Sunday, 24 March 2013
'THE JERSEY WAY' - THE MANTRA OF THOSE INCAPABLE OF ADMITTING WHEN THEY ARE WRONG..
'The Jersey Way'. What is it? I mean... according to the local Establishment it doesn't even exist. Just, co-incidentally, as the Jersey 'Establishment' itself also does not exist...
The reasons for this denial are many fold. Yet perhaps the most telling is the simple fact that if one doggedly denies somethings very existence then it becomes all the more difficult to make any criticism stick. After all how do you begin to engage with or challenge someone when they refuse point-blank to even acknowledge there is an issue to explore?
But for this article rather than focus on the actual people and workings of the local Establishment generally let's just spend a little time considering one intrinsic block within the rotten edifice of how this 'Jersey Way' tends to manifest: the 'Jersey Way' mindset.
For at the bottom line this is at the heart of everything that is a barrier to finally developing a full and transparent democracy in our island: a democracy where 'equality' and 'justice' does not depend on the depth of your pocket or usefulness to those desperate to hang on to their 'right' of holding power.
As a beginning let's just consider the current saga of the Dean of Jersey. The fact is that this sorry episode need not ever have happened at all. Indeed, even with what HAS happened we could already be a whole lot further along the road to setting things right.
Most important of all, of course, this would mean locating the poor, badly let down young woman - the victim - at the heart of all of this. Locating her to apologise for what has happened to her; ensuring that she is safe, OK and has the painful barb of being criminalised and driven out of our island so unjustly removed.
Lastly, by then demonstrating to her that all of those involved in her betrayal really are going to learn from what went wrong; learn and where appropriate be held accountable.
We are your betters and our reputation must not be tarnished...
Yet this is where 'the Jersey Way' comes in. Those who adhere to its mantra just cannot ever accept that they are ever wholly in the wrong; even less so that any amongst the proles should be able to hold them to account. To suggest that this pathetic and highly damaging outlook is tied up entirely with the issue of so-called 'class' would risk over simplifying it. It is likewise not even simply about wealth.
That these are regularly both huge contributory factors are, of course, beyond argument. Yet in my opinion analysis suggests that most significant of all in developing this sociological 'illness' in the modern world is the holding of power simply by means of position; and the compounding factor of there being no adequate or easily accessible means for lesser mortals to hold such people to account.
The Dean - who I have absolutely nothing whatsoever against - is clearly in the wrong. He has, to use the words of one of my constituents, 'screwed up'. let's face it: we all do at times in our life. You might then think that as a 'man of God' he would be all for sticking his hand up, saying sorry and taking the flak.
Maybe to be fair after the past week or two he now genuinely wants to do this? Yet still in kicks 'the Jersey Way' and so all of those other carriers of the virus in the island have to puff our their chests; dust off their best tweeds, shiny shoes and (probably seldom read) bibles and shout indignantly from the rooftops that the Dean is actually the victim here.
It stinks. It is repulsive. It shouldn't happen. Yet until Jersey finally joins the 21st Century and recognises that accountability must apply to all; and is actually the best way of building and protecting international reputation there is it will continue to happen. And if we have to have this forced upon us from outside because there aren't enough people in Jersey with the Testicular Fortitude to bring this about themselves then so be it.
Examples of 'the Jersey Way' are everywhere...
The Dean is just the latest example. But just look around you and if only you are prepared to look past the spin there are other instances everywhere. Just consider the long and cruel battle to finally batter down resistance to securing a fully independent Committee of Inquiry into the abuse at Haut de la Garenne and other institutions. The Jersey Way - arrogant and complicit people fighting indignantly and viciously not to run the risk of accountability. As to the true victims - some with decades of suffering on their shoulders already - sod them! 'The Jersey Way' doesn't want to know and doesn't care.
Look at the secret courts being conducted under our very noses - conducted under the threatening spectre of 'super-injunctions' with fines or even imprisonment dare anyone speak out about it - to silence a former 'anti-establishment' politician, Stuart Syvret, on the Internet. Silenced when push comes to shove primarily because what he was saying was damaging to the Establishment's perception of Jersey's 'image'.
Yet hang on a minute...isn't it a fact that one of the people being afforded taxpayers money - your and my money and thousands of pounds of it - to silence the former Senator for his Internet writings is actually the island's biggest and most cowardly cyber-thug? A convicted criminal. Someone quite happy to threaten that innocent people will be murdered!
Ah, what champions of righteousness our Establishment are! No double-standards here then, eh Attorney General? Its the crime isn't it - not who did it...
Never mind the pain my failures have caused - I'M important...
Want something a bit less current? Just cast your mind back to a wholly merited vote of no confidence brought by Deputy Shona Pitman against our former Attorney General and Bailiff - now 'poll-topping' Senator Sir Philip Bailhache. Political speeches wholly outside his mandate; the illegal banning from the States of a politician; a truly sickening abuse of his Liberation day speech to belittle the abuse of children in States institutions against some less than fully considered global journalism.
Worst of all, perhaps, his appalling failure when Attorney General in allowing the convicted paedophile, Roger Holland, to be sworn back in to the ranks of the Honorary Police. The direct consequence being more innocent young girls needlessly abused.
Make to mistake about it. Let not history be re-written: for this last failing Sir Philip Bailhache should have been sacked. He should have preempted that in fact and resigned. Yet whilst an Attorney General just a few miles across the water in the Isle of Man has recently been suspended here 'the Jersey Way' ensured that ours was not.
As for the vote of no confidence vote...just 3 brave votes amidst much cowardly and irrelevant waffling about the 'great tradition' of the role of Bailiff. 'The Jersey Way' in action once again.
Shouldn't a Bailiff be capable of acknowledging when he is wrong...
You see the examples of 'the Jersey Way' truly are endless. Yet to conclude this particular article let's jump right back up to the present again. Anyone doubting that 'the Jersey Way' is very much alive and kicking in 2013 really need look no further than the defamation case brought against the Jersey Evening Post and the estate agents Broadlands by Deputy Shona Pitman and I last year.
Judges and Jurats are REQUIRED to recuse themselves if they have any relationships - conflicts of interest - with either a plaintiff or defendant. This isn't a matter of choice or individual discretion to be adhered to or disregarded as individuals see fit. This MUST happen. Human Rights Article 6 enshrines this. The responsibility for ensuring this happens, however, is down to two people. The Jurat and the Bailiff via his Office.
The fact is there can be no excuse whatsoever for Jurat John Le Breton who happily sat on our case. He knew full well that he is an evidenced friend of a director of one of the defendants. He knew that he and this defendant company director even went to dinner at each others homes.
Indeed, as I have pointed out before: even without the deeply concerned people who came forward to advise us of this after the case; even without the dozen prominent Islanders, politicians past and present who wrote to complain of this to the UK Justice Minister Le Breton has been caught in his failings bang-to-rights. There should be some kind of serious sanction available. We should be able to prosecute him.
Yet putting this sickening and in my eyes wholly contemptible individual aside all of this wouldn't matter quite so much if our Bailiff, Sir Michael Birt would only be big enough to put his hands up and acknowledge that he and the Office he oversees got it horribly wrong in not ensuring all was as it should be - for any litigant.
The decision in our case simply cannot stand: it cannot be viewed as safe or just by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, you really would have to question why any defendant such as a newspaper would still be quite happy to try and benefit from such a evidenced blatant abuse of justice...
Let us just remind ourselves of the cast iron reality of this with the words of the late and legendary Lord Denning:
Conflict of Interest
"The court does not look at the mind of justice itself or at the mind of the chairman of the tribunal, or whoever it may be who sits in a judicial capacity. It does not look to see if there was a real likelihood that he would, or did, in fact favour one side at the expense of the other.
The Court looks at the impression that would be given to other people. Even if he was impartial as could be, nevertheless, if the right minded-persons would think that, in the circumstances there was a real likelihood of bias on his part, then he should not sit. And if he does so, then, his decision cannot stand..."
The fact is our Bailiff failed in his duty. He failed us. he failed justice. If he would only do the right thing and simply apologise for this and set in motion the action to correct this injustice it might yet be possible to see this as a ghastly, if certainly very painful, stressful mistake. But he has not. And so once again we see the 'the Jersey Way' in all of its sickening contempt for right, justice and democracy.
The message once again...we are the Establishment. We are too big; too important - actually too damned cowardly if truth be told of course - to hold up our hands; admit we made a mistake and accept accountability. Even worse I suppose the further possibility must arise that perhaps he may have been quite happy to collude with Le Breton's breaching of Human Rights Article 6? You really would have to hope not. But what else can one conclude?
No matter how long it takes Justice must win out over 'the Jersey Way'...
And so sickening as that thought certainly is this is also the essence of why those of us who do believe in justice over 'the Jersey Way' will keep on fighting. In a democracy justice simply must be for all. Those currently haranguing the Church of England for at last putting its house in order in a place that on this occassion just happens to be Jersey; and doing so at the risk of seeing the real female victim of of the Dean saga abandoned and forgotten all over again really ought to wake up and smell the coffee...
Keep the Faith - Justice will win in the end.