Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Final question, Final hustings - but where is the Final Solution?

The final question at the last hustings of the October election was posed by a woman who clearly understood the inequalities and unfairness of Jersey’s housing market.

I was not able to speak with her afterwards because of the crush of the audience leaving the Radisson but whoever she was - would express my thanks for her question and the way in which she phrased it.

It was not the usual moan about the minority of people with housing quals who experience bad housing in Jersey but was an appeal on behalf of ALL people – with or without housing quals – who live in damp, expensive and sub-standard “homes” without any security of tenure. The 10,000 or so working adults without quals who provide so many of the services that are taken for granted yet are largely forgotten, year after year so far as their rights (and those of their children) are concerned.

Jersey’s international image is being dragged through the mud all over the world by reason of finance centre activities and such discriminatory housing and employment policies are further and wholly justified reasons for similar criticisms.

Whether the “Greek TV” team who recorded the final hustings and so much more during their stay in Jersey will focus on such problems is not known – but these are problems that need to be resolved - not hidden from international gaze.

I have campaigned about these very problems over four decades and the disgraceful and discriminatory Housing Law lies at the root of the problem. It is largely useless as a means of ending Jersey’s housing shortage because it actually perpetuates that shortage through discriminatory regulations that effectively remove £millions from the all Island house building funds. It does not give a real advantage to those with quals over those without because there is now no such thing as “affordable housing “and the only useful part of the law – price controls – was scrapped.

The new Migration control under the Chief Minister’s hand with registers of addresses and other details of all residents on an “identity card” is just the same existing bag of discriminatory policies dressed up as something different. In fact, these promise to be even more repressive and are the latest attempt to operate an immigration controlling mechanism through covert means.
I have petitioned the Pricy Council against the new laws being sanctioned.

The video here is a complete recording of the responses of all the Senatorial candidates to that most important final question. It is possible that the order of responses might be slightly different from the night because of my lack of edit skills – but nothing has been omitted so far as I know.

If you experience difficulty loading the video - try clicking the Youtube box.

Saturday, October 15, 2011



The statement of Sir Philip Bailhache to the BBC dated 17 April 2008

“This issue has of course been the subject of investigation by a Committee of Enquiry established by the States and the 2002 Report of that Committee is in the public domain for all to see.
I am afraid that it is easy to be wise after the event. My decision in 1992 not to refer the election of Roger Holland as a Constable’s Officer back to the
Royal Court
was made in good faith on the basis of the facts known to me at that time.
With hindsight it is certainly possible to say that a different decision ought to have been made, particularly given the harm done to the victims of some of his assaults. We owe it to those victims to make sure that the Island is alert to the problems which arose and to ensure that they do not arise again.”

The facts have been in the public arena since 2002.

Holland, aged 21, indecently assaulted a young girl then aged 14 but with a mental age of 10, by trying to put his hand up her sweater in his car in 1986. He was put on probation for twelve months and received psychiatric help. The Court lifted the Probation Order after eight months because Holland had responded well to it.

In 1991 Holland applied to join the Honorary Police of St Helier and declared that conviction to the parochial authorities. That application was not immediately taken forward. But in March 1992, the then Connetable indicated to him that, as a result of the conviction, he would not be accepted as a probationary officer.

In June 1992 the matter was reconsidered at a St Helier Honorary Police meeting. None of the officers present opposed Holland’s election and the view was reached that, if he was prepared to face possible rejection by the Court, he should be allowed to stand.

On 7 July 1992, Holland was elected unopposed as a Constable’s Officer. The following day, the Parish Authorities wrote to me as Attorney General to give notice, in accordance with standing practice, that Holland should be sworn-in before the
Royal Court
on 10 July.

I was not advised of Holland’s previous conviction and at that time I was completely unaware of it.

Accordingly the
Royal Court
was not told of the existence of the conviction when the Oath of Office was administered to Holland on 10 July 1992.

I became aware of the conviction on my return from the
Royal Court
when an anonymous letter arrived at the Law Officers’ Department. The Parish Authorities were asked their views and responded that the Parish did not oppose Holland’s wish to join the Honorary Service.

It is unclear what jurisdiction in law the
Royal Court
could have exercised had these facts been brought to its attention the following week.

Whatever the position in law, the facts confronting me were a man who had expressed a wish to give voluntary service to his parish; had been honest with the Parish Authorities  about his conviction; had received psychiatric advice at the time of the offence and had been accepted by the Court as deserving of early release from a Probation Order on account of good progress made; had not apparently re-offended in similar fashion in the six years since; was standing for honorary office with the support of the Parish Authorities, and who had taken his Oath of Office before the Royal Court.

I had to balance all the factors when considering whether there should be a public reference to the Court.

I have said it is easy to be wise after the event. I quite understand the reactions of the victim’s father as reported by the BBC.

With hindsight, of course, I would rather a different decision had been taken at that time.
But in context, on that facts as known at the time – 1992, when not so much was known about the long term paedophile tendencies of those abusing children, and before the rash of child abuse investigations which took place in the UK in the 1990’s – I hope the decision seems more understandable.

I have served the Jersey public for over 33 years. During that period, I am sure that I have made mistakes. But I have always sought to behave with integrity, which I believe to be the case in this matter.
I have no intention of resigning over this issue.

17 April 2008                                                            Sir Philip Bailhache   Bailiff of Jersey


Letter from William Bailhache (Attorney General) to Connetable Robert Le Brocq, Town Hall, St Helier dated 13 July 2000

Dear Connetable,
                                                       Attorney General v HOLLAND

I refer to our telephone conversation yesterday in connection with the media enquiries into the appointment of  Mr Holland as a Constable’s Officer and subsequently as a Vingtenier. The context of my telephone call was that the proposition was put to me by Dianne Simon that the Town Hall had indicated that in 1992 details of Mr Holland’s previous conviction in 1986 were made available to the Law Officers’ Department, who clearly decided not to bring this matter to the attention of the Court at the time the Oath of Office was administered.

As I said to you over the telephone, I think there are a number of areas of potential embarrassment, which I may summarise as follows;

  1. How was it in 1992 that the Oath of Office came to be administered to Holland by the
    Royal Court
    , given the 1986 conviction?

  1. According to Mr Mahe, he contacted a member of the honorary police in about August 1993 to report the incident but was persuaded to take matters no further at that stage.

  1. In December 1995, Holland was re-elected as a Constable’s Officer. Again the Oath of Office was administered by the
    Royal Court

  1.  In September 1997 Holland was elected a Vingtenier. Again the Oath of Office was administered by the
    Royal Court

  1. A Complaint against Holland about these assaults was made in or about May 1999. However, he was not suspended until 11 August.

I think there is a legitimate public interest in these matters and in particular I think the public will want to have reassurance that in future the Oath of Office will not be administered to honorary police with convictions of this nature. In my view the right general approach therefore is to be straightforward about what actually took place and to emphasize the controls which now exist.

It is in this context that I have prepared a draft Press Statement which I propose to issue on an embargoed basis until the sentencing has taken place. I should be grateful if we could meet early next week to ensure there is no dispute about the facts.

As you said when we spoke over the telephone, you came to see my predecessor in July1999.
I note from the file that he was handed a bundle of papers by Centenier Gallichan on Monday 2 August. These were apparently extracted from the Town Hall records at Mr Birt’s request.
Mr Birt has made a note that the papers handed to him were to be kept separately from the other papers handed in by Centenier Gallichan on 2 August, because I understand from you that you do not have them.
You will see in particular that there are some letters in 1992 which make it plain that the Parish was well aware of the previous conviction. I confirm that these papers do not appear on the Law Officers’ file and were not available to the Attorney General of the day until handed to Mr Birt on Monday 2 August 1999.

Yours sincerely, William Bailhache, Attorney-General.


Philip Bailhache was Jersey’s Attorney General 1986 – 1993, later Bailiff and currently seeking election as a Senator. He is widely tipped to be Jersey’s next Chief Minister
M.Birt served 1994 – 1999 and is currently Bailiff
William Bailhache was Attorney-General from 2000 and is currently Deputy-Bailiff. He is Philips’s brother.

In 1986 Roger Holland was active in the St John’s Ambulance Brigade when aged 21 he was convicted of  indecent assault on a girl. A further offence against another girl was not pursued at the request of the parents. He was sentenced to one year’s probation.
He remained a member of the St John’s Ambulance service.
He was elected as a Constable’s Officer in June 1992 and sworn-in before the
Royal Court
in July. Fred Clarke was then Connetable of St Helier.
Bob Le Brocq was elected as Connetable and sworn-in on 31 July 1992.

Various complaints were made against Roger Holland whilst he served in the honorary police and his suspension was considered and agreed to by the Attorney –General in August 1995 for a 3 months period but, in fact his three years term of appointment had already lapsed.
He was re-elected as an officer on 5 December 1995 and sworn-in on 8 December.
He was next elected as a Vingtenier and sworn-in on 5 September 1997.
More complaints followed. The States Police advised the Attorney-General of offences and convictions of several honorary officers but no action was proposed because “no action could be taken in respect of those officers who had already been sworn-in.”
During January 1999 Holland was involved in an incident with a retired States Police Officer (Duffy) who complained about his behaviour.
Further complaints were made including an allegation that Holland had committed a sexual act with a girl in a police van during 1999.
Holland’s conduct was referred to the Attorney-General in July 1999. He was suspended by the Solicitor –General on 11 August 1999.
A further complaint against Holland was investigated by Centenier Hilton (now Deputy Hilton) which revealed information about Holland’s sexual convictions and she wrote to the Attorney-General on 29 July.
Roger Holland resigned on 17 November 1999 admitting to “conduct unbecoming of the office of Vingtenier prior to his election in 1992.”

Roger Holland was prosecuted in April 2008, he admitted assaults on eight girls and was sent to jail for two years by Deputy Bailiff Michael Birt (who as Attorney-General in 1995 had suspended him for three months). The offences included three that took place during his time as an honorary officer between 1992 and 1999 and he had asked for five further cases to be taken into account. He was aged between 15 and 34 when he committed the assaults. He had previously been jailed in 2001 for two years for two other counts of indecent assault before 1992 according to a BBC News item.
The States of Jersey Police said “ everything would be done to seek justice for victims, no matter how long ago the offences were committed”.

No action has apparently been taken against the Crown Officers for their conduct in these events and there is apparently no sanction that can be imposed on them, if it was justified,  from within the Island .

Connetable Bob Le Brocq and Centenier Gallichan were both prosecuted in December 2000 by order of Attorney-General.  They were found not guilty.

Deputy Le Herissier proposed the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry to be set up in order to examine matters related to Roger Holland’s appointment etc. The Report RC 48 was presented to the States in December 2002.

Deputy Bob Hill proposed a review of the Roles of the Crown Officers etc in May 2009 and this was undertaken by Lord Carswell and others, reporting to the States in December 2010.

Various recommendations for reform made in these two reports (like the famous Clothier Report of 2000 on the “machinery of government”), have not been implemented or even discussed by the States Assembly.

(For some reason this machine has a problem with the words Royal Court and does not let them appear normally within the text - if anybody knows how to correct this  - please advise!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Senatorial eulogies for the green countryside dream

The “Countryside Hustings” is now a part of the election process for Senatorial States Members in Jersey.
It’s an unofficial extra Hustings held at the RJAHS Royal Jersey Showground at Trinity and is a sort of homage to the agricultural industry but in reality is more like an Antiques Roadshow presentation where those with land and property interests make sure that their importance is recognised.

It would be tempting to compare this event as the country version of the ancient Cour d’Heritage which takes place every year at the
Royal Court
so that the Jersey Establishment – lawyers, the few remaining feudal Seigneurs and others - can renew their oaths of office and swear loyalties to the Crown etc.

At the “Countryside Hustings” all candidates without exception swear a sort of loyalty to the agricultural industry as the very essence of the “Jersey way of life” and to protect the 60,000 hectares of “green fields” from encroachment by the urban plebs. Building development – unless in the name of agriculture – is the ultimate threat to be resisted and he or she who dares to support that farmland might be built upon to provide homes for working heroes is likely to be shown the thumbs down.

Of course, the whole process is built upon very shaky beliefs and misinformation. It is curious at least that the Finance Industry does not feel the need to organise a similar hustings event. After all, it is Finance that provides the work for 23% of Jersey working population (12,500 people) whereas agricultural employees have diminished to just 4% (1,600). Thus the majority of “votes” are more likely to be found elsewhere. Also it is Finance that produces most of Jersey’s wealth - £1,550 Millions as against Agri’s puny £62 Millions per annum – so this event is clearly not related to the value of “agriculture” to Jersey in economic terms.

Here just three typical speeches are shown from candidates Mark Forskitt, Freddie Cohen and Philip Bailhache and are more or less similar to those delivered by all the other nine speakers ( Darius Pearce being absent for this Hustings).

Uniquely, Philip Bailhache alone made a one sentence call “to improve the living conditions and wages” of those employed in agriculture and he specifically mentioned Polish and Portuguese workers. It was the sort of progressive policy that might have been expected from others but they were silent on this - at least until yours truly asked a question from the floor.

The JEP censored the question from its report in true deferential style where the countryside power base is concerned - but it was “Why is it acceptable for some agricultural employees to live in portakabins but not for those in the finance industry.”

All the candidates agreed that it was not acceptable for anybody to have to live in portakabins in Jersey although Lyndon Farnham only went so far as agreeing with those who had spoken before. There were a few limp apologists for the poverty of agriculture compared with the wealth of finance or Planning Department policies, but none really tried to discuss this theme or the underlying reasons that cause such discriminatory housing standards in Jersey. None promised to do anything about it.

With average wages in Jersey agriculture being just £400 per week compared with £860 in finance and with the trend of ever reducing agricultural activity, the final crunch time cannot be far away. Who then shall look after the “green countryside” so that the wealthy squires from the finance industry can enjoy the rural idyll in the leafy northern parishes in future?

That question was not discussed at this “countryside hustings.”

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Jersey's fragile dairy business 1763 - 2011

During the 1950’s there were over 1,000 dairy herds in Jersey. Now there are just 26 or so. That sort of change is dramatic but the general public knows very little about this farming business activity or how it is so economically fragile today.

Yet, the general public demands that Jersey must retain its “green fields” and that there should be pretty Jersey cows grazing in them – almost without any understanding of the harsh economic realities. There is still a nostalgic view  that farming might be much as it was in the 1950s.

Producing milk is one thing but what is the real cost? Not just of the milk itself but the cost of denying the land use to others with equal or even better claims?

If Jersey is to retain the “green countryside” – who shall pay for it? Can the “cultural icon” of the Jersey cow be preserved with public subsidies in the future or can dairying be self-supporting?

Here Jersey dairy farmer Paul Houzé speaks frankly in a three part interview about the past, present and future of dairy farming in this Island.

He is optimistic that the Jersey cow has a future although his own likely retirement is referred to among many other issues.

Vegetarian and Soya milk user Tom Gruchy thanks Paul Houzé for his giving his time and cooperation with this interview and for revealing some of the mysteries of the rural economy.

For some reason, the internal lighting was not to the camcorder’s entire liking or the recording skills were lacking so some images are a bit dark.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Stuart Syvret's Trinity speech - just "water off a duck's back" says Philip Bailhache

After the Trinity hustings meeting I asked Sir Philip Bailhache for a video comment but he declined.  However, he did confirm that Stuart’s speech was “water off a duck’s back” to him and did not upset him unduly.

I e-mailed AG Le Cocq and invited him to comment on this blog before it was posted. His office responded “no doubt if he has any comments he will be in touch.”