Friday, 28 November 2008

My Response - Part 2

Over the coming days I will write my response to Senator Shenton's report.

In my post yesterday I discussed the letter from Senator Shenton but there is one element which leaves me confused.

At the top of the letter is says;

"Our ref: BES/JLP/LAW"

Can anyone tell me what this refers to?

My thoughts are that 'LAW' suggests that it was written or checked by the States of Jersey Law Department. Can anyone shed light on this for me?

I also think that Senator Shenton's numerous references to confidentiality within his letter was intentional. I believe that he did this to offer himself some protection should there be any dispute about defamation etc, knowing full well that the letter would be leaked to the media.

I don't suppose he expected that the leak to the JEP would have been from me though!

The Report

Greenfields - Time for the Truth

That's the first lie, right there in the title, a good start Senator!

In the opening paragraph Senator Shenton suggests that the truth has not been conveyed accurately and this needs to be rectified. He goes on to say, "This task falls to me".

Clearly Senator Shenton is taking full responsibility for the content of both the letter and the report.

What is Greenfields?

This section is very confusing and I apologise if I do not make it any clearer for you. I will try my best to explain things as clearly and simply as I can.

At the start of this section Senator Shenton's report suggests that the detractors (assuming he means me and Senator Syvret), 'either mischievously or out of ignorance seek to confuse..."

I agree that Les Chene/Greenfields is an area which has left some people confused and the majority, but not all, of what Senator Shenton writes here is true.

However, in this section Senator Shenton simply seeks to further confuse people as this is a red herring.

Whether it is called Les Chene or Greenfields makes no difference whatsoever to the allegations that I made in January 2007.

Remember this, my allegations were about the practices that took place and not what the building was called.

One of the things that Senator Shenton seeks to achieve in this section is for people to believe that the Grand Prix system did not take place in Greenfields Secure Unit.

This is merely spin.

That said, this is an important part of the report and I will return to this in a moment.

Senator Shenton, refers to the report written by Dr Kathie Bull, which was commissioned by the Education Sport and Culture Committee.

What Senator Shenton fails to point out is that the Kathie Bull report was commissioned following a complaint from a child who was resident at Les Chene.

The complaint was against the Headteacher and the Deputy Headteacher.

No names mentioned here but consider this, if a man-sells his dog then he will have to wag-it himself!

Senator Shenton's report clearly suggests that the commissioning of Kathie Bull was a proactive 'realisation' by the Education Sport and Culture committee.

This was not proactive and my point is further evidenced on page 318 of the Kathie Bull report in paragraph 10, which states,

"Since the incident which prompted the 2001 Review of the remand provision...".

This complaint (or incident as Kathie Bull suggests) resulted in a police investigation where both the headteacher and the deputy headteacher were interviewed.

Interestingly, one of the comments made during these interviews was, "Do you know who I am?"

What Senator Shenton also fails to point in his report is that Kathie Bull's findings were highly critical, particularly of Les Chene.

A view that has been recently echoed by the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Senator Shenton goes on to suggest that following the Kathie Bull report, Les Chene, was redesignated as a remand centre and renamed Greenfields.

Finally he says that the Greenfields Secure Unit opened in October 2006. This point needs to be considered further.

At the start of this section called, 'What is Greenfields', Senator Shenton stated that 'the detractors' sought to confuse by misusing the term 'Greenfields'.

Senator Shenton has done just that. Are you confused? You should be.

His report suggests that from 2003 when Les Chene was redesignated as a remand centre and called Greenfields, nothing changed further until the new building opened in October 2006.

This is simply not true.

Not that this is significant but the new 'Greenfields Secure Unit' did not simply appear when the new building opened. Nothing changed in October 2006 other than staff and residents moved from one building to the other.

Senator Shenton goes on to say, "... I wish to make it clear that at no time did the Grand Prix system operate in the Greenfields Secure Unit."

For me, this is the most interesting point.

Why would Senator Shenton wish to make this point so very clear'?

What does this achieve?

During the past few weeks Senator Shenton and others have made it clear that they do not consider that the Grand Prix system was abusive or illegal.

The reason for this is very obvious and I will go into this in detail at a later date (this is why I need to know who the Attorney Generals of Jersey have been. Has anyone found the full details yet?).

Joe Kennedy, Senator Perchard, Senator Walker, Senator Vibert, Deputy Lewis and others have all defended the Grand Prix system, saying that there was nothing wrong with it other that the 'unfortunate wording'!

Has anyone spoken to the children or staff about it or have they just spoken to Joe Kennedy and Phil Dennett?

Andrew Williamson, Madeleine Davies and the Howard League have all spoken to staff and young people.

I will go into more detail about that another time but if any staff or ex-residents want to comment on here that would be great.

Getting back to the point, why would Senator Shenton want us to believe that the Grand Prix system did not operate in the new building?

What would his point be?

He reinforces his point further in the final paragraph of this section where he writes,

"Unless you understand these fundamental distinctions, you will understandably be confused about whether policies and practices which were in use in the Les Chene farmhouse were also operating in the new and modern Greenfields Secure Unit".

The point, regardless of what the building was called, regardless of whether it was 2003 or 2006, is to avoid the question of whether the Grand Prix system was abusive. I think his report answers this itself.

Senator Shenton is not stupid, the man used to be a foster carer. If he fostered a fractious child would he have put them in the Pits for three days?

My concern is that we have been hearing what the politicians think about whether something was right or wrong.

Do we really care what a politicians opinion is on such a specialist subject?

They are politicians, not experts in this field.

They are advised by people like Joe Kennedy and Phil Dennett.

This is not a criticism of Senator Shenton or Senator Perchard but simply a statement of fact.

Who feeds them with this information, it is not the staff on the cold face, it is not the children!

Why do some people choose not to listen to the experts?

These experts have made comments publicly, they have published their reports, surely we should be listening to them and not the politicians?

Whilst some would argue that the Howard League for Penal Reform are liberal in their views, one cannot argue that their interpretation of the Law is less informed than two politicians with backgrounds in finance and farming!

The Howard League for Penal Reform wrote in their report,

9.26 As we have previously stated in Para 1.1, we certainly believe that the Grand Prix system was unlawful. However, some of the most serious allegations we heard, related to events prior to the establishment of the Grand Prix".

So they think that although the Grand Prix system was unlawful, what was there before was even worse?

Reading into Senator Shenton's report, what was there before must have been before Joe Kennedy arrived in 2004?

Who were the managers before Joe Kennedy.

Can anyone provide a chronology of managers?

Going back to the experts views, Andrew Williamson cited in his report;

5.11 However, to use single separation/isolation, the process whereby children are forcible removed from association with others and confined to a room on their own as a form of punishment for misbehaviour, is clearly inappropriate and should never be sanctioned by any care regime.

He went on to say;

5.16 There are at least two versions of what happened there and the only comment that we can make on the subject is that, if a prima facie case exists or emerges that the system, and therefore children, were abused, action should be taken against those responsible.

On that note I will end.

On a different point - it has been almost a week since I wrote to Senator Walker informing him that I have the evidence that he has asked for.

He has not replied.

I have the evidence, much of which has not been reported publicly.

His refusal can only be seen as a gross failure in public office.

A stance which clearly supports the cover up instigated by a number of senior civil servants and politicians who are responsible for the welfare and protection of the islands most vulnerable young people.

Sorry that this post is so confusing, it is a complex area which is extremely difficult to explain in simply and clear terms.

I will continue with the next section tomorrow and answer any questions you may have.