Thursday, February 20, 2014










We always new that Deputy Higgins would be next on the hit list. With the denigration of former Senator Stuart Syvret, the removal of the Deputies Pitman it was always going to be Deputy Higgins next. They are now using the International Air Display as a means to an end in trying to get Deputy Higgins removed from office at the next election in October. Below is a letter written by Deputy Higgins to the editor of the JEP for publication. 

Letter to the Editor

Politics is a dirty game

Having just read the front page story in Friday’s Jersey Evening Post (14 February) regarding air display funding and your editorial on Tuesday (18 February) I write to set the record straight and inform your readers of what has been going on unreported behind the scenes. After all there are always two sides to every story.

Contrary to what the Minister stated to the scrutiny panel the suggestion for the air display grant to be paid through the Ports of Jersey was not Economic Development’s idea but mine following a complete breakdown in trust between the organisers of the air display and the Economic Development Department due to what we believe was double dealing and duplicity on their part. 

When we presented our 2013 Business Plan to the Economic Development Department in the months prior to the air display we were forecasting a loss of approximately £28,000 over the level of sponsorship and grants that we anticipated at that time. We informed the department that we were endeavouring to secure additional sponsorship and to reduce our costs but that we needed assistance from the department either in helping us get additional sponsorship or in the form of an increased grant.

The department not only undertook to help us raise additional sponsorship for the 2013 display but also to help us get future sponsorship by erecting a corporate marquee on the Lower Park and entertaining prospective sponsors. In fact they did neither. They obtained no additional sponsorship and abandoned the marquee idea. Nor did they increase our grant. 

The department then said that they were going to entertain some prospective sponsors at Tiffins on the Waterfront instead during the air display. It later transpired that there were no prospective sponsors at all but that the Minister and department were having secret negotiations with someone else who wanted to take over the air display, which we had built up over 17 years to what it is now, and that they would develop it in a different way. This person, however, was not discrete and bragged to numerous people that Senator Maclean had told him that he could take over the air display from 2014. We discovered these facts shortly before the flying display took place and at about the very time when it looked as if we could be wiped out once again by the weather, in which case I would have been forced to sell my home, which was being used as security for the loan to cover borrowing to get us to the display day itself and any additional losses.

The 35 or so UK volunteers who help us put on the event were so disgusted by EDD’s actions that they have stated to a man and woman that if such a takeover took place they would never come back to Jersey and assist with the air display. We appreciate their loyalty and the loyalty of our Jersey volunteers.

The situation was made even worse after the air display at a meeting with the Minister and other officers to secure the balance of the grant so that we could pay our creditors.  We thought that this would be a straightforward meeting with regard to the grant but contentious over their secret negotiations EDD took part in. On the contrary they were totally unrepentant about their secret talks and raised new obstacles regarding the grant. In particular they focussed on a statement in the 2012 audited company accounts where the auditors had quite rightly asked the question whether with the losses we had incurred in previous years and our lack of assets whether the air display company was a “going concern”. The directors had stated that it was a “going concern” based on the knowledge that Mr Gaines-Cooper was already sponsoring the 2013 air display and because we could reasonably expect a grant from the Economic Development Department to add to it along with other sponsorship and programme sales.

As your readers know we had previously incurred losses in 2011, when the air display was washed out by the weather, which had been covered by our main sponsor Mr Gaines-Cooper, and again in 2012 when our fuel bill reached a staggering £69,000 due to the need to validate a large number of jet aircraft from outside the island and the UK air display vetting system. The 2012 loss had been largely covered by the forbearance and assistance of our creditors and by the borrowing secured on my house.  

Your readers should also be made aware of the fact that the States of Jersey has never lost a single penny on the air display in the 17 years I have been organising it even though the display itself has made a number of losses during that time period.  The Economic Development Department does not underwrite the losses of the air display in any way. They are solely the responsibility of the organisers and when an organisation has next to no assets and struggles every year to raise the funds to put on the event this is almost an impossible feat and without the unflinching support of Mr Robert Gaines-Cooper the air display would have ended many years ago.  

Your readers should also be made aware that if we make a surplus any year we would receive a correspondingly smaller grant from the department the following year. This meant that we could never build up a reserve to cover unforeseen events or costs and have thus always been on a knife edge and at the mercy of the department. 

So even though the air display had successfully taken place and the department had all the documents they required from us in order to pay the grant they did not do so and instead imposed three new conditions upon us, which they said we had to comply with in order to receive the rest of the grant. The conditions, which to the best of our knowledge have never been imposed on any other event organiser before, were: 

  • that Mr Gaines Cooper confirmed in writing his financial support for the air display the following year. Which he did, even though he had already publicly told an audience of 350 people including the Director of Tourism that he was not only doing so but increasing his support by 25 per cent and paying off the loan the air display  had taken out. 

  • that we provide the names and addresses of all our sponsors and authorise the department to contact them. I refused to do due this for two reasons. Firstly because of their deceit in negotiating with someone else to take over the air display when they told us they were talking to them as sponsors to raise money for our event, and secondly because of my reasonable suspicions that they intended to use this information to try to divert our sponsorship to another party.

  • that we produce our 2013 accounts, which still had three months to run before the end of the financial year.

 We felt that these extra conditions after the event had taken place were unreasonable in the circumstances as we had already provided a successful 2013 air display and met all the conditions that we had had to meet in the previous 17 years to secure the grant. These extra conditions even led us to speculate over whether EDD were trying to cause us problems with our creditors and were by withholding the money trying to put us out of business so they could allow someone else to take over the air display in the future.

The 2013 accounts for example would normally only be required when we applied for a grant for the 2014 air display. They would be provided alongside the 2014 business plan. The department argued, however, that it was necessary for us to show that we were a “going concern going forward”, a factor which we did not think was relevant to the 2013 grant but more appropriate to a request for funding in 2014 or beyond, if and when we applied for a grant. All we wanted was the money that we were owed for the 2013 air display that we had already put on so that we could pay off our creditors.

It should also be understood that the Economic Development Department has no rights to the Jersey International Air Display, which is owned by a not for profit private limited company, and therefore they cannot pass on the event to anyone else.  The department is only a sponsor of the event, albeit a very important one through its grant funding which has always constituted between 30 and 45 % of the total cost of the event.  So long as the air display company raises sufficient money to cover its costs and meets the normal safety requirements it will continue. 

If for any reasons it does not raise sufficient funds for a full blown air display it could cut it down to its pre-1997 size (ie. the size of the current Guernsey air display) which in our view would be a retrograde step and would undo all the good work, reputation and following that the air display has built up for the island over the last 17 years. It would also have an adverse effect on tourism, to the island and the economy. 

In order to overcome the break down in trust between the Economic Development Department and ourselves and to secure the event at its present size and standard I suggested through trusted third parties that the grant in future should be paid to the Ports of Jersey, with whom we have had an excellent relationship under the leadership of Doug Bannister, and for them to provide  the funds to the air display company and oversee and protect the public investment in the air display rather than continue with the Economic Development Department with whom we no longer had any confidence in or trust. This proposal was agreed and is why the grant will be transferred to them in the first instance. 

To answer some of the other allegations that have been made about us and to correct some of the numerous misstatements that have been made I can deny the following points:

  • that we have failed over the years to provide the necessary documents to the department to secure the funding grant to the air display. If we had not done so the department would have been breaking the States of Jersey Finance Law for the money we received. I can concede, however, that we have not always met the timescales for documentation the department would have liked. 

  • that we have not provided the Business Plan and Accounts that were required in order for us to obtain the 2013 air display grant. The department had everything that they have required from us for the last 17 years by September 13, 2013. The last document being the 2012 audited accounts, which have to be provided in order for us to obtain the 2013 grant money.  The completed grant payment is delayed only due to EDD’s post event conditions.

  • that EDD paid £37,000 to Fuel Supplies prior to the air display. This is not correct they actually paid £17,000 to them out of our expected £90,000 grant. The air display had originally anticipated paying this sum, which was the unpaid balance of the £69,000 fuel bill for 2012 out of the receipts we expected in the week or so before the display. Unfortunately, we experienced a cash flow problem at this time and money was going out of our accounts faster than it was coming in and it was not possible to do so. The company threatened not to supply fuel to our participants and the States stepped in to secure the event, which would have been cancelled otherwise. In addition to this sum the States stepped in with another £20,000 of our expected grant to cover the cost of fuel for the Belgian Air Force F-16 jet fighters which had flown into Cherbourg airport the day before the event and who could not pay for the fuel they needed to take part in the Jersey and Guernsey air displays. I received a telephone call from the Belgian Air Force Headquarters in Brussels shortly after they arrived asking us to send a credit card to Cherbourg to enable their pilots to purchase fuel from the French fuel company. We did so but as we had reached our overdraft limit with NatWest Bank and they would not increase our facility to cover this we had to request assistance from the States who immediately paid the money into our account, again from our expected grant. This situation was totally unprecedented and has never happened before at the Jersey or any other air display to our knowledge. It also happened at the same time as we had an unprecedented number of aircraft/acts (10) drop out of the air display due to weather, operational and serviceability problems and we were desperately trying to salvage the air display flying programme.

I can also deny that there would not be an air display in September 2014 unless EDD had stepped in to pay the grant to the Ports of Jersey. Mr Gaines-Cooper has provided us with sufficient funds to put on an air display in 2014 and has allowed us to use these funds to pay the vast majority of our existing 2013 creditors until we have received all the money we are owed from our own debtors and EDD pay the balance of the grant. If EDD do not pay the 2013 grant there may not be sufficient money for a full blown air display in 2014. But there will be an air display.

From the foregoing it can be seen that the air display has been underfunded and struggling for a number of years and that when we have stated that we rely on programme sales to break even we have been telling the truth. An air display free to the public and financed primarily by sponsorship is a highly risky undertaking and is not one for the feint hearted. I suspect that it has taken many years off my own life.

In your editorial you stated that I was skating on thin ice and could be accused of hypocrisy if having been in the forefront of trying to achieve greater accountability and transparency in government and its executive arms, including the police if we did not open the air display accounts to scrutiny. For your information once the accounts have been audited they will be made available for public scrutiny as all accounts for grants in excess of £90,000 are now required by law to be made public. If anyone has any questions regarding those accounts I will happily answer them in just the same way that I would expect others to do so.  

Whereas I am prepared to admit that I do not always get things right and make mistakes and have failings unfortunately not everyone in government is prepared to admit the same thing. I also condemn the news management and spin of Ministers and senior public servants who try to massage or hide bad news and who quash critics and any critical scrutiny by any means possible, especially in an election year. 

Finally, whilst I have yet to decide whether I am standing again for election in October if I do stand I will stand on my record and justify my actions to the electorate, who will decide my fate, which is just as it should be in a democracy. In the meantime I will continue holding the Council of Ministers and their departments to account for their failures of individuals and the people of Jersey.

Yours sincerely
Mike Higgins
Deputy for St. Helier No.3

Tuesday, February 11, 2014








The Jersey Establishment’s Impossible War
Against Accountability. 

The Jersey establishment are living – and thrashing around in – a world of the past – still trying to press the buttons and pull the levers and twiddle the dials of an apparatus that lays at their feet in a cratered smoking entanglement of wreckage. Their ‘machine’ is shattered and broken beyond all remedy, but still they prod it, hoping to make it work again, not accepting that it is over.

They still believe in a world of a handful of over-powered and unaccountable potentates  - some publicly known – some not – where the “right words” amongst a couple of chaps, in the right circles – in Jersey, in London - could smooth over any problems – get the “machine” going – and massage any scandals from public view. 

After all – with no separation of powers in Jersey – no effective checks and balances – and the same narrow grouping of mutually promoting and protecting friends on the dinner-party-circuit – all meaningful power was in the same little club. That’s how “The Jersey Way” has functioned for 800 years; ‘why should it not carry on like that?’ 

In truth, such an extraordinarily narrow, unaccountable and unhealthy concentration of power was long-obsolete in respectable democratic nations by the time the canker was really taking hold of the Jersey establishment in the 1970s - when the place first started to be awash with money from off-shore finance and the unrestrained decadence of absolute power really began to run wild. The Jersey authorities and the bosses who control them were already living in a feudal fantasy whilst the failures, corruptions and cover-ups - and the cover-ups of the cover-ups - grew and accumulated throughout the 1980s and 1990s. 

Even before the internet really arrived – in truth, so corrupt, so hubristic, so rotten, was public administration in Jersey, the fake surface of “respectability” was already fracturing, and the scandals were inevitably going to emerge.

But here cometh the 21st century.
An epochal change unparalleled in all of human history. For the first time ever, the power to control what the public do or don’t get to know – to control what the public can or can’t say – is out of the hands of entrenched elites. The power of ordinary citizens to find and publish evidence that rulers and governments don’t like has arrived with the advent of the internet, and the result has been seismic – bringing down regimes around the world.

The doomed last stand being made by the Jersey oligarchy against citizens media – against real journalism – against the internet – against evidenced facts and the exposure of corruption - is their war against reality.

Wars against reality only end one way. 

The Jersey oligarchs and their protectors in London think that they can do what no corrupt regime around the world had been able to do – and keep embarrassing exposures about them off the world wide web.

My blog may have been taken-down by Google Blogger. But it  - and all of the documented evidence it contains  – will be up and available again somewhere on the world wide web in the coming days. And I know from the many messages I have had that many people welcome that.

For some years now, really for the first time in the entire history of this small island community, the ordinary people have been able to see the reality of our leaders – the stagnation and failures – the frequent lawlessness of our governance. 

Not only have we seen it – increasingly, we understand it.
We understand the wholly corrupted nature of power in this community. People who are victims of the corruption – of the failures – of the crimes - of the cover-ups – have been able to have evidence exposed and have their testimony published. 

That has only been able to happen because of Jersey’s bloggers – because of blogs like mine.Unfortunately for Jersey’s failed & unaccountable government, the genie is out of the bottle – and it can never be got back in.

We as a community have seen the facts – enough evidence, of enough scandalous corruptions and cover-ups – to see the true nature of our public authorities. We’ve seen it now – and we’re never going to forget it. 

My blog – and what the previously powerless people of Jersey have been able to publish on it – the evidence we’ve been able to accumulate – the facts we’ve been able to expose – is an historic publication for the island. It marks an exposure of, and challenge to, traditional power in Jersey of a kind that’s never been able to happen previously. Not in over 800 years. 

And I’m proud that my blog has attracted so many oppressive attacks & lunatic abuses. I’m proud that the blog is targeted by these suppressions – proud that it elicits so much fear and hatred from the powerful. 

There are many people in Jersey – ordinary, vulnerable people – who have been the victims of corruption, oppression, violence, child-abuse, battery, rape, attempted murder – people who have been utterly failed, totally betrayed by Jersey’s public authorities - people who have been trampled and further abused by Jersey’s Crown prosecution and judicial apparatus. 

For so many of those people – so many of my former constituents who approached me with histories of the most scandalous failures of the system  – abuses – shocking violence  - simply overwhelming horror-stories – and by no means all concerning child-abuse – for many of those people, my blog was the first – and in many cases the only – public outlet for what they had suffered. 
Nowhere – ever – in any of Jersey’s traditional mainstream media – were the disastrous failures of the States – and the often horrifying criminal cover-ups by the Jersey system challenged and documented – as they are on my blog. 

Documents – facts – evidence; corruption exposed – failures challenged – fake consensuses overturned – crimes cited – names named.

Just as real journalism in free Western countries is supposed to be.
My blog became – and is - a source of hope - of validation - of support, for many powerless people in Jersey. And I am very proud of that fact. 

I’m proud that – with the support of others – I was able to do what Jersey’s establishment media failed to do for generations upon generations, and still fails to do.

No matter that the establishment who run Jersey with the support of London, have tried everything to smear, discredit and stop the blog – and have persecuted me personally, tried all they could to discredit me, and tried to break me with all kinds of absurd and biased oppressions, even imprisoning me; no matter that they have tried  everything they possibly could to make the blog seem some kind of bad and shameful thing – no matter that these people continue to try and make me think of my work on the blog as “bad” and “wrong” – I know, we know – that publishing the evidence – publishing witness testimony concerning serious wrongdoing – is a good and creditable thing.

What I - and Jersey bloggers like Rico Sorda and Voice for Children do is good for powerless people – good for this community. 

I’ve had many conversations with people who have suffered at the hands of the corruption, injustice, neglect and abuse that characterises power in Jersey. People should have been protected from such things. And when protection failed, the culpable should have been held to account - the wrongdoers should have been punished; justice should have been served. In so many cases in Jersey, that didn’t happen. The overwhelming motivation of Jersey’s stagnant public authorities has been the protection of those authorities - and the protection of the powerful.

My blog publishes the facts – the witness testimony – the documents – the evidence. I’m proud of that fact. 

Many people have contacted me, upset that the powerful in Jersey seem to be concealing the truth again. I want people - whose stories are on my blog, and whose experiences inform so much of the blog – to know that their testimony – their brave whistle-blowing – their truth – will be restored, soon.
The internet gives us that power. 

The power to share. To see. And to understand.

And to never forget.

I’m proud that my blog has given that power to so many previously voiceless people in Jersey.

Stuart Syvret 


Sunday, February 2, 2014











On Tuesday the 7th January 2014 JEP reporter Richard Heath broke a story on the front page that led with the title:

"Young girls groomed for sex"

"Police arrest eight men as exploitation threat emerges"

By Richard Heath - Jersey Evening Post

A Group of suspected sex abusers who were allegedly grooming Jersey girls as young as 12 was disrupted by the States police last summer, the JEP can reveal.

In an operation which has remained secret until today, eight men aged between 17 and 20 were arrested on charges of grooming and engaging in under-age sexual intercourse in June.

It is alleged that the men picked up the girls in cars and offered them lift and alcoholic drinks in return for sexual acts. A total of 12 alleged victims aged between 12 and 16 were identified during the operation codenamed Operation Vessel.  But despite the serious nature of the alleged crimes. none of the girls was prepared to give evidence against the men -all of whom they knew - and to date none of the suspects have been charged with any offence. However, a number of other alleged 
sex offences were uncovered, some of which were still under investigation.

The States police released the information to the JEP as they announced plans for a major drive to protect Island youngsters from the emerging threat of child sexual exploitation. Tackling the offence, which has hit the headlines in the UK following a number of high profile child abuse cases in towns and cities including Rochdale and Oxford, is to be one of the Key priorities of the states police in 2014. Announcing the plans, Detective Chief Inspector Alison Fossey said: "The tendency is to think that this is something that happens only in inner cities in the UK and that it doesn't exist in Jersey.  However as recently as last summer we disrupted a group of young men who were allegedly picking up girls in cars and putting them in exploitative situations.  'It was a major intelligence gathering multi-agency operation that led to these arrests. 'Ultimately, the alleged victims were unwilling to engage with the police in respect of the males who were arrested.' 

Det Chief Insp Fossey stressed that although the alleged Jersey offences differed from Oxford and Rochdale, as they didn't involve  young girls being passed between sex offenders they did show that child exploitation offences do occur in Jersey.

'It would be naive to think that the problem doesn't exist in jersey.' the officer said. 'It may not involve gangs where gangs pass girls around, but it certainly happens here. 'We have all seen the cases in the UK and we want to get on the front foot here.

Through education and raising awareness , we want to stop children in Jersey becoming victims of child sexual exploitation.'

Working with the Safeguarding Partnership  Board, the police plan to introduce a comprehensive programme to educate children and adults about child sexual exploitation. 

The scheme will include educating children and teenagers about sexual boundaries in an effort to reduce child on child sex abuse which often arises from misunderstanding about what constitutes  consent. Front -line professionals in the police as well as the Health and Education departments and the Youth Service will receive more training on how to deal with child exploitation cases. And the States police are to use media and social media campaigns to raise awareness of the issue and highlight signs that may suggest that a child is being abused, such as receiving gifts, using their mobile phone or computer secretly, playing truant, self harming or going missing from home.

Det Chief Insp Fossey said: 'It is important that we tackle this issue. It is a crime that can affect any child,  at any time and anywhere, regardless of sex or social or ethnic back-ground.'

Anyone who has concerns about child exploitation in Jersey is asked to phone the Multi Agency Safe-guarding Hub on 449213. End

First up, I would like to thank Richard Heath from the Jersey Evening Post (JEP) for breaking this sex grooming story and Matthew Price of BBC Radio Jersey and TheJerseyWay blog site for the interview and audio.

What has really struck me about this story of child sex grooming is the general acceptance of this highly alarming story among the general public of Jersey.  There has been more reaction over school tuition fees than there has to a child sex grooming scandal.  Should we perhaps look at ourselves as a society and ask the real question: Do we really care?  Is it now a case of: If it's not on my doorstep am I really bothered?

We know that at least one of the alleged victims was in care.  Who has legal responsibility for this child?  We have 12 underage girls, the 20 plus parents of whom must have been devastated, and yet the public outcry is zero.  

There are 48 individuals elected to represent us in the States of Jersey.  During the last sitting of the States, Deputy Mike Higgins raised this important issue during question time and only 4 politicians had something to say about it.  It is the same reluctance to dig deeper that allowed so many questions to remain unanswered in respect of the Le Rocquier School starter pistol incident.  

Did the States of Jersey Police fear a backlash and the Island then facing negative press if they had have gone public with this in June 2013?  Did those in charge fear the same treatment as their predecessors (Operation Rectangle) by actively going public in search of further witnesses and victims?  This may indeed not be the case but the question has still got to be asked due to the significant numbers of people involved.  

What have we learnt since Operation Rectangle?

Do the same problems regarding child protection still exist?

In my view, it seems that we have learnt very little.  

This is the first posting on this issue.  I hope that BBC Radio Jersey and the JEP continue to investigate this case and look at the broader issues of how our society is evolving when sex grooming does not even raise an eyebrow.  So many questions still need asking.

Here we have our Home Affairs Minister, Senator Ian Le Marquand, being interviewed by Matthew Price on BBC Radio Jersey. It really is worth a listen. The Minister, in my opinion, just doesn't seem to get the severity of the topic being discussed.

This interview was conducted on the 8th January 2014.

We then moved on to question time in the States of Jersey. Remember we have 48 States Members and this is Child Sex Grooming that is being discussed.  Look again at how the Minister evades some of the questions  question being asked.  


4.3 Deputy M.R. Higgins of St. Helier of the Minister for Home Affairs regarding the police investigation of ‘Operation Vessel’:
Would the Minister explain to Members why the police investigation of ‘Operation Vessel’ in which suspected sex abusers who were allegedly grooming young girls were identified, was kept secret since June 2012 and how this benefited the investigation and the people of Jersey?
Senator B.I. Le Marquand (The Minister for Home Affairs):
This investigation took place in summer 2013, not in June 2012.  The States Police do not normally make details of criminal investigations public unless there is a good reason so to do, and a decision as to whether and when to make information public is made on an individual basis.  This was a live covert investigation and the reason for that was that was the best way of maximising opportunities for securing evidence and also for safeguarding the children victims involved.  The operation took place with the support from other key agencies and victims were supported by specially trained staff.  I was aware of the existence of this investigation and as this was a multi-agency investigation so were all the relevant agencies and, where appropriate, parents or guardians.
4.3.1 Deputy M.R. Higgins
I find it amazing that we find out about this investigation through the Jersey Evening Post.  What concerns me is surely if this grooming was going on, and the investigation appears to be at an end because no convictions were brought, why was it not put out into the media so other families, one could be aware of what was going on, and secondly, if there were other victims who could come forward… or was this just a case of again keeping quiet about child abuse in this Island because of fears for the reputation of the Island and not looking after children in the Island?
Senator B.I. Le Marquand:
No, the last insinuations of the Deputy are utterly ridiculous.  The police are very well committed to dealing with matters of investigation [Approbation] and it is quite outrageous that that implication should be put forward.  These matters have to be decided on an individual basis.  Here, the primary concern was to protect the children involved.  This was a highly successful matter.  I am sorry that the Deputy does not seem to be able to recognise a successful matter because here we had detecting that something was happening at an early stage.  We had intervention to stop it happening.  We had potential offenders being arrested and questioned and so on.  But there was not anything to be gained at the early stages of the investigation in going public.  In fact very much the reverse.  You cannot go public with details of the victims’ names for instance.  You cannot go public with details of the alleged perpetrators’ names, particularly as in this case it did not end up… so I am quite satisfied this was most properly handled.
4.3.2 Deputy R.G. Le Hérissier:
Would the Minister not acknowledge that as exemplified most dramatically in the Savile case, publicity was indeed the way forward and the issue is not either accusing people unfairly or massively embarrassing victims by putting their names in?  The issue is surely to put in the public domain the fact that an investigation is proceeding so that if other people have data and that was, as I said, exemplified in the Savile case, then they can feel that much more confident in coming forward with possibly related allegations.  That was the issue.  Will he tell us therefore (a) does he agree with my statement and (b) under what circumstances would he want to handle these or would he want the police handle to these investigations in a more open fashion?
Senator B.I. Le Marquand:
I do not agree with the statement in this particular case for the reasons I have already said, because you could not go public with details of the names of the alleged victims, nor could you go public with details of the alleged perpetrators.  You simply could not do that in either case.  You create witch hunt territory and all that kind of thing.  There is an appropriate occasion to warn the public, and indeed that happened eventually via the J.E.P. (Jersey Evening Post) article, it is appropriate there is an issue generally.  But frankly, you may call me a cynic if you like, but the issue of young men trying to ply young women with drink in order to get their - if I can go Victorian now - wicked way with them is not a new issue.  This is a permanent risk, a permanent danger and that is a fact.  What has been happening, on the positive side, is some excellent work has been done by the safeguarding board in training work in relation to the whole area of sexual exploitation of young people.  I myself attended a half-day conference on this so the agencies are in a better place to recognise the issues when things are going wrong.  But this was a massive success story and that I hold to.
Deputy R.G. Le Hérissier:
I wonder if the Minister could answer the question under what circumstances would he seek to have much more open investigation.
The Deputy Bailiff:
I think, Deputy Le Hérissier, he has already answered.  He said it depends on the facts of each case.
4.3.3 Deputy M. Tadier:
I do not call the Minister a cynic, I call him blatantly complacent.  The only reason we are aware of this episode is purely by chance that a request was made, and I think possibly some investigative journalism for a change has uncovered this.  For the Minister to stand up and say that everything is dandy simply beggars belief.  Does the Minister acknowledge the fact that the only reason prosecutions were not brought was because the individuals who were very young were unwilling to testify and that were they willing to testify these individuals would probably be locked up at La Moye or certainly on some kind of suspended sentences?
Senator B.I. Le Marquand:
In relation to the second point: yes, that is correct.  This is unusual investigation because there was no evidence coming from the victims themselves.  It was, in fact, coming from other sources, and without a complainant who would give evidence: it is quite impossible to bring a criminal prosecution.  I am not in the least complacent in this area.  There has been excellent work to improve the system.  We are still working on improving the system and awareness so that information is shared.  We have brought in the M.A.S.H. (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs) system within the last few months, which is a data-sharing information system.  The fact is if information has to be obtained, it has to go to the right agencies and then they have to take appropriate action.
4.3.4 Deputy M. Tadier:
Does the Minister not acknowledge there is a problem if the only reason that people who would otherwise be convicted have not been convicted because the very vulnerable people that they were abusing, attempting to rape - because sleeping with a person under 16 is statutory rape - these individuals are still at large and that it should be possible for prosecutions to be brought in a case when these individuals, for whatever reason, do not wish to testify if there is other compelling evidence which is there.  Does the Minister not agree, and if there needs to be a change a law will he bring that?
Senator B.I. Le Marquand:
You could bring a prosecution if you had other evidence.  But the key evidence in such cases is the evidence of the victims themselves.  Clearly, without evidence from victims, there was no possibility of a successful prosecution.  We have a criminal law in which the test is beyond reasonable doubt.  That is a high test.  So the police did their very best and by doing this in a covert way, which part of the reason for that was to try to ensure they got the best evidence possible in relation to the matter.  But at the end of the day they cannot always succeed.
4.3.5 Deputy J.A. Hilton:
Is the Minister able to tell Members whether the alleged victims were in care, being looked after by a government department, or whether they were in the care and control of their parents?
Senator B.I. Le Marquand:
I do not know the answer to that question.  I could find out if the Deputy wants me to but I do not know the answer.
Deputy J.A. Hilton:
Thank you, I would appreciate if the Minister could do that for me.
Deputy R.G. Le Hérissier:
I thank the Minister but it was a point of clarification from the Attorney General, if he could advise us on circumstances where it is possible to proceed.
The Deputy Bailiff:
I am sorry, this is question time, not question time to the Attorney General unless you have put a question to him.
4.3.6 Deputy M.R. Higgins:
I will go further than Deputy Hilton’s request to the Minister.  I would also like to know if any of the perpetrators were in care as well.  In other words, we are looking not only at victims but perpetrators, and I would also like to say that the Minister ... alleged, yes I accept that.  The Minister is also trying to, in a sense, downplay this by saying, for example, it is not right to publish the names of the victims or the offenders.  No one was asking for that.  What we wanted to do was know that this type of activity was going on, it was in the investigation.  If anybody had any information why not come forward and give the information to the police, and maybe some of these people would have been convicted.  Does the Minister believe that the police should be far more transparent in these type of cases, without giving the names of victims and so on, but bringing it to the attention, not only as a warning but also to gather evidence?
Senator B.I. Le Marquand:
I believe the police have to make difficult decisions in these cases on an individual basis, as I said before.  The police have to consider on the one hand issues like obtaining additional evidence, but they did not think that was very likely in this particular case, but they also have to consider on the other hand, causing unnecessary alarm to the general public. 
That is also a factor that has to be considered in balancing any individual decision.
4.3.7 Deputy M.R. Higgins:
If there are 12 people who are alleged victims surely that is not causing alarm, it is informing the public what is going on.
Senator B.I. Le Marquand:
What I am talking about would be if they put out a general and alarming statement to the effect of parents be very careful about your girls because there are people around who are trying to do these sort of things.  You have to keep these things in balance.  It is quite a difficult decision, which they have to make in each individual case.
The Deputy Bailiff:
It is a very good opportunity to say from the Chair to those in the public gallery that you will have heard questions and answers and you can form your own views about it, but do not ever think that States Members do not care about what happens with you.  [Approbation]

Rico Sorda
Part Time investigative Journalist