jones when they were questioned about the use of Portland Communications during this week’s States question time.

Readers will recall Wednesday’s lead article which reported that the UK PR agency had been brought in at a cost of £33,500 to help ministers on how to respond to questions in the wake of the publication of the Independent Care Inquiry report, which is expected to be imminent.

It goes way deeper than that. It is the fact that, locally at least, the government’s whole PR strategy over this very difficult issue seems to be saying exactly the opposite of what they need to say before they have even said a word.

Once again, Senator Ian Gorst and his team appear to be on the back foot as they prepare for the storm. The abuse inquiry was supposed to be Jersey’s attempt at truth and reconciliation; a chance to let everyone tell their stories in an open and transparent environment.

At the very least, the employment of PR specialists creates a perception that openness and honesty are not uppermost in their minds. That may not actually be true, but the failure to explain the need for this help before they were forced to do so shows how little has been learned from cock-up after cock-up over the years.

If ministers want some effective PR advice, they might start by listening to those who are telling them to get out onto the front foot and take their arguments to the people they represent, to have the courage of their convictions and to lead.

And they might also jettison those – and especially those in the public sector – who believe that the job of a PR professional is to deny voters the honesty and transparency that must be a basic democratic right and to manage information cynically.

All too often, it seems, they seek the counsel of the latter, a lack of judgment which could cost this administration and the Island dear."

Monday, 24 April 2017

Jersey Child Abuse Inquiry to Destroy Evidence?

Former Deputy Daniel Wimberley

Former Jersey politician, and Anti Child Abuse Campaigner, Daniel Wimberley has issued a damming Press Release, ahead of the (long awaited) Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry's (COI), final report being published.
Mr. Wimberley was  instrumental (with others such as Jersey Care Leavers Association, Team Voice, current and former politicians and campaigners) in formulating its Terms of Reference. He has studied and researched the entire Child Abuse scandal up to, and including, the COI.

The (below) Press Release is just a tiny snapshot of the alarming revelations contained in Mr. Wimberley's "documents" as listed at the beneath "Notes for Editors" below the Press Release. 
The Jersey Abuse Inquiry has been told that their website should be radically improved before they publish their report. 
Abuse campaigner and former States member Daniel Wimberley has written to the Panel setting out in detail the many changes which are needed. His letter, sent on March 31st, says:
“When the report appears it is obviously essential that anyone with an interest, from direct protagonists (victims, perpetrators, alleged perpetrators, those accused of wrong-doing of any kind) to the public and the politicians who represent them, to journalists, to charity workers, campaigners and policy-makers, that all of these stakeholders can check your report against all the original documents. 
“To do this the website must be in good order, with every document actually present and correct, both documents of evidence and documentation of the workings and decisions of the Inquiry. And all the contents of the website must be accessible, easy to find, easily down-loadable, and extracts easily copied. None of these conditions apply right now.” (original emphasis)
“The website as it stands now is a disgrace and is not fit-for-purpose,” says Mr. Wimberley. “You cannot find what you want, witness statements are incomplete and sometimes garbled, key documents are missing, or else they come and go, Panel decisions are shrouded in mystery, and using the website is made to be as awkward as possible. When the national and international journalists show up for the launch of the report they will not be amused.”
Mr. Wimberley has also discovered that the Inquiry Panel plan to destroy key information instead of placing it on its website so that everyone can read it.
“This is a stunning blow to victims and to all those who want to see Jersey learn from the horrors of the past” said Mr. Wimberley. “When the Inquiry began its work ‘information that is relevant and material to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference’ was going to be preserved,” said Mr. Wimberley. 
“Now the Inquiry says this information will be destroyed. The Panel has either made a mistake or made an astonishing and unpublicised reversal of policy which they must explain to States Members and the public. Why ever would one seek to destroy all this information?”
“I already pointed out the many issues which the Panel needed to address in an email in June last year,” said Mr. Wimberley. “They have had plenty of time, but they are ignoring these concerns. There seems to be no willingness to engage, and no desire to reassure the public. This is not the best way to build confidence and trust in this Inquiry.” ENDS


1 proof of the Inquiry’s intention to destroy relevant information
The “Inquiry Protocol on Data Protection, Freedom of Information and Redaction” can be seen at: It states:

“6. The Inquiry will categorise the information that it receives into the following categories:

6.1 Category 1 – evidence given and referred to during oral hearings. This will include witness statements of those witnesses giving oral evidence and those that are taken as read in to the Inquiry’s record. This information will be uploaded onto the Inquiry’s website;

6.2 Category 2 – information that is relevant and material to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference and is probative of them; and

6.3 Category 3 – information that is irrelevant or immaterial to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference or not probative of them. This information will not be disclosed to Interested Parties or published as part of the Inquiry’s work.

7. All Category 1 and Category 2 information will be considered and the documents referred to within the hearing room will be redacted in accordance with the Inquiry’s policy on redacting personal information (which is set out in detail below), prior to release to Interested Parties and/or publication on the Inquiry’s website.

8. Following the conclusion of the Inquiry’s work, all Category 1 material will be transferred to the States of Jersey Archive in redacted form. All other information will be logged and then destroyed by the Inquiry or originals returned to the provider. A copy of the document log will be provided to the States of Jersey Archive, again redacted in accordance with the Inquiry’s redaction policy.”

So, “Category 2 information” which is defined as “information that is relevant and material to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference and is probative of them” (para. 6.2) will be “logged and then destroyed” (para. 8)

2 the original policy on destruction of relevant information

From the following extract of the transcript of the second preliminary hearing on June 16th, 2014, page 43, lines 9-15 it is clear that the original policy was to keep Category 2 information:

9 A similar point we have made and again there has

10 been no response, I regret to say, in relation to

11 paragraph 8 of the previous protocol, which is at

12 divider 7, which provides:

13 "Following the conclusion of the Inquiry's work all

14 category 1 and category 2 material will be transferred

15 to the States of Jersey archive in redacted form."(my emphasis)

3 could it all be a mistake?

Yes of course this apparent destruction policy may be a simple error. I have put this possibility to the Inquiry and they have failed to give any assurances. h, misleading statements and obstruction in Jersey over the whole issue of child abuse they should have done.

4 List of attached documents, in order of usability (conciseness and emotion)

A “letter of reply by DW April 6 2017 to reply of Panel.doc”

B “letter to panel about website March 31 2017.doc”

C “letter to panel about website June 21 2016.doc”

D “reply of Panel Nov 4 2016 to DW letter re website of June 2016.doc”

E “reply of Panel April 5 2017 to DW letter re website of March 2017.doc”

F “TOR as used by COI”


A This 2 page letter to the Inquiry legal team expresses my shock and disappointment with the Panel’s failure to engage and summarises the issues and says that I will publicise this.

B is an 8 page letter to Chairman and members of the panel, dated 31 March 2017. It lists the Failings of the Website, takes the issues under Completeness of Information and making the Site User-friendly one by one and pleads with the panel to act to save their website. Basically a shortened and improved version of letter C.

C is the first letter in this correspondence about the website - a 17 page letter to Chairman and members of the panel, dated 21 June 2016.This letter puts 25 questions to the Panel about their website all of which need to be addressed if the website is to become fit for purpose, with explanations.

D is the reply of the Panel to my June 2016 letter. Note the date 4½ months after I wrote to them and only sent after I sent a long chasing email on 11th October 2016.

E is the reply of the Panel to my March 31st 2017 letter. It is 39 words long.

F the Terms of Reference of the Inquiry into Child Abuse in Jersey, as agreed by the States.(End)

Team Voice has collated the (above) listed documents A-F and published them HERE.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

£35k For "Openness?"

Chief Minister Ian Gorst

After a Written Question tabled by Deputy Russell Labey (below) to the Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst,we have learnt (as if we didn't know already) that our Ministers/Assistant Ministers and their officers don't know how to be open and informative with the public.

We learn that they have spent £35,000 on what looks like a PR spin company (Portland Communications) to learn the art of openness and informativeness. This begs the question; "what are the States Communication Unit being paid (around 300k a year) for?" Further, if our elected politicians don't know how to be open and informative, is a PR (spin) company the best people to ask? Will the £35k be taken out of the States Communications Unit's budget?

Deputy Russell Labey


Will the Chief Minister advise if the services of Portland Communications have been engaged by the States of Jersey to provide media training to Ministers and/or others in preparation for the publication of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry’s report, or for any other reason, and, if so:

1. (a) which Ministers or other personnel are receiving this training;

2. (b) if the cost of the programme including fees, flights and accommodation are to be met by the tax payer, how much will this amount to; and 

3. (c) what is the brief Portland Communications are working to and what exactly is the firm charged with delivering for the government?


Portland Communications were first engaged as a result of an open competitive tendering process initiated in 2011 by the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey for the provision of combined strategic support to the Islands, which at the time was mainly in relation to UK matters.

During 2012 and 2013, Portland Communications provided advice on UK Party conferences, Global transparency initiatives, FATCA and enhanced engagement with a number of key European countries. Since the offices in London, Brussels and Caen have become more fully established, in partnership with the Bailiwick of Guernsey, those offices have been able to take on these functions and Portland Communications is now engaged only to provide additional strategic advice, as needed, on matters where there is strong national or international interest.

Most recently, this has included the provision of advice on how best to engage with the anticipated national and international interest in the report to be published this year by the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry. The aim is to improve upon the past handling of such matters by the Island and being fully open and informative in the public response.

This strategic advice includes matters relating to anticipated national and international media interest and has been provided to officers and relevant Ministers (the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister/Minister for Health and Social Services, Minister for Education and Minister for Home Affairs), usually during telephone calls. In 2017 this has also involved the relevant Ministers visiting the offices of Portland Communications in London as convenient (usually when in London for other personal or official business).

Portland Communications has received £33,500 from the Department for Community and Constitutional Affairs for the provision of this strategic advice and support, with the aim of enhancing the provision of public information, including to the national and international media, following the release of the report by the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.

Being open means telling (the sometimes uncomfortable) truth. Being informative is telling/publishing the facts without using spin and Spin Doctors. Paying £35k to Spin Doctors doesn't instil confidence that we are not going to get a load of spin from our leaders when the Child Abuse Committee of Inquiry publishes its report and the infamous "Jersey Way" continues.........................