Saturday, September 11, 2010
The Excavation Never Stops
I have taken a step back over the past month or so concerning the Child Abuse Investigation because I have felt burnt out. It is a subject i will be picking up again as there are still so many questions that need answering.
I have been fired up again by a Jersey Blog attacking a known UK Abuse Survivor who goes by the name of Zoompad. This cancer that is alive and kicking in our Island must be stopped, why oh why does Jersey have such a problem in dealing with its past. Sometimes im just lost for words. I have seen how my Government have treated the Abuse survivors
I have always fought the corner of Graham Power & Lenny Harper not because Im the guardian angel of ridiculed policeman but I believe and trust that they wanted to do all they could for the Abuse Victims of Jersey. I have not seen one piece of evidence that could change my mind and please don't say "WILTSHIRE" as it was a disciplinary report that got discarded so end of story there. or is it?
We still await the Brian Napier Report
I cant wait to see how the Government and local media play this one.
I will never forget sitting in the States and watching the reaction of the likes of Dupre, Jean, Perchard,Shenton and Le Main to anybody asking a question about Child Abuse.
We have a Home Affairs Minister a former Magistrate who has held a Kangaroo Court with the full backing of the local media and 90% of our politicians and we wonder why we are having problems.
I feel like its time to get back on it
For that I thank the" Farce Blog"
Brian Napier QC do not let these Idiots ruin your reputation. You have done your report the Scott letters have been sent they will try and get you to dumb down your final report that is how it is done over here
I also thank Mr Kent for getting me back on track
The text below is a response by Rob Kent to an interesting comment by Iruka on the Planet Jersey forum. The thread subject is the 'Haut de la Garenne Farce' blog and its criticisms of Lenny Harper.
For the original Planet Jersey message this post is responding to, please see http://planetjersey.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,2686.msg48049.html#msg48049.
Posted by Rob Kent, 11 September 2010, at 10:33:23 AM
@Iruka said, "Earlier in that post he [Lenny Harper] talks of his experience in investigating murders - why would he do that?"
Why would he do that? Because he was not at that point dealing with why they dug up HdlG or why the emotive term 'partial remains of a child' was used to refer to the bone fragments and teeth (I'll deal with that below). No he was defending himself against an attack by the incoming team on his character, abilities, judgement, and professional experience. Remember, Warcup, Gradwell, SOJ members, and JEP leader writers were not just saying that he chose his words badly at the time of the HdlG excavations: they were saying he was an incompetent clown who should never have been given the job in the first place. Gradwell said of him, "the best I can say about Mr. Harper is that he is a man who has difficulty in understanding basic facts."
So Lenny Harper begins that article (more than a year after the events) by dealing with the allegation that he was not professionally competent and lacked appropriate experience for handling a large and complex investigation such as HdlG. In particular, he is defending himself against the particular allegation that he was ill-equipped to deal with what, on the basis of many witness statements from victims and others, was beginning to look like a missing persons investigation. So when he talks about his track record for murder investigations in September 2009 he is merely responding to the criticism that he was not qualified to be in charge of the HdlG investigation.
It is totally wrong to retrospectively project this on to what happened in February 2008 as if he had said it then. I mean, if he had walked out before the press in Feb 2008 and said, "I have a lot of experience in murder investigations - I am the right man for this job," you would be correct to infer that he was fanning the flames and stoking up the press's appetite for a big murder investigation. But he didn't.
Before I go on to discuss his use of words and his 'press strategy', there is one really important point that everyone - critics and supporters and inbetweenies - needs to answer in their own mind: were the police right to do the excavation of HdlG? Because if you believe they were right, then the responsibility for the story spinning out of control becomes extremely difficult to lay solely in Lenny's hands or mouth.
So, do you think they were right to carry out the dig? Well I am, like you, I suspect, not an expert in police methods and decision-making. I can only go on the explanations given by Lenny Harper in various places, and on the fact that these decisions are never taken by one person alone - they are taken by teams and involve superiors and probably (I'm guessing) professional standards bodies such as ACPO. I mean, I don't suppose that Lenny Harper came into the office one morning, put his feet up on the desk, started paring his fingernails, and said to himself, "I know what I'll do this week. I will put together a team of several dozen experts from different fields, hire contractors, sniffer-dog handlers, extra police resources from the UK, and I'll dig up the grounds and cellars of HdlG."
No, I don't believe that is how it went down. I believe what Lenny says: they had multiple reports from different victims covering an extended time span of children disappearing. Multiple victims said that other children were dragged from their beds at night and never seen again. In addition to this there were other weird stories from builders who were asked to dig 'lime pits' on a Friday that were mysteriously filled in over the weekend and were covered over when they returned on the Monday. Remember these lime pits were later found.
So, for me alone, on the balance of evidence from what I have heard and knowing that a decision like that would not have been an individual one, my belief is that the police had no choice but to proceed with the excavation.
Now you and others may disagree with me on this, and in fact, Gradwell and Warcup disagree with me on this. They also disagree with Harper and Power on this, so it is not as if I am the big target. They also disagree with ACPO who oversaw and totally supported the HdlG investigation, including the excavations. So there is scope for disagreement but I am going with ACPO and the original police team.
As soon as you have an excavation like that, whether the police find anything or not, the press are all over it. There is no question about this. We see it all the time on the news. Recently in Brighton police closed off parts of two roads and totally excavated the grounds and cellars of two houses that Peter Tobin had once lived in. We had Sky helicopters overhead, cameras from the press posted outside 24 hours a day and so on. The police had to come out every day and discuss what they were doing and whether or not they had found anything. They found nothing. But if they had found several bone fragments and teeth (which may have been there from Victorian times), the story would have been even bigger than it was. As it was, it was on the main news - lunch and evening - every day for over a week. And they found exactly nothing.
What I am saying is: once the HdlG dig began, especially in the context of a long-running child abuse investigation, Jersey was in for blanket, 24-hour news, rolling bad publicity. Nothing to do with Lenny Harper's press conferences or choice of words - just the pure fact that the dig was taking place.
When the forensic archaeologists started reporting to the police that they had found human remains - a child's tibia, teeth, and other fragments of bones, what do you think the police should have done? Kept quiet about it? The UK press always find out everything when they put big resources into a story - that is an axiom. They are indefatigable. They pay informers in the police, they tap phones, they get their story. There is no way they were not going to find out that human remains had been found. And there is no way they were not going to draw their own conclusions (probably wrong ones) from that fact.
But here is where you have a valid point - did Lenny Harper go public in such a way to give the investigation so much prominence it could not be closed down by senior politicians and civil servants? I think that his answer to that has been, 'yes', on a number of occasions. And why? Because he is on record as saying that they were under great political pressure to ring-fence the investigation and limit its extent. Graham Power was present at the meeting back in 2007 where Bill Ogley said, "This could bring down the government." He was present at the meeting where the 'government within the government' colluded to remove Senator Syvret from office because he was asking embarrassing but legitimate questions about child protection issues.
The police were feeling the pressure from the AG's office who wanted to assign a lawyer inside the investigation team. They were experiencing obstructing delays in their requests to the AG's office to consider evidence against people they wanted to charge. And when they had more than enough evidence to charge certain people, they were told not to charge them by the AG's office; when they countermanded the AG's demands and went ahead and charged anyway (Wateridge), the person was found guilty, dead to rights, and imprisoned.
How do you feel that the AG told the police not charge a man who was patently guilty and later convicted? How many other people did they let off, and why? If Lenny Harper had not ignored the AG's demands, Wateridge - a paedophile and multiple abuser of multiple children - would still be walking the streets of St Helier. Are there any other Wateridges still walking around Jersey as a result of wrong and unsettling decisions by the AG's office, not to say because the whole investigation was closed down? Yes, I know it is apparently still running but all of the people brought to court so far all result from the original team's investigation - there has been no-one new charged on the basis of subsequent investigations, so far as I know.
Given that context, Lenny's press strategy may have been the correct one. Knowing that senior politicians and others wanted to close the whole thing down or at least limit it to a few minor, soft targets, such as the wardens, Lenny may have put it out into the open in a way that would give it maximum publicity and could not be easily dispensed with. You'd have to ask him that exact question.
Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. Maybe he chose his words carefully, or maybe they were unwise, but if anyone thinks that Jersey did not have a massive scandal on its hands that was 'bad for the image of the island', they are in denial of the facts. A long running child abuse investigation involving several States-run institutions; the removal from office of a senior politician; an excavation in a former children's home that was part of the abuse investigation; the discovery of human bone fragments. If Lenny Harper had not even been present in the investigation, Jersey would still have been front page news around the world.
So how else could they have done it? I think you need to look back in time to see a good a precedent: they didn't do it. Children were being abused in States of Jersey institutions - although horrible, this is not unique to Jersey and not specially shaming. It was the same as many other institutional abuse cases, from Kincorra, Wales, Northumbria, Islington, Casa Pia in Portugal, the Catholic church, public schools - just about everywhere adults have power over children and are shielded by institutional power structures from outside observation.
So Jersey is not unique in this. But prior to the Harper and Power investigation, the voices of the victims were not listened to: they were simply not believed. Children who were being abused and tried to report it to officials, the police or other adults, were not only ignored - they were ridiculed and sent back to the care of their abusers. Sometimes they were even told that if they carried on repeating their accusations, they would be certified as insane and sent to St Saviour's hospital. Children who ran away and tried to escape the island were hunted down and brought back (I know one of them). Nobody in authority - specifically the Jersey police - believed them. They were powerless.
But I would like to qualify the statement that they were not believed. I think they were believed, but nobody wanted to hear what they were saying, so they pretended to be deaf. And you know what I think, there is a large body of people in Jersey - mostly in authority, but also in the general public - who would prefer that deafness to the cries of the children who have been savagely abused and had their life prospects and happiness damaged as a result of what was done to them. I mean people who are now aged fifty and sixty who still wake from nightmares and see their abusers in their dreams.
Can you even imagine that, you comfy, smug bastards on the Farce blog? You abuse deniers. Who are so brave and big that you ridicule, impersonate and take the piss out of a woman who was a victim of incest, sent to a children's home at thirteen where children were being drugged and sexually abused; when she rebelled, she was declared insane and sent to a psychiatric hospital. At thirteen. And you are taking the piss out of her. Nice people.
"But a dungeon like a sin
Requires naught but lockin' in
Of everything that's ever been
Look at her,
Look at him.
That's what's the deal we're dealing in
That's what's the deal we're dealing in
That's what's the deal we're dealing in
That's what's the deal we're dealing in...
The torture never stops."
The Torture Never Stops