Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Is this the truth we have been waiting for?

Dear All

It has been a week since I last posted a blog. I am sorry for the delay in posting but I was tired, although I have been very busy I now feel somewhat refreshed and have a renewed energy to uncover the truth about the children's service and the States of Jersey's senior civil servants.

Those that have looked at the comments from my last blog post will realise that three members of staff have decided that they wish to speak out and help to expose the truth.

I would like to thank these staff and all of the others who have posted comments and voted in the poll - it provides a source of encouragement for me to know that I am not alone in this war on children's rights.

For thise post, I want to focus on this one comment before I return to my commentary on Phil Dennett's report.

I have provided a copy of the comment below for you to view;

"We are a group of 3 staff, we have discussed your blog on many occasions.

Most staff are viewing your blog. We think you want us to explain the grand prix admission.

For years all young people spent 24 hours in a bedroom, prior to Jo Keneddy arriving they would spend 24 hours in a secure cell.

He changed that at least so they could go to a proper bedroom!

If a young person showed bad behaviour or got 3 strikes they would go to the pits for 3 days, living in the secure cell.

They were isolated from the others.

The matteress would often be taken out.

It was dark nd cold.

Toilet behind low level wall in seperate room.

ISOLATION DID happen, you are NOT lieing.

The manager must of convinced his executives that it did not happen and they were foolish to believe them.

Jo Keneddy will blame the staff and say he did not no how long young people were in a cell. the staff who were employed at the time will get the blame.

Read the records.

We understand that the system you fought for and lost your job for is now the system which is being used.

the 24 hours has stopped and so has the 3 days in pits.

Many young people spent weeks in the secure cell.

The managers you talked about never visited the young people.

Tuesday, 27 May, 2008"

The three people who wrote this are very brave and clearly have high morals and integrity - Or, maybe, Bill Ogley will say that they too are lying, and everyone will live happily ever after.

Lets see if the States respond to the comments officially or not - I suspect not, they will figure that the 1400 hits my blog has received in the past 18 days are insignificant and need not worry about the fall out from it.

That said, it appears from the comment posted that the following can be considered as true;

1. Young people were kept in solitary confinement for the first 24 hours upon arrival at Greenfields.

2. Young people would spend 3 days, sometimes more, in the Pits for bad behaviour.

Let is assume that what is being said here is true and that people would be prepared to give evidence to that affect.

Let us also assume that Andrew Williamson and the Howard League for Penal Reform agree that such use of solitary confinement would at best be poor practice and at worst would be illegal.

If this is the case then where does this leave those senior civil servants who have chosen to ignore the issues and instead chose to either minimise or deny the existence of such practices.

For example, I know that Joe Kennedy, on camera for the BBC, stated that in reality, the actual practice of the Grandprix system was not how the policy reads, and that it has been 'read in its darkest light'.

I also know that Phil Dennett has stated that there were 'no signs or reports of an abusive regime being operated in either the former or present Greenfields'.

So, what next -

Lets assume that most of you who are reading this blog believe that what I am saying, and what the three staff are saying, is true and that I/we haven't just decided to make this all up and lead you all astray.

Lets also assume that the majority of us want the wrong doing by the States of Jersey to be exposed, prevent it from occurring again and those who are responsible for such wrong doing to be held to account.

If this is true, then let us fight this together - I want you all to find as much factual information, which can be evidenced, and post it on this blog so that we can expose the truth.

Expose the truth and finally seek justice for the children who were held in solitary confinement

Help push for positive change in tomorrow's service for those children who may need it when they are at their most vulnerable.

I want you all to search in the archives, google, write to the BBC, speak to colleagues and lets put all the evidence of poor practice which was produced in response to allegations about the grandprix system into the public domain.

For example, look in JEP archives, Community Care website, national newspaper articles, States website etc etc.

Find the words that people like Bill Ogley, Mike Pollard, Joe Kennedy, Phil Dennett etc have used to protect themselves and lets prove that they have been lying to the media, to the people of Jersey and to the children.

Also, if the staff who left this message can explain to us all in more detail what happened with the Grandprix system when young people were in the Pits, how much of the time was in solitary confinement, how much was with staff, being education, eating etc?

Also, can you explain how much time out of the first 24 hours was this with staff and how much was in solitary confinement?

One final note, to the three staff, I know it is very hard for you to do but please do this for the children - no one else has the knowledge that you have to protect future children from your managers, the senior civil servants the current Health Minister and his esteemed side kick!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Commentary on Phil Dennett's report - Section 4

This commentary is a continuation of yesterday's blog and will focus on Section 4 of Phil Dennett's report into my whistle blowing complaint.

The full report written by Phil Dennett is included in my previous post dated Sunday 18th May 2008.

Section 4 of the report considers what he refers to as 'information from Simon Bellwood'.

Before I go on, I want to emphasise something, there are many readers of my blog who have never worked in Greenfields or under Joe Kennedy's management, they can read this current blog for their information only - others, who have worked there read it with knowledge and views on issues raised by me and others.

However, in truth, I am writing this blog for all of you who work there now and for those who worked in the old building for Joe Kennedy and those managers before him - including me.

I want you to really listen to what I am asking of you and you can choose to ignore what I am saying or you can do what you feel is morally and ethically right.

Section 4.2 of Phil Dennett's report highlights the concerns raised by me in my Serious Concerns complaint of 2nd January 2007. It refers specifically to the new admissions procedure which was implemented whilst I was on annual leave over Christmas.

Anyone who worked at Greenfields will know what I mean. The one which was communicated to staff via the communications book. To help your memories I have written below what it said:

, “All staff - as from today room one will now be the new admission room, where new admissions will be placed after full admission. They will remain in room one for twenty four hours with good behaviour. Should any unwanted behaviour be shown then the twenty fours hours may be started from the start of compliant behaviour”

The person who wrote this claims that, upon reflection, they can understand how it could have been misunderstood by others. I don't want to labour this point because I do not wish to cause any unnecessary stress to that person, however, what I do want is for you all to tell me, and more importantly, the other readers what was meant and understood by that communications book entry.

I have always understood the entry to be the same as the admissions policy in the grandprix system so I have always been bewildered when anyone, like Phil Dennett, tries to argue that it was not the same.

Ooppss sorry, my mistake, Phil Dennett has never pretended it was different, he always claimed that admissions under the grandprix system, despite the wording in the document, did not involve locking children in solitary confinement, so was fine anyway.

I want to stop right there, you tell me what this all means.

You worked there.

You knew how the policy worked in reality.

You understood it.

You witnessed it.

Surely you can explain to us all in a way that is much better than Phil Dennett or I can.

Moving on to section 4.3, although this section does not use the word 'grandprix', clearly Phil Dennett is talking about that very system. He says how I felt that the system was inappropriate.

This is a slight understatement to say the least, however, despite his choice of words, let us remember that Phil Dennett's report concludes that there was nothing abusive about the grandprix system anyway.

Again, I look at you, the staff who work there, to clarify this point for me and the other readers.

You worked there.

You know how the policy worked in reality.

You understood it.

You witnessed it.

Explain to us all - the truth.

Oh and by the way, Chris Knights, the young lad who bravely went on camera about his experiences at Greenfields, his claim that he was subjected to a period of solitary confinement for nearly two months; Pbil Dennett told the Howard League for Penal Reform that Chris Knights was lying.

Some of you were there.

Speak out.

Tell the truth.

Tell us what actually happened.

Is Chris Knights lying, or is Phil Dennett lying?

I am not going to look at any other sections of Phil Dennett's reports until we have clarified the points that he has made in Section 4.

I feel that unless we can contextualise what we are talking about here, ie, what was the actual practice of the grandprix system and the new admissions procedure, then what is the point of debating the rest of the report.

Once you have helped to clarify the situation we can move on to the next issue; Joe Kennedy and I sit on different sides of the fence when it comes to our philosophy in what constitutes good child care within secure and residential settings.

The thing is only one of us can be right.

Phil Dennett, Madeleine Davies, Linda Dodds, Mario Lundy, Marnie Baudains, Mike Pollard, Bill Ogley, Mick Pinel, Micheala Clifford, and even Frank Wa*ker think I am wrong, so, they must think that Joe Kennedy is right - yes?

Oh, I nearly forgot Tony Le Sewer (damn, could never get his name right), head of the Children's Service.

Well, lets imagine that the the fence which divides Joe Kennedy and myself is broken and no-one can sit on it anymore, let us hear which side of the fence you are going to go - you can either agree with me and sit on my side or agree with Joe Kennedy and the others and go with them.

Tonight I am ready to give up, the fact that the States of Jersey have clearly decided that Joe Kennedy was right all along simply re-affirms that I am either going mad or they are too powerful for me to beat.

I am bored of writing these blogs to a seemingly invisible audience.

I am demotivated, stressed, tired, and have little fight left in me.

I need some help, I need to know your views.

Now is the time to speak up, speak up for what you believe in.

Don't feel that you should have an allegiance to me or to Joe Kennedy, do what feels right, the only thing I ask you not to do - is to do nothing as this helps nobody but yourself.

If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem - do you want to be part of the problem?

If anyone wishes to comment on the above I will post it. As for me I am tired, I need a break, they have beaten me - so for now, farewell.


Sunday, 18 May 2008

An email from a Greenfields member of staff to me at thejerseywhistleblower@hotmail.com

I have received a number of emails from staff within the Greenfields and other homes as well as social wervices staff and parents alike, however, this one particularly gives a real indication of the culture which I have been referring.

I can assure you I have not changed the wording, I have asked the member of staff's permission to post this email on my blog - I of course have anonymised it, you will understand why this is necessary after you read it.

Date: Sun, 18 May 2008 22:23:14 +0000
From: XXX
Subject: Greenfields staff
To: thejerseywhistleblower@hotmail.com

Hi Simon,

XXXX XXXX from Greenfields here, i and a few others at Greenfields have always supported you when you were fired from your job but we were made to feel as if we were somehow mad when we said we had no problems with how you worked.

After you left some of us wanted to leave also because we found it so difficult to work with people who enjoyed controlling and intimidating the kids in the unit(these people are at all levels within the unit).

The reason we stayed was because we realised that if we left then the children would have nobody to protect them. There was even one kid...[section taken out to protect identities].

...[section taken out to protect identities] about staff boasting about how they sorted out a child who threatened their family by asking another staff member to leave the room so that they can have a few minutes with him,

He then threatened the kid.

I wish you well and i will contact you again soon.


Commentary on Phil Dennett's report - Sections 1 to 3

I would like to offer the following commentary on Phil Dennett's report.

Firstly, you may wonder why he did not interview me. He did try bless him, he telephoned me me to come in for an interview , a week after I had left Greenfields in an emotional state - the state I found myself in after many weeks of enduring bullying and harassment from Joe Kennedy which was compounded by and endorsed by Phil Dennett. During the call he asked me to come to his office for an interview, the very office which is above Joe Kennedy's, no letter, no offer for me to bring representation, no guidance on the content of the meeting - nothing.

After this call from Phil Dennett I wrote to him, I have copied this letter below.

16 January 2007

Mr P Dennett
Greenfields Centre
La Grande Route de St Martin
St Saviour

Dear Phil

I write in response to your telephone call this afternoon requesting my attendance at a meeting with you on Thursday 18 January at 9.30am. I would like to highlight the level of anxiety that this situation is causing me. I thank you for understanding my concerns that the meeting was to be conducted in your office, given that it is practically adjacent to Joe Kennedy’s office as I am sure you appreciate how stressful it would be for me to discuss important issues in this location. I am relieved therefore that the meeting is now to be held at The Bridge.

I have been advised by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) that your role in the investigation and the purpose of the meeting should be clarified by you in writing, with appropriate notice, in advance of the meeting. I also believe that, in accordance with the Serious Concerns Policy, I am entitled to be accompanied to the meeting by a work colleague or a professional representative.

I have expressed concern about your objectivity in this investigation to Marnie Baudains and, in my recent interview, to Madeleine Davies. I believe that an exposure of malpractice by Joe Kennedy would implicate you, as his line manager. It could therefore be argued that you have a conflict of interests in this matter because it might be detrimental to you if issues of malpractice or abuse are found within current or previous practice at the Greenfields Centre, as you are ultimately responsible for this service provision under the Children’s Executive. I have previously mentioned that your failure to respond sympathetically to my concerns in the recent past have enabled the situation at Greenfields to escalate to the unfortunate position in which we now find ourselves.

I would like to know if Linda Dodds, as your co-investigating officer, will be present and conducting the meeting with you. Please can you also advise who will be taking notes, and whether this will be in shorthand or by note-taking?

I hope you can understand my concerns in this matter. I believe that it is in the interests of all concerned that this investigation is carried out in accordance with the Serious Concerns Policy. Moreover, should this investigation not achieve a satisfactory conclusion and require further enquiry, it will be vital that all procedures have been strictly adhered to. With this is mind, I feel that it is not appropriate for Thursday’s meeting to take place. I would like to receive written correspondence from you which clarifies the above points, together with a suggested time and date for a rescheduled meeting.

Yours sincerely

cc Marnie Baudains
Simon Bellwood Mike Pollard

I also wrote to Marnie Baudains and explained that it was simply unacceptable for the very man who endorsed all of the issues I had raised, including the grandprix system, to interview me as part of an investigation into the service for which he was responsible for. Great start to what was to be a very thorough and credible investigation by the States of Jersey - well done.

At least, following receipt of my letter they recognised that there was actually a good point to what I was saying.

So, in response, they decided that it would be better for Phil Dennett to not interview me.

Instead it was agreed that he should continue his investigation - yes the very investigation which was commissioned because I had complained about his service. So in a nutshell he would continue without the input from the person who blew the whistle on it - very clever!

Let us now look at the content of his report.

Section 1. looks at the terms of reference for the investigation. What Phil Dennett fails to point out here is that Marnie Baudains had informed him that his report should also explicitly look at the grandprix system. I am aware of this because, in response to a letter I had written, Marnie Baudains wrote to me on 23rd January 2007 stating that,

"I confirm that the terms of reference for the investigation have been broadened to include previous practice, in particular the Grand Prix behaviour management system".

The interesting thing about this is that Phil Dennett's report fails to mention the word 'grandprix' - that's right, not once. So how does the report of an investigation that has terms of reference which, according to Marnie Baudains' letter, required it to look into, "in particular the Grand Prix behaviour management system" manage to do so without writing the word once?

In fact the report also only refers to matters which predate the opening of the new Greenfields building once (which was 8th October 2006, the same day that I abolished the grandprix system).

The reference in section 12.7 states,

"12.7 There are no signs or reports of an abusive regime being operated at either the former or present Greenfields".

I will comment more on this point at a later stage.

Section 3 of Phil Dennetts report refers to the methodology used. This is perhaps one of the most important sections of the report as it provides evidence of the culture of the self serving abuse of power used by Phil Dennett to his advantage and my detriment - the very same approach adopted by other senior civil servants who have condoned his report and endorsed its findings.

Incidentally, the findings of this report were fundamental in supporting the decision to dismiss me from my post some months later on 23rd May 2007. Who was it that dismissed me? Guess, yes thats right, Phil Dennett.

back to his report. In section 3 Phil Dennett reports that he interviewed seven staff, interviewed one resident, looked at internal records, files and policies, and made some direct observations.

He also made reference to section 23(1) of the Care Standards Act 2000.

To explain this further, section 23(1) of the Care Standards Act 200 refers to the National Minimum Standards for Children's Home. If anyone knows these Standards then they will know that this is an absolute blatant lie by Phil Dennett.

To be honest there is more chance of Frank Walker giving Stuart Syvret his job back than the conclusion of Phil Dennett's investigation ever being considered as having made reference to these Standards - seriously, this is such a laughable statement to have made but does raise the levels of culpability on Phil Dennett's part.

He wouldn't know what these Standards represented if they tapped him on the shoulder and said 'Boo'.

Perhaps he used a little bit of 'Jersification' as he applied and considered them, a little bit of the 'Jersey Way' to help make them fit his own self serving views, opinions and cover-ups?

I digress, back to the important stuff.

Another thing you will notice about his methodology, is that he has not spoken to, referred to, commented etc etc, on anything outside of Jersey.

He has not used or considered any best practice, any evidence based research, or statistics from other countries at all let alone the UK which is expressly referred to in both mine and Joe Kennedy's job descriptions.

I know I have posted my complaints letter on this blog before, but I would like you to again read what I wrote in section 1 of that complaint as surely this should have guided the methodology used by Phil Dennett?:

"I believe that this contravenes all legislation, regulations and guidance concerning looked after children in secure accommodation, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the European Convention on Human Rights, Every Child Matters (2003), United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (1990), the Care Standards Act 2000 (National Minimum Standards for Children’s Homes), and The Human Rights (Jersey) Law 2000. Furthermore, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture 1987 stated that “solitary confinement can, in certain circumstances, amount to inhuman and degrading treatment; in any event, all forms of solitary confinement should be as short as possible.”

The Secure Accommodation Network (SAN) has produced documentation with the purpose of ensuring that staff working in secure children’s homes are clear about when and when to not use single separation. These clearly stipulate that “Single separation is considered as a last resort and all other efforts should be made to prevent this extreme action.”

The Lord Carlile of Berriew QC conducted an independent inquiry for the Howard League for Penal Reform (published January 2006) into, amongst other things, the use of solitary confinement in prisons, secure training centres and local authority secure children’s homes. His recommendations were that solitary confinement should never be used as a punishment, the child should have access to an advocate, a child’s belongings should only ever be removed from their room if they pose a demonstrable risk to the child or others, and that ‘time out’ could be a useful technique for easing tension but should never be for more than a few minutes.

The reason I wanted people to re-read this section is that I need to emphasise that the sentiment and basis of 'my' complaint was bench marked against all of the guidance, legislation and policy available in the UK and which provides comprehensive guidance on practice and policies that can be applied within Secure Children's Homes.

Phil Dennett's report however, does not benchmark against anything other than his own perspective. He does not mention any external practices and polices, research, evidence based practice, he does not even consider the recommendations made by Lord or the practice guidance developed by the Secure Accommodation Network (which is made up of all of the Secure Children's Home in the UK). I had provided the States of Jersey with all of this information.

To be continued...

Phil Dennett's Report into my whistleblowing complaint

I have removed a section of this report as it contains interview notes with staff members, whilst this information is valid, I do not wish to publish their personal views and information as they were interviewed in confidence. Other information such as the content of this report is in the interests of the public.
Please leave some comments and I will add a further post this evening to answer them all. I will also make some points about this report. I particularly like the point 8.4 which suggests that none of the people interviewed considered either regime abusive. Oh, also, Phil Dennett did not speak to anyone who has ever worked, or inspected, a secure children's home since the UK adopted current practice and policies - despite me giving him the contact telephone number for the UK's leading inspector at Ofsted! I wonder why he would choose not to speak with a genuine inspector who knows what they are talking about?
I am aware that some staff from Greenfields are reading this blog and I, as well as other readers, would be grateful for your own comments - anonymously of course.
Please don't sit on the fence any longer, if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem and these issues will continue until you stand up for the children's rights and your own rights. Yes Will, that includes you too, you can't just go to work and keep your head down anymore.
I think this is the time for people to speak out. One young person has and was interviewed on the Politics Show - the States of Jersey's response to this young man saying he was held in solitary confinement for long periods, they said he is lying!
I look forward to your comments on this report - Madeleine Davies' and Linda Dodds' are still to follow.


Saturday, 17 May 2008

Is Joe Kennedy going back to Greenfields? - Bill Ogley says he is???

I thought you may all like to know that I had dinner with Senator Syvret the other night and one of his moles from Health and Social Services has told him of a meeting chaired by Bill Ogley last Tuesday.

Stuart was informed that around 35 people were called to this meeting and they were told a number of things, he spoke about Stuart's blog, and my blog, Joe Kennedy and Andrew Williamson and Howard League.

Some of the points he made were:

1. There will be no more investigations for a long time (I find it interesting that the top Chief Executive of the civil service can be so sure that no forthcoming events will require investigations - this kind of statement does fill me with confidence about States of Jersey!!!).

2. We have lessons to learn (but Will they learn them - I doubt it very much? Why would they start learning lessons now?).

3. After being asked why they don't sue Stuart Syvret and myself he responded by saying we don't have much money and they don't want to make us bankrupt (or perhaps he meant to say that if they did sue the Court hearing would make public all that we have to say, and that wouldn't be good news!).

4. He was asked how they are going to deal with the likely problems of recruiting more social workers from the UK. He stated that they want to get on side with Community Care but unfortunately they seem to be believing Simon Bellwood's story (Erm.., I think he meant to say that unfortunately the Community Care team cannot be bought off or manipulated and that they prefer to believe the truth than the cock and bull stories that the States of Jersey tell them!).

5. He was asked why Andrew Williams did not interview all staff from social services. He responded by saying that 'maybe he was happy with what other people had already told him'.

6. He praised the police on their great job in relation to Haute de La Garenne (Here here, I agree they have done a great job. Look out when they start coming for the people in top civil servants jobs - Bill Ogley may not be so full of praise then when his mates start feeling a hand on their collars).

7. Finally, he said that Joe Kennedy, who has been suspended, will be back at Greenfields in a few days.

The other stuff was not so important than what I have written above.

So, questions, is Joe Kennedy going back or not? I saw Joe Kennedy being driven to Greenfields on Wednesday afternoon - would be great to know whats going on.

If anyone has any information which I can publish here, I would be very happy to share it with the readers.

Please leave some comments. I will be publishing the reports written by Linda Dodds, Phil Dennett and Madeliene Davies in the next day or so.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Response to comments

Thank you for the comments.

Yes the Howard League and Community Care are aware of these issues and are following my blog.

I am in communication with both organisations and I have every faith in their abilities to remain independent and not swayed by the self protecting, self serving civil servants that have more to lose than most of us.

I would again encourage anyone reading this to tell their story, good or bad.
You can contact me in confidence on www.thejerseywhistleblower@hotmail.com or contact the Howard League in relation custodial and youth justice matters. You can contact them through www.howardleague.org.

Community Care would also be happy to speak with people. Maria Ahmed has been following the Jersey story since August last year and has done a fantastic job with regular updates in the magazine and online at www.communitycare.co.uk

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Howard League for Penal Reform

As you may be aware the Howard league for Penal reform are currently in Jersey to look at Greenfields and the Young Offenders Institution at La Moye.

The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the UK. It was established in 1866 and is named after John Howard, one of the first prison reformers. The Howard League for Penal Reform is entirely independent of government and is funded by voluntary donations.

The Howard League became involved last August after I telephoned them anonymously and asked them to make contact with Stuart Syvret as he would be able to give them information about Greenfields and the child protection system in Jersey that may be of interest to them.

Fortunately Stuart was made a ministerial decision before he was dimissed from his post as Health Minister to set out the terms of reference for the propsed review by the Howard League.

It is this letter and the subsequent terms of reference that I want to focus on. It appears on the face of it that the States of Jersey have failed to carry out that ministerial decision. Of course there may be a perfectly rational explanation for this, but read below and see what you think.

The ministerial decision made by Stuart Syvret is as follows:

"Letter to Director, Howard League for Penal Reform. (MD-HSS-2007-0053)

Decision Reference: MD-H SS-2007-0053

Decision Summary Title (File Name):

Letter to Director, Howard League for Penal Reform

Date of Decision Summary: 30 August 2007

Decision Summary Author: Mike Pollard, Chief Executive

Date of Written Report: 28 August 2007

Written Report Author: Senator Stuart Syvret

Subject: To commission an investigation and appraisal by the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Decision(s): The Minister decided to commission an investigation and appraisal by the Howard League for Penal Reform as per the Ministers letter of 28 August 2007

Reason(s) for Decision: As per Minister’s letter of 28 August , a copy of the “Grand Prix” arrangements, advice from Mr C Callender dated 23 August 2007

Action required: To undertake a comprehensive assessment into “areas of enquiry” as per 1-9 of the Ministers’ letter to Ms Crook dated 28 August 2007.

Position: Minister Health and Social Services Department

Date Signed: 30 August 2007

Date of Decision (If different from Date Signed): 28 August 2007

Senator Stuart Syvret
Minister, Health & Social Services

The Letter that this Ministerial decision refers to is as follows:

"28th August 2007
Frances Crook
Director, Howard League for Penal Reform
1 Ardleigh Road
N1 4HS

Dear Ms Crook

I am extremely grateful that the Howard League has taken an interest in events in Jersey. As you may have been told by your colleagues, a number of issues are causing some of us deep concern.

My purpose in writing is to request and invite the Howard League for Penal Reform to send a team to Jersey to undertake a completely independent and comprehensive examination of the whole sphere of child and young person custody in Jersey.

I issue this invitation as Minister for Health & Social Services, States of Jersey. As the politician with legal and political responsibility for child welfare and protection, I am lawfully empowered to initiate whatever enquiries I consider necessary into child welfare and protection issues.

My understanding and strong wish would be that you publish your report once completed; though obviously taking whatever necessary steps to protect the anonymity of victims and witnesses if anonymity is their wish.

A range of information has recently come into my possession which leads me to be concerned that the island may not be meeting appropriate standards of care and support for children and young people in custody.

For example, it was recently brought to my attention by a whistleblower that children – already very damaged, confused and angry young people – were being subjected to the routine coercive and punitive use of solitary confinement in the Jersey secure unit. This involved 24 hours solitary confinement upon admission to the unit in a locked bedroom, with 1 hour allowed out for exercise – but even this 1 hour was “behaviour dependent”. However worse than this was the solitary confinement in locked cells known as the “Pits”. These were featureless cement cells with a concrete bed. Again, the 1 hour exercise was behaviour dependent.
The so-called “Grand Prix” document clearly states that any child confined to the “Pits” would have their bedding and mattress removed for most of the day, only to be returned in the evenings.

Children who had emotional and behavioural difficulties that displeased management would often be confined for longer than 24 hours. We are aware of one damaged young man who was in solitary confinement in the “Pits” for 2 weeks.

The public debate triggered by my concerns has also led to other child custody issues being brought to my attention. A significant number of people, including staff, former staff, social workers and victims have contacted me. This has led to my initial concerns developing to take in other issues in relation to child custody.

These are issues that require some urgent attention from an organisation like the Howard League. The welfare of the children and the freshness of evidence will be best served by a speedy initiation of any review. For example, if a team from the Howard League were able to come to Jersey and, at least, begin its work in the next few weeks, that would be excellent. Were it possible to begin sooner – then even better.

The Howard League is a completely independent organisation. I absolutely respect this and do not, therefore, attempt to prescribe in any way the work you may consider necessary, nor the methodology you might use, in the course of an enquiry into the custody of children and young people in Jersey.

Therefore, what I describe below should not be seen as any kind of fixed ‘terms of reference’. Instead I offer these areas of enquiry merely as suggestions and background information based upon grass-roots feed-back I have received from the community.

The team from the Howard League will receive full and frank co-operation and assistance from the States of Jersey.

In my opinion and that of a number of other people in Jersey, including professionals who work with these children, the areas of enquiry would usefully be:

1: The imprisonment of children in the Jersey secure unit now known as Greenfields. (Previously known as Les Chenes)

The regime as it was until October last year at which date the use of the so-called “Grand Prix” policy of coercive and punitive solitary confinement was halted after the intervention of a whistleblower?

The experiences of the children who were subjected to the “Grand Prix” regime over the period of years it was in use?

The particular experiences of those children subjected to solitary confinement for 24 hours or longer. For example, one child was held in solitary confinement in the “Pits” for 2 weeks?

Whether the use of the “Grand Prix” regime, especially those parts of it involving coercive solitary confinement for periods of 24 hours or more, could be considered an unlawful breach of the human rights of these children?

Whether the use of the “Grand Prix” regime of coercive solitary confinement could be reasonably considered to be harmful to children?

Whether the use of the “Grand Prix” regime of coercive solitary confinement could be considered to be an unlawful breach of the Children (Jersey) Law 2002?

Whether such a regime could ever be regarded as appropriate and acceptable, not only in the 21st century, but in recent decades?

The regime as it is now, that is, post-October 2006?

Whether the current regime meets all relevant Human Rights and other legal requirements?

Whether, even if lawful, the regime was or is appropriate and beneficial for the children confined?

Notwithstanding the fact that the building was recently re-modelled, is the
physical structure and amenity of the facility appropriate to meet the needs of children residents?

2: The imprisonment of children at the Greenfields unit, prior to the introduction of the “Grand Prix” regime.

Were the policies and practices used against children at Greenfields prior to the introduction of the “Grand Prix” regime always appropriate, lawful and beneficial to the children?

Were the policies and practices used against children at the secure unit during the period of some years when it was known as Les Chenes always appropriate, lawful and beneficial to the children?

3: The imprisonment of children in the former secure unit in Jersey, know as Haute de la Garren.

Were the policies and practices used against children at Haute de la Garren always appropriate, lawful and beneficial to the children?

4: The imprisonment of children/young people at the Jersey Young Offenders Institution at La Moye prison.

Are the policies and practices used against children and young people in the Jersey Y.O.I today, appropriate, lawful and beneficial to the children and young people?

Were the past policies and practices used against children and young people at the Jersey Y.O.I appropriate, lawful and beneficial to the children and young people?

Is the physical structure and amenity of the Y.O.I facility appropriate to meet the needs of the children and young person residents?

5: Children and young people and the law.
Do children and young people have appropriate access to effective and competent legal representation in Jersey, given the absence of a UK style legal aid system?

Do children and young people have appropriate access to effective advocacy of their needs and concerns?

Are the overarching policies and practices of the States of Jersey in respect of the criminalisation, prosecution and sentencing of children and young people appropriate, constructive and beneficial to the children and young people?

Do the overarching policies and practices of the States of Jersey in respect of the criminalisation, prosecution and sentencing of children and young people actually work? That is, how successful are such policies and approaches in contributing to the engendering of self-worth and stable lifestyles of children and young people?

6: The effectiveness, or otherwise, of Governance, oversight and regulation within a small, self-governing jurisdiction such as Jersey.

Can the past Governance, oversight and regulatory approaches in respect of the imprisonment of children and young people in Jersey be considered effective, safe and robustly impartial?

Can the present Governance, oversight and regulatory approaches in respect of the imprisonment of children and young people in Jersey be considered effective, safe and robustly impartial?

7: Inter-agency working.
Do the various agencies with a role to play in law enforcement, prosecution, custody and welfare of children work in an effective and co-ordinated manner?
Are all such agencies supplied with appropriate legislative and policy guidance by the island’s government?

8: Justice for victims.
Could the Howard League, perhaps through advertisements, media comments and the use of local out-reach agencies encourage those who have been subject to the regimes, or similar, described above during recent decades to make contact?
Could the Howard League assist any person or group of people who may have been treated unlawfully in any of the regimes above, to seek justice?

9: Any other areas of enquiry or investigation that the Howard League for Penal Reform consider necessary.

Were the Howard League able to undertake an independent enquiry we would be most grateful. As stated above, the independence of your organisation is fully respected. The paragraphs numbered 1 to 9 above are suggested simply as guidance as these are the areas of concern that have been raised by many people.

Should you prefer to work to different terms, those of your own choosing, that would be perfectly acceptable.

As I said earlier in this letter, the sooner the Howard League could come and begin its review, the better. Any ongoing mistreatment will be rooted out that much sooner; evidence will be fresher; the memories of witnesses will be clearer.

Also, the sooner your work begins, the more difficult it will become for any person, who might wish to do such things, to create obstructions to your work.

I understand that the Howard League, as an independent organisation, would prefer to receive no government payment for the undertaking of its investigations? If that is your wish it will, of course, be respected. But given the range of issues that might need examining over a period of some time, resource considerations may arise. In which case the Health & Social Services Department can meet any reasonable expense.

Thank you very much for agreeing to undertake an enquiry. It will be of immense benefit to the troubled young people of our community.

Yours sincerely

Senator Stuart Syvret
Minister, Health & Social Services
States of Jersey

As you can see this letter is concise, informative and transparent.

To recap, this was a Ministerial decision made in August 2007 by Senator Stuart Syvret in his post as Health Minister.

It is now May 2008 and the Howard League are in Jersey undertaking the review as agreed.

The terms of reference that are being used for this review bare no resemblance to the letter by Stuart Syvret whatsoever.

The Press Release given by the Howard League on the 3rd March 2008 states:

"The review has the following terms of reference, agreed with the Jersey government:

• To examine existing policies and procedures to safeguard the welfare and wellbeing of children in the penal system in Jersey and to make recommendations about how these may be improved."

Interestingly the new terms do not refer to anything which is can be classed as historical. Note the opening line which states, 'To examine existing policies and procedures..."

In conclusion, how has this change occurred?

How is that a Ministerial Decision which was made in August 2007 has seeminlgy been ignored by March 2008?

Can anyone answer this question for me?

Monday, 12 May 2008

My Story - Part 6 (The response from the States of Jersey)

Sorry for the poor quality of this copy. If you double click the document it will show up much clearer.

This document was written by Marnie Baudains and was in response to my serious concerns complaint (whistleblowing) on the 2nd January 2007.

As you can see from the terms of reference there were three distinct investigations that resulted from my complaint.

I will take you through these investigations and their subsequent reports one by one and publish them on this blog for you to view and comment.

In doing so, I will post a blog in relation to each of the individuals who had responsibility in investigating or reviewing the findings, this will include, Phil Dennett, Linda Dodds, Madeleine Davies and let is not forget Marnie Baudains and Co.

One of the first issues which you may well have noticed is that my complaint made explicit reference to it being investigated externally. Clearly, this was not done, when I write about Marnie Baudain I will explain how I received virtually no support or unsolicited communication following on from my complaint and that there clearly was no intention to ever have the matter investigated externally or even independently for that matter.

Friday, 9 May 2008

My Story - Part 5 (The day I blew the whistle)

On Wednesday I wrote about the recruitment issues, yesterday I wrote about what can only be described as a re-introduction of one element of the grandprix system.

After reading through some paperwork last night I came across the following extracts from statements that staff had made in January and February 2007, as part of the investigation into my complaint.

"That three day system [referring to the pits in the grandprix system] was no longer happening, although young people could still spend the first 24 hours in their room..."

"SB [Simon Bellwood] was in the UK the following day and JK [Joe Kennedy] came in and changed everything SB had been doing. JK took over, took XX [young person] out of the classroom and locked him up, that was the beginning of things.

"It was as if [JK] was canvassing staff for evidence against SB."

"During the first meeting with Joe Kennedy and Phil Dennett staff were told that it was acceptable to lock a young person in their room for the first 24 hours after their admission or if they displayed poor behaviour. But during the second staff meeting there appeared to be some changes regarding locking young people in their rooms".

"Phil Dennett also told staff they were to use their own discretion regarding the 24-hour in room policy after admission, allowing more flexibility depending on the young person".

I thought I would share these with you as they further evidence the re-emergance of the grandprix system, albeit not in name but certainly in philosphy.

I submitted my complaint on 2nd Jnaury 2007. I left work that day at 1pm to go to the Doctor to get signed off work. I could no longer cope with Joe Kennedy and his side kick Phil Dennett.

I was very emotional, I telephoned Marnie Baudains, Directorate Manager of Social Services, in tears, to inform her that I wanted to see her to submit a complaint.

I visited her that afternoon, I also visited Mike Pollard, Chief Executive of Health and Social Services to submit the complaint to them both.

I will speak about these two individuals in a later blog as they need and deserve blogs all of their own!

I have attached my original Serious Concerns complaint in full below. For clarity, the Serious Concerns Policy which I used to submit this complaint is more widely known as the Whistleblowing policy; hence the name - The Whistleblower.

Jersey JE3 XXX
Tel. 07797 XXXXXX
1 January 2007

To Whom It May Concern

I am the Centre Manager of the Greenfields Secure Centre. I was recruited from the UK by Joe Kennedy and Phil Dennett on a non-permanent J-category contract, and I have been in post since 1 August 2006. I now find myself in the difficult position of writing to express serious concerns about my line manager Joe Kennedy, Manager of Secure and Residential Services for the Children’s Executive.

My concerns are based on four areas:

1. I believe that Mr Kennedy’s conduct towards the vulnerable children and young people in the secure accommodation provision at the Greenfields Centre constitutes serious abuse.

In my holiday absence over Christmas, Mr Kennedy has enforced a behaviour management procedure that can potentially involve locking a young person in a room (known as single separation) for over 36 hours.

I believe that this contravenes all legislation, regulations and guidance concerning looked after children in secure accommodation, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the European Convention on Human Rights, Every Child Matters (2003), United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (1990), the Care Standards Act 2000 (National Minimum Standards for Children’s Homes), and The Human Rights (Jersey) Law 2000.

Furthermore, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture 1987 stated that “solitary confinement can, in certain circumstances, amount to inhuman and degrading treatment; in any event, all forms of solitary confinement should be as short as possible.”

The Secure Accommodation Network (SAN) has produced documentation with the purpose of ensuring that staff working in secure children’s homes are clear about when and when to not use single separation. These clearly stipulate that “Single separation is considered as a last resort and all other efforts should be made to prevent this extreme action.”

The Lord Carlile of Berriew QC conducted an independent inquiry for the Howard League for Penal Reform (published January 2006) into, amongst other things, the use of solitary confinement in prisons, secure training centres and local authority secure children’s homes.

His recommendations were that solitary confinement should never be used as a punishment, the child should have access to an advocate, a child’s belongings should only ever be removed from their room if they pose a demonstrable risk to the child or others, and that ‘time out’ could be a useful technique for easing tension but should never be for more than a few minutes.

During my holiday absence over the Christmas period, Mr Kennedy had Bedroom 1 prepared as a room which now has only a bed, pillow, pillowcase, duvet, duvet cover, beanbag and toilet roll in it. Mr Kennedy has formally directed staff through the communications book at the secure centre to confine a young person to Bedroom 1 upon admission to Greenfields for a minimum period of 24 hours. The entry, dated 20 December 2006, reads, “All staff - as from today room one will now be the new admission room, where new admissions will be placed after full admission. They will remain in room one for twenty four hours with good behaviour. Should any unwanted behaviour be shown then the twenty fours hours may be started from the start of compliant behaviour”.

I am unable to leave this senior management directive unchallenged. As a social care worker registered with the General Social Care Council, I am bound by their Code of Practice for Social Care Workers 2002 which states:

“Social care workers are responsible for making sure that their conduct does not fall below the standards set out in this code and that no action or omission on their part harms the wellbeing of service users. The General Social Care Council expects social care workers to meet this code and may take action if registered workers fail to do so.”

2. Since the opening of the new secure children’s home on 8 October 2006, I have felt harassed and bullied by Mr Kennedy. I have implemented a number of changes within the secure provision in order to commence the process of bringing the service in line with UK National Standards, which is one of the tasks for which I was recruited, as expressly stated in my job description.

Mr Kennedy has disapproved of many of these changes. I have used the formal supervision process to raise my concerns with Mr Kennedy, but I have found him to be intimidating, oppressive, undermining, and manipulative. He has failed to respond to my frequent reasonable requests for support and collaboration, yet he repeatedly claims to be supporting me. He has rarely offered unsolicited positive feedback to me, but rather he has persistently and unfairly criticised me.

I have made Mr Kennedy aware of the fact that I feel bullied by him, and I have raised my concerns with his line manager, Phil Dennett. To date, I have not formalised my complaint against Mr Kennedy, but I now feel that his harassment and bullying has become intolerable. I fear that my employment in Jersey is now in jeopardy due to Mr Kennedy’s victimising behaviour towards me.

3. I believe that Mr Kennedy’s professional practice contravenes the States of Jersey Code of Conduct. My witness of Mr Kennedy’s actions relating to recruitment, grievance and disciplinary procedures, for example, evidences his failure to comply with States’ policies and approved practices. On one notable occasion, I challenged Mr Kennedy’s executive decision to overrule a promotion interview process which was Equal Opportunities compliant and conducted according to Human Resources policy. I have felt personally and professionally threatened by Mr Kennedy since this occasion.

4. In my position of Centre Manager, I have been informed of numerous incidences of malpractice, including sexual harassment and bullying, which are alleged to have occurred since Mr Kennedy has been employed by the Children’s Executive. It has been suggested on a number of occasions that members of staff have felt unable to formally raise these concerns about Mr Kennedy for fear of reprisal. As their manager, I feel I have a duty to advocate for them and I hope that this formal complaints process will offer them protection and enable them to express their concerns in confidence.

I am in the process of expressing my concerns about the professional practice I am experiencing at Greenfields to the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), of which I am a member. The Association has a duty to ensure as far as possible that its members discharge their ethical obligations and are afforded the professional rights which are necessary for the safeguarding and promotion of the rights of service users. The Association’s Code of Ethics expresses the values and principles which are integral to social work and to give guidance on ethical practice, and it is binding on all members.

Prior to raising this serious concern, I examined all relevant States policies. I am worried that, should this matter be investigated internally, members of staff at Greenfields will not come forward because they will not trust the confidentiality of their disclosures. I trust that this will not occur as it would contravene the Policy on Reporting Serious Concerns. My opinion is that the only means of safeguarding the openness, probity and accountability of an investigation into my serious concerns will be an external investigation or independent inquiry.

Mr Kennedy wrote to me on 29 December to explain that I will not be continuing in the post of Centre Manager at Greenfields after the end of my probation period on 31 January 2007 “unless there is a marked and sustained change”. Mr Kennedy has thus far set no SMART targets or objectives for me, so any change or improvement in the current situation would be totally open to his interpretation.

I strongly feel that Mr Kennedy has no intention of keeping me in post after the end of January. Mr Kennedy is aware that I feel strongly about his directive to lock up vulnerable young people in single separation to punish them, and I will not be able to condone his professional practice which I believe is abusive.

I have supporting information regarding my concerns and written information explaining what action I have taken to date. I hope that you will act swiftly in this matter.

I look forward to hearing from you by telephone at your earliest convenience. I request that this matter remain in the strictest confidence until I have spoken with you directly.

Yours faithfully

Simon Bellwood

cc Mike Pollard
Marnie Baudains
Phil Dennett

Thursday, 8 May 2008

My Story - Part 4 (Did the grandprix system come back from the dead???)

Before I embark on the next chapter, I just wanted to point out to readers that a previous blog post of mine made mention to an email account I had set up for readers to contact me anonymously if they preferred.

The email address is thejerseywhistleblower@hotmail.com

You can use this and I will ensure it remains confidential. I am the only person who knows the password.

The Story continues...

On 15th December 2006, shortly after the battle over recruitment, I left the island to spend Christmas with my family in the UK.

On my return I walked into Greenfields and it felt as if I had not been there for years. I felt out of place, there was a deathly silence amongst the staff group when I walked in a room. Something was going on and I was confused and very uncomfortable.

I read the communications book, which I had introduced for staff to inform each other of significant information more effectively than is possible with traditional memos and all staff read the book at the start of each shift and signed their name. I was aware that this would inform me of any significant events that had occurred during the two weeks I was on annual leave.

From what I read I was little surprise that staff were feeling very uncomfortable around me.

There were a few significant entries in the book, but for the purpose of this blog post I want to focus on one.

On the 20th December 2006 an entry had been written as follows,

"All staff as from today room one will now be the new admissions room, where new admissions will be placed after full admission. They will remain in room one for twenty four hours with good behaviour. Should any unwanted behaviour be shown then the twenty four hours may be started from the start of compliant behaviour".

Now, before I move on, I want us to consider these words more closely. It suggests does it not, that an allocated room will be used for all new young people arriving? It also suggests that they will remain there for 24 hours. Furthermore, it goes on to say that should they do something wrong then the 24 hours can start again. Yes?

Right, now lets look at the wording of the grandprix system document which I posted on this blog back in April.

The grandprix system policy states;

"You will have been placed in a bedroom (depending on your behaviour and attitude to staff), where you will spend 24 hours".

Are there any similarities or is it just my imagination?

On the morning of 29th December, after arriving back from annual leave a member of staff asked me what they should do about a young person who was locked in their room (the young person had arrived the previous evening). I explained that until I speak with Joe Kennedy they must do what they had been told to do in my absence.

There response was, "okay fine, he can stay in his room then".

I have told you about this point, not to blame the member of staff, but to highlight that all the staff were very clear that this entry in the communications book was telling them to do what they had previously done with the grandprix system when young people arrived.

The first 24 hours was always in solitary confinement, albeit with some time for exercise, meals and a little staff interaction.

I submitted my Serious Concerns complaint the next working day - I will talk about this in my next blog. Before I do this, I want to share a snippet of the response from senior managers who are highly paid and responsible for the Greenfields service.

As a result of my complaint one part of the investigation was done by Phil Dennett, Coordinator of the Children's Executive, and amongst other things, he looked into this new admissions procedure that I have highlighted above.

In his report he wrote that he had interviewed the member of staff who had written the entry in the communications book on 20th December.

In his report he states,

"7.4 On re-reading her own communication she stated that she could see how it might have been open to mis-interpretation."

A convenient perspective you may think?

However, the story doesn't end there - the person who wrote this entry into the communications book, who then later realised how unfortunate her wording was, is the same person who has been alleged to have been having an affair with Joe Kennedy. The same person that has been suspected of being promoted because of this alleged affair.

This is a very difficult story for me to tell on such a public forum - I am not doing this out of any bitterness or malice for any one individual and I am sorry that this blog may cause them some embaressment or discomfort.

We have all been dragged into what has become a very political battlefield and this I believe is the only way to force change in the system and stop the culture of concealment and oppression against those who dare to speak out.

Please help me fight for justice so that children who find themselves at the mercy of the children's service tomorrow will get a better deal that the ones who are there today.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

My Story - Part 3 (Recruitment)

I have been avoiding writing this part of the story for some time. I have even considered giving up writing this blog altogether. Partly because I am tired of fighting and partly because I have been struggling with the moral dilemma of publishing the events that occurred.

That said, I cannot stop here. The truth needs to be told and whilst this information is highly sensitive and perhaps controversial it is none the less part of my story and was a fundamental part of my employment at the Greenfields Secure Centre.

In November 2006 I was asked by Joe Kennedy, along with Micheal Bowyer (Manager of La Preference children's home), to conduct interviews for internal candidates to be promoted to senior grade child care officers.

In a senior management meeting we discussed the process and it was agreed by Joe Kennedy that we did not require anyone from the Human Resources Department to be present on the interview panel as Michael Bowyer held the "Certificate to Practice" (training in conducting interviews so no HR presence would be required), although I did not hold this certificate I had been involved in interviewing staff for a number of years prior to coming to Jersey.

The interviews were carried out and Joe Kennedy played no part in the process whatsoever.
Joe Kennedy did request however that we feed back our conclusions to him at the end.

All applicants were internal and they were all interviewed, therefore there was no shortlisting process. From the interviews we agreed that four candidates met the criteria to be eligible for promotion, and there were three available posts. We ranked the four candidates in order of how they performed throughout the interview process, from the initial application form, their written piece, and the formal interview.

Prior to feeding back to Joe Kennedy, Michael Bowyer suggested to me that Joe Kennedy would not agree with our decision. I stated that this was not an issue as we had conducted the interviews and that I was 100% sure that we had followed all relevant policies and procedures and that our decision was final.

We gave the feedback to Joe Kennedy, but as suspected, he raised concerns about the person that we had ranked highest of the four. I was satisfied that our decision was correct and fair as it had been based on the whole interview process. During this meeting, despite Michael Bowyer having already stated to me that we were likely to receive opposition about our conclusions from Joe Kennedy because we knew that he would prefer to promote certain members of staff rather than others, he backed down and agreed for Joe Kennedy to have the overall decision on who should receive the promotion - this was despite the fact that Joe Kennedy had not been part of the interview process. If this were to be the case why bother having interviews at all?

A long discussion followed and Joe Kennedy made it very difficult for me to stand by my decision and I felt very intimidated, bullied and pressured by Joe Kennedy and said that I needed more time to consider the situation and would get back to him in the morning as a way in which to end the meeting which I found to be very difficult emotionally.

The following morning, having spent considerable time thinking about it, I upheld that the first three should be promoted because the interview process had been fair and robust. However, Joe Kennedy stated that, despite my view, he would make an “executive decision” not to promote the highest ranking candidate in favour of the lowest ranking candidate.

I was not happy with this decision and informed Joe Kennedy of this, he replied by saying that that was what he was doing and if I did not like it then I could make a complaint. This amounted to a short meeting of only a few minutes and Joe Kennedy ended it as soon as this had been said.

I then spoke to Phil Dennett, Joe Kennedy's line manager (that's another story in itself) and the following day Joe Kennedy sent me an email saying that he had reflected on the conversation and suggested that the four candidates be subjected to a matrix style evaluation.

My response proposed that, given the sensitivity of this issue, HR should be involved to ensure that the matter was done fairly and in line with equal opportunities and HR policies.

Despite their involvement, Joe Kennedy still maintained that the person placed lowest should be appointed based on their past experience.

My concern, apart from Joe Kennedy's decision being a breach of the recruitment policies was that I had heard from a number of staff that Joe Kennedy had, or was still having, an affair with the fourth ranked candidate. In fact, according to these sources, this was widely known amongst the staff group and Joe Kennedy had been seen kissing the member of staff on more than one occasion.

I made no moral judgement on Joe Kennedy for this and informed him as such, but if it were to be true, I was deeply concerned that Joe Kennedy had overruled the outcome of an interview process and as such would result in someone being promoted with whom he was personally involved - to the detriment of the highest ranking candidate.

I felt that any recruitment process should be fair, robust, carried out in accordance with equal opportunities legislation and HR compliant as well as being able to withstand scrutiny should this process ever get challenged.

Any deviation from the process at Joe Kennedy's instruction would leave me, as the interviewer, accountable.

After I had raised this in private with Joe Kennedy, he decided they could make both No1 and No4 positions training posts. Although not in agreement with this strategy I felt that this at least provided the highest ranking candidate an opportunity to prove her capabilities, if I had not agreed then this candidate simply would not have had a chance to prove her ability.

Following on from this episode I was shortly placed on Garden Leave after submitting my Serious Concerns complaint.

As a result of my complaint, Madeleine Davies, was asked to investigate, amongst other things, the saga surrounding this recruitment.

He conclusion - Simon Bellwood failed to adhere to the Recruitment Code. Yes, that's right, I was at fault, no mention of the alleged affair at all.

More on Madeline Davies and her fiasco of an investigation another day.

Incidentally though, one of the reasons that Joe Kennedy is currently suspended from his post is to ascertain whether he did have an inappropriate relationship with that member of staff and whether or not he did use his authority to gain this person a promotion.

For the record - I am absolutely 100% sure that I was not in breach of the recruitment code, without question - this has also been confirmed by Gerald White who is investigating the disciplinary issues against Joe Kennedy.

I would welcome any views on this part of the story - this does not sit at all comfortably with me but I am at a loss on how else to tell the true story. I even avoided using names in the employment tribunal so that it would not be publicised by the media who were present, however, the Chair made it clear that it was an issue that needed to be discussed.

The States of Jersey have continually chosen not to listen to me, they have refused my appeals on all counts, and even criticised me publicly - I feel that I have no choice but to use a forum such as this so that I can tell the truth.

Hopefully, the States of Jersey will one day start thinking about what they do to people and realise that they need to listen to those who have genuine concerns and act accordingly.

I appreciate that this information may be potentially harmful to some people, particularly Joe Kennedy, however, I will not allow my story to remain untold for such a reason.

Many people may be feeling sorry for Joe Kennedy at the moment but spare a thought for me - me and my family still struggle to find the money to pay the rent each month because of what this man and others did to me. Lets not forget that I also had a very successful career which I had worked hard for 15 years to achieve, now, thanks to these people, it is all gone - in Jersey at least.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Andrew Williamson Report

I number of people have asked when Andrew Williamson's report is to be expected.

As requested, I emailed Andrew and asked him.

He replied by saying that there is no date set as a number of people have been in contact with him recently and he is still meeting with others.

It appears that everytime the media do another story in Jersey more people make contact with him.

I for one am glad that people are still contacting him, the more people voice their stories the more rounded the picture that will presented, even if this means delaying the report.

If any of you have anything to say to him I suggest that you get in touch with him also.

Monday, 5 May 2008

A story from a psychic about Haute de La Garenne

Yesterday I had a call from a Canadian lady.

She started the conversation by telling me that she had psychic abilities. I spent some time talking with the lady who descibed her vision to me in great detail.

I asked the lady to email me the details she was descibing to me and she also had a sketch she had done of her vision.

I have attached the picture and her email in its original format. I have removed her name so that she can remain anomymous.

If you have any comments to make then I will publish them and the lady will be able to answer as she is following my blog too.

"Dear Simon (and Sen. Syvret)

Thank you for being so open and receptive to the information I gave you during our telephone conversation and for your assurance of maintaining my anonymity as well as insuring this information will be passed on to Stuart Syvret.

I hope you can provide the person known as "Chris" with reassurance that once his friend's Truth is spoken, he will rest in peace. The day after I experienced this 'visit' the story appeared on the news, the first I'd heard of this matter.

I first want to applaud you for your ongoing, relentless and courageous effforts to bring attention to the haenous crimes of abuse to the children of Haut de la Gerenne in Jersey.

As a middle aged, white Canadian, I bear the shame of that Canadians now feel as similar accounts have come out - acts done to our native children placed without choice into Residential schools during earlier decades of our history.

Justice is very slow, and in some cases non-exsistant. Yet some healing can happen once truths are spoken.

Let me provide a brief introduction about myself. To put it plainly, I am gifted with more psychic ability than the average person. Although I do not pursue a career in the field, nor have formal paranormal training, I have received communications from the other side over the last many decades, in many forms.

In this matter I feel compelled to relay communications I have received. Have said all this, it is not the only reason I am writing. I am deeply sad for the children, and angry that such people are still walking free to abuse again.

When the three Spirits communicated their experiences, I assured them I would pass on what they wanted known.

I apologize for my rettissance in getting this letter written. I feel sick to my stomach about what I witnessed, every time I have tried to write it and hope the children can forgive me for taking so long. What they endured was far beyond the discomfort we may feel in discussions of these horrors.

During the wee hours of Feb 23/08, the night before this story came out across international news and the internet, I had a visit from three of the children from this school, two girls and a boy, spoke to me in the form of a dream/vision.

The following is an account of what was said and shown to me. The young boy who particularly wants to be heard, his truth be known, even if it is not considered as valid investigative evidence.

By passing this on, he can at last have peace and cross into the Light. He said he will not do so until I ‘tell’ the truths about his death.

I have sketched the two girls who's features were clearer, and remain in my memory, although the clothing I've sketched may not be accurate, I was focused on their faces during the vision.

The boy was so agitated with outrage and emotion that he didn't stay still long enough for me to lock onto his facial features. ( he was a blurr) I do recall him as being a young adolescent, with pale freckled complection, dark blonde or light brown hair, very short, and thin in body.

Here is my account of the vision I experienced :
At first I was in a cellar with two girls who looked approximately 6 and 8 years old. The younger, dark haired girl sat in a chair by a plain wooden table next to the wall. She crouched and looked frightened and in a state of dread.

The blonde curly haired girl stood next to the table.. facing an ominous adult gray haired male, somewhat stocky around the middle, standing only a few feet away.

The Blonde girl pointed to the man saying 'he is retired now'…'he ‘s the one!” she said with indignance. She showed me a young boy, early adolescent, who was hanging from a tree outside...the blonde girl told me that 'they' (staff) told everyone that he hung himself, but he didn't !.

Suddenly the boy was also present in the vision … visibly upset, he yelled that I "TELL THEM .. I DID NOT HANG MYSELF !!" He added they “strangled me ... and then hung me just to cover it up! Tell them !! "

. Someone called out the name "Stuart". I nodded to the boy and turned my attention back to the two girls.

The blonde girl pointed again at the adult male (her abuser and murderer), ... who wore a colorful costume of some sort (with a hat) and fake beard or possibly white scarf. I wondered if it was a clown costume or just what.

Now I was once again seeing through her eyes…and experiencing what she experienced. as she looked at the man who was a few feet away. With his left hand he beckoned her to come closer to him. She stayed where she was standing, defying him.

Suddenly he reached under his 'beard' and pulled out a white cloth, perhaps costume padding or a folded scarf. He quickly stepped forward and shoved it into her mouth as far as he could.

The blonde girl could not breathe and was asphyxiated while the dark haired girl watched in horror, thinking she was next. I felt the life leave the body of the blonde girl.

I floated up the stairs of this man’s house. The top of the stairs had a wall running perpendicular to the stairs. On the far wall was a collection of decorative plates, predominantly blue in color.

I realized this was shown to identify who the person is. I also was shown an outer exterior of a brick, semi detached home in a row of housing units.

My focus returned to the three children's Spirits. The Light appeared and the two girls held hands and began walking into it, the Blonde one looking back and saying 'you will tell them won't you'. I said yes.

They smiled and disappeared into the Light. The boy said he will not go into the Light until he is sure I have told 'them' that he did NOT hang himself, and only once his truth is known, then will he cross over. I gave my word and again, feel terrible for having taken so long to write this letter.

If you have read this far down, I thank you, on behalf of myself, but more especially on behalf of three brave souls who stepped forward to provide information to you via myself, a humble messenger.

May everyone who has spoken out for these children feel some of the Peace they feel, now knowing that you did not forget or dismiss these atrocities, but cared enough about them to continue in your efforts.

I wish you much success and many Blessings in this endeavor and in the future.

I would much appreciate to receive a reply/ follow-up to assure me that this information has been passed on to anyone who may benefit from it.

Also that you respect my wish to keep my identity anonymous and private.

Most sincerely


I replied to the lady's email and forwarded her a copy of the Times article which was featured in yesterday's Sunday Times magazine, her reply which I recieved this evening is as follows:

"Dear Simon

Thank you so much for passing my email to Stuart. I hope he and all of you who are speaking out, are somewhat encouraged to know that your efforts are admired.

I commend you all for having the courage to take the actions you have. Certainly you have my permission to post my email and the sketch. Thank you for ensuring my anonymity. I do not wish to become a focal point in this matter, the abuses are what needs to be focused on in order for changes to happen.

Thank you so much for the link to the article. I found it very interesting and informative and gave me a much better understanding of the history and events which Stuart and others are striving to expose and initiate changes.

I was especially moved by the accounts of Kevin and Michael O'Connell, and of course wonder if Michael is the young lad I was 'visited' by.

I would like you to know that after our telephone conversation, I have felt an enormous sense of peace and joy coming from the 'other side'. This sense is still present as I write this message to you.

It seems the young lad has now crossed into the Light at last, and can dwell in a state of peace and happiness. I must say, that prior to my contacting you, each time I felt his presence, I was impressed with the patience he showed me, and felt he was a lad with a good heart despite the anger in him.

I watched a few news clips about public demonstrations that took place in support of investigations into the abuses, and was moved that there are people on Jersey who are outraged enough to actively show their support.

We could take heed and look into our own county's abuses. I will keep you and all the survivors in my prayers, and hope the much needed changes you are all striving to achieve will come to pass.

All the best


Sunday, 4 May 2008

Times online article

The following article was in the Times online today.


From The Sunday Times
May 4, 2008

Within these walls: the Jersey childcare scandal
As police continue to search for bodies at Haut de la Garenne — the centre of the Jersey childcare scandal — Britain’s foremost crime writer, David James Smith, asks: how many victims, abusers and government officials kept quiet?
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Kevin hid from the police the first time they came over to see him, in February. He was suffering from depression and decided he just couldn’t handle talking about it all. So, when the two officers flew in from Jersey and made their way to the hostel in Hackney where Kevin was staying, ready to take his statement, he had already left, and was hiding away at the home of a friend, waiting until the police had gone.
Kevin was living in a hostel because he had been having trouble with noisy neighbours in his old flat. When the police were called, Kevin felt they were laughing at him instead of arresting his neighbours, so he barricaded himself inside and smashed all the windows. The electricity was already cut off and Kevin relied on candles for light. He knocked over a candle and set fire to the curtains. But, like he said, that was an accident. He had been drinking, of course. All his life, starting from the age of 16, he has been drinking. Mostly lager and vodka.
Kevin was not used to giving witness statements to the police. More often he was the aggressor, the one being arrested. He did not have much faith in authority. The only time he had ever told anyone in authority what had happened to him – his probation officer back in Jersey in 1995 – nothing had been done, so far as he knew. He had never heard another word about it. Not from his probation officer, who was David Trott, nor anyone else.
Kevin had not personally kept count, but had recently been told he had 130 convictions, many of them the result of drinking and fighting, and had spent accumulated years of his life in prison, all on short sentences, never longer than nine months and mostly much shorter.
He was 57, and spoke quietly, uneasily, in clipped sentences. He had once been a shopkeeper in Jersey, and had worked as a decorator, but was now laid low with emphysema and would be lucky if he ever worked again.
Kevin had been married and had five children, and had done everything in his power not to pass his terrible legacy on to his children. The family was back in Jersey. Kevin did not like being in Jersey. He had told his wife, his ex-wife by now, his story, in the years after they were first married. He had later told his eldest daughter, and it had been she who called the police in January on Kevin’s behalf, not long after the public announcement of the historic-abuse inquiry.
Kevin had heard that announcement with a mixture of relief, fear and scepticism. When the police called to rearrange the interview, he determined to try harder. Just imagine if the man who had harmed him was still out there harming others? Here was a chance to make it all stop.
On March 1, the officers flew back to London. Again Kevin thought he could not go through with it, but this time he did not run away. He sat and talked for four hours while they took his statement. The police told him that the man’s name had been mentioned by quite a few others they had talked to. Kevin felt good when he had finished, like a weight had been lifted. But the feeling didn’t last long. The anxiety and depression soon returned.
Kevin was up all night before he came to talk to me, a few weeks later, but again he did not hide away, and even though it was difficult to look me in the eye, and even though he had blocked things out and tried so hard not to think about them for the past 40-odd years, he was a good and, I believe, honest witness to what had happened to him and his brother in the cellars and dormitories of Haut de la Garenne, all those years ago.
Kevin’s brother is no longer around to give his account. Michael O’Connell used a rope swing suspended from a tree on a country lane in the Jersey district of Lower Trinity to hang himself, a week after his 14th birthday, in October 1966. It was a few days before Kevin turned 16, the year he started drinking. He was Michael’s older brother and has lived on with the knowledge that he could not protect Michael. But now, at least, he can speak for him.
Kevin and Michael’s father had always been violent at home, but, for reasons that were never clear to his children, he reserved his greatest venom for Michael. He refused to allow the family to call Michael by his name. Instead he insisted they call him Herbert, and instructed them to treat “Herbert” as their slave. Their father had once broken Michael’s arm. I asked Kevin if he had any happy memories of his father at all, but Kevin couldn’t think of a single one. He could not recall any interest from social services, only occasional visits from the truant officer.
Kevin got into trouble with the police and, after being caught breaking into shops with a gang of other teenagers, he was sent to Haut de la Garenne by the court. His family life being awful, Kevin thought: “Great, get away from it for a bit.”
One of the worst things about Haut de la Garenne was that young criminals were thrown in with children who had done nothing wrong, and children of all ages, so the possibilities for bullying among the 60 or more residents was endless.
The earliest allegations the police received were predominantly concerned with incidents in the 1970s and ’80s, but as the inquiry developed, the 1960s began to feature more prominently, and that was when Kevin was sent there, around 1963 or 1964, he thinks, when he was 13 or 14. Michael was already at Haut de la Garenne when Kevin arrived. And Kevin’s time there would have coincided with visits from Edward Paisnel, a notorious paedophile known as the Beast of Jersey.
Kevin’s tormentor was a man he knows only by his surname. He has not been publicly identified before, and Kevin, a semiliterate child at the time, was not even sure how to spell the name of the man who had ruined his life. The Sunday Times knows his name, but for legal reasons we are withholding it from publication. He is known to the police, who are investigating allegations against him from a number of people who passed through the home. Kevin recalls that this man often wore a white jumper and used to carry a big, yellow torch.
The superintendent, Colin Tilbrook, and this particular member of staff made up Kevin’s reception committee at Haut de la Garenne, on the Friday he recalls arriving. They told him what a bad person he was. He was bad news and would need cleaning up. He was dragged down to the cellar, pulled along by his hair and ears, and punched and kicked. The route to the cellar, then, was out the main entrance at the front of the building, round the side, back in through the double doors – the area now covered for the forensic digging – and down the stairs to the vaults.
Kevin was put in the cellar straight ahead of him. There was a large bath in there. He was stripped naked and made to get into the bath, which was already filled with cold water. When the man with the torch left, locking the door behind him, Kevin was trapped in darkness for the whole weekend.
This became a pattern. The perpetual darkness was barely tolerable. The same man would return late on a Sunday and open the door, all normal, like nothing had happened. Come on, off you go. That really got to Kevin. It was just too surreal.
Alas, this was not the whole story. When Kevin was naked and bathed, the man would touch Kevin’s genitals while masturbating himself to a climax. When he had finished, he would kiss and be affectionate with Kevin, telling him what a good boy, a nice boy, he was. This, too, the contradictory behaviour, was difficult for Kevin to comprehend.
Kevin has no idea how long he was at Haut de la Garenne – he says that’s something he has blocked out – but in all the time he was at the home he never received any visitors. He used to leave the home to go to school during the week, but nobody ever asked him about his life, and he never spoke to anyone.
When he was not in the cellar, Kevin would sleep in a dormitory with maybe 10 or 12 other boys. Often the man would come in, with his torch, and walk along and pick a boy, seemingly at random, and begin touching the boy’s genitals under the blanket. Sometimes it might be Kevin, or he might watch as it happened to the boy in the bed next to him.
Kevin was never raped or orally abused, but he heard other boys describe having been sodomised by Tilbrook, and he himself had been caned and occasionally hit by him. Kevin says that he used to fantasise about killing the other man, his sexual tormentor, but of course could never do anything about it. The thing he felt more than anything was complete terror and helplessness.
Kevin thinks Michael was still in the home when he was released, though Michael ran away on several occasions and was also farmed out to foster carers. Michael was arrested with two other boys and accused of setting fire to a barn. It was while he was waiting for the case to come to court that Michael hanged himself, apparently fearing he would be returned to Haut de la Garenne.
The inquest report in the Jersey Evening Post from October 1966 makes pitiful reading, with Michael’s mother quoted as saying she knew her son was in safe hands with Mr Tilbrook at the home.
About six years later, after Kevin had left home, he was walking past his parents’ house, saw the police were there and went to see what was happening. There had been a drunken fight. The father had broken into the barricaded matrimonial bedroom and strung a rope to the light fitting. Here he had told his wife, go on, you bastard, and hang yourself, like your son. Kevin wanted the police to take his father away but they said it was only a domestic. The next morning his mother killed herself with an overdose.
) ) ) ) )
It is impossible to say for sure why the abuses at Haut de la Garenne went on for so long without being uncovered and then continued to be concealed for two decades after the home was closed, in 1986. There is no evidence, at this stage, so far as I know, of a deliberate conspiracy to disguise the wholesale abuse of so many children. As Kevin said to me, he was told he was bad, he believed he was bad, he was told nobody would believe him, and he believed nobody would believe him, which, so far as Kevin is concerned, is exactly what did happen when he did eventually tell someone, in 1995.
Like Kevin, many people did speak out.
They told police, probation officers, other adult carers, and figures of authority, yet, somehow, nothing was done. The truth is, I suspect, that nobody cared very much about those children. They were the orphans and kiddy-villains of the great unwashed, and just didn’t matter.
Except, of course, that most were not orphans or villains – they were the offspring of parents with troubles of their own, too busy struggling to survive or drowning their sorrows to look after their children.
Kevin’s family, the O’Connells, were in fact a family of seven children, Irish of origin, who lived in a small house not far from St Helier. They were firmly trapped in a world of social deprivation that was significant in post-war Jersey and persists to this day, even though some of the old estates have been demolished.
Here was an unexpected, surprising aspect of Jersey life – a world of poverty the tourists never saw from the beaches or the shopping lanes of the capital, St Helier. Tourism has been in serious decline in Jersey for 15 years – long before it became publicly known as the island of child abuse – down from half a million visitors a year in 1992 to just over 300,000 in 2007.
As Stuart Syvret would be the first to tell you, most of the island’s ruling elite would not know much about that hidden world either. Many of them were in a different stratosphere, worth millions through business or inheritance or both.
Though Syvret had risen to become a minister in the Jersey government – called the States – he had never felt part of the ruling elite. Even before the furore, there was a long history of antagonism between Syvret and his fellow senators, especially the chief minister, Frank Walker.
Jersey had no political parties, or none of significance. People called it a one-party state, but, in a real sense, it was a no-party state, just a collection of individuals who sometimes seemed to govern, as Syvret would put it, as a secret cabal.
Syvret grew up on a St Helier estate, in the same social universe as many of the victims of Haut de la Garenne. And many of the problems those children faced were familiar to Syvret. He described his own father as a violent alcoholic who had broken Syvret’s jaw when he was six.
Despite the accusations that he was self-serving and publicity-seeking, Syvret had not gone on about his own background during his recent campaign to draw attention to the survivors of abuse and the failings that had led to their suffering. But, because Jersey is so small – a population of 87,186 at the last census in March 2001 – it did not take long, just a few degrees of separation, for me to connect him to the people he was now trying to support.
He had grown up first in “the grotty back streets of St Helier” and later in Clarence Court, a block of flats on the edge of the capital that he described as the dumping ground for the problem families of the island. His childhood had been poor, neglected and hard, and he had few formal qualifications, beyond his skills as a cabinet maker.
But he had been highly politically motivated from an early age, mainly on environmental issues and social concerns. He had entered the States as a deputy at 25, in 1990, at the same time as Frank Walker, who was then the 47-year-old head of the mini media empire that owned the island’s sole newspaper, the Jersey Evening Post. Walker will soon be 65 and is due to retire from public office at the end of this year. As he told me, somewhat ruefully, when we met recently, he never dreamt he would spend his last months in office facing the issues that now confront him.
Jersey has a lot of politicians for such a modest population. The States is home to 29 deputies, who are local representatives, 12 conn├ętables, who are honorary officials, not unlike parish mayors, and 12 senators, the senior politicians who are elected by the whole population.
The head of the States is the bailiff, appointed by the Queen, currently Sir Philip Bailhache, whose brother, William, is attorney-general. The deputy bailiff is the former attorney-general Michael Birt. The bailiff is not only the head of the States, he is also the head of the judiciary, which creates a potential clash of interests that greatly troubles Syvret and others.
Jersey is nothing if not a creature of tradition, with its uniquely anomalous status, being answerable to the UK but largely independent of it in terms of law and government. Even now, there is no sex offenders’ register in Jersey and no equivalent to Ofsted, the body that routinely inspects schools and children’s care homes in the UK. Many of Jersey’s laws and practices go back 800 years to its alliance with Norman France. Petty offenders can still find themselves facing summary justice in front of the centenier at a parish-hall inquiry. Miscreants were still being flogged with birch stems until they bled into the 1950s – something mercifully absent so far from the allegations at Haut de la Garenne.
Syvret became a senator before Walker, but acceding to the highest levels of the Jersey government only increased his jaundiced view of the Jersey establishment, “the oligarchy”, as he refers to it, with its centuries-old interest in preserving the image of itself and its island. He expresses amazement that they have somehow managed to persuade the rest of the island that democratic party politics would be a bad thing. Meanwhile, says Syvret, the establishment heavyweights are meeting at parties or masonic events, where the real decisions are made, the rest of the politicians just following as lobby fodder.
The oligarchs, said Syvret, were totally unrepresentative of the people they claimed to represent – the ordinary people of Jersey. Walker takes issue with Syvret’s depiction of a ruling elite. He says the States’ members represent a variety of backgrounds and political opinions.
Syvret had been suspended from the States in the mid-1990s, after refusing to apologise for questioning another senator’s personal financial interest in a law he was voting for. In 2001 he called for Walker’s resignation after an extraordinary sequence of events in which Walker hired a private detective to find the source of malicious rumours that he was a wife-beater. Two politicians were made to publish an apology to Walker in the Jersey Evening Post, for having spread the false rumours. It was said the woman detective had pretended to be a tabloid journalist from London, seeking dirt on Walker, and the politicians had passed on the unfounded gossip.
Walker said at the time that he had acted to end five years of hell. Syvret said he should resign for using such underhand methods. Walker has been married three times. The unfounded domestic-violence rumours are still aired regularly, though when I heard them eventually it was not from Syvret, who was quick to say that episode had no relevance to the child-protection scandal.
Syvret is a fighter, gloriously outspoken, a gift to the media but also, so far as I could tell, possessed of integrity, staying true to his beliefs.
In 2007 he had been in charge of health and social services for seven years, first as president of the Health Committee and then, following some much overdue government modernisations, recast as the minister for the Department of Health and Social Services. He had, he said, been waging a continual war to improve the performance of children’s services and social services. He began trying to obtain a copy of the report that followed an independent inquiry into the recent conviction of a teacher at the island’s most prestigious boys’ school, the fee-paying Victoria College. In 1999, Andrew Jervis-Dykes had been given a four-year sentence for a series of indecent assaults on teenage pupils who he had plied with alcohol and sometimes shown soft porn before abusing them.
Allegations had first been made against Jervis-Dykes four years before he was eventually arrested. It was only after his arrest that the school suspended him. According to the report, the headteacher had told a senior school governor – later deputy bailiff of the island – Francis Hamon about the earliest allegations over a game of squash, and had been told to keep quiet about it. It was not clear when the rest of the school governors knew – these included the still-serving bailiff, Philip Bailhache.
After Jervis-Dykes’s arrest, a colleague, Piers Baker, who had also been on the trips, wrote a letter supporting Jervis-Dykes to the police and then refused to give the police a witness statement, allegedly with the backing of the headteacher. When called to the police station to watch a video, apparently showing Jervis-Dykes masturbating a sleeping boy in a ship’s bunk, Baker said he could not identify the boy.
Baker resurfaced as a civil servant in the States soon after, as a maritime official, where his role, among other things, gave him responsibility for child protection at sea.
Syvret complained, but to no avail. Baker still works there. The parents of one of the victims had approached Syvret, trying to obtain a copy of the Sharp report, which criticised Baker, among others, and highlighted the years of failure to act against Jervis-Dykes – years in which he was free to continue to abuse. Syvret could not get the report from official channels, even though he was a States minister. Neither the attorney-general nor the education minister would give it to him. He eventually obtained it from a mole and leaked a copy to the Jersey Evening Post that, he said, never bothered to publish it.
Early last year, he says, he began to be approached by whistle-blowers who were working in the childcare system and were alarmed at current or recent methods being used at homes. The most public example of this was Simon Bellwood, who recently settled his industrial-tribunal claim for unfair dismissal against the States, after he was sacked as a social worker from Greenfields home, where he had complained about a bizarre practice known as the “grand-prix” system of reward and punishment, which, he believed, was leading to excessive periods of solitary confinement for the residents.
Talking to people had a snowball effect of putting Syvret in contact with more whistle-blowers, both staff and victims. One teenager claimed to have been kept in isolation at Greenfields for two months, bringing him to the point of a breakdown. Then came the unhappy story of the Maguires, Jane and Alan, who had run a so-called group home for children in care and had been the subject of many allegations of physical abuse and, against Alan, at least two claims of sexual abuse too. Jane was the “house mother” and her husband, “Big Al”, was the “house father”. Before starting this work, in the autumn of 1979, Jane had worked briefly at Haut de la Garenne.
Despite admissions to the States’ authorities by the Maguires that they had washed children’s mouths out with soap and administered physical abuse, such as slaps, as physical punishment, they were allowed to leave the home and take up another post elsewhere in the care system. The president of the education committee, Iris Le Feuvre (later sacked by Syvret), wrote them a fulsome letter of thanks on their “retirement”, though actually they did not retire at all, but continued to work in social services.
The allegations that the then director of social services, Anton Skinner, had heard were in fact far more serious than their admissions, but he seemed to have accepted the Maguires’ denials.
I spoke to one of their victims, John Le Boutillier, who recalled how Skinner had made him and other accusers appear before the Maguires and say they had been lying.
In 1998, as I understand it, someone threw a note tied to a brick through the window of the Maguires’ Jersey home, making allegations against them. Arrogantly, or foolishly, they took the note to the police to complain, and an investigation began that led to them being charged with a series of assaults.
Some evidence was called at court, with staff, residents and even a neighbour prepared to give evidence of assaults, some of which were documented in the Maguires’ own home records. In November 1998, the case was dropped. The Jersey Evening Post reported that the attorney-general had found that the evidence was insufficient to proceed. The attorney-general was Michael Birt – the current deputy bailiff. I wrote asking him why the case against the Maguires was dropped, and received a reply from a court official who said that the correct procedure had been followed and that Birt had consulted the police and others before making the decision.
These are old events, but try telling John Le Boutillier they no longer matter. He and his sister were brought up by the Maguires for the best years of their childhoods. As John put it, they turned him into a nervous wreck with a stutter, who did badly at school, got no exams and ended up with a no-hope job. His sister fared little better. Both have had problems with drugs and alcohol and John has spent time in prison.
John described Alan Maguire as a big, bullying ex-army sergeant, always being used as a threat by his wife – “you wait till Alan gets home”. He would stand in front of the children shouting at them and hitting them at the same time. He would hit them across the head. Both of them would use weapons, such as wooden spoons, to hit the children. John had his mouth washed out with soap. Alan’s pi├Ęce de resistance was to squeeze the sides of your head tightly in his hands and lift you off the ground.
John, who will be 37 this year, began a civil action against the Maguires and the education department. He dropped it because he was about to get married and didn’t want to ruin the marriage before it had started by incurring legal debts. The marriage fell apart anyway, but at least he had tried. He had told his ex-wife everything that had happened to him.
By now, Syvret had decided he was facing “some kind of catastrophic, systemic, cultural failing in the childcare apparatus of Jersey”. He had heard some allegations from former residents of Haut de la Garenne but, as he said to me, he was really more alarmed about the more recent problems elsewhere, and the clear resistance to dealing with them openly.
He first raised the matter in the States last summer, spontaneously, in response to a question about childcare. He believes the oligarchs began plotting his removal from that moment on, first trying to force him to resign and eventually voting to have him removed from office in August.
When I met Frank Walker and his chief executive, Bill Ogley, they claimed not to want to talk about Syvret. This wasn’t the time for petty politics, they said. But as I was leaving they handed me Walker’s 91-page dossier on the reasons for the dismissal of Syvret, documenting his alleged poor performance of office, his harassment of civil servants and fellow politicians, his disclosures of confidential documents, and his abusive behaviour towards other ministers.
Syvret is unrepentant. He has no doubt he was sacked for making a fuss. Driven by a kind of mania during this period, Syvret would stay up all night, collating information, writing e-mails and reports, trying to ensure some proper intervention and drastic improvement in childcare. He was meeting abuse survivors at all hours of the night “in rainy back alleys”.
Not long after his dismissal he had a call from police headquarters, inviting him to come down for a chat with the deputy chief officer, Lenny Harper. To his astonishment, Harper told Syvret the police were in the advanced stages of an inquiry into historic abuse at Haut de la Garenne and elsewhere. According to Syvret, he was told plainly that this was the first time anyone outside the force had been informed of the inquiry. The police had deliberately chosen not to notify other ministers.
Walker and Ogley told me when I met them that they had been notified much earlier in the year that the inquiry was underway. In any event, Syvret said, it was like a mountainous weight had been lifted. Finally, the truth would come out.
Lenny Harper, who is leading the historic-abuse inquiry as senior investigating officer, told me a number of older police officers in Jersey could recall how children were always running away from Haut de la Garenne and how they used to have to take them back. The officers were troubled now, at what further suffering they might have inflicted on those children. Harper had spent much of his first six years in Jersey addressing problems of corruption in the force, leading to some dismissals and convictions against a small group of rogue officers. One of those had phoned Stuart Syvret shortly after the historic-abuse inquiry went public, warning Syvret not to trust Harper and complaining bitterly that Harper had targeted the rogue officers’ malpractices, as if there was nothing wrong with them. It was not the Jersey way, the officer had complained to Syvret about Harper.
Syvret, who felt he could trust Harper, contacted him straight away. It turned out this was just one call in a wider campaign by ex-officers to discredit Harper, with complaints about him, and attempts to smear him among journalists and others. Harper would not be drawn on whether he thought the campaign was politically motivated. A later e-mail, sent by Ben Shenton, the very senator appointed to replace Syvret as health minister, had mocked Harper and been seen as an attempt to undermine the inquiry. Frank Walker told me Shenton had subsequently said the inquiry and officers had his full support.
The police had begun the inquiry in early 2007, following up on recent allegations of sexual assault involving the Jersey Sea Cadets. Some complainants had told the force they ought to be looking at Haut de la Garenne too. The police went public because they wanted to encourage others who might have suffered to come forward. It was clear from the way the inquiry had escalated that they had not anticipated just how many complaints there would be.
At the last count there were upwards of 160.
But of course it was the digging that had created the headlines and lurid speculation of mass graves in the cellars where the search teams were working. Harper said there were no specific cases of missing children, but there was one specific allegation – he would not give details – which, if true, could well have resulted in a death.
Then, too, there were the bones found by builders in 2003 when they were refurbishing the building for its relaunch as a youth hostel – it was reopened by a guest celebrity, the former Newsround presenter John Craven in 2004, and is now closed for the foreseeable future.
The bones had been examined by pathologists, dismissed as animal bones and destroyed. Harper, in his allusive way, seemed to question the validity of the assessment of the bones and seemed certain there had been human remains there.
This appeared to be confirmed by the discovery of a small fragment – about the size of a 50p piece, he said – of a child’s skull. From materials found around it, the police were confident it had been placed there during or after the 1920s. As we went to press, the police acknowledged subsequent discoveries of milk teeth and other bone fragments. Otherwise, the work was all about interviewing the witnesses and processing and cross-referencing their information on the database. Historic cases of sexual assault were notoriously hard to prosecute as there was invariably no forensic evidence and it often came down to one person’s word against another. What would win convictions here would be “similar fact” evidence – several victims describing the same kind of incident – which was why it was so important for the police to hear from everyone who was ready to come forward. That, of course, was what had encouraged Kevin O’Connell, in the end, to make his statement. An act, as I told him, that showed considerable courage.
The suicide of Michael O’Connell had first been drawn to the attention of Syvret by a friend of Michael’s. Syvret had discovered the dates of Michael’s death and his subsequent inquest, and attempted to introduce them in a Christmas speech to the States in 2007. He had been shouted down by Frank Walker and others because he had broken with convention by not making a routine speech but choosing instead to talk about victims of child abuse in Jersey care homes.
When he refused to sit down and tried to carry on – even as some members came up and practically screamed in his face – the bailiff, Philip Bailhache, switched off his microphone.
It seems only fair to point out that the Jersey politicians weren’t to know then what you have read here, about Michael’s tragic history of abuse. But, even so, it might seem like a somewhat unedifying spectacle – a group of grown men, or mostly men, shouting down a speech which was, in part at least, about a boy who hanged himself.
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The police made their inquiry public at a press conference in November, on more or less the same day that a 47-year-old serial sex offender, Chris Curtin, was imprisoned for five years for historic offences of his own. Curtin had claimed in court – not for the first time – that he had been the victim of sustained abuse at an unnamed children’s home in his youth. This had little bearing on his sentence, and rightly so. The home was, of course, Haut de la Garenne.
Chris’s brother, Danny – who had not been in the home and has no convictions for sex offences against children (and whose wife wishes he had changed his surname years ago) – remembered Chris showing him photographs of young girls long before he was ever convicted. Danny thought nothing of it then. The police later told him that 20 women had come forward with memories of a man approaching them as children. Back then Chris used to work in Bambola, St Helier’s leading toy shop. When a mother claimed he had put his hand up her daughter’s skirt, Chris denied it and Danny thought there must be a mistake. Danny had no idea.
In the small world of the Jersey underclass, it is no surprise that the Curtins lived on the same estate, Clarence Court, as Syvret, and that Danny Curtin was best friends for a while with Kevin O’Connell. Danny remembered waiting to meet Kevin one day in 1966 and being told, he won’t be coming, his brother’s hanged himself.
Chris Curtin was caught stealing around the age of 12 and sent to Haut de la Garenne. His friends Colin and Big Steve used to go up there on their skateboards to visit him. Colin well-remembered Chris telling him that it wasn’t right, what was going on there. Chris took Colin to see the room in which he had been kept locked up. He showed Colin bruises on his wrist.
He was convicted of serious sexual offences against children in 1991 and in 1995. Chris died in La Moye prison, Jersey on December 29, 2007, about a month after being sentenced. “Well, he won’t be missed, will he?” said Big Steve, when Colin told him that their friend had died. Danny was notified as next of kin, but took no part in arranging a funeral. By the time Colin found out, the funeral had already taken place.
For many weeks afterwards, the exact circumstances of Chris’s death were not entirely clear. He had died of a heart attack, and so the Jersey deputy viscount, who is responsible for these things, initially opted not to hold an inquest, concluding that it was “natural causes”.
Surely, for public confidence, an inquest might have been a good idea?
I was told Chris had complained repeatedly to prison staff of chest pains on the night of his death. And didn’t get immediate medical help. Was that because he was a paedophile?
We may never have known for sure, if I hadn’t inquired. The deputy viscount, Peter de Gruchy, didn’t seem to want to know either, and never bothered to answer my e-mails, asking him to explain his decision. Old Jersey habits, it seems, die hard, even now, when transparency is so desperately needed. Imagine my surprise, about 15 weeks after Curtin’s death, when a Jersey contact called to tell me that an inquest on Christopher Curtin was about to be held. I was told in advance that Haut de la Garenne would not be mentioned at the inquest, and this proved to be the case. Because, after all, that is the Jersey way. The coroner also dismissed “rumours” that there had been a delay treating Curtin.
Now it was too late, Colin wished he had asked his friend more about the abuse he had suffered. He decided that he could at least tell the police what he knew.
The police confirmed that they had spoken to Chris before his death and Colin’s account supported what they had already been told. There was nearly a second death at the prison last month when Roger Holland attempted suicide the day after being jailed for two years for sexual offences against children. He had a history of such convictions, but this had not prevented him being elected an honorary police officer in Jersey during the 1990s.
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Kevin O’Connell is still afraid of the dark. His flashbacks are worst at night and he often has hot and cold sweats and panic attacks. Lager and vodka are one remedy, of sorts. The memories, he said, have messed up his life.
I contacted his probation officer, David Trott, who still works at the Jersey probation service, to find out what action he had taken after being told by Kevin of his past as a victim of abuse, back in 1995. I did not hear back from Trott, but from the chief probation officer, offering a bland statement about a probation officer’s duty to pass on any information to the appropriate authorities. He would not comment on what had – or had not – happened in Kevin’s case.
I was beginning to understand by now what Syvret meant when he said that the phrase “not the Jersey way” haunted this entire episode. What was the Jersey way? To conceal and dissemble? Not any more. It would have to change.
Frank Walker acknowledged that these were dark days for Jersey and its reputation. He stood by his remark that Syvret was trying to shaft the island internationally, and said he wanted to get the truth out that Jersey was not an evil place and, for most people, bringing up a family in Jersey was a delight. He spoke of the “horrors of Haut de la Garenne and the isolated cases elsewhere”, but emphasised the recent interim judgment of an expert outsider, Andrew Williamson, who had been called in to examine the Jersey care-home system, and said that there were no children currently at risk in homes.
No doubt Walker wished the scandal would go away, but with the police considering up to 50 suspects in all, at least half of them from Haut de la Garenne, the prospect of arrests and trials seems certain to keep Jersey as the focus of negative attention, long after the planned end to the digging, around the end of this month.
Unlike Syvret, Walker had not personally known anyone who had been a resident or a victim at Haut de la Garenne, though he may unknowingly have met a few as he told me his only connection with the home was visits he used to make there at Christmas during the 1980s, when he went to distribute presents as a member of the Round Table.
Michael O’Connell was long dead by then, of course. I wondered at the life he might have led, even if he had lived. It probably would not have been so very different from Kevin’s. Forty years later, Kevin was still trapped in the dark cellar s