DATE: JANUARY 25th 2012
FROM : DEPUTY TREVOR PITMAN CONTACT: 07797 824243
"Given that a letter summarizing damning criticism allegedly contained within the ‘interim Metropolitan Report’ led to the suspension of the former Chief of Police and severe criticism of the Senior Investigating Officer of the Historic Abuse Inquiry, will the Minister be apologizing and/or resigning now that the Independent Police Complaints Commission have confirmed that no such criticism of the two officers was contained in the ‘interim’ or final reports?
Deputy Trevor Pitman has lodged the above oral question to be put to the Home Affairs Minister, Senator Ian Le Marquand at the next States Sitting on Tuesday 1st February. This question follows on from e-mail correspondence relating to the findings of the Independent Police Complaints Commission sent by the former Senior Investigating Officer, Mr. Lenny Harper to the Home Affairs Minister and also copied to local media.
The essence of the relevant findings by the IPCC is that it appears to destroy once and for all the stated justification for the original decision – taken on the back of a letter from the former Acting Deputy Chief of Police Mr. Warcup - to suspend the former Police Chief Mr. Power and which initiated the tirade of sweeping criticisms and inaccurate reporting of the handling of the Historic Abuse Inquiry by both men.
Sweeping inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have largely been laid bare by the recent Scrutiny Sub-Panel review of which I was the Chairman; and which have even been acknowledged by the Home Affairs Minister himself. Of course, as the Scrutiny Sub-Panel also made clear there is no doubt that some elements of the investigation were not nearly as good as they should have been.
However, the content of Mr. Harper’s e-mail raises serious questions that go to the very core of the democratic process for which government is responsible. As such I have been shocked – if sadly not surprised - that I am yet to see or hear any reporting of this by any one of our four local mainstream media organisations.
Since the issuing of our report - while the extensive findings contained within were largely ignored by all mainstream media - we have in contrast incredibly already witnessed the appalling attempt by some to reinvent an officer confirmed by the Minister as having leaked misinformation to the UK media during a live child abuse investigation as some kind of ‘whistle-blower’.
I find myself asking: will our mainstream media now simply also sweep this emerging new evidence under the carpet too because it conflicts with the picture already painted? As you will all be aware, I am one of the few politicians who have taken the time to follow this sad and sorry saga in Jersey’s history from the beginning. Not only followed it but persevered in researching and asking questions in the hope of helping those rightly angered and determined members of the public bring the whole truth to light no matter how long it takes.
Persevered while so many of my colleagues (former and present) have simply kept their head down out of fear of being attacked, ridiculed or misrepresented for their commitment to natural justice. So I also ask our media in this statement: is there really any surprise that a lack of trust in so much of Jersey’s government as you all regularly report is likely surpassed only by the profound lack of trust in much of the accredited media itself? The role of professional media should not be about suppressing, let alone spinning or distorting history I hope all would agree?
It should be about simply investigating and reporting; fairly, squarely and without prejudice or favour to any party regardless of allegiance. If that demands asking difficult, even potentially damaging questions to those at the very heart of power than surely the courage to do so must be found. We have enough cowards within politics – we cannot afford more in the other key arena on which the ordinary public must rely so heavily for accuracy of information and integrity.
I appeal to the media: please do start asking the uncomfortable questions that clearly need to be asked about this. If simple ‘bloggers’ – just members of the public can find the resolve then surely there is no excuse for any of the rest of us if we ultimately want to be able to hold our heads high in years to come. The victims of abuse who continue to put such faith in the two former officers who initiated the police investigation surely deserve no less.
Answers or more spin? It seems to me that there really is only one choice to pursue…
Deputy Trevor Pitman
As I advised readers yesterday to avoid having the question blocked as falling foul of Standing Orders it had to be re-worded as follows to first 'enquire' whether or not the Minister had actually seen the findings . The naughty word 'damning' relating to criticisms also had to go! Readers shouldn't worry about this too much. As new Members will quickly learn it is regularly the case that when a question relates to something a bit contentious you have to ask what you really wanted with your first supplementary follow-up to get it on the Order Paper. The question's new 'fluffier' wording now reads:
"Is the Minister aware of the report of the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the complaint from Mr. Lenny Harper and, if so, would he advise whether it states that the interim Metropolitan Police Report, that was a factor in the suspension of the former Chief officer and allegedly criticized the former Senior Investigating officer, contained no such criticisms and, if so, will he apologize or resign?"