Thursday, 24 May 2012
many reasons for unrest and anger Mr Gorst
It cannot have gone unnoticed to you that over the last few days it has become apparent (and confirmed) that you have called in Andrew Williamson to look at the Terms of Reference submitted to you by Verita in November last year. This has been done in what can only be seen as a sneaky and underhand way with no consultation at all with the interested parties who met with Ed Marsden last year.
Now that a leaked report from Verita is in the public domain, we fail to see that there can be any issues with the recommendations contained therein unless of course they are seen to be too ‘robust’ for certain members of the Council of Ministers. As far as we are concerned it is a very fair report, and naturally if it is tampered with in any way, i.e. watered down, it will not be fit for purpose. If this Committee of Inquiry is not held with all Verita’s recommendations there will be little or no point in holding it. This report was based on wide ranging input to Mr Marsden from States Members present and past to Careleavers and ordinary members of the public with an interest in this matter.
Will all these people be afforded the same input to Mr Williamson? We think not.
Furthermore, the contempt you are showing yet again to the survivors of abuse beggars belief, when it is clear that had this whole scenario not been uncovered, they would have been kept in the dark as to what was happening. The dismissive attitude towards the survivors through all this affair has been a disgrace, and rather than bring them open and honest closure at this stage, attempts are still being made to try and thwart the CoI, or perhaps if the CoM had their way not proceed with it at all.
Clearly any meeting which you promised with the JCLA before you lodged your proposition will not be very fruitful if your proposition is not be based on Verita’s report, a report which also shows a timescale for getting this all up and running long before now. Why the constant delays?
Are you in a position to let us and the taxpayer know how much extra on top of the cost of Verita, bringing Mr Williamson into the equation will be, when it should be unnecessary?
Perhaps you would kindly answer these questions in an honest and timely fashion, as they are of great concern to quite a number of people, which includes the general public also.
In addition to the above, we would also like to clarify some points you made in the States Assembly last Tuesday 15th May in answer to a question to Deputy Shona Pitman regarding the involvement of Careleavers in the terms of the compensation scheme.
It seems you were given to understand that Careleavers had a lot of involvement and were quite happy with the scheme. On both counts – not so.
There was very little involvement, and far from being happy it was almost a case of ‘take it or leave it’.
We were also given to understand that there would a year to call in claimants. In fact the length of time given has been 6 months.
We were led to believe that advertisements for claimants would be made in the UK press. Again this did/has not happened.
We were told that the JCLA would be included on the list of places where claim forms and booklets could be picked up and help given explaining the procedure. The reasoning behind this was that most survivors will not go anywhere near a States building or related office, such is their mistrust of the States. However, when we pointed out that we were not included in the literature, we informed Richard Jouault and Judy Martin and they assured us that we would be added to the list of names that appeared in the JEP advert.
Needless to say this did not happen either.
It was also put to us in a meeting with Richard Jouault and Deputy Martin that rather than run in parallel with the compensation claims the Committee of Inquiry would be better taking place after the compensation issues were all finalised, a suggestion we dismissed out of hand. There is no reason why the two should not run along side each other, one being a civil claim against the States of Jersey and the other an Inquiry. If we take an example from Ireland, compensation claims, a Committee of Inquiry and criminal cases were all taking place together.
It is interesting that several abuse claimants unbeknown to us as members have called to our offices on the off chance, just to see if we did have the relevant paper work because they did not wish to go elsewhere for the reasons above.
Finally, why did you not see fit to correct the JEP when they named Verita’s report as the basis for the ToR, and also on one occasion (which we did ask Anne Pryke to rectify, but she didn’t) quoted ‘millions and millions’ of tax payers money to be paid in compensation, not good for the Island’s image. This appeared in the JEP before the compensation scheme had been announced and the claimants had no idea of the terms of the scheme. This was misleading to both the general public and abuse survivors as well.
This should never have been allowed as we understand it whilst some may come from the taxpayer’s purse, there will subsequently be an insurance claim involved.
Understandably - many reasons for unrest and anger Mr Gorst.
Your swift response to all these questions would be appreciated and some indication as to what stage we are at right now.
We are sending this letter to all States Members as well, as we would be interested to know how they feel about the issues raised, and apart from your response would appreciate some feedback from Members also. Some may say, as they have indeed, ‘just move on’, but moving on means for all concerned that past issues must be acknowledged and addressed. With all due respect many of the survivors have waited decades for the abuse they suffered in the ‘care’ of the States of Jersey to even be recognised.
Finally, is it too much to ask that we have the promised Committee of Inquiry, in an open, honest and robust form, and as soon as possible to finally lay this matter to rest?
Then and only then, will moving on be made easier.
Nothing less will suffice.