17
Feb
14

Stuart Syvret repost – Jersey child abuse disaster

“IT’S ALL SYVRET’S FAULT!”

Jersey Evening Post, Thursday 1st May, 2008. 

The above quote is taken from a headline in Jersey’s only newspaper, The Jersey Evening Post, commonly known as The Rag.

Throughout its 118 year history it has been the unfailing house-journal and mouth-piece of the island’s oligarchy. It is, frankly, an enemy of this community.

So much so that, rather than smashing their presses, they spent most of World War II cheerfully churning out diktats and propaganda on behalf of the occupying Nazis.

No doubt it was during this episode that The Rag developed its immense propaganda skills to such a high degree. Given its performance from 1945 to the present, Goebbels would have been proud of them.

OK – so the quote I attribute to The Rag above is not entirely accurate and something of an exaggeration – but only a very little bit.

And in reporting it this way I’m merely borrowing a technique from the JEP.

Their story concerned a brief “oral” report given to the old Health & Social Services Committee – back in May, 1999.

Nine years ago.

I was a member of that Committee, and present when this “oral” report was given by the then Chief Executive, one Graham Jennings.

The significance of it being an “oral” report lays in the fact that no supporting paperwork or written reports were provided to the Committee.

I had forgotten about this “oral” report. Hardly surprising given that it was 9 years – and many hundreds of meetings ago – and will have taken all of a few minutes to hear. But someone in the Jersey establishment clearly did remember – and enthusiastically produced the minute of the meeting for the Jersey Evening Post.

So what is the significance of this issue, you ask?

The “oral” report given to the Committee by Jennings was to inform us of the fact that a disciplinary hearing into the conduct of a certain Jane McGuire had concluded that she should be dismissed – but that she had already resigned.

I reproduce the relevant Committee minute below the post.

McGuire and her husband “Big Al”, being the couple who ran the Blanche Pierre group-home for much of the 1980’s – throughout which period they tortured and abused the children in their “care” in the most appalling ways.

Back in 1999, no actual decision was put to the Committee. The “oral” report merely asked the Committee to “note” that the disciplinary hearing had already occurred – and McGuire had already resigned. We were simply informed of this – post-fact.

So – according to the JEP – the fact that I had forgotten about this, brief “oral” report from 9 years ago means that I am to blame for the Jersey Child Abuse Disaster. Well, OK – they haven’t been quite able to pin culpability on me just yet for child protection failures prior to 1965 – as I wasn’t born then – but it’s surely only a matter of time. Perhaps I forged my birth certificate – and I’m really 75 years old?

The Jersey establishment – having alighted upon this Committee minute from 1999 – thought, ‘eureka! – This is great material to use against Syvret.’

I have often said the one of the absolutely fundamental defining characteristics of the Jersey oligarchs was the sheer stupidity they so frequently exhibit.

And, yes – they’ve done it again.

So thick are they that they rushed into using this minute – without pausing for a moment to reflect upon what it actually demonstrates.

And what is demonstrates is – most certainly – not good for the Jersey establishment’s position.

The minute – far from being some kind of cudgel with which they can assault me and the other Committee members present – is actually an unusually powerful piece of hard evidence.

Evidence which greatly reinforces the increasingly inescapable conclusion that the senior levels of Jersey’s civil service are self-interested, corrupted, mutually supporting, dishonest and simply out of control in a welter of incompetence and concealment.

So – it isn’t often I will do this, so make the most of it; I’d like to say a big thank you to The Rag for uncovering the minute and drawing it to my attention.

The very day they furnished me with it, I wrote an explanation of its significance, and forwarded it to the States of Jersey Police Force so that it may go as further evidence towards the complaints of criminal conduct made against a variety of senior Jersey civil servants – past and present.

It is most certainly important evidence which adds to the case against Anton Skinner.

And it also – for the very first time – brings the then Health & Social Services Chief Executive, Graham Jennings into ‘the frame’. I had always suspected that he too must have plaid a role in the culture of concealment – but I never said so, because I never had any evidence.

That is – until Thursday.

Before dealing with the 1999 minute, some explanation of the chronology of events is needed.

For much of the 1980’s the McGuires ran the Blanche Pierre group-home; a group-home being a kind of extended family-scale small orphanage.

The McGuires lived in the home, and had in their “care” a number of children who lived with them over the years.

I won’t go into details – if you want an indication of the nature of the appalling abuses engaged in by the McGuires – find a means of viewing the recent BBC Panorama documentary on the Jersey child abuse disaster.

These abuses were permitted to carry on unchallenged for most of the 1980’s.

But- very disturbingly – not entirely unchallenged.

In fact, visiting, part-time members of staff had repeatedly noted in diary records and log-books deeply concerning examples of cruelty and dysfunction. And notwithstanding these recorded concerns – no appropriate action was taken.

The children continued to suffer – and the complaints steadily accumulated – until 1990 – when one Anton Skinner of the Children’s Service was finally forced to investigate the complaints when they became too significant to ignore anymore.

In his “investigation” he was assisted by one Geoff Spencer, the acting Homes Manager.

Remember that name – Geoff Spencer – for future reference.

So in 1990 – several years too late – Skinner & his friend Spencer investigated the accumulated complaints.

Contrary to assertions by Skinner – and even the present Social Services boss, Marnie Baudains – there was, at that time, more than sufficient evidence to immediately suspend and dismiss theMcGuires.

Indeed – more than sufficient evidence to inform the Police Force.

But – Skinner didn’t do this. Let us be charitable – and assume his reasons for concealing the abuses were simply related to keeping his job and his pension. Because had he gone to the Police in 1990 – what would have been a significant consequence of that action?

Skinner himself would have been asked “What the bloody hell were you doing, receiving these complaints from staff of cruelty and abuse being committed by the McGuires – for several years – and you failing to take the appropriate action?”

So Skinner wrote a report for the then Education Committee, which had responsibility for child “protection” back in those days, when it was led by Iris Le Feuvre.

I have read that report – along with the other evidence – in October last year, after having it drawn to my attention by whistle-blowers.

I alerted the Police to this evidence – all of which is now in their possession.

I paraphrase, but, in essence, what Skinner’s report, written in the year 1990, said was: “Well, yes, the conduct of the McGuire’s has been unacceptable. Not of a standard appropriate for this day and age. But by way of mitigation, it’s a stressful job. But, hey – no problem. Mrs. McGuire has agreed to voluntarily retire from running the group-home –

and, instead she will come and work in our Family Development Centre”.

As I said to the Police last year, ‘did that involve taking her bottle of Dettol with her?’

So not only did Skinner fail to sack the McGuires in 1990 – and not only did he fail to inform the Police of their behaviour – he even let Mrs. McGuire carry on working in a social services environment.

But – it gets worse.

One of the younger children, a female, was left in the McGuires’ “care” by Skinner & his team for a further two years – during which she continued to suffer – appallingly.

Remember – the Police were not informed of the McGuires’ conduct in 1990.

Now – after eight years of the Jersey culture of concealment – our narrative moves forward to 1998.

One of the profoundly damaged victims of the McGuires, during an episode of great personal turmoil, threw a brick with an abusive note wrapped around it through the window of the place where the McGuire’s were then living. Remember, this is 1998.

The McGuires – exhibiting all of the arrogance and stupidity we’ve come to associate with the Jersey system – took the note to the Police, said they thought they knew who had thrown it – and wanted the person prosecuted.

The Police, looking at the note, thought ‘hmmm – there’s more to this than meets the eye.’

They interviewed the person who had thrown the brick – and in that interview – the full horrors of what had occurred to the children came into the knowledge of the Police for the first time.

To cut a long story short, the McGuires were arrested, charged, and brought to court.

There was one committal hearing in the Jersey magistrates’ court.

Then things become even more despicable.

Many of the victims were called to an utterly bizarre evening meeting at the Social Services’ headquarters – where they were confronted, as they describe it – “with a table full of adults”.

This assemblage of Social Services finest was led by one Danny Wherry.

Remember that name for future reference as well – Danny Wherry.

At this meeting the young victims present were told that the case against the McGuires was having to be dropped for “lack of evidence”, and that “the trial would be too stressful for the victims to endure.”

This was, of course, a total and despicable pack of lies.

A pack of lies, the motivation for which was concealing a scandal – and protecting senior civil servants from some hard questions as to how the abuse was able to continue unchecked for so many years.

And had these young victims had even remotely competent – and even faintly ethical -legal representation, they would have been told it was lies, and that they could – and should – insist on the case against the McGuires continuing.

But they were not told this. They were not correctly advised.

Now – I’m going to ask you a question, and when answering, remember – we are dealing with “The Jersey Way”.

Which law firm was representing these young victims back then?

An outfit by the name of Bailhache Labesse.

Now – can we guess who was the senior partner, as listed on that firm’s stationery?

One William Bailhache.

Brother of the Bailiff, Philip Bailhache – and presently the Jersey Attorney General.

And guess what?

In a legislative change driven forward by William Bailhache and the Solicitor General – they, as Crown Officers – were recently excluded from the complaints and disciplinary procedures of the Jersey Law Society.

Perhaps one of m’learned friends could let us know whether this law change applies retrospectively?

If so – it would be quite unusual, would it not? Retrospective legislation?

If not – then when time permits I’m sure Mr Bailhache can dream up a disciplinary defence for himself for this gross and ethically bankrupt betrayal committed by his then law firm.

Obviously, only after all of the other – err – ‘interesting’ questions he’s going to have to answer.

Perhaps even one or two concerning conflicts of interest?

And just how, precisely, avoiding them is merely “a state of mind”? (W. Bailhache.)

Isn’t it just amazing – how all these coincidences stack-up?

Obviously – there are higher priorities right now – but eventually this gross, professional betrayal byBailhache’s law firm will be examined – very closely indeed.

It isn’t difficult – is it – to see now just why Lenny Harper’s team have faced so much obstruction from this Attorney General?

And we mustn’t pass over this point without reminding ourselves just who the Attorney General was in 1998?

The then Attorney General who abandoned the prosecution of the McGuires?

One Michael Birt – now Deputy Bailiff.

The same Attorney General who failed to prosecute a number of people for concealing the child abuse at Victoria College.

And the same man who – towards the end of last year – actually turned down applications by Lenny Harper’s Police team for a warrant to search, and remove evidence from the headquarters of the Jersey Sea Cadets; the Sea Cadets being a major focus of the historic child abuse enquiry.

So, naturally – one turn’s down Police warrant applications under such circumstances. Right?

In 1998 – at the time of the attempt by the Police to bring the McGuires to justice – Birt – after the victims had been conned and deceived into the abandonment of the prosecution – stood in Jersey’s Royal Court – and informed the Court that the charges were being dropped “for lack of evidence”.

This is what the Court record says:

November 1998 Criminal proceedings Against the McGuires.

The Act of Court records that the prosecution was abandoned 20th November 1998.

“Her Majesty’s Attorney General declared that he abandoned the prosecution against Alan WilliamMaguire and Jane Marie Maguire on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to support it.

The Court therefore discharged the said Alan William Maguire and Jane Marie Maguire from the prosecution and, by virtue of Article 2(1) (c) of the Costs in Criminal Cases (Jersey) Law, 1961, ordered the payment out of public funds of the costs of the defence”.

When the whole episode and the case files were drawn to my attention last October by whistle-blowers, I sat in the H & SS office and read through two very substantial lever-arch files, and one smaller ring-binder, of evidence.

Having read this horrifying catalogue of foulness – take it from me; the claims by the Jersey oligarchy that there was “insufficient evidence” are about as credible as their reputation now is.

So this brings us to the beginning of 1999.

As far as the public knew, a prosecution had been attempted against the McGuires – and the case never even got off the ground in 1998 for lack of evidence – let alone there being a trial and them having been acquitted.

It was round this time, and in the wake of the perverse prosecution abandonment, that Graham Jennings, then Chief Executive of H & SS, commissioned Dylan Southern to review the whole McGuire episode.

And – believe it or not – Mrs. McGuire was still employed by Social Services at this point. Notwithstanding everything which was on-the-record against her.

Mr. Southern, being a man of professionalism and integrity, examined all the evidence, and wrote a clear and succinct report to Jennings.

He unambiguously concluded that Mrs McGuire should be sacked.

And he also wrote a number of other things; deeply disturbing things, in his report.

Things I will touch upon later. And explain the relevance of.

Mr. Southern’s report was sent to Jennings, dated 23rd February, 1999.

Mrs McGuire resigned rather than be sacked – and this resignation was accepted by Jennings.

On 5th May 1999 – about two-and-a-half months after he received the Southern report – Jennings raised the McGuire episode with the then Health & Social Services Committee, of which I was a member.

No decision by the Committee was required; we were merely asked to note that a disciplinary hearing had taken place, McGuire’s dismissal had been recommended, but she had resigned already instead.

As you can see from the minute, in addition to explaining these brief facts, Jennings’ ‘oral’ report went on to defend Anton Skinner; essentially claiming that ‘well – Skinner took the appropriate action back in 1990 – given the extent of his knowledge at that time. So no blame could be attached to him.’

So, let us summarise the state of the Committee’s knowledge at this moment in May 1999.

An attempted prosecution of the McGuires had not even got beyond committal stage, this for “lack of evidence” – according to no-less an authority than Jersey’s then Attorney General. So they were, as far as the public and the Committee knew, innocent of any criminal charge.

There had been a disciplinary hearing which had concluded that Mrs. McGuire should still be sacked. She had resigned before this action could take place and her resignation had been accepted by Jennings.

And, according to Jennings, no possible blame could be attached to Anton Skinner for failing to take the necessary action back in 1990, as he didn’t then know of the true nature of the McGuiresconduct.

Now we get into the really interesting parts of this episode.

I mentioned earlier why the Committee minute re-produced below was so important.

Allow me a little digression.

British readers of this blog will be familiar with the TV comedy series “Yes, Minister”. It was, essentially, a parody which depicted just how the relevant politicians in government were kept in the dark and heavily manipulated by the senior civil servants “advising” them.

But that program just didn’t go far enough. In reality – the truth is beyond parody.

And the episode I describe above proves this point.

I have learnt that civil servants are always meticulous in covering their tracks. Making sure that no record of any malfeasance, incompetence or lie on their part can be found ‘on-the-record’ to politicians.

Indeed – so ruthlessly do civil servants pursue this particular “insurance policy”, I personally have never been able identify direct lies to politicians in an official record.

That is – until now.

To back-track a little; let us remember that Jennings had commissioned Dylan Southern to produce a report into the whole McGuire episode.

Southern duly produced his report, dated 23rd February 1999.

Two-and-a-half months later – Jennings finally got around to mentioning the McGuire case to the then Committee – merely for it to note, as everything was done and dusted by this point – or so the Committee was led to believe.

But the true chain of events – as revealed in the Southern Report – was profoundly disturbing and of far greater seriousness than that indicated in the ‘oral’ report to the Committee by Jennings.

Remember this – because it is a rock-solid, evidenced example of the Jersey ‘Culture of Concealment’.

The then Committee were not supplied with the Southern report.

Indeed, the Committee were not even told of the existence of the Southern report.

Jennings deliberately concealed the truth from the Committee in order to protect friends and colleagues and avoid a scandal – and generally seek to protect the “image” of the Jersey establishment.

Sound familiar?

To explain the situation in plain English:

The Committee were the relevant political authority of the day back in 1999.

Yet the Committee was conned and manipulated in two, profoundly disturbing, ways.

Firstly – the Committee was misled by omission. The wilful concealing of the Southern report from the Committee by Jennings was to mislead by omission.

Secondly – Jennings actually lied to the Committee. His ‘oral’ assertions which exculpated Skinner for his failure to act in 1990 were simply untrue.

How do we now know Jennings’ claim was untrue?

The hitherto concealed Dylan Southern report proves it.

Let me quote what the dissembling ‘oral’ report of Jennings said, as described in the Committee minute reproduced below.

And remember this point – as we will be comparing and contrasting it with what the Dylan Southern report says.

According to Jennings’ ‘oral’ report:

“The Committee was advised that Mr. and Mrs Maguire had been Investigated by the department in 1990. The situation in 1990 arose from complaints made by staff, and the action taken by Mr. A. Skinner at that time was to move Mr. and Mrs. Maguire out of the residential home on the basis of the complaints received. The evidence available in 1999 was different to that which had been heard by Mr. Skinner at a hearing in 1990, as more information had become available over time as the children who had been resident in the home reached adulthood and made information available. (emphasis added.)End of minute.

So, let’s understand fully what the Committee were being told here.

And it was – and remains – appaling sophistry; not quite brazen lies – but dishonest dissembling.

It is first claimed that “more information had become available” than that which was available to Skinner in 1990.

Essentially, the Committee are led to believe that merely some minor issues concerning the McGuires’ conduct were known to Skinner back in 1990. Who knows? – Perhaps just having an ‘old-fashioned attitude’.

Because – if all that had occurred was the acceptance of the voluntary retirement of Mrs. McGuire from running the group-home – and for her to be re-deployed elsewhere in the organisation – continuing to be employed in a social services environment – what conclusion would be reached – other than that merely some very trivial issues had arisen back then in 1990?

But – what was Skinner’s true state of knowledge back in 1990?

The evidenced answer to that question is to be found in the Dylan Southern report.

The report which was withheld from the Committee in 1999; indeed, the report that the Committee were not even told existed.

The Committee minute records Jennings as stating that, more information had “become available” since 1999 – and thus, by implication – no blame could be attached to Skinner for not acting appropriately in 1990.

So – that is what the Committee were told.

What, by way of contrast, does the concealed Dylan Southern report say of Skinner’s state of knowledge?

Let me quote a few key passages:

“Paragraph 4.5:

Having received Mrs Ingles’ report Mr. A Skinner and Mr. Geoff Spencer arranged to see both Mrs Doyle and Ms. O’Hara. This meeting occurred on the 27th April 1990. The record of the meeting between Ms. O’Hara, Mrs’ Doyle, Mr. G. Spencer and Mr. A. Skinner is enclosed as appendix 4.

“Paragraph 4.6:

In summary this record matches the report made by Ms. Dorothy Ingles and outlines instances of psychological and physical abuse to named and unnamed children.”

The Dylan Southern report goes on to inform us, when speaking of abuses which involved ramming soap into children’s’ mouths and making them drink Dettol:

“Paragraph 4.9, sub-paragraphs (b) and (c):

(b) The McGuires admitted it had been employed by them to Mr. Skinner (appendix 5). (emphasis added).

(c) Mrs Doyle and Ms. O’Hara reported this kind of punishment to Mr. Skinner and Mr. Spencer. (appendix 4).” (emphasis added)

So, to distil the essential features of this episode.

The McGuires were abusing children in a variety of appaling ways throughout much of the 1980’s.

Skinner and Spencer – eventually – investigated the complaints. This after having failed to act for some years.

They failed to report the conduct to the police.

They even failed to take any appropriate disciplinary action.

Most sickeningly and unforgivably – they allowed a young, vulnerable child to remain in the “care” of the McGuires for a further two years after 1990.

Skinner & Spencer committed this gross dereliction of duty – notwithstanding the factual evidence which was known to them at the time of 1990 – as the above quotes from the Southern report show.

Notwithstanding the efforts of Skinner, Spencer and the rest of the senior management of Social Services to bury the issue – the Police get hold of it – 8 years later.

The Jersey establishment – exhibiting its customary distaste for a scandal – made sure that the efforts of the Police came to nought.

The Southern Report is commissioned by the then Chief Executive of Health & Social Services.

He then withholds the existence of that report from the Committee, instead delivering a perfunctory ‘oral’ report – two-and-a-half months later.

At a meeting at which Skinner is present.

And Jennings lies to the Committee concerning the state of Skinner’s knowledge back in 1990.

As I said – a particularly powerful and highly relevant example of the Jersey “culture of concealment” – displayed in all its nauseating immorality and sophistry.

The withholding of crucial information, dissembling – and out-right lies.

But – you ask – did all this horrifying ethical bankruptcy, moral turpitude and decadence within the senior reaches of Social Services end in 1999?

Sadly, no.

In following up the story concerning the Committee minute last Friday evening, Channel Television – passively and without challenge – quoted Jersey Social Services as asserting the same lie – namely that Skinner’s failure to act in 1990 was justifiable given the then state of knowledge.

We know from the Southern report that such assertions are yet more of the shameless lies churned out by Social Services and people like Marnie Baudians.

Such practices are not – as the Jersey establishment would have you believe – some distant relict of the past.

Instead – they are displayed in all their revolting horror as recently as last Friday.

So – what actions will the two relevant politicians take?

They being Senator Ben Sheton, the Minister, and his Assistant Minister, Jimmy Perchard.

Will they – having had the great advantage of having the issues investigated and explained for them – take the necessary action?

Will they – in May 2008 – knowing what we all know now – be content to allow the culture of concealment to continue – as it did last Friday?

Let us see.

The time has come for these two men to decide whose side they are on.

The people of this community?

Or an entrenched claque of self-serving, over-paid, lying, incompetent and dangerous civil servants?

Watch this space.

Stuart.

Health & Social Services Committee Minute, May 1999.

AHH/TN/134 536.

HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE

(18th Meeting)

5th May 1999.

All members were present, with the exception of the President,
from whom apologies had been received.

In attendance –

G.E. Jennings, Chief Executive
A. Skinner, Director of Community and Social Services
Dr. C.R. Grainger, Medical Officer of Health
Mrs. A. Homer, Director of Finance and Information
Services
Mrs. A.H. Harris, Committee Clerk.

Present for a time –

M. Le Fèvre, Director of Estates
R. Bass, Personnel Manager
M. Entwistle, Strategic Planning and Legislation Manager
J. Le Feuvre, Director of General and Acute Services.

Minutes 1. The Minutes of the Meetings held on 27th January, 3rd
March, and 7th and 13th April 1999, having been previously
circulated, were taken as read and were confirmed.

ITEM 13.

Strictly Confidential. 13.

106/35/1(342)

Staff: Disciplinary Hearing.

The Committee received an oral report from the Chief
Executive Officer regarding the findings of a discplinary
hearing to consider the position of a Residential Child Care
Officer, Mrs. J. Maguire.

The Committee noted that the complaints against Mr. A. and
Mrs J. Maguire had been the subject of a police investigation.

1 however, the Attorney General had decided not to proceed with a Royal Court case as this was not in the public interest. The Committee then instigated an investigation into Mrs. J. Maguire (Mr. A. Maguire followed his own occupation) in
relation to events in a residential home.

The Committee noted that it been found that there was a case to answer, and Mrs. Maguire had been called before a disciplinary hearing, where she was accompanied by her lawyer. The hearing found that Mrs. Maguire’s behaviour amounted to gross professional misconduct and it was accordingly decided that the department no longer had confidence in Mrs. Maguire and would recommend to the Committee that she be dismissed. The Committee noted, however, that in the meantime Mrs. Maguire had tendered her resignation.

The Committee was advised that Mr. and Mrs Maguire had been investigated by the department in 1990. The situation in 1990 arose from complaints made by staff, and the action taken by Mr. A. Skinner at that time was to move Mr. and Mrs. Maguire out of the residential home on the basis of the complaints received. The evidence available in 1999 was different to that which had been heard by Mr. Skinner at a hearing in 1990, as more information had become available over time as the children who had been resident in the home reached adulthood and made information available.

The Committee noted the position.”

End of relevant minute.

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