Wednesday, 14 October 2009

POWER TO THE PEOPLE!




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.

7 comments:

GeeGee said...

I have voiced my delight over this result all over internet today, but just to re-iterate, I am pleased Mr Power has had a just and fair outcome.

One small step.......

Anonymous said...

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."

Aaah, he didn't understand - methinks there's quite a lot he doesn't understand ! !

Well Done Mr Powell, a big one up to them ! Finger, I mean !

Anonymous said...

This is so demeaning that a man in Mr Power's position should be arguing about these trivia that should have been dealth with in the nod of a head. Sadly, I expect when he gets the information he requests it will have been tampered with - that's what happened to me in a similar position, I never got the original email but an email extracted from a chain. So I asked for the original email, why did I want that? - and even if you can prove they've lied through their teeth, with a shrug of their shoulders they're off to the next bit of chicanery. 400k per annum for a FOI law. I don't think we can afford the cost of not having one.

Anonymous said...

Have a look at the "Crusing Fools" link on voliceforprotest if you want to learn about policing in small places.

Ian Evans said...

Hee Hee ! It's me. Bet the lab tec's have screwed around with the alleged "data/information" and things will not be as they are purported to be ? What say ye ?!!!

Anonymous said...

Is Terry Le Sueur really leaving in January? Where did that come from, or is it a rumour? Will the Real Chief Minister finally stand up?

For sure the information will be doctored. Never mind, its obvious that Power's contention is correct - he was stitched up. The question is why. What did he do wrong exactly? We have no information in the public domain as to what he did, other than being Lenny Harper's boss.

What with 0/10 in tatters, the credablility of the Establishement Party and their competence is wearing thin. If this continues, the guys who really run the show are going to get angry and there will be blood on the floor.

voiceforchildren said...

TLS leaving the TITANIC in January is still only a rumour, however it is starting to gain a bit of weight.

Word is PIP Ozouf will take the helm "til it hits the ice berg and then Ian Le Marquand will be skippering the life raft after the next election.