Wednesday, 9 December 2009
But we should bear in mind that a £10,000 holiday trip is not on the agenda for most of that huge country’s billion plus residents and that grinding poverty is their everyday reality - and we raise such issues in this 2 part blog interview with Jersey’s Finance Minister.
So why are we now trying to sell our latest Finance Foundations to India’s wealthy minority or encouraging them to buy expensive properties in London? Surely we could be better and more usefully engaged in addressing some of India’s social problems rather than creaming off new wealth from the most fortunate few?
Even if the Jersey cattle breed is no longer the international force that it once was – surely there is still some local farming expertise that could be sold in places like India OR why not utilize our financial knowledge and contacts to promote genuinely beneficial projects? It doesn’t have to be done on a charitable basis – expertise can be sold and partnerships formed which can boost our own economy just as much as helping the world’s poorest peoples.
In Maharashtra region, over 1,000 poor farmers have killed themselves per month because they cannot pay back the money-lenders who financed the purchase of GM seeds. In Chattisgarh, 125,000 have killed themselves and Prince Charles has launched the Bhumi Vardian Foundation in Delhi to help alleviate the suffering. But it’s not just about lack of rain or even the 1000% increase in the cost of GM seed over more usual local variations. The problems are tied to the whole IMF initiative of making huge loans to India in the 1980’s and 90’s to stimulate the development bonanza that is now taking place around the cities and their techno-parks and to pump-up agricultural production too.
Not only have rivers been dammed and forests cleared so that the traditional water tables have dropped in rural areas but the American suppliers of seeds and petro-based technologies have been encouraged as part of the IMF development package and the farmers are desperately trying to keep up and produce more. Gandhi’s vision of a sustainable future and the country’s Socialist ideology, look doomed in the face of the international capitalist demands of growth and profit.
On paper, India’s projected economic growth rate of 7% looks good on the IMF/OECD balance sheets and there are many other finance centre vultures circling but somebody surely has to intervene on behalf of the poor millions and to speak out against the horrendous human rights violations against men, women and children that are still commonplace in this diverse and troubling country.
Of course, Jersey’s own human rights record so far as signing up to Human Rights conventions is deplorable and we have no claims on the high moral ground – but is this latest carpet bagging initiative really the best that we can do for the world?
What is the benefit to the majority of Indians if we open yet more finance based offices – whether in St Helier or Delhi – and what does the Jersey balance sheet for Dubai and the rest of the Middle East bonanza of yesterday now look like?
About 20 local leaders of the Finance sector went on this latest jolly which was a confusing and worrying mix of commercial promotion with official Jersey government support and regulatory (JFSC) participation. Senator Philip Ozouf was accompanied by Martin De Forest Brown from the Chief Minister’s Department together with Wayne Gallichan for the Economic Development Department, at tax payers expense.
John Harris represented the JFSC with the Commission paying his costs – which really means taxpayers too.
We thank Philip Ozouf for his time and assistance in preparing this blog and would welcome any comments - especially from those who took part in the India trip.
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.
Friday, 27 November 2009
If our powers that be, and their very friendly media, are to be believed then the States Employment Board are responsible for employing, or appointing, some expert masters of disguise who are actually really bad people that are trying to make or government look bad, you don’t believe me?………. Well read on!
First of all they are/were ultimately responsible for the employment of Simon Bellwood. A highly competent and able social worker with fine credentials and pedigree in Social Services and in particular Child Protection………………..or was he?
Mr. Bellwood was employed by our States to work up at Greenfields, formerly Le Chennes, children’s secure unit up at Five Oaks. Despite his, up until then, very successful career in this field and indisputable qualifications he is/was infact a complete madman and trickster, part of a very large organization attempting to make our government look bad.
He had managed to dupe, one would imagine, a wealth of people employed by the SEB into believing he wanted what was best for our most vulnerable children in the States “care” system. But it didn’t take long before his alter-ego raised it’s ugly head! He started making claims like the regime(s) up at Greenfield were actually abusive towards the children they are supposed to be caring for! Can you believe that? One minute he is a competent, well respected childcare professional with a CV to prove it, the next thing you know he’s making wild and crazy accusations that effectively our government are abusing children! One can only assume he was a master of disguise who’s real intentions were to make our government look bad, and rightly so he was got rid of, and thank god there’s not too many of him around!
Not to be out-done this seasoned delusional Jekyll & Hyde character took his absurd accusations to an even more delusional and deceptive character than himself! Yes I know you can’t believe it but wait ‘til you hear this!
He took these claims to a man called Stuart Syvret who was the Minister for Health and Social Services who turned out to be a real master of deception. Stuart Syvret had successfully duped no less than 15,000 people to believe he was going to serve their best interests by representing them as a States member, so in comparison Simon Bellwood was a mere amateur of deception, no matter how many people he had deceived it was nowhere in the region of 15,000. On top of this he managed to get our States Assembly to elect him as Health Minister.
So Senator Syvret’s alter-ego subsequently raised its ugly head and he started making equally absurd allegations but being the true pro that he is, Senator Syvret went a couple of steps further! Not only did he agree with Mr. Bellwood, he started saying that Civil Servants should be held to account! Well what to do? Get rid of him and thank god there’s not too many of him around!
But there was!
The seasoned master of deception that the (now ex) Health Minister is, he managed to dupe a group of people called The Howard League for Penal Reform into believing that what he and Mr. Bellwood were saying just might actually be true, that our government have been engaging in illegal and abusive treatment of the children in their care.
And would you believe it? The Howard League for Penal reform were also masters of deception and disguise! They too just wanted to make our government look bad and they were even more seasoned at trickery than the master himself because they had managed to dupe THE WHOLE WORLD into believing they were some kind of authority on how’s best to care for children!
They came up with a report that in all intense and purposes agreed with all that Simon Bellwood and Senator Syvret said and it really didn’t make our government look very good! Our government, and it’s media, couldn’t have the good people of Jersey being duped by such a gang of professional tricksters and downright unbelievable stories of illegal and abusive regimes, Civil Servants being held to account and all that!
No that just wouldn’t do.
The good public of Jersey needed to be told something much more believable than that and as luck would have it they had just the two men and the media to do it.
You see while all these shenanigans were going on with Syvret, Bellwood and the Howard League for penal Reform there were two other masters of deception and disguise that were trying to make our government look bad and had managed to convince the government that they were good honest cops!! But they weren’t!! I know I can’t believe it myself!
These two slippery individuals went by the name of Chief Police Officer Graham Power and Deputy Chief Officer Lenny Harper. Now these two characters really had honed their skills in the art of deception! They had spent most of their adult lives fighting crime locking up Child Abusers, Gangsters, murderers and such ilk and even duped the bloody Queen into decorating them! The Queen for god’s sake!! these guys really are the con artists of the century. They had a long and distinguished career in several Police forces and locked up many a bad guy at considerable threat to themselves and their families all so they could come over to Jersey to make our government look bad.
Deputy Chief Officer Harper started saying things along the lines of children were horribly sexually, physically and emotionally abused and possibly by people who were employed by our government, which again would mean that Civil Servants might be held to account and our government would look bad.
Luckily Deputy Chief Officer Harper was retiring so at least he will be out of the way. But what about Chief Officer Power? Well since the government knew he was part of the “make Jersey look bad gang” along with Bellwood, Syvret and the Howard League for Penal Reform, they just had to play him at his own game.
They would pretend they are doing everything by the book, suspend him, and get their top Civil Servant to destroy his notes of the suspension hearing, you see sometimes you have to set a thief to catch a thief, play them at their own game. That’s a sign of a good government, one that can play these slippery tricksters at their own game and able to think outside the box.
So for the believable story the public needed to hear and the men to tell it. They were Mick Gradwell and David Warcup and their story had to be believed because it is a story that just couldn’t be made up.
During his investigations Deputy Chief Officer Harper and the police forensic and archaeological team he had managed to dupe discovered, at a Jersey Children’s home, some 65 teeth with a number of them still having root attached suggesting they did not come out of the child’s mouth before death. They also discovered what was identified as a piece of child’s skull. The alleged child’s skull, it has been reported, went on to change size, shape, wait and texture and then mysteriously disappeared!
So with the Howard League for Penal Reform and their ghastly report, Syvret, Bellwood, Harper and Power all conspiring to make our government look bad. Mick Gradwell and David Warcup, with the help of the ever so friendly media held a press conference to coincide with the releasing of the HLFPR’s ghastly report and told the public something much more believable than any of the tricksters could dream up.
That is the children’s teeth that still had root attached and that could not have come out before death were in fact teeth that were left out for the tooth fairy! The alleged piece of child’s skull that allegedly changed weight, size and texture before just vanishing was a piece of coconut!
So let this be a warning to any future slippery shysters that want to come over here and start talking about child abuse, cover up or any such like to try and make our government look bad. Just remember any evidence, documentation or commendations from the Queen you might have, you’re not going to fool the good people of Jersey.
Our government will know just what you are up to and so will their media!
Saturday, 21 November 2009
Monday, 16 November 2009
Apologies for the past ill-treatment of thousands of British children are being uttered in Australia and Prime Minister Brown is working up towards it. But who will apologise for the treatment that British children receive today and who gives a damn about children in Jersey?
We should not “kid” ourselves that Deputy Judy Martin’s well meaning but inadequate reforms will do anything very useful. The Health Department’s funding sounds ok but it is just a cosmetic sticking plaster remedy for the immense and far reaching problems that face children in Jersey.
It is time to get realistic.
November 20th is UN International Children’s Day and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has been around for 20 years. Yet the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) has prepared a damning report which shows how children’s rights in the UK continue to be abused on a systematic basis. Children under detention are especially vulnerable and English child protection services “are not fit for purpose.”
The problem lies not with the UN Convention but with the entrenched failures of governments and the public to embrace change.
Jersey still refuses to ratify CRC and very few people have even bothered to read it.
The Childrens Rights Alliance is fighting in England for the full implementation of CRC there – but NOBODY is doing so in Jersey. There is certainly no alliance of like minded people promoting children’s rights in Jersey although there has been no shortage of reports published in the past few years – usually by outside organisations.
As is usual in this island, where prima donnas outnumber the chorus, working together for a common cause seems to be reserved only to the pursuit of profit. The pursuit of protection for children is very low on the agenda.
Those people who have experienced child abuse in Jersey, either at first or second hand seem to find organised and effective lobbying especially difficult. Understandably, there is a great deal of personal anger but it does not translate easily into coordinated campaigning - and professional bodies and so called elected representatives are noticeable, for the most part by their absence. When did Jersey ever have a campaigning GP? Do Jersey doctors and other health or education professionals NEVER make a policy statement on anything of public interest?
How is it possible that the thousands of professionally qualified people supposedly engaged in children’s welfare, education, justice, punishment, health, housing and recreation have so little to offer by way of public comment? Don’t they have children of their own?
The Swine Flu jabs currently being offered demonstrate just how the “official” line is seldom if ever challenged by other “professionals”. How shall the general public in Jersey ever become better informed if professional silence is maintained on so many matters?
In most communities it is the professionals who lead the public debate. In Jersey, like so many others, the professional are restrained from speaking out or even giving advice to lobbyists and our 250 Jersey qualified lawyers are hardly human rights pioneers. When did the Society of Jersey Lawyers last call for ratification of CRC?
So don’t be fooled into believing that any current official Jersey initiative will address the many problems for children. Without active and coordinated lobbying every abuse that you can imagine will be inflicted in the future just as it has in the past.
The starting point for Jersey’s reality check is ratification of CRC. That won’t solve any problems on its own but without it - the rest is a more or less total waste of money, effort and time.
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Why has Graham Power the Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police been under suspension for 12 months?
These 2 “people’s representatives” cannot be dismissed as renegade States Members or trouble makers, they are both long serving and responsible public servants and both have policing pedigrees too. So just what is really going on? Why on earth would anybody want to rubbish the career of such a respected and senior Police Officer as Graham Power? What is the hidden agenda and when oh when will the Jersey tax paying public ever know the truth?
There are many such questions that need to be answered and if and when any complaints against Chief Officer Graham Power are proved to be unfounded, who shall then carry the can for this expensive fiasco?
Thursday, 5 November 2009
Remembrance on the 11th of November is dominated by the Red Poppy theme and sales display boxes seem to be on every shop, pub and garage counter besides street sellers trays.
This year Team Voice has distributed a few white Poppies for peace as part of the long established Peace Pledge Union (PPU) campaign.
We have been pleased how many people have said that they have been trying to obtain a White Poppy for years in Jersey and we hope that the white alternative might become a regular feature here every November.
We are pleased too that some States Members accepted White Poppies to wear - often alongside their existing red British Legion flowers and badges.
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
The Voice previously posted a blog on the Complaints Board Hearing of (illegally?) suspended Police Chief Mr. Graham Power HERE. We posted that the argument(s) made by the Chief Minister’s Office for withholding “information” sought by Mr. Power was “dive behind the couch cringe worthy.”
Today, after a media embargo, the findings of the Complaints Board have been put into the public domain and if anybody doubted the absurdity of the Chief Minister’s Department’s argument then you must read the Complaints Board’s findings in full. And then bear in mind in an answer to a question from Deputy Bob Hill in the States when the Chief Minister stated that he “wasn’t embarrassed” about his legal rep attempting to defend the indefensible at the hearing.
The Complaints Board have found in favour of Mr. Power and it is impossible to see how they couldn’t have.
Mr. Graham Power had been trying to obtain some “information” from the Chief Minister’s Office for NINE MONTHS! And during these NINE MONTHS he has been fobbed of with all sorts of excuses as to why he shouldn’t have it, including the argument that the “information” he requires isn’t “information”!
One must be aware Mr. Graham Power is a very experienced and highly regarded Police Officer and he is well used to appearing before Tribunals and preparing legal arguments. His performance at the hearing was impressive but try to imagine how difficult it would be for the average member of the public to present a case in similar circumstances but without legal knowledge or representation.
Even as the laws now stand Graham Power’s access to this information should have been a mere formality and all the time and resources devoted to this Complaints Board hearing was so wasteful and unnecessary.
How much better things could be if we had a proper Freedom of Information law in Jersey which would require our government to disclose such materials and would give teeth to the Data Protection Officer who would be empowered to call for the release of information if asked by a member of the public.
This is a small, but very significant battle won by Mr. Power and is testament to his determination to uncover the truth. Joe public would not have stood a chance in getting this far.
This, in the opinion of The Voice, is another nail in the coffin of Senator Terry Le Sueur as Chief Minister and must reinforce the “very strong” rumours for his January exit.
To view the Complaints Board Hearing decision in full you will have to go the;
statesassembly.gov.je site click reports (near the top of the page) and then click R115/2009.
Below are copies of Press Releases of Mr. Graham Power and the current Chief Minister.
MEDIA RELEASE BY THE CHIEF OFFICER OF THE STATES OF JERSEY POLICE FOLLOWING THE PUBLICATION OF THE RESULT OF HIS APPEAL TO THE STATES OF JERSEY COMPLAINTS BOARD IN RESPECT OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION.
THE CHIEF OFFICER OF THE STATES OF JERSEY POLICE, MR GRAHAM POWER Q.P.M. HAS RELEASED THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT FOLLOWING THE PUBLICATION OF THE DECISION RELATING TO HIS APPEAL IN RESPECT OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION REGARDING THE TIMES AND DATES ON WHICH DOCUMENTS PROVIDED DURING HIS SUSPENSION WERE ACTUALLY CREATED. IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE GREFFIER TO THE STATES HAS ALREADY PROVIDED THE MEDIA WITH COPIES OF THE DECISION UNDER EMBARGO. THIS RELEASE IS SUBJECT TO THE SAME EMBARGO.
Full details of the background of the case and the arguments submitted by both sides are to be found in the findings of the Board, which have been provided to the media separately. They have not therefore been repeated in this release.
The Chief Officer has said:
“I am obviously pleased that the Complaints Board has decided in my favour. I hope that the Chief Minister will now make use of the opportunity given by the Board to reconsider his decision and provide the information requested. The provision of the details of the times and dates on which the suspension documents were created will be an important step towards discovering the truth behind the reasons for the suspension, and whether the public, the States and the media, have in any way been misled by any of the statements made to date by Ministers or by others acting on their behalf.”
Note to Editors.
Editors may consider that the findings of the Complaints Board set a precedent which has important implications for future Freedom of Information applications in the island. It is recommended that they be studied in full. In particular the ruling of the Board on the Presumption of Openness, required by the Code, and its consequential impact on the burden of proof, may be particularly significant in respect of future media and public requests for information made to government bodies. This is referred to in various parts of the document and in particular paragraph 6.1 which states “it is clearly incumbent on the Chief Minister to justify why he is refusing to disclose the information that Mr Power is seeking and it is not for Mr Power to justify why he has requested it.”
From the current Chief Minister
The Chief Minister, Senator Terry Le Sueur, has responded to the findings of the States of Jersey Complaints Board set up to consider a complaint by the suspended Chief of Police, Mr Graham Power.
"I fully accept the findings of the board and will ensure that the information requested by Mr Power is provided as soon as possible," Senator Le Sueur said. "The findings of the board have clarified our understanding of the Public Access to Information Code of Practice and our policy will be revised in the light of this."
Submitted by Team Voice.
Saturday, 10 October 2009
So everybody can breathe a sigh of relief because what started out as £300,00 worth of Wacky Backy that mysteriously ended up as being £1m worth has been prevented from hitting our streets, or has it? And just as importantly HOW might it have been prevented?
Once more our media, police force, judicial system and Law Offices have left us (well “The Voice” anyway) with more questions than answers and yet again left us with the feeling we have an out of control Police Force and law officers who are all seemingly above the law.
Make no mistake we deplore drugs and even more so drug dealers, but just too many things don’t add up with the case against Curtis Warren and his convicted co-conspirators.
First of all, what would a man worth a reported £125m be doing involving himself with 5 people in Jersey, who it appears haven’t got a penny to scratch their arses with, and a boat that is not sea-worthy, all in order to bring in A MILLION pounds worth of drugs? Surely it’s a non-starter from the get-go?
Secondly, how did it start off at £300,000 worth of drugs and finish up at a million? How does a man worth £125m get legal aid? How come Advocate Baker was appointed as his Legal Aid Lawyer? Why didn’t the Police wait for the drugs (if they existed) to hit these shores and then catch the gang red-handed?
Why wasn’t the alleged dealer from Amsterdam in the dock? Was he part of a sting?
How can illegally obtained evidence be allowed in court? How can Advocate Baker , whilst defending this alleged drug gang, completely trash our Police Force and their illegal methods of obtaining evidence in this court room and then walk into another courtroom to prosecute Senator Syvret and tell the court how great the Police are?
Judge Tucker said in court that the way some of the evidence was gathered by our Police was “reprehensible UNLAWFUL and regrettable”- so why did he allow it into court?
One of the more worrying statements made by David Warcup (Acting Police Chief) was reported as “officers were doing what they needed to collate the best possible evidence” This is so alarming because it appears his officers broke the bl--dy law! They lied to and deceived 3 different National Police Forces in Europe. So, shall we all throw the rule book out of the window and break any laws we feel necessary because it’s ok for our Police to do it?
Why aren’t the Police, Attorney General and other Law Officers so vigorous - in pursuing child abusers employed by the State of Jersey, extraditing alleged child abusers from France or arresting Civil Servants who have been reported as being questioned for violently physically abusing children in their “care” - as they were in persuing these wrongdoers?
Advocate Baker said to the appeal court judges before this trial reached the Royal Court. “Your duty is to send out a message that this jurisdiction is governed by the rule of law. It is not a tin-pot jurisdiction where Police and law act how they will”. The court of appeal judges rejected the appeal and none of this could be reported at the time.
There is little doubt we have an out-of-control Police Force who can not only turn over a senior politician’s place of residence on an alleged “fishing trip” and seize (among many other things) computers owned by the children of his partner, but they can do all this without a warrant. They, can so it seems lie, cheat and break the law in order to get a chosen outcome when it suits but they are answerable to no-one.
Are you sure this cannot or will not happen to you? If we are governed by the RULE OF LAW who will ensure that your rights will be protected. Do you trust the Police and Judicial system of Jersey?
Team Voice contacted Advocate Baker’s office to seek an interview or at the least an answer to some of our questions off camera. We were refused but given a statement that “Mr. Warren will be appealing his conviction”.
To which we say “NO SH1T SHERLOCK”
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
He has inherited a huge backlog of unfinished business left by his predecessor - the HDLG scandal, (illegally?) suspended Police Chief, Operation Blast, staff shortages, budget constraints and who knows what else?
Besides which he came in (in the eyes of many progressives) as a right wing, authoritarian, ex Magistrate, Devil Dodger.
However despite these fears he has, in a very short time, knocked the long awaited Sex Offenders law into shape and will be presenting it to the States this coming week. Not only does he want the public to be in the States gallery to give him support, he has actively invited them/us to turn up and do so. He did this at a public meeting he chaired last night at St Paul’s Centre which he agreed we could video (below)
Previously he had also agreed to “The Voice” filming his Scrutiny Panel Meeting and at the same time encouraged members of the public to engage in discussion with him, and the Panel, on the proposed Sex Offenders Law.
The importance of this “democratic development” can not be overstated. Firstly we, “the public”, “Bloggers”, “Citizens Media” call us what you will, were allowed to video record the proceedings the same as the “accredited” Press and the world didn’t stop turning!! Secondly the “3 day notice” rule was once again shown to be a nonsense because prior notice was neither sought nor necessary. Thirdly the value of allowing the public to participate in the discussions with Scrutiny and the Minister was demonstrated (the Scrutiny “rules” state members of the public must remain quiet).
However we at “The Voice” do still have reservations. We are concerned at his expressed sentencing policies for young offenders and his lack of enthusiasm for anti discrimination legislation. We have been critical of the Senator in the past and no doubt will be again in the future, and some credit must go where it is due.
But we are pleasantly surprised at his willingness to engage with the public and his strongly independent Ministerial stance. If rumours are to be believed that there might be a vacancy for a Chief Minister in January then Senator Le Marquand must be a strong contender!
Monday, 21 September 2009
Of course, we know that the in-built prejudice and hostility towards bloggers of Committee Members like Deputy Phil Rondel and Senator Sarah Ferguson cannot be countered by reasoned discussion, but we did our best in the little time allowed. And this was especially difficult when these 2 wanted to have an argument about much wider issues then those we were complaining of. Sarah was even protesting that Deputy Dawg was not her son!!!! Nothing to do with us surely!! (We advised her to publish a disclaimer on the blogs – but she was flying around the room spitting fire by then.)
Before our part of the meeting took place it was amusing to witness the Committee discussing the merits of the “Isle” freebie “newspaper” which they said ex Senator Mike Vibert, Peter Troy and Deputy Paul Le Claire are involved in. This latest publication was apparently seeking paid adverts from the Committee claiming a monthly circulation of 20,000 copies. With advertising rates of £900 per page the Committee were trying to decide if it was worth 4 ½ p per reader yet nobody even asked if the publication was to be considered as “accredited” or a genuine newspaper at all and here they were considering spending public money on it!!
The same Committee has been considering adverts in Parish magazines too in a desperate effort to let the public know more about Scrutiny activities yet here we are pleading to be allowed to video their meetings and to stimulate discussion on our blogs – at absolutely no public cost - and they are performing cartwheels to prevent us!!!!!
But the Committee is obsessed with the objective of controlling bloggers and kept returning to “accountability” and how the “accredited media” is supposedly answerable for any falsehoods published etc but bloggers are not. It’s such a pity that our so called elected representatives don’t even bother to discover the facts.
Like for example Don Mitchell CBE, QC the blogger behind the excellent “Corruption Free Anguilla” blog. He is a very experienced lawyer and we believe still teaches in Anguilla (and has a Jersey wife) yet he was successfully sued for some comments he made and had to pay substantial damages. So anybody can make mistakes and we are ALL answerable for what we publish.
And now the “Vox” weekly newspaper and website in Gibraltar is before the courts facing a £50,000 libel action because of a story published about the Rock’s very own HDLG scandal at the Giraldi Childrens Home.
So far the Gib Judge has refused to order the withdrawal of the printed The Vox saying;
“In any democratic society which values freedom of speech the recalling of a newspaper must be seen as something of a last resort”
But some material on the “Vox” Website has been removed because it offers comments on the libel action and might prejudice the eventual jury trial, if and when it ever takes place.
Anybody interested in such matters is urged to link to “Vox” and study what is going on there although we know that the dangerous people in our government with the power to legislate would rather impose restrictions than encourage public freedoms.
Fortunately, the Committee has withdrawn the absurd Proposition 112 to restrict bloggers but they will be back with even more repressive proposals soon.
We are told that there will be a full consultation process before the latest crazy proposition is lodged – but we were promised that before 112 and it never did take place.
We at “The Voice” will continue to monitor and lobby any developments as best as we can but ALL people concerned for freedom of expression must do their bit too. It is essential to attend as many so called “public” meetings as possible and to report on and expose the absurd processes of our governments, courts and tribunals.
Anybody who saw Terry Le Sueur, more like the Archie Andrews “dummy” than our Chief Minister - with absolutely nothing to say or contribute before Graham Power’s recent Complaints Board Hearing – will have realised that SS Jersey is already embarked on the final voyage.
Submitted by Thomas Wellard
Monday, 14 September 2009
We all know that medics are not infallible, that genuine mistakes do happen and sometimes blame is apportioned but nowadays, in our much regulated society, when somebody dies on the operating table, serious questions must be asked and answered.
Historically in such cases a scapegoat is often found. It’s a well established diversionary tactic to contain and limit the damage and can be described as “noble cause corruption” but what it really means is “stitch-up” or “cover-up” or both. As explained by Deputy Bob Hill in the video below.
In Jersey we all know of the tragic death of a nurse employed within the very same Jersey main hospital that employed her and no amount of questions can restore her to life or to her family. That part of the tragedy cannot be remedied. But the surgeon who carried out the fatal operation has been cleared of manslaughter in the Jersey Courts and a very senior and experienced consultant – “Mr D” – has been suspended (or “excluded”) for the past 3 years on full pay because ( so we are told) he authorised the surgeon’s initial employment in Jersey as a locum. ”Mr D” was not even in the operating theatre when the surgery took place yet his long career may be in tatters and he is not even allowed to undertake private work in the UK. The potential costs for damages and lost professional reputations, besides the already declared costs of payment for suspended employees and their replacements, are astronomical. The expense of the Haut De La Garenne investigation could be “peanuts” in comparison.
Deputy Bob Hill has been a tireless – and often lone – voice in trying to unravel the complexities and unfairnesses of “Mr D’s” suspension and to discover what actually happened in an around the operating theatre and what has happened since.
Yet, extraordinarily, there are other senior medics under suspension as a result of other non-related incidents and this is not the only death being investigated.
Furthermore, the Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police has also been suspended from duty for years and few details have been made public and the senior Magistrate designate has also been prevented from working whilst investigations into an off-shore investment fund are carried out.
Deputy Hill has been trying to introduce proper suspension procedures and to have them applied throughout the Jersey public sector and he is achieving some success with his persistent lobbying and probing. But, these headline “senior person” cases are just the tip of an iceberg – the Health Minister (Deputy Ann Pryke) and her Senior Civil Servant did not even know how many of her 1200 or so staff was currently suspended when asked at a recent Scrutiny Board hearing.
If the very top people in public employment can be treated with such disregard for fairness – what must be happening to the many thousands who serve lower down the “pecking order” in Jersey? And what hope is there for the innocent victims like the bereaved families, of ever receiving any sort of justice? Can they be compensated?
Those of us with long memories will recall the name Mary Alexander and how she was arbitrarily removed from her Tourism & Recreation post decades ago. She was, if memory serves “The Voice” well, compensated with a £100,000 belated payment but the Jersey system seems to have learned absolutely nothing from that experience or the many incidents that have occurred since.
Multiply £100,000 by 100 or any figure you care to think of and you might just be starting to understand the potential financial cost of such institutional incompetence and mismanagement.
It’s a good job we have Deputy Hill but what are YOU and your other elected representatives doing about this enormous problem?
If you want to express your interest take note that Graham Power the suspended Chief of Jersey Police has a Complaints Board Hearing this Wednesday the i6th at 3.30pm in the Blampied Room of the States Building.
Normally such hearings are open to the public, the press and even bloggers. It is most important that this hearing is not concealed “in camera” – so please attend if you can to ensure that transparency is maintained in this most important matter.
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
This is just the latest chapter of institutional failure for the abuse victims.
Once again, they have been mere bystanders whilst the Jersey Police and others fight in public over the merits of evidence for abuse inflicted over decades and the handling of recent Police investigations.
Here Carrie Modral speaks for so many of the abuse victims and their never ending anguish that they have endured for so long and are still suffering.
CTV and JEP only were present, from mainstream local media, at this Press Conference.
We at “The Voice” will post the full text of Carrie Modral’s Press Statement shortly.
These wholly innocent victims of abuse should not have to beg for justice.
Submitted by Team Voice.
Friday, 28 August 2009
The Health Minister Deputy Ann Pryke seemed to think that although there was not enough money to fund existing services that her department could still cope with a population increase to ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND. The Scrutineers never really challenged this extraordinary claim and nobody asked either if the HDLG was a factor frightening away potential staff (as alleged in Guernsey) and neither the politicians nor their highly paid Civil Servants knew how many staff at Health were currently suspended!
Nevertheless, we took the opportunity to interview Deputy Judy Martin (Assistant Health Minister) about her progress with the “Williamson Report” and we remain very concerned that lack of funding and lack of urgency will ensure that Children’s Services are deficient for many years to come.
The Scrutiny Committee consisted of Senator Alan Breckon, Deputy Geoff Southern and Deputy Debbie Da Sousa. Witnesses were Deputy Ann Pryke (Health Minister) Deputy Judy Martin (Assistant Health Minister) and three senior Health Civil Servants. Two Scrutiny Officers were also present along with three members of the public including a couple of members from Team Voice.
Deputy Pryke refused to be interviewed but it was not all bad news because “The Voice” was allowed to video the committee proceedings, so that was a small victory.
Below is the interview kindly granted to us by Deputy Judy Martin.
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.
Friday, 21 August 2009
The Sex Offenders (Jersey) Law will be lodged soon and has been delayed for many reasons including that the “agencies involved” have not yet decided how they would operate it and what resources would be needed.
This is the law that proposes to create a “Sex Offenders Register” and will enable Jersey courts to make orders in order to prevent paedophiles from offending again. But is that just a dream in reality?
It is going to be expensive to run and in the first 2 years the courts will be catching up on the backlog of existing offenders.
And the law will enable orders to be made for the protection of children in certain cases even without a previous criminal conviction.
More legislation is centred on Proposition 121 which is due for debate in Jersey very soon. This arises because the UK laws will change in October so that Jersey will lose access to ENHANCED CRIMINAL RECORD CHECKS.
Enhanced means that additional information will be supplied about SUSPICIOUS behaviour which could render a person unsuitable to work with children or vulnerable adults (and work can mean voluntary or charity activities).
The UK system has been changed without adequate thoughts or consultation about how it will affect Jersey (or the other Crown Dependencies) so once again we must wonder why our
elected “representatives” and our expensive civil servants have allowed this to happen?
So now, all of a sudden, we have to agree to this Order in Council in a panic, just to maintain the status quo and so that we can continue to access the inadequate UK records system.
Another part of the package is the proposed Vetting and Barring legislation in accordance with the new UK procedures that are being introduced following Ian Huntley murdering 2 girls at Soham. There, the police incompetence over years had failed to log his previous activities and because he had no convictions, he did not appear on any register and was able to obtain work at a school as caretaker.
It may or may not be relevant to remember also that a police officer employed on the Soham case was subsequently convicted of child pornography offences so we should not under-estimate the scale of the problem that runs throughout society – both there and here.
In theory, the UK system will ensure that anybody working with children or vulnerable adults will have to be registered CENTRALLY in the UK and will be given a UNIQUE number so that their status can be checked by employers etc. Their status in terms of being barred or not may change from time to time. In theory, those who have nothing against them will be able to demonstrate this quickly. It’s another version of the civil servants favourite gimmick the “ONE STOP SHOP”. It will apply to all people already employed or engaged in sensitive areas as prescribed as well as future applicants.
It is not yet determined how the Jersey system might actually work in conjunction with the UK system but it is anticipated that Jersey will be fully integrated into UK Central but with a local appeals procedure. But how any Jersey tribunal will have authority to correct mistakes or decisions made in the UK is baffling and especially worrying.
Not the least worrying aspect is that so much information that is based upon a name or post code has been shown to be incorrect on computer files. And, with the complexity of spelling for many Channel Islands names - besides “Foreign” ones – and the lack of records for many people from overseas, working or seeking work in the British Isles, the potential practical problems are immense.
The Jersey Home Affairs Department proposes to put on explanatory meetings in September with regard to the Sex Offenders Law for both States members and the general public but does not have any similar plans yet with regard to Vetting and Barring.
Since the whole package needs to be understood and discussed from the outset it seems very silly not to have a proper explanation and full consultation facility offered ASAP.
It will be absurd if we lock into the reformed UK system only to find that it is incompatible with future Jersey Vetting and Barring proposals.
Proposition 121 needs to be treated with caution as the first chapter of a possibly very flawed remedy to some extremely serious problems. Are you sure that YOU understand what is proposed?
Monday, 10 August 2009
As we all know – Jersey government already curtails the reporting activities of Bloggers – the Citizens Media – because we are not “accredited press” and are not supposedly subject to the same professional and legal constraints as the professionals.
Yet the letter from Constable Peter Hanning of St Saviour published in the JEP on 8th August 2009 HEREdemonstrates amply just how facile such claims are and shows yet again that the so called “accredited press” is
No complaints have been made about our reporting of Scrutiny Panel meetings but
But we should take notice that there are no effective restraints on the so called “accredited press” and the idea that there are codes or professional standards in place that ensure high standards of reporting or remedies for mistakes – is just simply a myth in practice.
We say that a genuinely open and Free Press that gives everybody the right to express opinions and to have the right to reply is our best guarantee of our rights.
We do not need half baked legislation such as Proposition 112.
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.
Thursday, 6 August 2009
Well, why not give him or her a call now and ask to discuss Proposition 121 which is coming our way soon.
It is possible that your Constable might know what the SVGA or ISA or POCA or POVA or even the CRB are but my guess is that this is unlikely but since he or she will already have received a copy of Proposition 121 in the States bag of papers – well you never know…….
But be sure to suggest that your Parish should book the CRB Vetting and Barring Scheme Roadshow soon because it’s sure to be a sell-out and you don’t want your Parish to miss out this autumn when Part V of the Police Act 1997 becomes law and you have to agree to apply for an Enhanced Disclosure to stay in your job or when you apply for another one………
Oh, and why not ask if your Parish will have a branch of the new Jersey Vetting Bureau too because it could save everybody a great deal of time and money if you could be put through the vetting process in the comfort of your own Parish – among friends so to speak – rather than be subjected to an impersonal and anonymous “car wash” like process in the UK.
I say speak to your Constable rather than your Deputy or the Dozen Senators who “represent” you because he or she is nearer to the everyday policing process and will no doubt have a much better knowledge of such procedures. And who knows you might be related by marriage or something. Also, since Parish duties carry on all the year round your ever diligent Constable is less likely to be swanning around the Caribbean taking a well deserved vacation whilst the States is in recesss….
And talking of money, ask your Constable if the projected cost of this new Vetting Bureau at £98,000 for 2009 is for the full year because Proposition 121 will only be enacted after October so that the cost for a full year could be considerably more…….
And perhaps your Constable can explain why this legislation is in the unusual form of an Order in Council – like it’s direct from Her Majesty herself – so it must be very important. Ask how this works and how on earth we can possible refuse it if it’s really an Order from the Queen our Duke…….?
And why are we discussing it at all, if we don’t have a choice……..?
Friday, 24 July 2009
At both meetings Channel Television were allowed to film without any restraint and nobody objected but Deputy Tadier said this filming was not acceptable, made his protest and walked.
Regular readers/viewers will know that our Government is plotting to formally legislate so that “non accredited” Journalists or Bloggers will not be allowed to video or record Scrutiny Panel Meetings at all see proposition P112 on the gov website http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/frame.asp and this is just the start because all so called “Public” meetings of our Government will inevitably follow suit.
“The Voice” challenged Minister of Home Affairs Senator Ian Le Marquand afterwards and he confirmed that he objected to non “accredited” people being allowed to record Scrutiny Meetings on the grounds that “lay people” must be protected. But there were NO lay people at the meeting and he refused to defend his own stance any further.
Such is the low level to which our “representatives” will sink in order to suppress FREE EXPRESSION and Government transparency.
Be warned such freedoms are too valuable to lose and once again the whole Scrutiny Process is called into doubt.
This is especially sad because some of the Scrutiny Panel Members work endlessly – but what is the point if the Tax Paying Public is kept in the dark and nobody takes any notice of Scrutiny Panel Reports.
THE SYSTEM MUST CHANGE.
Monday, 20 July 2009
Here Deputy Mike Higgins - who is in the firing line as chair of the Economics Affairs Scrutiny Panel over the Bank Depositors Protection Scheme - doesn’t quite defend the Scrutiny system. He says that when usefully critical Scrutiny reports have been produced in the past, it is the Council Of Ministers who have ignored them.
BUT we ask what is the use of Scrutiny reports at all if they can be ignored?
We have previously Blogged on the similarly inadequate Complaints Board process where decisions cannot be enforced either. What is the point?
In some countries Complaints Boards (as Ombudsman Tribunals) can strike down Government policies and decisions and even initiate criminal prosecutions where necessary.
So why can’t Scrutiny Panels in Jersey be given greater powers so that their decisions and reports MUST be taken notice of?
At a recent Scrutiny Panel Hearing Minister of Education Deputy James Reed refused point blank to answer any questions concerning Haute De La Garrenne and threatened to leave the meeting if he was pressed. He should have been encouraged to walk.
The recent threat of Scrutiny Panels to resign en masse was the best news possible.
The power still rests with the exclusive Ministerial Club in Jersey. The system must change soon!!
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Readers will know that OUR government is clamping down on “The Voice” and others who might want to record and publish the proceedings of Scrutiny Panels and similar supposedly public meetings.
We aren’t therefore allowed to show you what actually happened at some recent meetings but we can understand why our government doesn’t want you to see or hear. They must be so ashamed of themselves. Their incompetence is so great. Their contempt for the public is just simply so enormous.
Today it was a special PAC Scrutiny panel meeting called to hear our Chief Minister explain about his role in the Incinerator Funding Joke. You know – the one about the agreement that everybody knew of to take account of currency fluctuations when signing the huge contract with the French builder – but NOBODY was responsible to actually do it.
So it’s pass the accountability parcel time again and it turns out that NOBODY is to blame and even if there was a culprit the matter has been dealt with in accordance with internal procedures and it is NO BUSINESS of the public.
Once again, a whole roomful of expensive civil servants and our so called elected representatives sat around talking politely amongst themselves and ate the sandwich buffet provided – but WE the paying public have discovered nothing except that the whole process is a total waste of time and expense and that this kind of SCRUTINY process will discover absolutely nothing at all.
WHERE oh WHERE is the desire to uncover the facts? The Chief Minister was a bumbling schoolboy and his Chief Officer was just simply not tested – talk about being savaged by a dead sheep!! Senator Breckon and Chris Swinson “the Comptroller and Auditor General” did not even speak at all – why were they there? Haven’t they got any real work to do?
Yet last week we heard the Education Minister and his Chief and Assistant Chief Officers actually threaten to walk out of their quarterly Scrutiny meeting if the Panel pressed any questions to do with Haut de la Garenne or Staff Disciplinary matters!!!!! So Deputy Le Herissier and his limp team of public scrutinizers simply backed down and found some other more polite questions to ask instead.
Once again the cosy relationship was maintained and no useful information was discovered except that the SCRUTINY process is a total farce and NOBODY can be called to account but the sandwiches were devoured eagerly as usual.
And that very afternoon it was the turn of that oh so new and nice soft talking Senator Le Marquand and his quarterly Home Affairs Scrutiny examination before the very same Panel - and Lo and Behold it is still a total mystery who instigated or researched OPERATION BLAST and NOBODY knows who it was - and if is left to this bunch of clueless Closeaux we never shall!!!
Just how much longer can this ridiculous procedure be allowed to continue? What a waste of time it is and how many £ millions are wasted each year in occupying so many hours of civil servants’ and politicians’ time.
And how significant it is that the general public shows virtually no interest in the proceedings at all and the public seats remain empty - but when a few bloggers like US do show an interest and try to publish something via CITIZENS MEDIA on the WEB. – our pathetic government reaches for the PANIC button and seeks to legislate to STOP US!!!!!!
AND they say that they want to ENGAGE with the public!!!!!!!!
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.
Monday, 29 June 2009
Senator Shenton, Chairman of the Scrutiny Panels Chairmen’s Committee has changed his mind. We on “The Voice” thought that we had a breakthrough and that the general public, Bloggers and “Journalists” would all be encouraged to voice their opinions before any more crazy rules or legislation was proposed.
But now it’s back to the dark ages again and Constable Juliette Gallichan and PPC are to be lumbered with the problem of finding a way to keep Bloggers sidelined whilst the so called “accredited” media only enjoy privileged access to “public” meetings such as Scrutiny hearings.
For fuller details of the “plot” so far see our previous Blog below and others on this site.
We have offered to publish any comments from these committees or any others of our so called elected “representatives".
Sunday, 28 June 2009
Thursday, just gone “The Voice” attended the “public” meeting of the Scrutiny Chairmens Chairman’s Committee.
Apart from that ridiculous title we endured (in silence) about one and a half hours of the largely meaningless jawing of Senators Ben Shenton, Alan Breckon and Sarah Ferguson together with Constable J. Refault and Deputies Roy Le Herissier, and (briefly) Mike Higgins and the Scrutiny officer, before we were invited to leave.
Of course, they think that their purpose is useful but if only they could sit in silence on the public chairs like us, they would surely soon realise just what a waste of time it all is although Alan Breckon did point out during their ramblings that the public of Jersey might be alarmed if they knew that the proposed Depositors Protection Scheme £100 millions was to be taken from the public’s own Strategic Reserve - rather than the Finance Industry itself!!!!!! Yes he might be right there…….
But we were then asked to leave because the “Part B” agenda approached and in spite of the fact that the matter under discussion would be US and our very personal battle over the video recording of Scrutiny meetings – we were to be expelled without making any comment or hearing what they said!!!!! Such is democracy in action in Jersey.
However, we protested and made our arguments and to be fair they listened and agreed – or most of them agreed – that the situation was ridiculous and that we should be invited back to a proper meeting together with PPC, and along with any other interested bloggers, journalists or members of the public.
So, before any more mischief is done we ALL have a chance to put the case for blogging or citizens media or just the general public’s right to know what goes on behind the closed doors of government in Jersey. AND YES we really must be prepared to make submissions and to argue the case against censorship and the perpetuation of the notion that there is some sort of accredited and privileged media class in Jersey.
If meetings are open to the public then we must ALL be enabled to report and record the proceedings on an equal basis. This is OUR government at work – it is not a private club.
However, as we left we noted that the luncheon buffet had arrived and that the crusts had been cut from the sandwiches. So nothing too tough for our “elected representatives” to chew on here either………….
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.
Monday, 15 June 2009
GORDON BROWN MP is the Prime Minister.
Or more correctly he is Her Majesty’s Prime Minister of the UK and Gt Britain and Northern Ireland and 1st Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service.
(Jersey is not part of the UK or Gt Britain, has its own Treasury and separate Civil Service.)
Gordon Brown is Labour MP for the Scottish constituency of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath and was elected by 24,000 voters in 2005.
He is the Leader of the Labour Party and was invited to form a government by the Queen in accordance with constitutional convention, as leader of the majority party in the House of Commons. He chooses his principal ministers (the Chancellor of the Exchequer is 2nd Lord of the Treasury) and the Sovereign confirms their appointment.
His Prime Minister’s salary is £127,000 and he receives a MP’s salary too of £60,000 and officially occupies No 10 Downing Street as the office of the 1st Lord of the Treasury.
(Jersey residents pay nothing towards UK Government (including PM) expenses.)
The Prime Minister appears on Facebook and has a blogsite; number 10.gov.uk
BUT WHAT HAS ALL THIS TO DO WITH JERSEY?
If you live in Jersey is he YOUR Prime Minister? If not, who is your Prime Minister?
In fact the title Prime Minister has a vague origin in British constitutional history and was originally used to describe Sir Robert Walpole’s role after he attempted to rescue the national economy following the great South Sea Company collapse in 1721- so no change there.
And even in 1904 Balfour observed that “the Prime Minister has no salary as Prime Minister, no statutory duties as Prime Minister, his name occurs in no Acts of Parliament and though he holds the most important place in the constitutional hierarchy, he has no place which is recognized by the laws of this country.”
By the Ministers of the Crown Act (1937) a joint salary became payable to the 1st Lord of the Treasury and Prime Minister but the former was recognized as “an office” whereas the latter was “a position”.
Of course, nobody actually elects the British Prime Minister. The 24,000 Scots elected Brown as their MP and “English people” generally have grounds for feeling resentment at the overwhelming dominance of Scottish voices in UK government during the Blair/Brown reign.
Residents of Jersey do not generally vote in UK or EU elections although recent residents of the UK retain their franchise and it is possible that a few might even have voted for Gordon Brown as their MP – but Jersey is not an electoral constituency for the purposes of UK/EU elections.
(This was tested re Protocol 1 ECHR under Application 8873/80 before the European Commission of Human Rights 1980/82 and declared inadmissible)
YET, in theory, the UK Parliament could legislate for Jersey on any matter – subject only to the constraints of historical convention - and if Gordon Brown decides to declare war on France, with or without the approval of Parliament, then Jersey would be at war too.
In practice there are many international matters where the UK legislates for Jersey and all Jersey laws have to receive the approval of the “Crown” before they can be enacted.
The British government - with the Prime Minister at its head - scrutinizes all Jersey laws prior to their approval.
Jersey was ordered to send “MPs” to Westminster in the 16th and 17th centuries – but declined to do so.
Traditionally, the people of Jersey are fed a diet of misleading pro-Royalist anti-Parliamentary historical/constitutional propaganda to support the prevailing vague and confusing status quo. The “official line” promotes the notion that historical and constitutional development ceased in the year 1204 and that Jersey is somehow frozen in a medieval relationship with the Duke of Normandy in which King John was a good guy, Charles 1st was not executed, James 2nd was not sent into exile, William and Mary did not embrace the Bill of Rights, Edward did not abdicate in 1936, the countries of Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England were not variously united and then devolved, the Empire was not conquered and relinquished and anti-discrimination legislation is still an undiscovered world.
The concept that the various people of Britain might too have their own histories and have determined their own ever evolving relationships with government and the Sovereign and all sorts of institutions such as the EU or the UN – does not seem to enter the official Jersey political mind.
SO, where does the UK Prime Minister fit into the Jersey arrangements?
If you contact him does he have any powers to solve your problems? Can he influence the way in which you are governed? Can he veto or promote Jersey legislation or policies? What part does he play in the appointment of the Bailiff and the other Crown Officers or the Lt Governor? Can he discipline the Royal appointees or was the removal of Deputy Bailiff Vernon Tomes just a Jersey matter?
A couple of weeks ago, the peoples of the UK and Gibraltar voted in EU elections. Soon there will be a “national election” and almost certainly a new PRIME MINISTER will occupy No 10 – but what does it mean for Jersey? Are we sure that we understand how the existing system operates and should it be reformed in a changing world?
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.
Friday, 12 June 2009
Little Palau Island in the Pacific (pop 20,000) – one of the smallest Republics in the world – has agreed to take 17 ex prisoners from the Cuban hell-hole and the American Government is paying them 200 million dollars to do so.
And British Bermuda (pop 68,000) has also agreed to take 4 prisoners too – which ought to be worth about 50 million dollars or, at least a high rating on the OECD list of approved Tax Havens.
(see the Vexed Bermoothes blogsite HERE)
So why worry about GST or our other tax raising problems or financial constraints – just get Terry 1 to phone Washington DC and place the order now before all the best prisoners are disposed of and they can be granted IIK (Social) Housing consents in a jiffy by Terry 2.
And, whilst we are at it, why not throw in a few homeless Gurkhas too – now that we are on a Human Rights roll.
Surely the UK Government would re-instate the Reciprocal Health Arrangement if Jersey takes a dozen or more of these ex British War heroes.
Furthermore, the population of Jersey could soon reach the planned 100,000 and just think of how much lovely money that would be. We might even be able to employ some more civil servants or consultants. Happy times ahead!!!!! We could solve all our problems within 2 years; build the Esplanade Quarter, construct 10,000 workers dwellings at St John and declare independence too and there would be no need for any further Strategic Plans. Oh thank the Lord for Obama and Brown.
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Today we follow up with Deputy Bob Hill’s comments taken from a letter to Greffier, Michael De La Haye dated 2nd June 2009.
Deputy Hill had assisted the complainants present their case against the Planning Department’s decisions regarding a fence erected at “Saval” and we at “The Voice” attended the hearing and tried to video the proceedings.
We have posted several previous blogs arising from this case because it raises many important issues.
Deputy Bob Hill wrote to Mr de la Haye regarding the Complaints Board for the property known as “ Saval “ and how he had assisted the owners with their Complaint which was heard by the Complaints Board at Trinity Parish Hall on Monday 6th April 2009. The result is recorded in RC43/2009 and he says;
“I believe it would be helpful to PPC if I reported my concerns relating to the way on which the Complaint was reviewed. My concerns are about the acoustics in the Parish Hall, the media’s request to film and the issues of the Human Rights Law.”
Regarding Acoustics, Bob Hill did not object to the use of Parish Halls but wrote that there were problems where the public might not be able to hear the proceedings because of poor sound or seating arrangements and concerns had been expressed to him by some attendees. He said that it should not be too difficult for the Chairman to ensure that everybody could hear properly.
Regarding Filming, he explained that he had been asked by Channel TV and “The Voice” for permission to film the hearing and he requested the Board accordingly. But this had been refused within the Parish Hall but that non-intrusive filming of the site visit was acceptable.
“Neither my complainants nor I had any problems with filming inside the Hall but concern was raised by Planning and in particular from its political representative. I gather that the Board is going to discuss the issue of the filming.
The Reviews are supposed to be public therefore I believe there should be no objection to filming provided it is not obtrusive.”
He further observed that “the issue of filming meetings is not going away” and that he was aware that this matter is already being considered by the Chairmen’s Scrutiny Panel and the Complaints Board but he believes that this is a matter “that it would be appropriate for PPC to ensure that consideration is given and that its decision is made known.”
Regarding Human Rights he wrote;
“Part of my case was that Planning had failed to respect the complainant’s Human Rights, in particular Article 8, the ‘Right to respect for private and family life’. The matter was included in my report dated 15th December. Planning had responded to my claim but was of the view that no violation had occurred. I do not wish to comment on Planning’s view other than to say I do not agree with it.”
“However I was surprised and disappointed at the Board’s response in that it chose not to consider Human Rights issues. As one will see at 4.4 on page 9 of its Report RC43/2009it states;
‘The Board did not consider itself to be competent to determine any human rights issues which might be involved and considered that, in any event, if human rights aspects were to be raised by the Complainant, relevant precedents should be presented by the Complainant or his/her representative.’
Human Rights are very much a part of any decision taken by Authorities and it is incumbent on them to ensure that their decisions are compliant. It is also incumbent on any Review Board to be a competent Authority.
I consider it to be most unsatisfactory that the Board refused to consider the Human Rights merits of my case. I had raised the matter in my letter of appeal and if the Board wanted precedents it could easily have asked for them prior to the Review.”
“The Complaints Board is intended to review decisions and it is inexplicable that it did not consider itself competent to consider Human Rights issues. I believe it is incumbent on the Board to have an understanding of Human Rights Law and if it requires precedents to be provided before the Hearing it should make that requirement known in good time.”
Deputy Hill concluded by asking for his concerns to be “considered at a PPC meeting” which he would be happy to attend and that he had informed both Channel TV and “The Voice” of his intentions so to do.
Needless to state, but we fully support Deputy Bob Hill’s efforts and applaud his open and transparent methods of proceeding. We hope others will lobby their own elected representatives and the PPC and that reform might be soon achieved with regard to the ineffective Complaints Board system.
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
Jersey’s Administrative Decisions Review Board was largely the creation of Jersey Lawyer Senator Reg Jeune back in the very dark ages and he always resisted the notion that the Board should be empowered to overturn Government Decisions. Thus the Review Board was always a toothless body and was really just a bit of window dressing. It was never designed or intended to be effective and was always a pale shadow of the Ombudsman original from Scandinavia.
Under Deputy Roy Le Herissier’s Chairmanship the PPC reviewed the whole process in 2005/6 but failed to change anything very much except that it became known as a Complaints Board. It has remained as a very ineffective tribunal – not helped by the predictably safe people who sit on it – and Chaired by the ultra conservative Solicitor Carole Canavan who recently declared that it was not even constituted to consider Human Rights violation arguments from complainants!
On average the Board receives about a dozen complaints each year and upholds hardly any at all and Solicitor Canavan always reports how busy they are!!!!!
Compare this with the Gibraltar Ombudsman who dealt with 412 complaints and 213 enquiries in 2008 from a population of just 28,000 and according to the most recent report there these are mostly to do with Governmental maladministration on the basis of;
“Bias, neglect, inattention, delay, incompetence, inaptitude, perversity, turpitude, arbitrateness etc.”
This year in Gibraltar the Annual Report (actually handed out on the street) includes a Disc of all Annual Reports since 1998 – compare that with the publication of information in Jersey and the labyrinth of the gov.je website where the Greffe is hidden as a “non executive department”!
On average in Gibraltar, about 50 Complaints are upheld each year – about 45% of all cases that make it through the screening process.
In the UK about 35% of cases are upheld by the Government Ombudsman and there are many specialist Ombudsman Offices for specific activities – like Local Government or Insurance Services.
In Finland the Ombudsman can order a Police investigation, reprimand an official or order a prosecution.
In Norway the Ombudsman can take up issues even without a complaint being made.
So it seems that in Jersey the big public complaint should be about the Complaints Board itself and the sooner we dump the current charade into the Hurd Deep the better.
“The Voice” invited Deputies Roy Le Herissier and Bob Hill to comment.
Deputy Le Herissier’s reply follows and he corrected some of the complicated history of the current procedures and his role and he offers suggestions for further reform of the system.
Bob Hill’s response will be published tomorrow and he offers specific criticisms following the recent “Saval” Complaints Board which we attended and tried to report on and to make video recordings of the proceedings. He also proposes reforms.
This is an important dialogue for anybody interested in Human Rights in Jersey and the provision of an effective Complaints procedure against the administrative decisions and abuses of government.
We must all lobby for reform of this absurdly ineffective process.
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.
Submission of Deputy Roy Le Herissier.
First, a revised history. The Reforms to the Complaints Board were carried
out under Senator Lakeman's chairmanship of PPC by a sub committee
consisting of Deputies Hill and Scott Warren.
I was a member of that Committee and supported the reforms.
When Senator Lakeman left the States I took over but because of other
demands on the Committee the reforms were promoted by the new PPC Commitee
under Constable Gray.The original reforms were put forward together with
amendments from Deputy Hill which allowed for an Inquiry to be reopened
should new evidence come forward.
The main issue when the review took place was the disregard of decisions by
committees. There was always a reluctance-mirrored in most systems-to allow
a non elected person (an Ombudsman) or a non -elected group to override the
will of the Legislature.
That is why such bodies can only recommend. On reflection, I think we should
be much more emphatic and that where a Mnister rejects a finding,the PPSC
should bring a Proposition to the State asking the Assembly to approve the
Human Rights was not an issue when we reported and I think this has to be
revisited. However, the Complaints Board is not a Court of Law . Unless we
invest it with such powers, it will always be reluctant to go there.
However, that has to be reviewed .
Many of the complaints were about Planning decisions and these were often
rejected, to the chagrin of complainants, because the Board was not a second
review body for Planning issues-its focus was maladministration.
Gibralter-we were aware of its active Ombudsman.
We found that a lot of complaints that would come to members in Jersey went
straight to the Ombudsman in Gibralter. They have a much smaller
legislature(13 I think).
The other major reform was to withdraw the discretion of the Greffier as to
whether or not to accept cases. Instead this was passed to the Chairman who
was also given the role of dealing with complaints at the first stage to see
whether more informal and/or quicker resolution was available.
However, I accept your view that the Board's role and findings need to be
pulicised much more energetically.
I think one of the real frustrations complainants have is that they expect
the Board to essentially be a Court of Law and not the half way house it is.
In summary, the Board's work needs to be energetically publicised, the
States needs a more effective mechanism to deal with Ministers who ignore
its findings and we need to see if the kind of powers possessed by the
Finnish Ombudsman could be introduced here.
Monday, 25 May 2009
It is evident that Philip Ozouf has no motivation to ratify this Convention and on the most recent “BBC Talkback” made it clear that no funds were available to implement it or other missing international obligations.
Jersey is just one of a few countries – like Somalia – that have not ratified this most important Convention and Ozouf resorted to the same old scare tactic of suggesting that ratification might inhibit the employment in Jersey of children under the age of 16. This was the ancient pretext that the late Senator Rothwell used to kill ratification years ago and the thought that paper boys and girls might in some way be stopped from delivering the Financial Times was just too much for this uncaring community to deal with.
I wonder if Ozouf is so careful to ensure that none of his clothes are stitched together by children in the far-east for pennies and I wonder too if he has ever tried to discover whether the profits from such exploitation are remitted through Jersey’s Tax Haven business?
The fact is that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is accepted world-wide as the framework of minimum standards that should apply to children everywhere. Most countries that have signed up make a genuine attempt to try to ensure compliance and it is especially perverse that such a wealthy place as Jersey cannot even be bothered to try.
Of course, virtually every candidate during the most recent Senatorial elections declared support for ratification and the creation of a Minister for Children with responsibilities to implement the Convention and a coordinated and comprehensive Children’s Service. Did any of them actually mean it? If so, where are they now?
The text of the Convention was published as an Appendix in the Howard League review of Jersey’s youth justice system. Printed copies are available for free from the Greffe bookshop (few copies only left) or the Howard League at £10 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or you can download a copy from the UNICEF site together with lots more information;
The newly appointed Minister of Health is Deputy Ann Pryke of Trinity and she is ultimately responsible for implementing the new Children’s strategy for Jersey. When she was asked in the States recently by Deputy Tadier about the Convention on the Rights of the Child, she clearly knew next to nothing about it.
It will be necessary to push Ann Pryke every inch of the way if any progress on the Convention is to be made. Her telephone number is 86114 and her e-mail;
The Assistant Minister at Health is Deputy Judith Martin of St Helier No 1 District and she is specifically charged with implementing the half-baked ( and already watered down) Williamson report on Child Protection in Jersey. The recommendations of Andrew Williamson fall short of adopting the Convention and even if adequately funded – which seems unlikely – will still leave children in Jersey with an inadequate service.
For what it is worth you should lobby Deputy Martin too. Telephone her on 780641 or e-mail at;
What is certain is that Jersey children will not enjoy the protection of the UN Convention if we leave it to our so called elected “representatives”. We must lobby them and ask questions at every opportunity. Neglect and do nothing are the standards that have prevailed for centuries in Jersey and our government will not reform willingly or with any enthusiasm.
Submitted by Thomas Wellard
Thursday, 14 May 2009
Yesterday “news” hound Gillian (Paxman) Maritindale got what would seem like the scoop of her career. Channel Television led with this world wide exclusive “revelation” It was headline news on the 6 o’clock channel report.
What was this major exclusive revelation, that deserved to be the lead story? Was it that the Attorney General had admitted to obstructing the police in prosecuting child abusers? Was it an interview with a top Civil Servant or Politician commenting on the allegations there is a possibility we had a mass murderer employed at our hospital who hasn’t been sufficiently investigated? Was it a senior Civil Servant or Politician commenting on the allegations we have a Senior Civil Servant in our Education department that could possibly be a child abuse suspect? Was it the Attorney General admitting our States members phones are being tapped? Was it a senior Civil Servant or Politician telling us why an ex cop, still employed by the States, has been arrested four times under suspicion of child abuse and been released without charge every time?
No, don’t be silly, this is Jersey and Channel Television we are talking about! None of the above is real “news” items. The massive scoop and revelation was a Parish Deputy has a couple of drinks and got his head down in the States building……. STOP THE PRESS, SHOCK HORROR!! This is on par with a newly elected (one of the youngest) politicians taking advice from his mother!! What are we to do? The General public will be horrified by all this and it is all groundbreaking investigative “Journalism”. We really must bring it to the publics attention in case they start worrying about trivial issues like a corrupt Government covering up for child abusers etc.
Personally I was a little more concerned that our elected “representatives” phones might be tapped and asked Gillian (Paxman) Martindale if she would be “grilling” the AG in the same manner in this respect. She told me she had filed a report the day before on that subject. I watched that report where she didn’t interview the AG and gave us, what appeared to be, her own view which was “the conspiracy theory lives to die another day”.
As you will see (above) Deputy Trevor Pitman gave me his interpretation of the AG’s “answer” to the very frightening reality our Politicians phones might be tapped. Can we as the general public afford to dismiss these possibility’s as conspiracy theories. Should we be more concerned that Parish Deputies are working late (drunk or not) in the States Building?
Monday, 11 May 2009
Of course, as a lawyer – with or without the autocratic powers of a Bailiff - he likes the certainty of words and meanings and the idea that there is “an official history of the occupation” (written some years ago by Cruickshank) would no doubt suit his viewpoint.
It is also a disturbing thread in concepts of “nationality”.
The ever present problem that different people with different agenda might come to totally different conclusions after studying the same historical “facts” is at the root of free speech and expression – but it does not suit those who believe in an “official line”.
Indeed, the worrying notion that “Jersey is a brand” was the concluding theme for the evening’s talk and the main speaker, historian and marketing man Prof Paul Saunders seemed to think that there was much work to be done in “managing the brand” and “monopolizing public opinion” and he referred to the obscure application of “threshold dynamics” at the point when old certainties are about to be replaced by new ones in the public mind……….and the Bailiff likes to refer to Jersey as a “Nation”.
The “Prof” also explained how the media can damage a brand image and that even campaigning NGOs could make the largest commercial organizations vulnerable when they mounted a campaign on an ethical or environmental basis. Thus he explained how in a Europe where post war agenda changed – and writers had access to fresh archives notably from the East – yesterday’s heroic Resistance fighters could soon be re-branded as Collaborators and the Jewish ownership of the Holocaust might have to be shared with millions of Slavs who were also to be exterminated in the Nazi plan……..
It was especially significant that Freddie Cohen was seated next to the Bailiff because the “Prof” emphasized how it might be necessary to promote the annual Holocaust Day at the lighthouse memorial in future as a counter-balance to possible changing views on the monumental presence of German bunkers et al in Jersey. It might also be desirable to emphasize how Islanders had helped escaped “slave workers” and how the distant historical “memory” would be modified as modern Eastern Europeans settled in Jersey and brought their own perspectives of reality whilst the local “memory” might be neglected.
So there it is. If we thought for a minute that the interpretation of history was casually left to the vagaries of fashion – we could not be more wrong. Everything is marketed to suit market-place demands – just like Jersey Fresh Milk and the sacred Jersey Cow – it’s all part of a “Jersey Brand”. Historians are not expected to be impartial tellers of stories that need to be told – they are just another cog in the official misinformation machine.
The Finance Industry is beneficial;” Tax Havens” are Finance Centres; “Tax Avoidance” is good “Tax Evasion” is bad; German bunkers were not built with the help of Jersey collaborators because they were too busy helping and hiding escaped “slaves”…….
And it’s all part of the process of making and breaking “myths” too – like the ones that now must show that civilian populations played their glorious part in history too as well as being the dead bodies near the battlefield.
Of course “working class heroes” have never really featured in the official view of Jersey history unless they are supportive of the official historical line. It would be difficult to imagine any Conscientious Objectors’ names being placed alongside those heroes awarded the VC in the Victoria College stained glass. But soon (for example), those unfortunate civilian individuals who perished abroad during the 2nd World War are likely to have their memories lionized as part of the latest Jersey “re branding” process.
(It’s probably too early yet though to see pre 2nd World War Trades Union activists or militant political reformers being cast in bronze….!)
The Bailiff apparently wants Jersey to be an independent “Nation” in the future and that is a cause he can pursue during his retirement from office if he chooses but it’s a pity that he and others seem to want official ownership of Jersey’s past history too.
Submitted by Thomas Wellard.