On 28 September 1769 some reported 300-400 Jersey Islanders, headed up by an extremely brave man, Tom Gruchy, overthrew the corrupt Royal Court while, then in session, to demand substantial reform of the systems of justice, government and administration. We use the word "brave" because Mr. Gruchy, and his fellow protestors, risked being hung for their actions/protest. Hanged by order of the Royal Court and their properties confiscated. The properties of all those involved could have been awarded to the likes of the Lempriere family.
Tom Gruchy and a number of his fellow protestors were subsequently arrested and threatened with execution for sedition. For the sake of brevity, for this posting, the UK utilised its constitutional obligation, stepped in to restore good governance and the rule of law in Jersey. A pardon was granted by the King for Tom Gruchy and his fellow protestors. Out of this protest came the 1771 code of laws for Jersey which is still referred to today.
On 20th November 2012 the Island's government agreed to have "Jersey Reform Day" (28 Sept 1769) officially recognised. The proposition was tabled by the then Deputy Trevor Pitman. This proposition has an extensive account of the events of 1769 which can, and should, be read HERE. Unfortunately the government has not honoured its commitment to celebrate this historic event and appears to have buried this uncomfortable part of Jersey's history. (sound FAMILIAR)?
Despite these radical reforms in 1771 has anything changed and are we in the exact same place in 2017 as we were in 1769/1771? Who runs this Island? Is it a corrupt Royal Court as in 1769? The Bailiff as in 1769? The Attorney General/Solicitor General/Crown Officers as in 1769?
To acknowledge (since the government won't) this momentous historic day, VFC interviewed (below) local historian, Human Rights Campaigner, and Constitutional Expert Mike Dun. Mike's own BLOG is dedicated to Tom Gruchy and his cause.
Reform now, as back then, is very much on the agenda not least attempting to separate the Judiciary from the legislator by relieving the Bailiff from his duty of presiding over the Island's Parliament. This latest part of much needed reform has come by way of a proposition tabled by Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst.
Million's of £'s have been spent on at least 3 reports (Clothier/Carswell/COI) which have ALL recommended the separation of powers. Yet the Bailiff/Deputy Bailiff STILL remain head of Judiciary and Legislator. He remains unelected and unaccountable yet presides over elected/accountable public representatives. He decides what questions can be asked (or not) in the Parliament. He decides what propositions/amendments can (or not) be debated in the Parliament. He (as judge) can decide which political dissidents can be locked up, or financially ruined. He can shut down political commentators/Citizen Journalists through his court just as was the case in 1769 and referred to in the below interview. He is able to do, whatever he does, with complete impunity, answerable to nobody.
Isn't this why Tom Gruchy, and his fellow protesters, stormed the Royal Court back in 1769?
Mr. Dun appears, in the video, as an 18th century Acting Bailiff. Could it/he be a 21st century Bailiff?