Monday, 21 October 2013
JERSEY CHILD ABUSE UPDATE - APPOINTMENT OF THE NEW CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY INTO HISTORIC ABUSE
As one of the very few Jersey politicians who fought long and hard to finally secure a fully independent Committee of Inquiry to look into the decades of State covered up child abuse I was very upset when the chosen Chairwoman suddenly had a stroke. It seemed we were always hit by obstacle upon obstacle.
Finally, the beginning of the end - or at least the end of the beginning?
Now, at a time when our wholly unfit-for-purpose 'Justice' system continues to fight tooth and claw to maintain its Dark Age untouchable status in undermining police investigations; and even in colluding with abuse by refusing to face up to its own failings such as in appointing individuals (John Le Breton) who have been happy to look the other way on evidence against the most horrific of paedophiles to become Jurats it is very uplifting that today we at last have a replacement Chair announced.
We must hope that she is allowed to get on with the job at the very earliest opportunity. Further still that those who have fought we few who have struggled so long on behalf of the victims, whether by ludicrous political argument within the Assembly; or by spreading scurrilous lies about the two brave police officers who first went against the Establishment policy of silence and intimidation will now see the error of their ways Aand adopt the silence they have followed for so long when they should have been speaking out.
The victims have surely waited long enough!
Time for PPC to grant Citizens Media the 'accredited' media status we deserve
Meanwhile, in pushing long and hard for the local Citizens Media (outlets such as Voiceforchildren, Rico Sorda and others) to be rewarded for their admirable professionalism and tenacity in dragging corruption out into the spotlight by being given parity with a Jersey MSM that - with a few individual exceptions - just regurgitates the Establishment party line I could not go without commenting on the latest example of un-professionalism and arrogance displayed by the Jersey Evening Post.
Why oh why could they not even grant the new Chairman the short time requested within the embargoed press release to enable her to inform all the necessary people of her appointment. Breaking it as the JEP did really should have some repercussions. It was pathetic. Insulting. Yet sadly also wholly predictable. Will PPC now finally do something about penalising those who break the rules and reward with parity of access the excellent Citizens media outlets who comply?
I doubt it but we can always hope...
A senior UK lawyer with 36 years experience of family and criminal law matters is being nominated to chair the Committee of Inquiry into Historical Abuse.
Frances Oldham QC was first called to the Bar in 1977 and was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 1994. She is regularly instructed in high profile cases in both criminal and family matters and has considerable experience dealing with cases involving sexual and physical abuse. She was appointed as a Crown Court Recorder in 1994 and is authorised to try serious cases involving rape and serious sexual offences.
She has been a Deputy High Court Judge in the Family Division for over 12 years and she spends several weeks each year sitting as a judge in the criminal and family courts. She is also a judge for the Mental Health Restricted Patients Panel Tribunal and in 2012 she was appointed as a member of the QC Appointments Panel. She was leader of the Midland Circuit between 2002 and 2005 and Head of her Chambers for 7 years.
Mrs. Oldham’s nomination comes after the lawyer initially appointed to chair the inquiry, Mrs. Sally Bradley QC, became unwell in July and was unable to take up the position. The recruitment process for the replacement chairman has been undertaken by the same selection panel comprising Michael de la Haye, Greffier of the States, Belinda Smith, Senior Legal Counsel – Child Protection at the NSPCC and Ed Marsden, the Managing Partner of Verita. Informal discussions were held in the United Kingdom with 9 potential chairmen before 3 people were invited for a formal interview.
Mr. de la Haye said "The selection panel is unanimous in recommending Frances Oldham QC for this position. She has very extensive experience in many high profile cases in the UK and her combination of criminal and family law experience at the highest levels makes her eminently suitable to chair the inquiry in Jersey. She sits regularly as a judge in both the Crown Court and the Family Division of the High Court and she has vast experience of dealing with some of the most vulnerable members of society.
Frances started her working career as a management trainee in the NHS before qualifying as a barrister and she was keen to point out to us that she did not come from a privileged background which undoubtedly, in our view, helps her to relate well to people from all walks of life. The selection panel is convinced that she has exactly the right combination of empathy and firmness to chair the inquiry successfully in a totally independent and objective way."
Following the selection of Mrs. Oldham to chair the inquiry the selection panel is now working with her to finalise the appointment of 2 committee members from the United Kingdom for the inquiry. The selection process for the members was already well underway before the summer but had to be placed on hold following the news of the previous chairman’s ill health. The selection panel is hopeful that the recruitment of 2 committee members can be concluded by the end of October so that the Chairman and members can begin to make plans for the inquiry to start.
Mrs. Oldham said "I am very pleased to have been nominated to chair this important inquiry and I am keen to do all I can to avoid any further delay so that the inquiry can start in earnest in early 2014. I am determined to run the inquiry in a way that will encourage all those who want to come forward to speak to us to do so. It is essential that the inquiry is able to establish exactly what happened in the care system in Jersey during the period covered by our terms of reference and I will ensure that everything possible is done to achieve that aim".
The nominations of Mrs. Oldham and the 2 committee members will need to be approved by the States and the Chief Minister will be lodging the necessary proposition in due course so that the appointments can be considered by the Assembly in December.
For further information and interviews about the selection process please contact Michael de la Haye on (01534) 441013 or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Mrs. Frances Mary Oldham QC – biographical information
Mrs. Frances Oldham QC was called to the Bar in 1977 and appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 1994. She was appointed as a Crown Court Recorder in1994 and has also been a Deputy High Court Judge for over 12 years. She is a judge for the Mental Health Tribunal Restricted Patients Panel, is a Master of the Bench at Gray’s Inn and was Leader of the Midland Circuit from 2002 to 2005. She has been a member of the QC Appointments Panel since 2012 and was Head of Chambers at 36 Bedford Row for 7 years until 2011.
Mrs. Oldham is regularly instructed in high profile and complex cases of the most serious and sensitive nature. Her practice encompasses all aspects of both serious and complex crime and child law. She has substantial experience in family law and is regularly instructed by local authorities, parents and guardians ad litem.
Her criminal practice includes all aspects of serious crime particularly murder, manslaughter, sex offences, armed robbery and drug related offences. Many cases involve complex medical and scientific issues, and mental health issues. In the Family Division she appears in substantial matters and has extensive experience of cases involving S.I.D.S; factitious illness syndrome and sexual abuse.
Mrs. Oldham practises from Chambers in London and Leeds and she lives in Leicestershire. She is married with 2 children and 3 step-children and her interests include sailing, theatre and medieval history.
The Legal 500 states that Mrs. Oldham 'straddles criminal and family matters to great acclaim'.