Senator Maclean's letter started off with this sentence;
"Further to the Council of Ministers meeting on Wednesday 28th January and your meeting with the Chief Officer for External Relations and Constitutional Affairs........."(END)
Back to Francis Oldham QC's letter/reply to the Treasury Minister (below) which can also be found at page 24 of the alleged Chief Minister's PROPOSITION. Although I don't agree with the letter's contents entirely I believe it is worth a Blog Post of its own and broadly support it and will make comments below.
I understand the financial pressures the Council of Ministers is having to address across budgets. It is clear to the panel however that there are extremely serious matters regarding the history of care for children in Jersey which must be fully explored and addressed if the victims and indeed the whole island is to move on from what has been a very negative experience over recent years Importantly we must make a judgement whether current services for children are fit for purpose and provide protection from the failures of care in the past. We ca only do that if we are able to complete our Inquiry in full.
The scope of the Inquiry in terms of witnesses and documentation far exceeds the assumptions in the budget. In May 2014 I raised concerns about the potential cost of the Inquiry.
To date we have heard evidence of the experiences of 150 people who were within the care system from the 1940’s. Whilst there have been accounts of positive experiences, most of what we have hear has related to painful and damaging experiences. The first phase of the Inquiry has been slow and painstaking, not least because of the difficulty many of the victims have had to wrestle with emotionally in terms of firstly giving a statement and then deciding whether to give evidence in public. Given the history of these matters in the island our first challenge has been to gain the trust and confidence of the victims. The fact that in recent weeks more than 20 new witnesses have come forward is, I believe, a good indicator that we have made significant progress in that regard. Many witnesses have been prepared to give evidence in public of the most intimate forms of abuse and in doing so have demonstrated enormous emotional courage.
The feedback we have had from them as to how they have been treated by the Inquiry has been universally positive. Indeed, I understand that some have made this known to the Chief Minister. If we do not now fully address the question of why their care was so often lacking in the system over many decades we will be letting down not only the victims, but the people of Jersey.
This is one side of the story. Equally important is that we now move to the stage which provides the opportunity for those working within the services to tell their side of the story. We will also give those accused of abuse the opportunity to respond.
We have constantly kept under review the running costs of the Inquiry. Public inquiries are, as you will, inevitably expensive if matters are to be fully addressed. This is even more so the case given the very extensive Terms of Reference set for us by the States Assembly. Indeed, we have resisted pressure to add to the Terms of Reference. The nature of this Inquiry is such that the publicity it has been given and the confidence we have engendered in victims has led to them coming forward in greater numbers than envisaged at the outset.
We remain fully committed to examining how costs can be contained whilst not compromising our duty to act independently and to give you a full report in accordance with our Terms of Reference. Our purpose is to establish the truth; the truth about what happened to children in residential and foster homes, how mistreatment of children remained hidden for so long and what was done when concerns were raised.
Frances Oldham QC
Firstly Judge Oldham's letter has given me some much needed confidence in her and her Inquiry. Regular readers will be aware that we have (rightly) challenged a number of decisions made by the Inquiry and in the interest of fairness and balance should also give credit where it is due. Judge Oldham appears to be standing up to the Establishment and refusing to be bullied by them.
Some interesting paragraphs here;
"This is one side of the story. Equally important is that we now move to the stage which provides the opportunity for those working within the services to tell their side of the story. We will also give those accused of abuse the opportunity to respond."
And this paragraph in particular;
The Inquiry is also asked to consider whether decisions to prosecute were “free from political or other interference at any level” . As I stated in my address on 3 April 2014, “we will formulate our own view as the Inquiry evolves and when we have accumulated sufficient evidence. Only then will the Panel be in a position to make findings as to whether the process was in fact free from political or other interference at any level”. We are about to embark upon those hearings.
So Philip Bailhache is running around SCARE MONGERING quoting (un-evidenced) costs of the Inquiry at £50m just at the time when the alleged abusers, and those working within the services, are going to be called in front of the Inquiry? Does he want the plug pulled before the Inquiry starts to look at the abuse cases that never went to court and starts "to consider whether decisions to prosecute were “free from political or other interference at any level?"
Regular readers will be aware that we were asking why No managers, Senior Civil Servants, high ranking officials have been charged with any kind of neglect, dereliction of duty or Abuse……coincidence?………..or “The Jersey way?” back in November 2011. Now in 2015 it's about time we got those answers.
A word of advice for Judge Oldham would be to make sure every "I" is dotted and every "T" is crossed when it comes to expenses because the Establishment has form when it comes to trashing abuse investigations over moneys.
This inquiry is about DECADES of covered up Child Abuse, destroyed childhoods and lives and how it was able to happen for so long, indeed if it is able to happen still.
Let's not let the Establishment, and State Media, turn this into a story about money as they did with Operation Rectangle or to quote the former Chief Police Officer Graham Power QPM;
The attempts to divert this debate into discussions concerning the trivia of expense claims, is a scandal of which all involved should be thoroughly ashamed.
History should NOT be allowed to repeat itself and the Establishment be allowed to get away with it a second time round. Let's get to the bottom of what went on because until then the Island, its reputation, and Victims/Survivors will not be able to move forward.
Perhaps the most important sentence of Judge Oldham's letter is this;
"not least because of the difficulty many of the victims have had to wrestle with emotionally in terms of firstly giving a statement and then deciding whether to give evidence in public."(END)
Victims/Survivors have shown immense courage in coming forward to this Inquiry and reliving the most horrific memories conceivable. They have been put through enough, notwithstanding the horrors they were subjected to as children, but we must remember they were promised in 2008 by Frank Walker that there would be an Independent Inquiry with no stone left unturned. They were then told by Terry Le Sueur that there wouldn't be an Inquiry. They were then told by Ian Gorst that there would be an Inquiry. Is our government now going to tell the victims/survivors that they can have an inquiry but a few stones will have to be left unturned because despite being one of the richest places on earth Jersey doesn't have enough money to put its past right?
Don't you think it's time to give the Victims/Survivors what they were originally promised? Don't you think they have been through enough? They need closure and so does Jersey.
For those wishing to give evidence to the Inquiry they can do so from HERE.