Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Is Jersey in Africa?

I just don't get it. This is about Jersey again, and I make no apologies. If a tsunami hit the island tomorrow it would rightly be all over the papers - yes even here in cold, distant Scotland - and we would probably all dig deep into our pockets to provide for the victims and play our tiny part in restoring normality.

Yet the victims of abuse at the former Haut de la Garenne children's home, the victims - it is becoming clear - of an institutionalised culture of harsh treatment that prevailed for many years - might well wish for a tsunami if it would sweep away the apparatus of the state that so cruelly conspires to deny them justice.

If you think I overstate the case, take the time to read Jersey Senator Stuart Syvret's blog on It will take some time, but I urge you to do it. In case you fear that you are just reading one side of the story, check out your gut feeling - are you reading the words of a person of integrity? Since January there have been nearly 120 postings and thousands of comments.......

OK, have you got the picture now? If you didn't know it before, you will now know that Birmingam Lib Dem MP John Hemming and Grimsby Labour MP Austin Mitchell have been urging the UK Government to intervene, which it is constitutionally entitled to do, to ensure that justice is done. Not much about that in the UK media was there? And maybe you did hear a little fragment of the BBC interview with former Deputy Chief Constable Lenny Harper, who led the Jersey abuse investigation until his retirement earlier this year. But now you also know that he said of the obstruction his enquiry encountered:

"There just seems to be a thread running though of people interfering, and people obstructing, together with a series of delayed decisions, which all very, very, easily lead amongst victims to an even stronger suspicion that they are not being supported, and that people are actively trying to delay the enquiry.

Now even if I look at it from a cold and clinical investigator's point of view, there were a vast number of decisions which just totally escaped me, in respect of a rationale for them. "

And now you will know that a former very senior official has recently been unmasked on the blog as having been involved in the physical abuse of children. And still the British media maintains its silence.

You would think Jersey was in Africa, where we somehow manage to ignore or tolerate flagrant abuses of human rights, either because it's not nice to interfere or because we think that's just the `African way'.

Jersey deserves our attention. The victims of abuse deserve our support. And they deserve it now.

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