Jersey abuse media reports were 'exaggerated'
Jersey's Home Affairs Minister has said he wants to "correct the worst exaggerations" of reporting of the historical abuse inquiry. Senator Ian Le Marquand has released a statement defending the actions of senior police officers in the case.Officers were criticised in a Wiltshire Police report, released 18 months ago, which looked at the handling of the historical abuse inquiry.
It found serious concerns about the financial management of the inquiry.
It criticised former Police Chief Graham Power and the Chief Investigating Officer Lenny Harper for a lack of management and the £7.5m costs in the inquiry.
Senator Le Marquand's statement quotes the two Wiltshire Police reports which said the inquiry was appropriately managed in the early stages.
And it said the decision to start digging [at Haut de la Garenne] was not enough to cause a disciplinary issue.
Senator Le Marquand said: "This inquiry led to a significant number of successful prosecutions as well as to the discovery of significant other allegations of physical and sexual abuse which did not, for a variety of reasons, lead to successful prosecutions."
Lenny Harper, who lead the inquiry, said: "It's very welcome that he's tried to reign back some of the criticism, albeit rather late."
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"THE FILTHY RAG's EFFORT"
Historical inquiry a ‘no brainer’
From the man with "No Brain"
Senator Ian Le Marquand said that the successful prosecutions that resulted from the multi-million pound investigation made it a ‘no brainer’.
He stressed that he did not want anyone to think that the operation had been a total waste of time and money.
However, he said that there had been problems with the running and financial management of the Haut de la Garenne phase of the inquiry, when the discovery of what was initially believed to be part of a child’s skull sparked large-scale excavations at the former children’s home. Experts later identified the exhibit as a piece of coconut.
In a statement released today, the minister has sought to clarify his position on a number of points about the investigation which he says might have been confused by ‘exaggerated’ media reports.
He has this morning made the following statement to States members:
"During the Review that was recently conducted in relation to the BDO Alto report into financial management of the part of the Historical Child Abuse Enquiry which related to Haut De La Garenne, I was reminded of the exaggerated nature of some of the reporting in this area and agreed, in fairness to Mr Power and Mr Harper, to make a press statement to seek to correct the worst exaggerations.
"These exaggerations included allegations that most of the cost of the Historical Child Abuse Enquiry was wasted and that digging should never have started at Haut De La Garenne. Some of the reported criticism of the Historical Child Abuse Enquiry has wrongly led some people to the conclusion that, in some way, the whole enquiry had been discredited.
"The definitive reports in this area are the two reports of the Wiltshire Police. Those reports conclude amongst other things:
1) That the Historical Child Abuse Enquiry was appropriately managed in its early stages.
2) That issues of serious concern did arise in relation to the financial management and other aspects of the investigation in relation to Haut De La Garenne.
3) That the decision to start digging at Haut De La Garenne was not so clearly wrong as to give rise to a disciplinary issue.
"In my press conference in July 2010, I indicated my view that, once a piece of material had been wrongly identified by an anthropologist as being part of a child's skull, it was reasonable that the digging at and around Haut De La Garenne should continue, but that once the forensic experts indicated that the item was not human skull, the reason for continued digging ceased.
"I also now wish to affirm and confirm that the Historical Child Abuse Enquiry was much wider than the Haut De La Garenne investigation, and that this enquiry led to a significant number of successful prosecutions as well as to the discovery of significant other allegations of physical and sexual abuse which did not, for a variety of reasons, lead to successful prosecutions.