Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Vital Public Meeting - "Are you Media?"

On Friday the 1st of May at 9.30 am there is a meeting of PPC (Privileges and Procedures Committe) that is of vital interest to all Bloggers and Journalists and those interested in political matters and freedom of expression.

The meeting is open to the public and takes place in Le Capelain room of the States building (Royal Square main entrance). You can watch and listen but cannot speak or make video recordings of the proceedings.

On the agenda is the question "what are media?" and this arises as a direct result of our Blogging activities as "The Voice".

If the PPC decides on a definition of "media" that seeks to exclude Bloggers or other so called "non accredited Journalists" the implications could be very far reaching and damaging.

Of course the meeting has not been advertised and we only discovered it by chance and we have only had a few days to prepare our written submission in response to the Goverment's paper, which as far as we know has not been circulated to anybody else, whether press, Bloggers or the general public.

Once again, Free Speech and Expression are under threat in Jersey. The cosy relationship of the established press with the Jersey government has been upset by Bloggers like us and others who dare to challenge the status quo.

If you have the time we urge you to attend the meeting but if not you can contact your elected "representatives" and especially the members of PPC who are;

Constable Juliette Gallichan of St Mary (Chairman)
Senator Ian Le Marquand
Deputy Ben Fox
Deputy Judith Martin
Deputy Collin Egre
Deputy Montford Tadier
Deputy Mike Higgins

Saturday, 25 April 2009

More Jersey Law and Disorder

So after 800 years of legal isolation since 1204 – we can now study Jersey law in a “properly structured” course with tutors and we don’t have to be employed by Jersey lawyers.

Not only is this an educational “breakthrough” but it also marks the beginning of the end of the Jersey lawyers’ discriminatory monopoly so far as entry to the profession is concerned. Until now, the only way to become a Jersey lawyer has been if your face fits and provided that you could gain employment – and pupilage - within an existing lawyer’s office. Thus, political dissidents have been effectively kept out of the profession and the Victoria College based bastion of privilege has latterly prevailed.

Historically of course, the Bailiff had total control over the profession and the number of Advocates was restricted to just 6 but that limitation was removed (there are now about 250) as was the more recent but temporary and elitist requirement to study at Caen University ( like Guernsey lawyers still must).

Now, the suggested cost at about £10,000 for the privately organized 2 years training course will still ensure that many are excluded and it is not yet certain whether financial assistance will be available and how many places will be on offer etc etc – and it was significant that the Bailiff was interviewed on the radio rather than the Minister for Education to announce the scheme.
Whether the training will finally be offered as a full degree course at Highlands was not yet confirmed either but in those days when Senator (Jersey solicitor) Jeune was President of Education he opposed any Jersey law courses being offered at Highlands and at least one new Head of the Commercial Section received a rap on the knuckles when he suggested it.

Subsequent requests to provide training at Highlands were also resisted and a course in the History of Jersey Law and Constitution as “Our Norman Heritage” was the nearest that was permitted, taught by a renegade Guernsey born English Barrister and Law Lecturer ( and now senior Guernsey Advocate). He wanted to publish his course notes in book form so that others might study his teachings but even that was resisted by the Jersey Law establishment. It was not a question of cost – just a resistance to losing control over access to the knowledge!

For a while Advocates Lakeman and Kelleher offered a short introductory course at Highlands College in Jersey Law but without any examination structure their useful little venture was of limited professional value.

Le Quesne’s Report on Jersey law and Legal Services put forward the abolition of Jersey law and the adoption of another system – presumably English law – in its place and that suggestion received a particularly cold response from Jersey lawyers. But the obscurity of the Jersey system, the lack of text books and training, the ever increasing dominance of others law precedents from the EU and other jurisdictions – all seem to be factors that would ensure the death of Jersey law sooner or later.

So, it is especially significant that Bailiff Pip Bailhache should be able to announce this training initiative just prior to his retirement because it fits in with the “Independent Jersey” agenda very nicely.

Without some form of structure in place to preserve and promote the unique Jersey Law alongside the Jersey Language, the Flag and the sacred Jersey Cow, spud and Wonder an independent Jersey would be a particularly vulnerable entity in a competitive world.

As usual, it’s the preservation of the Finance Business rather than the need to make knowledge generally available that has really inspired this latest move and Pip was anxious to stress that the new course would be available to those employed in that business just as much as those employed in lawyers offices.
It was noteworthy that he did not dwell upon the need to train lawyers to promote social equality or human rights because such concepts are not at the top of his list of priorities and they hardly feature in traditional Jersey law either.

Whether Pip intends to devote his looming retirement to writing the Jersey Law text books that the new course will demand is something we must wait to discover but the Jersey Law Encyclopedia that former Solicitor General Stephanie Nichols had long promised has not yet landed on the library shelves.

Presumably, access to the secret tomes and words of legal wisdom will still only be available to those that can be trusted with them and Jersey Lawyers, led by the Bailiff will still maintain their control over their exclusive professional monopoly – but this little chink is significant and could lead to greater reforms in due course.

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

police state? Democracy?

Jersey “Democracy” took a further dive today when the States (Jersey government) refused to debate the circumstances surrounding the police raid on Senator Syvret’s home and the consequences of that action.

Just like the raid on Damien Green MP at Westminster the Jersey police raid has raised a multitude of very important questions but unlike the UK - where there has already been an enquiry and a critical report published - the Jersey Oligarchy has resisted examination once again!

Senator Stuart Syvret (our most senior politician) had his home raided and all sorts of confidential information taken away because he has (like Damien Green) been daring to expose all sorts of defects in the administration of justice and government in Jersey.

He has even published information on an alleged mass murderer employed at our General Hospital and he has challenged , among many other things the investigation into the Haute De La Garenne children’s home scandal.

So today, true to form the Jersey government decided 20 - 25 votes with our Home Affairs Minister (Home Secretary equivalent) abstaining, that the general public shall not know whether the action was legal, who ordered it or whether it is safe to give confidential information to our elected representatives.

We are told that the raid was carried out in accordance with Data Protection law requirements but we can find no authority under that law for such a raid.

Bloggers - once again - must be especially vigilant because it is that Data Law which is most likely to be used to curtail our activities.

Have we got an out of control Police force? Have we got a Police force doing the dirty work for our “ruling elite”? Is this typical Democratic behaviour? Who can we communicate with in confidence if not our elected officials?

These are very worrying times here in Jersey.

Silent Peaceful March

On April the 25th 2009 at 12 noon there is to be a silent and peaceful march from Peoples Park to the Royal Square. The march will be in support and acknowledgement of victims of child abuse past and present across the world.

On October the 21st 1996 up to 300,000 Belgian citizens took to the streets wearing white ribbons and arm bands as a symbol of hope which became known as “The White March”. It was not only a march for hope but also a silent peaceful protest against their governments handling of the of the Marc Dutroux case which bears many similarity’s, not only to the way our government has handled the child abuse scandal that has hit Jersey, but the way child abuse is handled by some governments across the world.

We would like the Jersey White March to be non political or critical of our government or police investigation. We believe it will be an opportunity to show abuse survivors and the rest of the world that the good people of Jersey do not condone abuse of any human being - child or otherwise.

Abuse survivors, across the globe, have had theirs and their family’s lives torn apart, wrecked, and destroyed, not only by the heinous abuse they have suffered at the hands of their abusers but the wall of silence that inevitably surrounds the taboo subject of paedophilia and child abuse.

This March has the support of the Care Leavers Association (CLA) and the Jersey Care Leavers Association (JCLA) Please give this march and all abuse survivors your support and show the world the good people of Jersey DO care.

We would ask if you are able to attend the march that you wear something white, a symbol of “hope”

If you are a Blogger and support abuse victims around the world, please copy and paste this onto your Blog until the day of the march SATURDAY 25th OF APRIL 2009 12.p.m

Thursday, 16 April 2009

When is a fence an offence?

We referred previously to the Complaints Board hearing v Planning and the timber fence built at “Saval” a little cottage in Trinity and that Decision is still awaited here

But in the meantime there are many issues that need to be raised – not least that of the different standards that seem to apply to Senator Freddie Cohen and his property in St John which we have previously discussed on this site here

For simple clarity we have a short video clip here to show “Saval” which is a BLI (Building of Local Interest) and Freddie’s House in St John which is a SSI ( a site of Special Interest). Freddie’s house is not only much larger – it is also much more important on the Register as an SSI. So any alterations on Freddie’s house need extra special planning controls and limitations……

Freddie has already complained that he is furious with us and that by showing his house on our blog we have put his family in danger! Obviously the Minister for Planning values his privacy and the timber fence built on top of the roadside wall with its Security Group warnings make that very clear BUT we can find no evidence that planning permission was ever granted for the fence AND that is the very same issue which the “Saval” dispute arises from.

In fact, according to the “controversial” permission given to Freddie to construct an entirely new house for his mother in his garden (in October 2008) the timber fence has to be removed under the pretext of improved vehicle sight lines – but there is certainly no hint that the fence was illegally built in the first place or that Freddie might have broken the planning laws of Jersey. Of course, we simply don’t know whether the laws have been broken or not but Freddie has owned the particularly fine SSI property since 1986 at least………

……and there is no exemption for BLI and SSI buildings when it comes to alterations - even building a humble fence to afford privacy to the occupiers – formal planning permissions must be obtained first and that is just what “Saval” is all about.
The occupiers of “Saval” built their fence in order to achieve privacy in their garden and security for their pet dog and of course those reasons are supported under the Convention of Human Rights and Freddie gave a long written answer as Planning Minister in April 2007 to Senator Ben Shenton to explain the importance of Human Rights obligations and listed buildings and what might be done to them - so neither he nor his department can claim to be ignorant on the matter.

Yet extraordinarily, at the Review Board hearing ( which we heard but were not allowed to video record) Roy Webster the Senior Planning Officer claimed that in over 20 years with the department he had never heard of anybody even raising Human Rights as a challenge to a planning decision and whilst he said that the department always took account of Human Rights issues he clearly did not have a clue that Privacy was such an important issue and neither he nor the planning committee had even previously entered the garden of “Saval” to get to know the property!
He did though explain that the general public right to be able to see and enjoy BLI and SSI buildings was one of the specific reasons why the erection of fences was so strictly controlled – so that loss of privacy for the occupiers was necessary in the interests of the public right to gaze.
So what does that say about Freddie’s mansion and his fence and the public right to see his house and our right to blog its image?

Also raised was the question of whether or not it was appropriate for the Constable or Deputies of a Parish to sit on planning committees when own parish sites were being considered and the role of the conflicted or not conflicted Deputy Ann Pryke of Trinity (and Deputy Planning Minister) was a joy to hear (in her absence) as explained from the lips of Constable “I know how to be impartial” Hanning of St Saviour……….

But, of course, there were many many issues of great importance raised at this insignificant hearing and it is ever more frightening to know just how the government and administration of Jersey carries on behind the scenes. Thank heavens for the likes of Deputy Bob Hill who is constantly niggling away to expose the unfairness but where are the other 50 or so elected representatives or concerned lawyers or even journalists who will give him the support that he deserves?

And who will have the nerve to challenge Freddie Cohen and ask when his fence was approved by his own department and why his family’s rural privacy is so important above others with equal needs?

For more pictures of Saval Cottage please see

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Piracy in the Blood?

The desperate activities of the pirates from Somalia are currently attracting world-wide attention and universal condemnation but the Channel Islands were once notorious too as centres for the sea robbers.

Now as then, the ransom was a favourite method for extracting wealth without too many questions asked and it suits the tactics of the small, lightly armed and fast vessels with just a dozen or two fearless men on board.

Blatant piracy was substantially curtailed around the Channel after about 1700 but it was not eliminated and many vessels sailed from Guernsey and Jersey with official “Privateering Licences” issued by the Admiralty in London and they often behaved more like pirates and continued to ransom captured vessels and their crews, long after London had decreed that they should not.

The extensive smuggling trade also meant that many hundreds of illegally armed vessels sailed out of the Channel Islands in peacetime because it was not against the law in these regulation havens to arm vessels. There were frequent and ferocious battles and many were killed or injured by the Channel Islands smugglers and just occasionally some of the culprits were captured to be punished as pirates. More usually though they died in battle or were sent to serve in the Navy or they evaded capture altogether and prospered………..

Philip Bailhache was the commander of the “Resolution” licensed privateer lugger of Jersey in 1782 and he and his crew of 24 men went to sea armed with just 1 small cannon, 2 swivel guns plus hand arms. Their lugger was about 30 feet long and would have been remarkably similar to the craft that the Somalians use today.
Clement Bailhache commanded the tiny “Surprize” lugger with a crew of 12 men and the “Enterprize” lugger of just 10 tons at about the same time.

The Le Cocqs were active in all the islands and around Weymouth as successful smugglers and privateers and Peter Le Cocq typically commanded the “Tartar” a 14 gun lugger based in Guernsey in 1799 with a crew of 70.

In those days there was a much greater camaraderie among the Channel Islands families and the Syvrets were another who seemed to be well integrated into the dubious maritime business. But James Syvret who commanded the 50 men on the “Aurora” in 1779 may or may not have realized that his part owner Edward Millais was in league with the French and was helping with the planned French invasion of Jersey.
Millais was lucky to escape with his neck but young John Syvret served on several small Jersey vessels later and spent a lot of time in French prisons as a result.

Peter and Thomas Labey also commanded several armed vessels of the smaller class that were flexibly suited to all sorts of activities. Their “Fox” and “Lark” were very suitably named luggers carrying about 30 men armed with swivels guns and hand arms in 1779 and their “Diamond” was another with a solitary small cannon and a couple of swivels and just 12 desperadoes as crew. Their vessels were probably based at Grouville because the nearby French Island of Chaussey was a favourite rendezvous where they traded with Regnier, the great French smuggler and ally of Ed Millais. There were all sorts of strange allegiances in those days. Philip Dupré who had commanded the little “Adeventure” in 1756 might have been a near neighbour until captured by the French off St Malo in 1757 but he had Guernsey based owners.

There were no such doubts about Capt Philip Jeune who sailed out of Jersey in the diminutive “Hazard” lugger in July 1780 with just 12 men, armed with cutlasses and pistols and 2 swivels and victuals for a 6 months cruise. But it was a wonder that they had enough storage space even for the toilet paper! When John Jeune commanded the little “Lively” cutter with just 14 men in 1793, these included a Peter Dupré as carpenter so they were possibly from the eastern side of the Bailiwick and the Jeunes were from a refugee French family. John Jeune part owned the ultra tiny “Lively” lugger of just 6 tons in 1782 carrying a crew of 9 men, with small arms and I barrel of gunpowder on a 1 months cruise. They probably operated a no smoking rule.

The Viberts took to “privateering” like ducks to water and John, Thomas, Philip and William all commanded vessels after 1779 as did John and Noah Le Sueur. The latter had a long and varied career including a spell as commander of armed West Indies rum smugglers such as the “Mars”. But inevitably the luck ran out and the “Mars” was seized for smuggling in 1815 although Le Sueur had by then ceased to command the ‘Jerseyman’.

In 1778 the “Lively” of Jersey Capt Kirby was captured by the French although she was armed with 16 cannon. In fact she was a French built vessel so they were probably claiming back that which justly belonged to them. But some of the captured crew, including a Rondel presumably questioned the fairness of it. He scratched his name on his prison wall at La Rochelle where it remains to this day – as a sort of early “Hansard” record of history.

William Reed commanded the “Alderney” of that island in 1778 but he was most likely from Weymouth and the vessel was a notorious smuggler and it was all part of the devious game to disguise true ownership or details of the business activities.

The Perchards were also predominantly from the sister isle and Capt Daniel Perchard was sailing out of Southampton in 1747 in the “Guernsey privateer” and the “Fame” 10 years later. But this family were more into ownership of vessels than actually sailing them and James Perchard was prophetically in partnership with the Le Mesurier and Dobrée families as owners of the “Hopewell ” sloop in 1705.
Later, a Perchard and a Le Mesurier would both serve as Lord Mayors of the City of London and a Dobrée would be Governor of the Bank of England.

When you reach the top as they say, the only way thereafter is down……….

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.

Monday, 6 April 2009

More Blogging battles........

Today Deputy Bob Hill presented a "complaints board" appeal regarding an "offensive" fence around a cottage at Trinity.

Thirteen people including 82 year old (former Senator) Dick Shenton assembled at Trinity Parish Hall to hear the officially "open to the public" meeting together with Team Voice and Channel Television. But, although we and CTV could video the visit to the cottage, it was decided (in one of those infamous Jersey instant decisions) that no recording could be made of the "open to the public" proceedings at the Parish Hall.

So, almost as crazy as the Scrutiny Panel "3 day rule" - but in this ruling the entire Media can only show you external video. Ironically, the cottage owners were happy for "The Voice" to video and publish on the internet.

More on this complaints board hearing and the "amazing planning office" will follow soon..............