Saturday, 28 August 2010

Can’t see the wall for the trees.


This is a second Press Release from the Law Firm Hanson and Renouf that has been published by VFC, the first one being HERE. Firstly one has to congratulate Advocate Hanson and Barbara Corbett, Head of Family Law at Hanson Renouf for their continual uphill battle in attempting to be a voice for children here in Jersey........they must feel like they are hitting their heads off a brick wall!

Jersey has an appalling record on “caring” for children. One only needs to look at the Howard League for Penal Reform’s report where one of the TWENTY RECCOMMENDATIONS were "including the immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)." and the Serious Case Review (SCR) (the latter being instigated by Advocate Hanson) to learn how our government “care” for children.

Naturally this is all a very complex read which is full of legal jargon that is not easy to understand for your run of the mill Joe Public. However, what stood out like a saw thumb to me was that a “tree” or a “wall” has more legal rights than a child in the eyes of our Law Officers.

Convinced that I must have read, or interpreted, this Press Release wrong, I phoned Hanson and Renouf. I spoke with a member of staff and asked her if I was correct in believing a tree or a wall has an automatic right to a Lawyer and a child doesn’t? She assured me that I had read it correctly!!! That is not only absurd in the 21st century but truly, truly frightening. What chance does a child stand if pieces of brick-work or a plant are “legally” held in a higher regard?

It is interesting to learn that, as far as I am aware and stand to be corrected, there are only three places in the world that have not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). America, Rwanda and, of course, Jersey. Places like China have even ratified it!

I strongly urge readers to lobby your elected “representative(s)” to ratify the UNCRC........for the sake of the children.

Here are some views of this latest judgment of our Deputy Balliff from lawyers in the UK.

“- this judgment is antediluvian.

How can any family Judge assert that care proceedings are not dispositive of the rights of the child concerned? How can any family Judge accept that such a child should not necessarily have the right to separate legal representation when, if the child was charged with theft (rather than at risk of permanent removal from birth family) such separate representation would be automatically available?

The suggestion that, between them, the LA and parents can effectively represent the child and advance the child's views had, I thought, gone out with the Ark.

Has the judge never heard of Maria Colwell or Jasmine Beckford?”



Another has said

“Has everyone forgotten why the present system was introduced?

Did Jasmine Beckford et al die for nothing?”


Another has described it as follows:

“Oh dear!

Not impressed with the judge-craft - blatant premature adjudication... The logic appears to be "We want to stop doing this because we can't afford it. Here are lots of reasons why we don't HAVE to do it. The reasons why we SHOULD do it are irrelevant because we don't want to"

I love the reference to Liberty to Apply being an adequate Art 6 safeguard in property cases involving adults, meaning that children don't require representation in care cases!

To be fair to the Deputy Bailiff, he has picked up on something that Cafcass has forgotten, namely that the need for the children to be heard is greater where the LA and the parents are agreed than when they are in dispute. That was raised as far back as Colwell, but Cafcass has lost sight of it.

OK, that's enough being fair, the rest of it is ****”


Regards


HANSON AND RENOUF PRESS RELEASE

ARE VULNERABLE CHILDREN IN JERSEY BEING DENIED A VOICE WHILST THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD IS NOT ADOPTED?


An important 33 page judgment has just been handed down on 17th August, 2010 by the Deputy Bailiff (sitting without Jurats) and is poised to alter Jersey practice in care cases. It will place Jersey at odds with recognized good practice in England and Wales and also in various other jurisdictions. It also appears to be at odds with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child but which has yet to be ratified by the States of Jersey.

On 30th April, 2010, the Minister for Health requested a lawyer to be appointed for a baby that was subject to care proceedings evidently believing that it was appropriate for the child to have the benefit of a lawyer. The Deputy Bailiff declined to appoint a lawyer and despite it being a likely consequence of the proceedings that the baby would be removed permanently from its mother. The Court did however appoint a social worker as guardian from the NSPCC whose managers subsequently complained (as the judgment describes) that without a Jersey lawyer, the guardian could not perform her role. More particularly, to deny the appointment of a lawyer would be to deny the child its legal right. The NSPCC stated:

“The arguments of proportionality and costs, whilst needing consideration should not override the rights of the child for representation. It cannot also be right that lawyers and professionals can decide on this child’s future without the child having full access to representation…”

At a subsequent hearing, the Deputy Bailiff agreed to appoint a lawyer for the child, but only after there had been a number of important developments in the case (including the instruction of experts) and preparations for a contested hearing in the case where the child had been unrepresented and the Guardian unable to fulfil her role.

A further 30 odd pages of the judgment (now handed down) are devoted to explaining why children could not expect to have the benefit of a lawyer or guardian as of right in care proceedings.

In this careful and detailed judgment, the Deputy Bailiff surprisingly concludes that even in care proceedings where a child might be permanently removed from its parents, such proceedings were not “dispositive of any civil rights of the child.” (Para.47) – a conclusion that has already provoked some consternation amongst child lawyers both in Jersey and in England. Indeed, the Deputy Bailiff’s comparison of care proceedings to the Visite Royale (para.30) where owners of land that have an overgrown tree or bowed wall are not formally heard (whilst the issue is discussed by the Royal Court at the location in question) will provoke similar interest. Of course, care proceedings are very different but in any event it has been the convention that a lawyer recently sworn in would argue for the tree or wall in question.

Unfortunately, at para 21-22 of the judgment, it is clear that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child did not influence the judgment of the Deputy Bailiff – not yet being part of Jersey law.

Advocate Timothy Hanson said “For those that have tried to promote the rights of children in Jersey, this is a depressing decision. We are considering how best to challenge this decision and lobbying States members to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

Advocate Timothy Hanson is a partner at Hanson Renouf, a niche dispute resolution firm. He has considerable experience as a children’s lawyer. He represented AB the child at the centre of Jersey’s first Serious Case Review. Advocate Hanson has long promoted human rights issues in Jersey. Barbara Corbett is Head of Family Law at Hanson Renouf. She is a specialist child and family lawyer.

Tel: 767764



Submitted by VFC.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Outcome? A precedent has been set.



After reading the page below, which is taken from probably the most redacted Report in history, the Wiltshire Police Report “Operation Haven” I couldn’t help thinking that a very dangerous precedent has now been set.

Highly Confidential – Personal Information

An independent disciplinary investigation by Wiltshire Police
Following the suspension of Chief Officer Graham Power of the
States of Jersey Police on 12 November 2008.


Obligation to confidentiality

1. Paragraph 1.2 of the discipline code (for Chief Officers of the States of Jersey Police) requires that all parties involved in the operation of this code will maintain confidentiality while proceedings are being progressed. The outcome of any particular case arising under the code will not, as a general rule, be publicised, but it is accepted that following the outcome of a particular case, the Home Affairs Minister and/or the States Employment Board and /or the Chief Officer, might decide that public disclosure is appropriate.

2. This Report contains personal data within the meaning of the Data Protection Act 1998, and Wiltshire Police would breach the first data protection principle if it were to disclose that information. Hence, the information is exempt under s.40(2) Freedom of Information Act 2000

3. This Report contains information that has been, and continues to be, held by Wiltshire Police for the purposes of an investigation which it has a duty to conduct and which ought not to be disclosed (under s.30 Freedom of Information Act 2000).

4. An obligation of confidence upon Wiltshire Police arises from the duty outlined at 1. Above, and disclosure of information would be likely to prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and Jersey. Information, therefore, ought not to be disclosed (under s.27 Freedom of Information Act 2000).



At the time they wrote their report Wiltshire Police were apparently resolved to resist any attempt to secure publication. They wheel out a number of reasons (some slightly far fetched such as the international relations bit) but there are grounds which, under UK law would entitle them to refuse an application under the Data Protection Act. That is the point of why they are setting out some of those grounds they are taken from UK Law as a basis on which an application for freedom of information may be refused. There is not the slightest hint that they contemplate the publication of their report. All of the indications are to the contrary. Were they “duped” into believing their Report WAS going to be a part of due process, only to find out it was something to give the “accredited” local media by Ian Le Marquand?

The bit about the Jersey Disciplinary Code has, it could be argued, been deliberately mis-applied by the Home Affairs Minister and his “advisors”. Para 1.2 of the code says that all parties will maintain confidentiality, and goes on “the outcome (my emphasis) of any particular case arising under the Code, will not, as a general rule, be publicised but it is accepted that following the outcome of a particular case the Home Affairs Minister, and/or the States Employment Board and/or the Chief Officer might decide that public disclosure was appropriate." The key thing about this is that it is clearly talking about the “OUTCOME” of a case....i.e. The Chief Officer was cleared or a warning was given, it is, in my opinion, transparent contrivance to claim that this provision entitles a minister to publish the report of the disciplinary investigation. That is a separate thing from the "outcome.” There never was an “OUTCOME”. The Home Affairs Minister abandoned the disciplinary process. But the precedent has now been set. Does this now mean that any states employee, even if un-convicted of any wrongdoing can face the prospect of the publication of a disciplinary report all over the “accredited” media? Or will it, once more turn out to be one rule for one????????????????????????????????

Submitted by VFC.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Napier “for your (John Richardson's) eyes only”




In February 2010 twenty six of our States members (The P9-26) voted against Deputy Bob Hill’s proposition (P9/2010) which was for a public committee of enquiry into the people and process used to (illegally?) suspend the Chief of Police Graham Power QPM. Twenty six was enough to defeat the proposition despite this strong arguement from Deputy Hill.

It is apparent that Members voted against the proposition on the promise of an alternative proposal submitted by our Chief Minister Terry Le Sueur, (TLS) where instead of an open and public enquiry, a Commissioner would be appointed to carry out the review and this would be much quicker and simpler process than that required in the formation of a Committee of Inquiry, but would still provide the level of assurance Members were looking for. Members were advised that the Terms of Reference proposed by the Chief Minister contained a specific clause that asked the Reviewer to establish whether there were grounds for a full Committee of Inquiry. Should this be confirmed, the Chief Minister (TLS) committed to bringing back to the Assembly a Proposition for a Committee of Inquiry. The Terms of Reference also required the Commissioner to review all information relating to the original suspension procedure, including relevant sections of the suspended Chief Officer’s Affidavit It was also proposed that the quicker and simpler review would not take any longer than 4 to 6 weeks.

Deputy Bob Hill was asked by the Chief Minister if he would be part of the selection process to appoint the Reviewer, Deputy Hill only agreed if the Chief Minister would allow him to be involved with the ongoing work of the Commissioner, the reporting mechanism and the reports themselves, including the Final Report. The Chief Minister agreed to this arrangement via an email dated 1st March.

For those of you who haven’t been following this latest debacle you would do well to have a look on Rico Sorda’s Blog where he has been covering it extensively because at time of typing the “accredited” media, who have been copied into this correspondence, have not published/broadcast a single word of it.

It turns out that this review which was going to take four to six weeks is SIX MONTHS LATE and still there is no sight of it. However it is apparent that 2 position/interim reports have been submitted by the Commissioner but Deputy Bob Hill (who is supposed to have oversight) has not seen anything.

However Deputy CEO John Richardson has!! We are led to believe has asked for, and received, an interim or progress report, or what was the other thing TLS called it? Ahh yes a “position paper”. Call it what you like, John Richardson, it is believed has seen two of these reports, position papers and Deputy Hill? Nothing, nada, zilch, sweet Fanny Adams.

Why is this significant? Because John Richardson’s immediate superior is CEO Bill Ogley. Former CPO Graham Power QPM (in a sworn Affidavit) has implicated Mr. Ogley in some, what might be termed as “dodgy dealings” which will, I believe, make Mr .Ogley, (Mr. Richardson’s boss) either a suspect, or witness, in the Review conducted by Brian Napier QC.

Below is a couple of e-mails that are the latest in a chain that have been published by Rico Sorda which I hope will give the readers some idea of the struggles that Deputy Hill and others, notably Deputy Trevor Pitman, have in trying to get Terry Le Sueur to keep his promises.

From Bob Hill
To Terry Le Sueur
Cc "All States Members (including ex officio members)
Date Thu, Aug 19, 2010 at 10:08 AM

Subject FW: The Review into the suspension of the Chief Police Officer.

Dear Terry,

Thank you for your email but it again does not address my request for answers, so I again request the information.

I welcome the support from Deputy Pitman whose comments I am sure are shared by all fair minded States Members.

I attach a copy of the JEP dated 27th March in which it is stated that the review would take about 4 to 6 weeks you will note that the Terms of Reference are included in the report. I also attach the written answer you gave to Deputy Pitman on 19th July.

I have informed you that I am shortly to go on holiday and wanted to have sight of ALL of Mr Napier's Reports in accordance with our agreement. If you do not want to see them that is down to you but in the interest of good government and our agreement I want to see them. I also want to see Mr Napier when he is next over and have asked that he does not come over whilst I am away. Please may I have the two Reports that Mr Richardson has received or it be arranged that I see them with Mr Richardson. Finally please may I and Deputy Pitman be informed whether you have received Mr Napier's Final Report or if not, when is it expected?

As a matter of courtesy I am copying this email to Mr Napier.

Regards, Deputy F. J. (Bob) Hill, BEM.,
Deputy of St Martin

Deputy Trevor Pitman’s e-mail referred to above.

From: Trevor Pitman

Sent: 6 August 2010 23:58

To: Terry Le Sueur; Bob Hill

Cc: All States Members (including ex officio members)

Subject: RE: The Review into the suspension of the Chief Police Officer

Dear Terry

In all fairness this report is now seriously over due - ridiculously so to be quite honest. Six weeks we were told by your good self. Will you please now advise us as to the proposed date when this will be with us. It must also, with the greatest of respect, be possible to answer Bob's questions. It was agreed that he be kept fully in the loop alongside you - so surely what he is asking is perfectly reasonable and could be ascertained with a couple of phone calls. We really shouldn't have another shambles like Ian's total loss of control of the disciplinary process.

Regards Trevor


Deputy Trevor Pitman’s written question referred to above.

WRITTEN QUESTION TO THE CHIEF MINISTER
BY DEPUTY T.M. PITMAN OF ST. HELIER
ANSWER TO BE TABLED ON MONDAY 19th JULY 2010

Question

'Will the Chief Minister clarify the full reasons as to why the report into the issues surrounding the suspension process of the Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police - promised to the Assembly to be completed in six weeks - has instead not been completed prior to the announcement that all disciplinary measures were to be dropped; further still, when will this report be completed and made available in full to all States Members?'

Answer

The original timescale for the completion of the independent review into the suspension of the Chief Officer of Police was six weeks as stated in the Deputy’s question. Unfortunately, due to difficulties in arranging convenient dates for interviews and travel disruptions caused by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud, it was not possible to complete the interview process with one of the key witnesses during the Mr Napier’s first visit to Jersey. A second visit had to be arranged to that suited both people.
All of the interviews were completed by 9th June 2010 and I am awaiting the final report. Unfortunately, due to other work commitments, Mr Napier was unable to complete his final report immediately after the interview process was complete.
I have been advised by Mr Napier, that he is currently writing his final report which should be completed by the end of July. Once the report has been issued and all parties concerned have had the opportunity to consider any findings, it will be published in full.


Submitted by VFC.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

New Chief Police Officer Wanted for Jersey.




The States of Jersey are now advertising for a new Chief Police Officer, as can be seen at the bottom of this post.

We at “Team Voice” believe that any potential applicants should be well researched and informed of how our government treats their Chief Police Officers. We have set out a small chronology of events experienced by Former Chief Police Officer Graham Power QPM.

Any potential applicants would do well to know we have (to use the words of our Home Affairs Minister) a “not fit for purpose” disciplinary code for Chief Police Officers, that the Home Affairs Minister insists on using, despite there being better alternatives available, as used in the UK.

The Chief Police Officer is not afforded legal representation as part of his position. Your fate will lie in the hands of one person alone, that being the Home Affairs Minister.

There is no such thing as an Independent Police Authority in Jersey, if you get suspended then you’re on your own!

Potential applicants cannot afford to ignore any of the links set out in this posting, and must read everything in its entirety, and then you should be sufficiently researched and informed.

Team Voice would like to wish the successful applicant, all the luck they deserve………

Chronology of events.


1. In June 2007. The former Chief Police Officer is due to reach "Normal retirement age." He is asked by Ministers to work on to maintain continuity of management due to the fact that a number of senior ranks are due to retire around the same time. The Ministers were able to persuade him to stay on.

2. Early 2008. The Historic Abuse Enquiry, which has been running for around 18 months, becomes high profile. Deputy Chief Officer Lenny Harper, who is due to retire in the summer of that year, is in command. His job has been advertised and a number of candidates have applied. The selection process moves slowly and David Warcup is not able to take up his position until Lenny Harper is in the process of leaving.

3. November 2008. The Chief Police Officer is called in when on leave and suspended from duty by the then Minister for Home Affairs, Andrew Lewis. The meeting lasts around half an hour. There has been no warning, no expression of concern, no advance notice of the purpose of the meeting and no offer of representation. It later emerges that the sole evidence used to justify the suspension is a letter from the new Deputy Chief Officer, David Warcup which the Minister (Andrew Lewis) claims he received the previous day. Immediately following the suspension Mr. Warcup is appointed as Acting Chief Officer.

4. December 2008. Brian Moore, Chief Constable of Wiltshire, is appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation. He indicates that he will submit his report by around March 2009.

5. Immediately following his suspension the Chief Police Officer (Graham Power QPM) examines the suspension documents and is suspicious. They are complex, legalistic, and do not appear to be capable of having been produced in the timescale claimed. There are also errors which indicate that they may have been drafted with a longer process in mind. The Chief Police Officer makes a disclosure request for the times and dates on which the letters were created. This is refused by our Chief Minister Terry Le Sueur.

6. January 2009. The Chief Police Officer swears an Affidavit and begins proceedings for a Judicial Review of his suspension.

7. Feb/March 2009. The new Minister, Senator Ian le Marquand conducts review meetings ONE, TWO and THREE in relation to the suspension and decides to keep it in place.

8. July 2009. After a number of adjournments at the request of the Minister the Judicial Review reaches the Royal Court. The Court rules that it can only pass judgement on the most recent ministerial decisions which are the reviews of February and March. The original suspension is now "out of play." The Chief Police Officer claims that things are being dragged out to a point where he is being "dismissed by stealth." There is still no report from Wiltshire and no indication of when matters will move forward. The Minister states that he will have a report soon. In a subsequent judgement the court rules that the minister did not exceed his powers in the February and march reviews. They do however make strong criticism of the manner of the original suspension although they are no longer able to rule on its legality. The Minister applies for costs!! The court refuses the application stating, among other things, that the case was brought in the public interest.

9. September 2009. The Chief Police Officer’s application for disclosure of when the suspension documents were actually created finally reaches a hearing (some nine months later). The application is opposed in person by the Chief Minister, Senator Terry Le Sueur. The hearing finds in favour of the Chief Police Officer. It is subsequently disclosed that the documents were created on the morning of Saturday 8th November 2008, three days before the minister claimed that he first received evidence which caused him concern. The disclosure cannot be reconciled with the official version of events and there is a growing concern that senior figures in government may have lied and that others may have engaged in a cover-up.

10. October 2009. The Chief Police Officer writes to the Privileges and Procedures Committee (PPC) asking for an investigation into the actions of Ministers in relation to the suspension documents. The Committee didn’t get to see the letter as the Chairman, Constable Juliette Gallichan, decided not to show it to them. She then rules that the matter is outside the remit of PPC, also without discussing it with her Committee.

11. Late 2009. There is still no report from Wiltshire and no indication of the date for any hearing. The Chief Police Officer issues a number of public statements drawing attention to the delay and confirming that he will retire in 2010 come what may. A number of back-bench States members now have a growing interest in the case. The Minister provides the Chief Police Officer with the first of a series of documents relating to the still ongoing investigation by Wiltshire.

12. 20th January 2010. The Chief Police Officer writes to the Minister drawing attention to his previous statements and the lack of progress. He gives formal notice that he will retire no later than 20th July 2010. The Minister decides to continue with the disciplinary investigation regardless.

13 February the 2nd 2010 Deputy of St. Martin Bob Hill brings forward a proposition P9/2010 for a formal committee of enquiry into the conduct of the suspension. This is resisted by Ministers. As a compromise they bring forward a proposal for an eminent QC to conduct an independent review and report. Mr. Brian Napier QC is appointed.

14. Spring 2010. Mr. Napier is still working on his review. A civil servant acting on behalf of the minister provides the Chief Officer with further documentation relating to the Wiltshire investigation. There is a series of exchanges in which the civil servant raises the issue of a meeting with the minister which is a requirement of the Disciplinary Code and is intended to decide if a disciplinary hearing is required. The Chief Police Officer points out the Ministers obligation under the code to provide a "Preliminary Report" to all the parties prior to such a meeting. The proposed agenda of the meeting requires two reports. One has been provided. The second has not been provided in spite of repeated requests. There cannot therefore be a meeting under the code.

15. June 2010. The States Human Resources Department presses ahead with the administration of the Chief Officers retirement and the resolution of outstanding leave/pension arrangements and the like. They fix the Chief Officers "last working day" as 15th June 2010.

16. 23rd June 2010. Over a week after the designated "last working day" a courier delivers the second part of the "preliminary report" to the Chief Officers home along with an invitation to a meeting with the Minister. The Chief Police Officer is on holiday. His professional association writes to the Minister drawing attention to the fact that he has effectively left the service and that there can be no disciplinary action.

17. July 2010. The Minister announces that he is abandoning the disciplinary case. By that time admitted costs have exceeded one million pounds. The Minister then begins the release of extracts of the disciplinary case (TO THE MEDIA) which he has now abandoned!! On behalf of the Chief Officer it is pointed out that none of these issues have been tested at a hearing, that any allegations of misconduct or mismanagement are strongly denied, and that the abandonment of the case means that the Chief Officer is now effectively exonerated. He did not however release the 75,000 word document(s) Graham Power had written in his defence.

18. July 2010. It becomes known that Mr. Napier is nearing the end of his work and has written to individuals whose actions may be criticized in his report giving them draft details of what might be said to their detriment and a chance to make representations.

19. 19th July 2010. The Minister for Home Affairs makes the unexpected announcement that David Warcup is to resign as Deputy and Acting Chief Officer and will leave the service at the end of the year.

20. August 2010. The advertisement below is placed for a new Chief Officer. The advert draws attention to the challenging nature of the political environment in which the successful candidate will be required to work.

21. Former Chief Officer Graham Power QPM left Jersey in the spring of 2010. He retired with over 44 years police service. He gave 10 years of his life to the Jersey Police Force with very positive HMIC Reports. Still our Home Affairs Minister could not bring himself to acknowledge Graham Power QPM and his contribution to the 10 years of policing he gave the island. The Home Affairs Minister “refused” to acknowledge the Chief Police Officer by not delivering ANY statement to the house on the retirement of Mr. Power QPM.

Mr. Power QPM is currently understood to be living in North Yorkshire where he spends much of his time walking and fishing. He is said to be awaiting the publication of the Napier report with interest. There are reports that he has been approached by professional authors interested in the Historic Abuse enquiry and the wider issues relating to Jersey and its government. His response to these approaches is at present unknown.

Job Advert as seen HERE


States of Jersey Police

CHIEF OFFICER

Salary: £130,000
Contract: 6 years, commencing 2011.

Applicants should have substantial command experience, preferably at Assistant or Deputy Chief Level and will have successfully completed the Strategic Command Course, or equivalent.

It is expected that applicants will be already serving, or have recently served, in a Police Force in the British Isles and be fully up to date with current policing issues.

The Chief Officer will work closely with the Minister for Home Affairs to provide the leadership and direction of the Force. S/he should also be able to work in partnership with other senior colleagues as part of the Corporate Management Board of the States of Jersey.

The role profile for the post is similar to that of a Chief Constable in the UK. In addition to the ability to think strategically in a complex political environment, the Chief Officer must have diplomacy and excellent interpersonal skills, together with a high level of credibility within the wider service.

Jersey is one of the world’s major financial centres and is the home of a diverse multi-cultural community with high expectations of the police. Senior police officers have a high profile and play a major part in supporting the Island’s government in upholding and sustaining the quality of life in a unique environment.

The post is offered on a 6 year contract.

For an application pack please contact the Home Affairs Human Resources Department by email at HR.HomeAffairs@gov.je or ring Liz Webster – Senior HR Manager on 01534 447938 01534 447938

Closing date for receipt of applications is 9.00am Monday 13 September 2010.

Interviews will take place in Jersey on 7/8 October 2010.

Submitted by VFC/Rico Sorda.

Friday, 13 August 2010

It’s The Law!

In this final instalment of “Briefing Notes” sent by (illegally?) suspended former Police Chief Graham Power QPM to ALL local “accredited” media he spells out who is responsible for the Home Affairs Financial Management.

Now that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) headed by Senator Ben Shenton are looking at governmental over-spends and who is responsible for them, well when it comes to the Home Affairs, it appears, he need look no further than Steven Austin Vautier.

Deputy Bob Hill asked a written question to Home Affairs Minister Senator Ian Le Marquand on Tuesday 20th April 2010 which was published by Rico Sorda HERE In his answer Senator Le Marquand had this to say.

“d. The Accounting Officer of a states funded body is personally accountable for the proper financial management of the resources of the body in accordance with article 38 of the public finances law( jersey) law 2005 law.”

This is precisely the point being made by the former Chief Police Officer………….It’s the law! ARTICLE 38 OF THE PUBLIC FINANCES (JERSEY) LAW 2005.

One has to wonder if Steven Austin Vautier will get suspended with total disregard for due process, refused legal representation and be subjected to a Kangaroo Court?


This note has been prepared by Graham Power and is intended to assist Editors in reporting issues arising from the decision of the Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Ian Le Marquand, to abandon all disciplinary proceedings in my case.

Topic:

Financial Management. Who is responsible?

It is understood that the Minister may say something in a presentation which may be critical of my role in the financial management of the Historic Abuse Enquiry. I can only deduce this from comments he has made in the media. He has told me nothing.

It might therefore be helpful for me to share some information on this topic. On this particular subject readers have the advantage of being able to look up some of the facts for themselves. The responsibilities of the parties are set out in the Public Finances (Jersey) Law 2005 and the guidelines issued under that law. The Law creates the position of “Accounting Officer.” The Accounting Officer is the person responsible for the financial management of a department, he or she must ensure that expenditure is properly authorised, that financial procedures are complied with, and that budget targets are met. The Accounting Officer for the Police is the Chief Officer of the Home Affairs Department. (No need to believe me...you can look it up for yourself.)

You might think that this is a foolish arrangement. I agree. From the very beginning I have pointed out how the separation of Financial Control from Operational Control had the potential to create difficulties, particularly in times of pressure when decisions had to be taken quickly.

Nevertheless I have tried hard to make a bad system work. During “normal times” I held regular meetings with the Home Affairs Department on budget issues. Written records exist of all of these meetings. During the Historic Abuse Enquiry I held the normal meetings as well as additional meetings dedicated to the financial management of the abuse enquiry. Written records exist of all of these meetings. The important points to note are that all expenditure on the enquiry was approved by the finance staff of the Home Affairs Department, and that when asked at no time did the Home Affairs staff report any concerns regarding finance issues. This is all a matter of written record.

It now looks however that Ministers may take a different view of financial responsibilities for the Police Service.

It appears that the Chief Officer who Ministers insisted should not be in control of the Force budget is going to be condemned in his absence for...................................not being in control of the Force Budget.


Editors may wish to explore whether there is any contradiction in Ministerial positions on this issue.

Submitted by VFC.


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Wiltshire Police Report for Media only (2)



On Saturday the 10th July 2010 we posted part one of an interview with Deputy Trevor Pitman on the subject of the now infamous Wiltshire Report. In that posting we said we would be looking at, in part two “just what is the point of this cherry picked report?”.

Well here we are a month later and the interview with Deputy Pitman and more importantly the questions asked in the interview are as relevant today as they were a month ago.

Just what was Home Affairs Minister, Senator Ian Le Marquand’s motives behind giving the media a copy of the heavily redacted report, while members of our parliament were being refused a copy? Why would a former Magistrate and now Home Affairs Minister put into the public domain, the prosecution case and not the defence? Why did he deny the former Chief Officer a fair trial?

Has Senator Le Marquand lost all recognition of “natural justice?”



Submitted by VFC.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Graham Power QPM Briefing note number 5.




Briefing note number 5 never made it off “the cutting room floor” so is the only one that the “accredited” media are not in possession of. It is published “exclusively” by VFC who was fortunate enough to stumble across a copy.

If you are one of the growing number of people who are taking an interest in the Jersey Child Abuse Scandal and the possibly illegal suspension of our most senior Police Officer Graham Power QPM. Or you are thinking about applying for the job as Jersey’s next Chief of Police Officer then all the “briefing notes” will be essential reading.

As the former Police Chief has mentioned in this briefing note, if this is what our “powers that be” can do to him then what can/have they done to us mere mortals?

Briefing note 5.
The following note has been prepared by Graham Power and is intended to assist Editors in reporting issues arising from the announcement by the Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Ian Le Marquand, that he is abandoning all disciplinary proceedings.

Topic:

So what happened to Justice?


It has been said that a Fascist is a Liberal who has just been mugged. I am inclined to wonder whether an autocrat is a Magistrate who has been appointed Minister for Home Affairs.

There are two principles of Justice which most people know and respect. One is that a person who is not proved guilty is presumed innocent. Another is that judgement should not be reached until both sides of the case have been heard. As the Island’s Magistrate, Ian le Marquand was generally respected for upholding both principles. So what happened to him once he was “anointed” as the Minister for Home Affairs?

If his own claims on live radio are to be believed then he is shortly about to engage in a public diatribe in which he will denounce the actions of the writer who is still, at the time of writing, Chief Officer of the States Police. I am of course the same person who has been subject to a suspension and disciplinary investigation lasting 21 months and costing Jersey taxpayers, of which I am one, an admitted sum of well over one million pounds, and a suspected real sum of considerably more. All proceedings are now abandoned and there will be no charges and no hearing. By anyone’s fair reckoning that is an acquittal. It can be nothing else. All proceedings are abandoned. I am convicted of nothing and therefore innocent of everything. Everyone understands that. Everyone that is apart from the Minister for Home Affairs (the person charged with promoting justice in the island no less.) He apparently thinks that his abandonment of the case (and a lot of our money as well) now entitles him to put on a road-show intended to demonstrate that I was guilty all along, it was just that he was not clever enough or fast enough to do anything about it (should he be admitting that??)

But it does not stop there. According to his own reported comments his presentation will entertain no nonsense about any defence case in respect of the allegations. We will hear the case for the prosecution, but anything of value to the defence will be edited out or banned. It is also claimed that the Minister will express his confidence that had the matter gone to a disciplinary hearing then I would have been found guilty on all counts. In that respect I have to confess that he is probably right. I say this because according to my latest information the Minister intended to appoint himself as both prosecutor and judge in the case. While such an arrangement (or something very similar) is not entirely unknown in the Jersey context, it might not accord with what the man or woman in the street considers fair, although it must be doubted whether the Minister would consider that important.

And if, reader, you consider this all very amusing and distant from your own concerns, then remember what has been said by many from the very beginning of this saga. If they can do this to a Chief Police Officer and get away with it...............think what they could do to you. Then it might not be so funny.


It is hoped that this note is of value in reporting the issues. More briefing notes will be issued as issues emerge.

Submitted by VFC.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

A Voice for Children.

Advocate Tim Hanson has issued a very welcome Press Release, and court judgement. Readers might remember Advocate Hanson for his instigation of the Serious Case Review (SCR) which was critical of just about every department over here that has the responsibility and welfare of our children, including the Law Offices.

It is a relatively short and to the point Press Release but it might have been worth mentioning that Jersey is still not signed up to the United Nations Convention of the Rights of a Child (UNCRC) Also It is worth mentioning that, predominantly Jersey follows English Law. But when it comes to a child being legally represented in a Jersey Court, just the change of one word from the English Law makes all the difference.

VFC are led to believe the English Law states that a child “shall” be legally represented in court but once that has been translated into “Jersey speak” it reads a child “may” be legally represented. The implications of that changed word could be catastrophic for a Jersey child.

Thanks must go to Advocate Hanson and Barbara Corbett, Head of Family Law at Hanson Renouf for the work they have done and continue to do to give our children a voice.

PRESS RELEASE

Human Rights concern at Children not being Represented in Court


Advocate Timothy Hanson of Hanson Renouf has expressed concern about the Royal Court declining to appoint lawyers to act for children in care proceedings. In two recent cases where the Minister for Health has applied for children to be taken into care, the Royal Court has declined to appoint a lawyer for the children and despite the Minister having asked the Court to grant the children legal representation in such proceedings.

In the most recent judgment of the Bailiff of 29th July (set out below) the Bailiff appointed a social worker to assist the children but without an advocate stating that “it is our experience that sometimes lawyers are appointed when they cannot really assist the position beyond that which the guardian can do. So for the moment we are not going to appoint counsel. ”

The Minister was legally represented; the mother was legally represented; the father was legally represented, but the three children who are the subject of the proceedings were not.

In England, all applications to take children into care are considered serious matters where children have to have a lawyer appointed to act for them from the outset. In Jersey, since July 2008 the practice has been that all children subject to care proceedings have had a guardian appointed for them and also an advocate appointed to advise the guardian on law, procedure and to represent the children concerned in Court. This practice appears now to be changing.

Advocate Hanson, who is a senior member of the Children Panel recently set up in Jersey, explained that “Care proceedings can often result in a child being removed from the child’s family forever. It must therefore be right that such potentially draconian decisions should not be made in respect of a child that does not have proper legal representation. Moreover, the guardian and child have a right to a lawyer from the outset of proceedings, just as is the case in England. Simply because children are involved in court proceedings, does not mean that they have fewer rights. As vulnerable parties to legal proceedings, the Court should be astute to respect a child’s right to a fair hearing.”

He added “The guardian’s expertise lies in her social work background and ability to safeguard the welfare of the child; not as a lawyer. Indeed, organizations from outside Jersey who have provided guardians, have refused to act in Jersey cases where a lawyer has not also been appointed, sharing also our concerns. In fact, since publication of the recent judgment in Re V, we have received a number of emails from members of the UK Association of Lawyers for Children, even querying whether Jersey is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. It does not make us look good.”

Costs saving or children’s rights: why should it have to be a choice?

In reality, and whilst not mentioned expressly by the Royal Court, the approach of the Court is to save the States the costs of lawyers (which we all understand) but it leaves children to be represented in Court without a lawyer, but with a social worker (if they are prepared to act at all) who normally will have little knowledge of Jersey law or procedure.

Advocate Hanson said: “Given the detailed requirements for practice as a lawyer in Jersey isn’t it strange that non-lawyers are now being left to represent children? This is letting the costs tail wag the justice of a case. Why not dispense with a lawyer acting for the Minister who is taking the children into care? In fact, if advocates are not appointed for children then separate applications for lawyers will need to be made by guardians who feel unable to take on the legal representation of the child. This will increase costs by satellite litigation, not reduce them.”

Advocate Hanson added “Children lawyers in Jersey understand the need to cut costs but this should be done by an overhaul of our outdated and ad hoc legal aid system; not by eroding children’s rights.”

Barbara Corbett, Head of Family Law at Hanson Renouf shares Advocate Hanson’s concerns about the human rights of children: “The most vulnerable members of our society need greater human rights, not fewer. Jersey children have been given a voice in legal proceedings in the last two years. This judgment has significantly curtailed that voice”.

Advocate Timothy Hanson is a partner at Hanson Renouf, a niche dispute resolution firm. He has considerable experience as a children’s lawyer. He represented AB the child at the centre of Jersey’s first Serious Case Review. Advocate Hanson has long promoted human rights issues in Jersey. Barbara Corbett is Head of Family Law at Hanson Renouf. She is a specialist child and family lawyer.

Tel: 767764

The Court Judgement.

ROYAL COURT
(Samedi Division)
29th July 2010
Before     : M.C. St. J. Birt, Esq., Bailiff, and Jurats Clapham and Nicolle.

 
IN THE MATTER OF THE CHILDREN (JERSEY) LAW 2002
AND IN THE MATTER OF V
Advocate E.L. Hollywood on behalf of the Minister.
Advocate P. S. Landick on behalf of the Mother.
Advocate A. C. M. Pinel on behalf of the Father.
JUDGMENT
THE BAILIFF:
1. This is an application for care orders by the Minister in respect of the three children of E and D, namely A and C and B.  We have received detailed reports on each of the three children; it is clear that there are serious concerns about the levels of nutrition being given to C and B who are both seriously under weight.  In the case of A, who has now left home and is living with a half-sibling, there are concerns that A is suffering emotional harm. 

2. The Minister, the mother and the father all agree that interim care orders should be made. Nevertheless, we must satisfy ourselves that the provisions of Article 30 (1) are satisfied, namely that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the circumstances with respect to the children are as set out in Article 24(2).  That article sets out the threshold criteria for care orders and requires the Court to be satisfied that the children are suffering or likely to suffer significant harm and that the harm or likelihood of harm is attributable to the care given to the children, or likely to be given to the children, not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give the children, or to their being beyond parental control. 

3. Having read the reports we are satisfied that the requirements of Article 30 (1) are met, namely that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the criteria in Article 24 (2) are present. We have seen the care plans, we are satisfied that what is proposed is in the best interests of the children and therefore we do make the interim care orders. 

4. We have been asked to make a number of ancillary orders including an appointment of a guardian and a number of consequential matters about obtaining expert reports.  We make all of the orders requested in the draft presented to us except paragraph 2 which says that local counsel should be appointed to represent the children.  We are not willing to do that at this stage; it is our experience that sometimes lawyers are appointed when they cannot really assist the position beyond that which the guardian can do. So for the moment we are not going to appoint counsel. There is liberty to apply and therefore if anyone wishes to apply and gives specific reasons as to why there should be legal counsel appointed in this case, we will consider it at that time. Our view at present on the information before us is that these children’s interests can be well represented by a guardian who will, of course, be an experienced person, well versed in dealing with children.  Therefore, subject to that we make an order in the terms of the draft. 

Authorities
Children (Jersey) Law 2002.

Submitted by VFC. 

Monday, 2 August 2010

How did we get into this mess?


This next instalment of briefing notes from Graham Power QPM sent to all “accredited” media sets out a few more “facts” that have been missed by our “accredited” media. Indeed one could be forgiven for believing the “accredited” media didn’t receive them at all!!

Once more Team Voice are pleased to be able to fill the massive void left by our “accredited” media and have our reader(s) that much more informed.

Will Senator Ben Shenton as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee be instigating a review or enquiry into how Ian Le Marquand was willing and able to spend probably close to two million pounds on something he apparently knew was never going to come to anything?

Just what were/are Ian Le Marquand’s motives?

This briefing note alone should be enough to trigger a vote of no confidence in the Home Affairs Minster.

Briefing note 4.

This note has been issued to assist editors in reporting issues relating to the decision by the Minister for Home Affairs, Senator Ian Le Marquand, to abandon all disciplinary proceedings.

Topic:

How did we get into this mess?


Among the many comments that have been made over the 21 months of my suspension some have stood out and have been repeated by a number of independent sources. Among these is the statement that no private sector organisation would get itself into such a costly mess. A suspension which carries on for 21 months, a bill of over one million pounds, and the abandonment of the case without a single disciplinary charge being brought, is hardly the kind of thing which would be looked upon as best practice in HR management..So how was this mess created and how could we have got out of it?

It might be best go back briefly to the situation in November 2008. There had been an election. A new government was about to take office. During the changeover period the outgoing Home Affairs Minister takes the only significant decision of his political career by suspending the Chief Officer of Police on the strength of a disputed letter from the Deputy Chief Officer (who is then given a pay rise and made Acting Chief Officer.) We will soon receive an independent report on this sequence of events. So far nobody has expressed confidence that it will be positive news for the Government.

In November 2008 I was already well past my official retirement date. After some discussion I had earlier agreed to stay on and provide continuity during a challenging period. But this decision conflicted with a number of family priorities and was becoming a source of difficulty. I had by that time privately decided that once the new Council of Ministers had been appointed it would be appropriate for me to have discussions with the new Ministers regarding my future. After a difficult period I could see the argument for a “fresh start” and would have been content to retire in 2009. This was not widely known at the time but it has become widely known since. My initial plan to discuss retirement in early 2009 is set out in my statement to “Operation Haven” and other correspondence with the Minister. Since the middle of 2009 he has been aware that the suspension was being sustained against an officer who otherwise might already have retired.

Opportunities to bring this expensive matter to an end, and for all parties to move on to other things, have occurred at regular intervals. In early 2009 a number of concerned States Members urged the Minister to take a fresh look at the situation and to seek a way out before more expenditure was incurred. The Constable of St Helier, Simon Crowcroft, brought a proposition to the States seeking a quick informal review. This was narrowly defeated after the Minister gave assurances about progress and timescales. The Minister then pressed ahead with the process under the disciplinary code.

Further opportunities for reflection arose in the summer of 2009 during my application for a judicial review of the suspension. During that case the extent to which I was being subjected to “dismissal by stealth” was subject to a number of exchanges. During that hearing there appeared to be a general acceptance from all parties, including myself, that a point had been reached at which a return to work was improbable. It is unlikely that any private sector organisation would have pressed ahead with a long and expensive disciplinary process at that point. The Minister did press ahead. While we all have different styles of doing things, it has appeared to many observers that the Ministers approach to this matter has been excessively bureaucratic, slow, legalistic, and obsessed with following process at the expense of seeking an actual solution to the situation he was managing. Pragmatism, imagination, and a desire to bring the issue to an end have not been notable characteristics.

Towards the end of 2009 I became increasingly frustrated with lack of progress and made it clear that when it got to 2010 I would “name the day” on which I would retire. In January 2010 I confirmed that I would retire on 20th July 2010. I gave a number of reasons for this decision which included my view that the disciplinary process had at least another 12 months to run and that under my contract I had to retire before the end of the year come what may. From the documents I have seen it appears to be clear that not only did I know, but the Minister also knew in early 2010 that there was no longer enough time left to finish the disciplinary procedure. Yet he pressed ahead regardless.

Editors may wish to enquire whether those with a responsibility for the oversight of public finances are taking an interest in this aspect. There may well be questions about the appropriateness, or even the legality, of the significant expenditure incurred in relation to the disciplinary process which was incurred after it became clear that the process would never be finished.

At this point it might be worth recording some reflections on the mystery of what the Minister and those supporting him actually hoped to achieve through the disciplinary procedure. It is true that after a detailed and lengthy procedure a Chief Officer can be dismissed. But what does “dismissal” actually mean for someone who is already past retirement age? So far as I can work out it just means that he or she has to retire when dismissed. But I wanted to retire anyway. The process to dismiss the Chief Officer of Police involves an investigation (achieved) followed by a formal meeting with the Minister (this was not achieved at the time of my retirement nor was any subsequent part of the process.) After the meeting there then has to be a formal hearing. After the hearing the Chief Officer has a right of appeal to an independent tribunal. If it is still considered that he should be dismissed then the Minister must bring a proposition for debate in the States. It is estimated that the time needed from the first meeting to the debate in the States is about one year. So if the Minister had managed to take the case all of the way through the process and achieve my dismissal my “punishment” would be to retire much later than I intended. There would however have been the compensation of the additional salary which would have been paid meanwhile.

So what did he hope to achieve at the end of it all? What was the point of all this expense and effort?