Saturday, February 27, 2016
ANDREW LEWIS AND THE POISONED CHALICE 5 - THE JERSEY EVENING POST EDITORIAL
FORMER HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER - DEPUTY ANDREW LEWIS
THE JERSEY EVENING POST EDITORIAL - REPRODUCED BELOW
WE START TO LOOKAT THE GARBAGE GIVEN AS EVIDENCE BY ANDREW LEWIS
THE JERSEY EVENING POST EDITORIAL
DO the ends justify the means? And if they do, should those who adopt questionable tactics to achieve their objective be honest and transparent about what they are doing?
Those questions – and a good many more – are left hanging today after Deputy Andrew Lewis, the former Home Affairs Minister, finished giving his evidence to the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry yesterday. He did so following the release recently of the transcript of the 2008 States debate about the suspension of former police chief Graham Power, which was held behind closed doors.
Deputy Lewis has long been accused of misleading the States during that debate. He has always denied the allegation and denied it again, and again, yesterday.
The case against him is that, during the debate, he said unambiguously that Graham Power should be suspended because of the findings of an interim report by the Metropolitan police, which was reviewing the States police’s handling of the historical child abuse inquiry.
He now says that he had never seen the report, but was acting on information supplied to him by former police chief David Warcup in a letter. At no point during the in camera debate did he mention the letter from Mr Warcup.
‘I have read an alarming report by the Metropolitan Police which led me to this decision in the first place,’ he told Members. He added later: ‘I am purely acting on information contained in a report that was about the investigation.’
Mr Lewis said yesterday that everyone in the States Chamber during the secret debate knew perfectly well that he was referring to the letter and not the interim report. He says he made a mistake under the pressure of being questioned by States Members. During the 2008 debate, he was also asked whether it would be better to wait for the full report before suspending Mr Power. A few weeks ago, William Bailhache, the Attorney General in 2008, revealed that he had advised it would be better for the whole report to be available before any decision was made regarding Mr Power’s suspension. That advice was ignored.
So what of the questions posed at the top of this column?
Deputy Lewis has been left looking ridiculous at best and, to many, dishonest. Due process was not properly followed, advice from lawyers was ignored and warnings from elected representatives resisted. Whether or not the ends – the removal of Mr Power – were justified is a question for another day, and one for the inquiry to ponder.
But revelations about the means will do the reputation of this Island, the credibility of its politicians (and their ability to tell the truth under robust scrutiny) and the institutions of government no good. If Deputy Lewis is the fall guy for what went on behind the scenes in 2008 at the very top of government, he can have little to complain about.
The great irony is that, ultimately, the people who fought so hard to protect Jersey’s reputation in 2008 may end up seriously undermining it. The electorate will decide who they believe. And those privileged to sit in positions of power to serve Jersey must understand the obvious dangers of trying to run this Island in secret and away from public scrutiny
We know that Andrew Lewis misled the house in 2008. On that issue there is no doubt. This is a strongly worded editorial. It really does call into question the integrity of Andrew Lewis. Why did Andrew Lewis come to the Jersey Care Enquiry and lie? He came in, swore the oath, then delivered lies, more lies and damn lies. Why? Why didn't he take this opportunity to set the record straight? Instead he was prepared to make himself look like an idiot. He told the Care Enquiry that the States of Jersey politicians in December 2008 knew that he was referring to a Warcup Letter and not the Met Interim Report - with the one small issue being that none of them knew that the Warcup Letter even existed in December 2008.
Just recently we have had the Dame Janet Smith Jimmy Savile inquiry. What was interesting was the reaction to the evidence given by Tony Blackburn. His evidence fell well short of what was expected. This could be said of Andrew Lewis. His evidence was quite simply shocking. One could also say that he made a mockery of the Jersey Care Inquiry. We must wait for their final report but one can't help that for Mr Lewis it's not going to be good.
The JEP editorial spells it out quite clearly. I have no doubt that they will also be awaiting for the final report..
Andrew Lewis swore an oath. It obviously meant absolutely nothing to him.
DJ Tony Blackburn has "parted company" with the BBC after failing to fully co-operate with the Jimmy Savile inquiry, director general Tony Hall has said.
Lord Hall said Dame Janet Smith's inquiry had rejected the evidence from the Radio 2 DJ.
The veteran DJ, who has threatened to sue the BBC, said the report included an accusation he was among celebrities who "seduced" a 15-year-old girl.
Mr Blackburn, 73, denies the allegation and says he was cleared of wrongdoing.
In a statement, he accused the BBC of making him a "scapegoat" for its own "cover-up" of abuse.
Dame Janet's report found the BBC had repeatedly failed to stop "monstrous" abuse by DJ Jimmy Savile and broadcaster Stuart Hall because of a "culture of fear".
Lord Hall told a news conference in the wake of the report's publication: "My interpretation is that Tony Blackburn fell short of the standards of evidence that such an inquiry demanded."
He said it was "one of the most important inquiries in the BBC's history and that has put an even greater responsibility on everyone who took part in that inquiry to co-operate fully and to be open".
"So many survivors and witnesses have honestly and openly co-operated fully - and at great personal cost to themselves.
"As Dame Janet has said, she's rejected his evidence and she's explained very clearly why. I have to take that extremely seriously."