Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Denise Carroll MBE Candidate St Helier District 3 / 4 Jersey - October 2011

There are too few women in the States of Jersey so it is good to present this brief interview with Denise Carroll MBE who will run for election as Deputy in St Helier District 3 / 4 this October.

This is not intended as a complete election statement – it arises because Denise was awarded the MBE last year and this is our first chance to talk to her about that.

However, as with so many people who are motivated from personal experiences to consider political life as an elected representative, it is interesting to record her initial thoughts and we will try to return for an update before October.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jersey Bastille Day 28 September 1769-2011

“La Marseillaise” the international anthem of revolution was sung in St. Helier Town Hall, Assembly Room last night 14 July - and the singing was led by the Bailiff and the Chief Minister before a room full of our leaders, prominent citizens and the general public.

Children danced, toasts were drunk, fine patriotic words were expressed and ancient political alliances remembered – but it was all in celebration of “Bastille Day” and the French Revolution. It had little to do with Jersey and was especially for Jersey’s French community.

Our “establishment” is hardly likely to want to encourage any revolutionary thoughts or sympathies here. Although they will speak in glowing terms about regime change and revolution in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Zimbabwe the enthusiasm is more subdued where Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are concerned or Burma, India and China and any other places where local financial interests  might be at stake!
It is seen as safe enough to praise the French events of two centuries ago.

Of course, Jersey’s own revolution took place on 28 September 1769 and this blog-site is devoted to it.
On that day the ordinary people of Jersey marched on the
Royal Court
and stopped the proceedings.
Retaliations followed.
The ruling Crown Officers of the day wanted to hang or transport the leaders but the London government prevented them.
It was on this day that the States of Jersey as a democratic institution was born.
The process continues to this day and in October this year Islanders will experience their first ever “general election.”
28 September should be remembered as Jersey’s very own “Bastille Day”. It is equally important. It should be celebrated as “Reform Day” or something similar and children should dance and people should sing…..

Alas, this is Jersey where the entrenched Royalists still hang on to power and control so much that should be better managed by elected people for the benefit of every body. So desperate have the Royalists become that ex-Bailiff Philip Bailhache has donned his suit of armour and will lead for the defence of the constitution and restoration of old values in the October election!

Jersey’s little revolution in 1769 was non-violent. Nobody was hurt and no property was damaged yet the short and long term benefits were and are immense.
It was like the anti-whalers protest of this week at the Hotel De France – an effective demonstration of protest that can be both challenging and friendly. Such displays are evidently too much for the ex-Bailiff who had led a pro-independence rally at the same venue a few months ago for Princes, Judges and other tax haven delegates from around the world.

The blood-letting French Revolution was neither wholly effective nor friendly. The French did remove their Royal oppressors for a while but land ownership was in fewer hands after 1790 than before. But it was a continuation of the same revolutionary challenges that had encouraged the American to break with the British Royal connection in 1775 and the English to remove their own despotic King’s head in 1649.

The process of reform is never ending and needs to be constantly refreshed and stimulated. The recognition of important dates and people is an essential part of that process. People must be reminded of their ancestors’ deeds and struggles.
Monuments are just one way to remind us of those that have passed this way before us and we might choose to cast in bronze those heroes who tried to improve things for others.
Francois Scornet was mentioned at the Town Hall gathering. He is to be remembered with a monument for giving his life during the Occupation. He was French of course and had landed here by mistake. As a result he was an accidental hero and was shot. Why he should be singled out now in Jersey in preference to hundreds of locally born people as a war hero is not obvious to this observer. Indeed there were many millions of people who died during that war and equally deserve to be remembered now. However, I don’t begrudge him his memorial for failing to die on the battlefield or some city bombing raid.

Neither do I begrudge the memorial to Major Peirson that is planned. He was from Yorkshire but died in the
Royal Square
in 1781 after only a few months in the Island. He had the misfortune to be here when the Revolutionary American War was in full swing when the French led mercenary force landed. He died the hero after a brief encounter and has already been commemorated with several sculpture portraits and the famous “Battle of Jersey” painting. Both his sculptured bronze portrait and a copy of the Battle painting in which he is shown dying from French bullet wounds are displayed in the Assembly Room. What would he have made of “la Marseillaise” and all the other Bastille Day celebrations on 14 July?

I suggest that a memorial to Pierre ArrivĂ©e, the Jersey merchant who was bayoneted to death by the French soldiers as they passed his house might equally warrant a memorial. Or, how about the four unknown and lowly Jersey Militia soldiers who gave their lives in battle? Of course these people were not “officer class” but surely they now deserve equal recognition?

Ironically, these incidents all have a French dimension. I have no objection to remembering gallant people from the past but, as I have previously written on this blog, we can overdose on heroes of war.
Motivation and purpose can be just as heroic in peacetime and the several hundreds who challenged the despotic officials of the
Royal Court
on 28 September 1769 were risking their lives and property for ideals that still resonate today. But where is the memorial to Clement Gallichan, Edward De Ste Croix, Philippe Luce or any others from this brave revolutionary band? Who can even name them today? What tune did they sing when they marched into the
Royal Square

It is not just stone or bronze memorials that are important either. The American and French passions for their respective liberations and rights are carried in the heads and hearts of their citizens. September 28 should be the day that Jersey people remember and celebrate - just as July 4 and 14 resonate with them.

Shall we book the Assembly Room now for 28 September this year?

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Our Accredited Press and Police

Whilst the sudden closure of the “News of the World” is the latest and most dramatic chapter in the unfolding tale of corruption in high and low places - the trial of eight former South Wales’ police officers has also just commenced. It has been described as the UK’s biggest ever police corruption case.
A former Chief-Superintendent, a Chief Inspector and five Detectives are accused of framing five innocent men for the murder of Lynette White in Cardiff, fifteen years ago.

If they are found guilty there could be huge implications for the hundreds of other cases that these officers have been involved with over the years. When the corrupt West Midlands Serious Crime Squad was exposed in the 1980s, there was an enormous task in reviewing their previous caseload. Over 30 serious crime convictions were quashed on appeal but no officers faced serious charges, although many resigned.
“Operation Countryman” in the 1970s had over 100 potentially corrupted officers in its sights but was pulled by a frightened government.
During Sir Robert Mark’s brief reign as London’s Police Commissioner, nearly 500 officers left the force before they were sacked.
There have been many more police corruption scandals over the years so it is unlikely that the current trial of eight South Wales’ officers is truly “the biggest” - but it demonstrates that the problem has not gone away.

Now in London, the “News of the World” phone hacking scandal is shaking out yet more corrupt police officers. Not only for providing information to reporters for money but also because of an historic failure to investigate properly, or at all, previous complaints.

Corruption among police officers, or collusion with criminals and the press is nothing new – but it is clearly very deep rooted within the system and the latest scandal looks likely to have far-reaching ramifications. But will anything really change? And how might it affect us in Jersey?

Jersey has its own ongoing police/press scandal – with a localised twist.

The Jersey government has made all sorts of claims about the incompetence of the two former most senior officers in the States of Jersey force as a result of the Haut de la Garenne cases and related abuse cases. These officers are no longer in office. But a succession of other very senior UK trained police officers have been appointed to replace them – only to resign very soon afterwards.
There has been a barrage of acrimonious criticism between senior officers, politicians and officers and allegations of corruption at the highest level in government and the administration of justice made by former Senator Stuart Syvret and others.

Unusually, the two officers - Graham Power and Lenny Harper - accused of incompetence by the Jersey Government and other senior officers - are stoutly defended by a strong lobby of bloggers, several back-bench politicians (including Deputy Bob Hill, a former MET police  officer for many years), abuse victims and members of the public. It is an unusual pro-ex-police alliance.
On the other hand, the so called accredited media in Jersey, namely Jersey Evening Post, Channel TV and BBC Jersey (Radio 103 being primarily an entertainment outlet) have taken a uniformly predictable pro-government stance which in this instance is pro-current police (a new Chief having been recruited from the City of London force) but hostile to the retired former Chief Mr. Power and his retired assistant Mr. Harper.

At the recent Scrutiny Panel hearing (looking at the related BDO report where Lenny Harper was questioned via an audio-link), I asked him about the surprising number of highly trained officers from the UK who were falling out among themselves in Jersey. I asked how this reflected upon the standards of policing throughout the UK.
His response was to defend the calibre and competence of UK trained police officers.

In the currently evolving police/press scandal in London, it is becoming ever more obvious that neither of these “professions” can be trusted to regulate themselves. The sudden closure of the “News of the World” indicates the gravity of the developing scandal but where else it might lead is anybody’s guess.
Corruption and presumably incompetence within a police force cannot be adequately investigated by other police officers. The same applies to the media. Bodies such as the Press Complaints Authority and the BBC Trust are wholly unsatisfactory and ineffective bodies. Only a media mogul such as Murdoch can make such a dramatic and arbitrary decision as to close a profitable newspaper.

The police have already undertaken several investigations of Mr Power and Mr Harper and the outcome has been wholly unsatisfactory. The behaviour of the Jersey police in the case of “drug smuggler” Curtis Warren and others is currently being investigated by yet more police.

The role of the “press” in Jersey is already a contentious matter since the closeness of the relationship with government discourages investigative journalism. There are no locally organised “complaints” procedures and the public must apply to UK bodies, such as those already referred to, with any grievances. If there is corruption in the Jersey media it is unlikely to involve payments for information since the local lazy journalists are only too happy to publish whatever the government or big business press releases say.
The battle for recognition of “bloggers” in Jersey is yet another issue that needs to be resolved and has wider, national and free expression, dimensions.

In brief, it is inevitable that the regulation and supervision of both police and press will be reconsidered as a result of the “News of the World” scandal. Any reforms will inevitably apply to Jersey.
We should stimulate our own critical and investigative examination ASAP.