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."


  1. How sincere will any given answers to international media be, when the replies have been provided, brought and paid for?

  2. Fifty grand spent on how to learn to spin and cover up the truth? The government has spent millions doing that all through the child abuse investigation you would have thought they were experts in it by now.

  3. These editorials would be fine and positive but for the establishment goon of an editor's record in making excuses for the very same ministers and misrepresenting anti-establishment politicians for years. He says Jersey journalists are 'tough' and 'work hard to tell the whole story'. Sounds just like the sort of bollocks you might get from a highly paid spin doctor. The words pot and kettle come to mind.

    1. Before anyone starts praising the token holdin to account of ministers by the establishment mouthpiece the Jersey Evening Pravda just be sure to place a few quid on the certainty that if any of the great and the good are leathered in the inquiry's report the JEP editor will be making excuses for them faster than you can say damning report |Andrew Lewis. I'll believe the leopard has changed its spots when we read a front page saying Sorry Power, Harper, Syvret, Pitman, Wimberley, Higgins, bloggers you were right all along. It ain't going to happen.

  4. It makes me wonder as to just what is going to come out of this report that the States are so worried about that they feel the need to employ top PR men and not use local

  5. Watch out for the tutored responses of the chosen few.they will tick off their five D s.Deflect,Deny,Dismiss, Discredit and Delivered already.....we. Have moved on....we have moved on.......

  6. Who is the Paymaster for this CoI team of three? And have this CoI team of three been paid yet by their Paymaster?

  7. Coming from the JEP with their record on PR I'll keep my mind open.
    This paper is still the devil incarnate.

  8. What The Actual F**k!?!?!?

    "A 48-year old digital pioneer has appeared in court charged with indecently assaulting a girl.

    Mark Beaufort Loane yesterday appeared in the Magistrate’s Court to face the charges.

    Mr Loane recently resigned as Chief Executive of C5, an IT solutions company, and has recently stepped down as a Board member at Digital Jersey.

    Magistrate Bridget Shaw told Mr Loane that his case was being transferred to the Royal Court and set a date of the 7 February."!

    This is extraordinary. So many of us have had problems with the COI web site. It's been astonishingly rubbish, from the day it started, and still is now, as your previous posting demonstrated so well. And it has other very very worrying problems. For example, the amazing removal from the chronological Panel Acts list in the Key Documents section of the Panel Act which constructively excluded the then whistle blowing Health & Social Services Minister Stuart Syvret by trying to force conditions on him before they'd give him legal representation.

    Why has that key, historically important 'Panel Act' been removed from Key Documents and instead is buried and hidden elsewhere on the web site?

    Who did that? Who authorised it?

    OK, the COI can be forgiven for not being aware of possible risks posed by this man. And I presume the full trial hasn't happened yet? So he could be innocent.

    But these events clearly raise the general possibility that the Jersey public inquiry into child-abuse could possibly, and I accept, unknowingly, have had people working for it who might have a predilection for sexual abuse of other people, and therefore an interest in sabotaging proper and effective investigation into such things in Jersey. And if it comes to be that this was the case for the COI in this case, then who's to say it hasn't happened again, with other individuals?

    These events do now unavoidably generate a duty and requirement on the COI Panel to review the performance and conduct of those who they've closely worked with, and consider the performance of each of them, and contemplate the question, if questionable or poor performance is discovered, if that person could have had a conflict of interest.

  9. Stuart Syvret has already drawn attention to blatant conflicts of interest which have been completely ignored by the Panel. So I wouldn't hold my breath.

    1. Please point me to these, Polo

      Thanks in advance

    2. Daniel

      I'm not sure these are all in the one place, I have absorbed them over time reading Stuart's blog and comments. I have also in mind conflicts to which attention has been drawn by others and some I feel myself.

      I am thinking here of the Inquiry setting up in and beside premises of lawyers who could have been called before the Inquiry and the effect this would have on victims contemplating giving evidence.

      I am thinking of the Inquiry accepting the First Minister's office appointing collators of material & liaison people with the Inquiry who were liable themselves to be called as witnesses and who had previously been accused of obstructing earlier inquiries by Stuart when he was minister.

      Denial by the Inquiry of legal assistance to Stuart and then attempting to hide their decision on their website suggests they are not really interested in pursuing the truth.

      Multiple alphabetical identities for alleged abusers.

      The omission of a significant element from their original terms of reference. (This is one you have consistently exposed yourself.)

      These are the sort of things that I had in mind and that Stuartl along with others, has mentioned at various stages.

      I'm not sure, at this remove, where exactly he has done so. Perhaps he could do a quick list.

    3. That's a pretty good quick estimation Polo.

      Yes. All of those grounds are deeply serious - and I've pointed them out on many occasions.

      There are others, too.

      Very - very - serious conflicts of interests.



  10. It may be prudent for readers to do some research into Ian Gorst's U.K. political past, especially his activities as a member of the Conservative Party


  11. It may be prudent for readers to do some original research into Ian Gorst's U.K. political past, especially in light of his activities as a member of the Conservative Party.

  12. Anonymous writes:

    "Mr Loane recently resigned as Chief Executive of C5, an IT solutions company, and has recently stepped down as a Board member at Digital Jersey.

    I first learnt about C5 in a comment made on the posting about the failings of the Inquiry website.

    I was amazed that the inquiry should choose a LOCAL firm to set up the website. This is completely daft, as daft as hiring local people to do their PR.

    They seem to have a hazy grasp of the notion of "conflicts of interest". And yet iirc one of the Panel was chosen specifically to have awareness about small jurisdictions.

    I hope they, and States Members, get the importance of this latest revelation, that the CEO of their website design company is in court accused of indecently assaulting a girl.

    BTW have the MSM made the connection - or have they kept it quiet? And if the latter - why?

  13. Perhaps because the headline: "Abuse inquiry has website run by a company which has a director who has a legally enforceable right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty," isn't catchy.

    1. Point taken.

      However the other point I made stands, the fact that to employ local PR people, which I believe they did, and to employ a local company to build their website, shows that they do not understand about conflicts of interest.

      But they should understand. One of the three-strong panel was supposed to have expertise in small jurisdictions iirc, and for good reason. Small jurisdictions do have problems with conflicts of interest, and they should have been aware of this.