Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Contender?

Senatorial Poll Topper Senator Ian Le Marquand has wasted very little time in getting to grips with his Ministerial Duties at Home Affairs.

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

No accounting for bad taste

We at “The Voice” were invited to meet the Scrutiny Chairmen’s Committee last week to discuss some of the practical absurdities of the current restrictions - like the 3 day permission to video rule - imposed on us.

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

Noble Cause Corruption.

It is a cruel and ancient truism, but Doctors do bury their mistakes.

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

May God Forgive You!

Today Jersey Care Leaver Carrie Modral held a Press Conference in response to the past two weeks of intense, one-sided, media coverage of this confusing and dreadful scandal.

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.