A CRETINOUS AND ABSURD STATES DEBATE;
AND THE DESTRUCTION OF EVIDENCE
BY BILL OGLEY -
CHIEF EXECUTIVE TO THE JERSEY GOVERNMENT.
More Revelations From Jersey’s Leading News Source!
Yes! – It’s “You Couldn’t Make It up Time! – Again.
Hell – where does one begin?
OK – let’s begin gently, shall we? Let us start by correcting yet another example of garbage journalism from The Rag – before we get into the realms of the utterly extraordinary.
I asked the Home Affairs Minister a parliamentary question to the effect; just how many UK police forces were now involved in enquiring - into the enquiry? And how much was it costing?
I know my readers will understand perfectly what I meant – but for JEP hacks – let me spell it out.
The question I asked – and the answers I were given – did NOT – relate to the costs of UK police force involvement in enquiring into the Jersey Child Abuse Disaster.
Yet that was the entirely – and I suspect wilfully – misleading impression given by the brief article on page 3 of tonight’s Rag – which headlined the piece with the phrase:
“ABUSE INQUIRY: UK POLICE COSTING £310,000”
No – the questions I asked – and the answers given - were focused SOLELY upon the number and cost of UK police forces - who have now been employed by the Jersey oligarchy – to “investigate” the child abuse enquiry itself – and, specifically, to stitch-up Graham Power, Jersey’s Chief Constable, and the recently retired Lenny Harper.
So – let’s be clear about this – the Jersey establishment are spending £310,000 of your hard-earned tax money – for the single objective of trying to rubbish the historic child abuse investigation – and smearing the only two leaders Jersey’s police force have ever had who have taken the child abuse issues seriously.
I imagine the sum of money spent in Jersey, and with UK forces to actually investigate the Child Abuse Disaster itself – to be far greater than £310,000.
But what price justice for abused children and adult survivors?
But – notwithstanding that – in these hard financial times – the Jersey oligarchy is blowing £310,000 of your taxes to employ the: -
Metropolitan Police - £62,446.
Wiltshire Constabulary - £222,000.
Sussex Constabulary - £5,914.
South Yorkshire Constabulary - £19,709.
All in a desperate attempt to sabotage and rubbish the child abuse investigation.
Remember that – next time you hear our clowns banging on about value for money.
Or how we can’t give some financial support to sacked Woolworths’ staff.
Now we have limbered up with that routine thrashing of The Rag – let’s get into the heavy stuff.
Let’s cast our minds back to the 12th November 2008.
Readers who are familiar with the Jersey Child Abuse Disaster will recollect that on that day the international press-pack was summoned - to receive a press-conference given by David Warcup, Deputy Chief Constable, and Mick Gradwell, the SIO who had been recruited to run the enquiry following Lenny Harper’s retirement.
It was also – by remarkable coincidence - the same day that Graham Power was summoned to Bill Ogley’s office to meet with then Home Affairs Minister, Andrew Lewis. It was at this meeting that Ogley & Lewis told Mr. Power he was being suspended – “though they would give him one hour to consider his position”.
And – even more amazingly coincidentally – these extraordinary and momentous events took place two days before the Howard League for Penal Reform published its independent report into child custody and youth justice issues in Jersey.
A report which – just so happened – to damn the solitary confinement regimes used against children in Jersey – and in so doing exposed all that the Jersey oligarchy had been asserting for the previous 18 months as a pack of lies – and vindicating Simon Bellwood and me.
Lots and lots of most fascinating coincidences – don’t you think?
Of course, the Jersey spin-doctors achieved their short-term objective of largely burying and marginalising the Howard League report – through the above-described process of generating hugely more controversial stories as diversions.
No doubt – they went home contented at the end of the week.
But of course – there is a big pay-back for such a monumentally misconceived, corrupt and dishonest spin-campaign.
And foreclosure is beginning.
Consider David Warcup & Mick Gradwell?
These two cops – recently arrived in Jersey – and plainly ‘impressed’ by our oligarchy – engaged in their infamous press-conference – issued their notoriously misleading 5-page press release – which they pitched as a “report” – and spent weeks trying to smear Lenny Harper to any journalist who would listen.
But let’s focus down onto the mere fact that Warcup & Gradwell even contemplated taking part in such a Political press-conference.
These two men gave a lengthy media presentation during which they had one, sole, objective – one overriding aim which was so powerfully driven across by them that it was reported around the world.
And – to back up their words and PowerPoint slides - they issued a press-release freighted with half-truths, omissions – and outright lies.
These two very senior cops – by this time of day Warcup was Acting Chief Constable - set about – with the very highest possible public profile – doing all they could to rubbish, smear and trash the work of their predecessors.
Now – I’m no expert in these things – but nevertheless – I have tried very hard to find a precedent for their actions.
Another example from modern British policing – when cops have retired – or been removed - two-thirds way through an investigation into something so serious as sustained and concealed child abuse – whilst survivors and suspects are still being interviewed and charged – and the new cops who have been recruited to replace them – have – a matter of weeks after coming to the job – pro-actively, publicly destroyed the credibility of all the police work which proceeded them?
I have not been able to locate anything approaching such a precedent.
Nor have several journalists I asked.
David Warcup and Mick Gradwell – making history.
Ram-raiding the boundaries of precedent – by publicly destroying the credibility of such a crucial investigation.
And let me spell-out just why the conduct of Warcup & Gradwell is so extraordinary and unprofessional.
As I’ve explained previously – what else could defence lawyers possibly need – in the extraordinarily remote likelihood of the necessary charges being brought by Bill Bailhache – other than to point at the statements of Warcup & Gradwell and say – “the case against my client is rubbish – and should be dismissed – because no less authorities than these two very senior police officers have stated the methodology and competency of the enquiry was hopeless.”
No less than four, separate lawyers spoke to me in the wake of that press-conference and said, “You realise what they’ve done? They’ve just – at a stroke – destroyed the chances of all but the most extreme and overwhelmingly evidenced of charges.”
So whilst Warcup & Gradwell were destroying the prosecutions – the Jersey oligarchy politicians and civil servants were attempting to destroy Graham Power.
The peremptory suspension of Graham Power led to the Home Affairs Minister giving a Statement in the assembly a few days later. And as the Chief Constable is hired or fired by the assembly as a whole – by law – any debate concerning a Chief Constable has to be held secretly – ‘in camera’ – to use the archaic phrase.
This discussion took place in November 2008. But it so happen, the assembly has had another – in camera – debate on the subject of Mr. Power today; I will return to this point.
So at the time of the November 2008 closed session, during which the Minister gave his explanations and was questioned - Graham Power – very wisely – had taken the precaution of issuing to all States members a confidential written response to the actions against him.
And as this confidential document was leaked by establishment States members to the Jersey media – it’s already in the public domain – albeit selectively and minimally quoted.
So – its original confidentiality having become redundant – you can read it in full on this blog – at the bottom of his post.
Read it – I urge you.
If you’ve never read Kafka – this material will give you a flavour of just what ordinary people can be subjected to – should they become “inconvenient” to those in power.
To my Jersey readers in particular – I say, this is what our oligarchy has made our island.
A place of fear and cronyism.
I for one want to start fighting back.
But before we get on to reading Chief Constable Power’s statement – and the utterly extraordinary and tragic description of events it contains – consider this.
On that fateful 12th November day – Mr. Power – having only been notified the evening before – itself a breach of procedure - attended a meeting in Bill Ogley’s office, along with the Home Affairs Minister, Andrew Lewis.
It was at this meeting that Mr. Power was confronted – in direct contravention of all due process, law and his rights – with an ultimatum – “be suspended immediately – or - we’d be prepared to accept your immediate retirement – and we’ll give you an hour to think about it.”
Chief Constable Power – being a man of integrity – (obviously his big “mistake” in Jersey) – told Ogley and Lewis immediately that he didn’t need an hour to think about it – the answer was “no” – he would most certainly not be “retiring” – and he would fight all these actions against him.
Now consider just what an extraordinary meeting this was – effectively a Coup d’Etat – mounted by angry and fearful Jersey politicians - against the leader of the Police in Jersey – a man who is the recipient of the Queens Policing Medal.
A ‘heavy’ meeting – by anyone’s reckoning.
Moreover – one with obviously gravely serious political – and legal – ramifications.
Now get this.
During the meeting, Ogley took a copious amount of handwritten minutes and notes.
A heavily redacted version of these “minutes” was eventually typed-up and distributed.
Mr. Power – quite rightly – asked for copies of the full, contemporaneous, hand written notes. These are – after all – key evidence of events.
Actually – “were” key evidence.
Ogley has destroyed them.
I'll just repeat that - Ogley has destroyed them.
Ogley’s destruction of the contemporaneous notes – his destruction of evidence – is a prima faci criminal offence.
And – although I’ll no doubt be subjected to yet another round of oppressions for revealing this – but it’s in the public interest, so here goes – to his credit, the present Home Affairs Minister – a lawyer and former Magistrate - during today’s in camera debate said he was “horrified” upon learning of Ogley’s destruction of evidence.
The proposition we were debating today – brought by Simon Crowcroft – simply asked the States to do nothing more radical than ask that a professional review be undertaken of the suspension and disciplinary procedures used against Mr. Power – to check whether they were correctly and lawfully administered; one month’s brief review to ensure due process had been followed.
Yet even this simple, mild and eminently sensible move was too much for the Jersey oligarchy politicians to agree – it was thrown out.
Even though all members today had in front of them Mr. Power’s statement from November ’08.
Looking around the chamber – at many of the half-wits, airheads and pre-programmed lobby-fodder who were jiggling about in their seats – looking like startled ferrets - at the shock of being presented with facts – as opposed to the lying telephone lobbying and blandishments which had lead up to the debate - I could only think, ‘God helps us’. And I’m an atheist.
The average Jersey resident will be sceptical and untrusting of most of our politicians and public administration at the best of times – but just read the letter below – for a full flavour of what decent people have to battle against – whilst those who destroy evidence – such as Ogley – remain in post – taking £200,000 P/A of your taxes – plus a load more for the pension.
And – your average States member is perfectly content to carry on employing – not even subjecting to any disciplinary investigation – people like Bill Ogley – who destroys evidence – and to treat unlawfully and keep suspended our Chief of Police – a man who has received the Queens Policing Medal.
Yes – believe it or not – it is all actually worse than you dared imagine.
STATEMENT BY GRAHAM POWER TO ALL STATES MEMBERS:
ISSUED 1ST DECEMBER, 2008.
BRIEFING DOCUMENT PREPARED BY THE CHIEF OFFICER, STATES OF JERSEY POLICE
I have recently been asked by a number of States Members for details of my current position. This paper has been prepared in response to those requests.
I have taken advice before preparing this document and I have been told that as a constituent, I have a common law right to communicate with my elected representatives on matters which affect my interests.
It has also been pointed out to me that under the Police Force (Jersey) Law, I am ultimately accountable to the States as a whole. In that respect, States members are the equivalent of my "Police Authority." I am advised that this relationship provides me with further rights of communication and representation.
Thirdly, under the procedure and rules of the Royal Court for judicial review, I must show that I have taken reasonable steps to exhaust all other remedies prior to seeking judicial review. I have earlier today hand delivered a letter to the Minister, inviting him within the next 48 hours to withdraw the notice of suspension and to follow the procedure referred to below. The preparation of this brief for States Members is a further step in discharging my obligation to seek a resolution prior to the matter coming before the courts.
Although I have received no formal notification I am told that some form of statement relating to my case will be made in the States on Tuesday 2nd December 2008. I have not been told directly of the nature of that statement or what if any options will be made available to members. I have not been offered an opportunity to comment or to make any representations. In this context, and acting on the limited information available, this document has been prepared as a confidential briefing document for States Members in connection with States business which I understand will be held "in camera." It is not provided for any other purpose and in all other respects it remains confidential.
I am the Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police. I have been a police officer for over 42 years, and have been decorated by the Queen for distinguished service. Independent assessments by H.M. Inspectors of Constabulary have described the force under my command as an efficient and progressive organisation with strong leadership.
Local surveys of confidence and satisfaction with policing in the island have consistently shown high levels of public support with some satisfaction levels exceeding 90%. This level of operational success has been accompanied by a policing philosophy which emphasises the role of the force in upholding the law "without fear or favor" on behalf of all of the people, and a robust resistance to political intervention in operational matters.
While the necessity of this approach, particularly in a small community, has been well understood by most, it has on occasion created some tensions with those political leaders who are accustomed to exercising more direct control over public services. In the current historic abuse enquiry, the police have been investigating events taking place in institutions owned and run by the States of Jersey and its agencies. In this situation tensions are inevitable and conflicts of interest commonplace.
I am now suspended from duty. So far as I am aware this action is unprecedented. The legal, political and constitutional implications are significant.
The event made world news. My daughter learned of my suspension when she was listening to her car radio in Australia.
My account of the sequence of events is as follows.
1. On the evening of Tuesday 11th November 2008 I was on holiday. I had returned from the U.K. earlier that day and was intending to spend a few days locally before resuming work the following week.
2. During the course of that evening I was unexpectedly telephoned at home by the Home Affairs Minister. The Minister told me that he wished to see me in the office of the Chief Executive at 11a.m. the following day. He told me that the proposed meeting was in consequence of a presentation and meeting which had taken place a short time previously which he and fellow Ministers had attended. He said that the meeting had seen details of reports and documents relating to the historic abuse enquiry.
3. I had not been told of the briefing and had not seen any of the documents to which he referred.
4. I attended as requested and was asked to wait in the area outside of the Chief Executive’s Office. During this time I saw the Chief Minister apparently leave the Chief Executive's Office and return to his own office. I saw the head of States Human Resources take some papers into the Chief Executive's office and leave shortly afterwards.
5. I was then asked to enter the Chief Executive's office. I saw that the Minister and the Chief Executive were present and they were in possession of documents. Later in the meeting it emerged that the documents were as follows:
5.1 A signed letter dated 12th November 2008 headed "Disciplinary Code";
5.2 A signed letter dated 12th November 2008 headed "Suspension from Duty"; and
5.3 A copy of the disciplinary code relating to my post.
6. I had been given no notice that this was to be either a disciplinary meeting or a suspension meeting. I had been offered no time to prepare, no opportunity to make any report, and was not offered any representation.
7. I was handed the letter headed "Disciplinary Code" and the Minister spoke briefly regarding its contents. He then told me that he was minded to invoke the disciplinary code but that I would be allowed up to one hour to "consider my position." Neither myself, nor I believe anyone else in the room, had the slightest doubt that this was an invitation to resign. I stated firmly that I had absolutely no intention of doing so and that I denied any wrongdoing and that I would contest any allegations made against me. I also protested strongly at the unfairness' of the procedure and in particular the lack of any opportunity to make informed responses to matters being alleged against me.
8. My comments were noted but I was offered no satisfactory response. There had been no mention whatsoever of the possibility of suspension up to that point. Towards the end of the meeting, the Minister said that he had decided to suspend me and I was then handed the suspension letter and invited to leave. On my recollection the meeting was over very quickly, although I did not think to note the exact times.
(It is fair to point out that the Minister has subsequently written to me and stated that the meeting started at "approximately 11.10 a.m." and finished "before 11.45." How long "before" 11.45 is not given but nevertheless according to the Minister's own account the entire disciplinary and suspension meeting lasted less than 35 minutes in total.)
9. I have since had an opportunity to study the documents I was given in more detail and here is my account of what should have happened. I attach a copy of the Code.
9.1 Paragraph 2.1 of the Code requires that in the event of the Minister having disciplinary concerns he will write to the Chief Executive.
9.2 Two days after my suspension I was provided with what was said to be a copy of that letter. It is dated 12th November 2008 and in it the Chief Executive is instructed to "conduct a preliminary investigation under paragraph 2 of the code." Part 2 sets out the actions which the Chief Executive is required to take. These include the obtaining of "statements from available witnesses and from the Chief Officer." Later sections of the code set out what the options are if a preliminary investigation indicates a serious breach of performance or discipline. These options include suspension.
9.3 I have raised these and other concerns with the Minister and have received a partial response. Two main challenges are made in respect of my account of events.
(a) The first is that it is claimed that the offer of one hour to "consider my position" was not, after all, time for me to consider resignation but was in fact an opportunity to consider the matters put to me and to offer a response. Apart from the fact that this claim is untrue, it is also transparently absurd. Given the complexity of the allegations and the fact that they are contained in documents to which I have not been given any access, the suggestion that a period of up to one hour could form part of any fair process is an insult to anyone who is asked to believe it and a serious reflection on the integrity of anyone making it. I was left in no doubt that come what may the Minister was determined that the process would be completed with speed and that I would leave the room having been removed from my position one way or the other. This was in spite of the fact that at the time I was on holiday, had several days at my disposal to resolve any concerns, and had no immediate plans to re-assume command of the force.
(b) The Minister has also claimed that a suspension can precede a preliminary investigation. I defy any intelligent person to view the disciplinary code and come to the same conclusion.
9.4 After I had been handed the suspension letter I asked what form of announcement would be made. The Minister told me that a media briefing to announce my suspension had already been fixed for that afternoon and, in an apparently unguarded aside, said that he had discussed with fellow ministers what would be said and the lines to take. I am told that the briefing was subsequently given by the Home Affairs Minister accompanied by the Chief Minister.
I have also examined the suspension letter in more detail. This letter was handed to me at the conclusion of a single meeting which, according to my recollection, lasted only a few minutes. Among other things the letter states "at our meeting earlier today I informed you that I was considering whether you should be suspended from
duty. I now write to inform you that I have decided in accordance with to
suspend you from duty." There was no meeting "earlier today" and I was never given notice that suspension was under consideration.
9.5 I have now written three times to the Minister and asked him to explain what this part of the suspension letter means. I have at the time of writing received no response. In the absence of any explanation it is reasonable to come to a commonsense interpretation of the facts, namely that the statement in the letter is part of an attempt to create a false record of events intended to support a claim that some form of due process had been followed.
9.6 Taking all of the available facts I believe that a reasonable person would be entitled to conclude the following:
(a) The decision to suspend me from duty was in fact taken by the Home Affairs Minister, in collusion with others, on the evening of Tuesday 11th November 2008. Civil Servants were then tasked with producing documents and a form of procedure to give this decision an appearance of legitimacy. Unfortunately (or fortunately in my case) this task was completed with exceptional incompetence and the flaws are evident.
(b) In our society, burglars, rapists and murderers are treated in accordance with prescribed rules of procedure and their rights to fair play and justice are respected. It is evident that the same consideration has not been given to the Chief Officer of Police. Since these events I have been approached by many islanders who have expressed their concern at what happened and have understandably asked "if they can do this to the Chief of Police and get away with it what might they do to others?"
Fortunately, everyone can be assured that I have no intention of adopting a supine stance. I have already received legal advice that the Minister has exceeded his powers and I have given preliminary notice of my intention to challenge the decision by way of judicial review. This will be the beginning of what could be a long high profile series of actions with all the regrettable publicity which such events entail.
10. I will now set out how these matters could have been approached in a calm, measured and discreet manner.
10.1 On the little information I have it appears that the alleged concerns of the Minister arise largely from the preliminary findings of a review, carried out by the Metropolitan Police, of the earlier stages of the historic abuse investigation. This review was of course carried out at my invitation. I understand that the review has highlighted some issues regarding the processes and management structures which were in place during the earlier stages of the enquiry and draws attention to the fact that these were not consistent with what is customary in London. I also believe, and I think that this is important, that none of the critical comments relate to anything in place in the force at the current time and that the review offers support for the structures which, during the course of the investigation, I have either put in place personally or directed others to put in place on my behalf.
10.2 It is quite normal for such a review to present challenges. If a Minister has any concerns in respect of matters raised then it would be reasonable and proper to ask the Chief Officer for a report. Had I been asked to do this I would have seen it as my duty to do readily as requested and would have provided a full and accurate account to the best of my ability. It is probable that in doing so I would have drawn attention to the complex and challenging nature of the enquiry in a small force with a small leadership team and in particular the fact that the force establishment provides for no role equivalent to Assistant Chief Constable (Crime) as is common in U.K. forces. (The Post of Assistant Chief Constable "Crime" or "Crime Services" is one which is occupied by a person trained and qualified in the exercise of strategic oversight of major crime enquiries. There is no equivalent post in Jersey.) I would also have drawn attention to how, in the absence of any locally qualified person, extensive use was made of external experts, appointed by the Association of Chief Police Officers. The appointed experts assisted in the earlier stages, made a series of written recommendations, and offered positive comment on the speed with which their recommendations had been put into effect.
10.3 I would also have reminded Ministers, including the Chief Minister, how they were given direct access to these specialists without either me or any member of the force being present, and how Ministers appeared to be satisfied with what they were told. Ministers might also have been reminded of my determined efforts, commencing in 2007, to persuade them that there were emerging skill gaps in the force which needed to be filled by at least one external appointment and how they and others raised a number of challenges which had the effect of delaying the implementation of those recommendations.
10.4 Had I been given an opportunity to submit a report in response to any concerns, the Minister might have been satisfied with what the report said and the matter could have been swiftly concluded. If he was not satisfied he could, if he felt justified, have sought independent advice. If any serious concerns were not resolved he could then have made reference to the discipline code and activated some of the early stages which provide for a number of possible outcomes. In the event none of this happened.
10.5 The Minister opted for immediate suspension, without asking for a report, without a preliminary investigation, without a hearing, and without offering me any representation. What could have been a calm and discreet internal process has been turned into continuing world news with all of the associated adverse consequences.
10.6 The task of preparing a report in response to the issues raised would of course require my access to documents, police buildings, and computer networks. The terms of my suspension now prohibit me from access to all of these things. It is therefore my position that not only have I been subject to an unjustified and unlawful suspension but that I have at the same time been placed under restrictions which effectively prevent me from preparing any defense to whatever is alleged.
11. It is perhaps worthy of note that to date the police are the only agency whose policy framework for this enquiry has been compared with the usual practice in London. It is known for example that in London the Crown Prosecution Service, and the Education and Social Services Departments have guidelines governing strategic management issues in investigations affecting children. Nobody has yet asked whether the comparable services in Jersey are compliant with the relevant London guidelines or who is to be held responsible if they are not.
12. Over the past two weeks it has sometimes been pointed out to me that my personal position is one that some would envy. I am a police officer who is well past the normal retirement age who is being paid a substantial salary in exchange for no work. That is not how I see it. When I was first sworn by the Royal Court as a Jersey Police Officer, I promised to uphold the "laws and usages" of this island. That commitment still stands.
It places upon me not only a right but a duty to challenge what I consider to be a blatant abuse of political power and a breach of the legitimate rules and guidelines which govern us all. The integrity of the criminal justice system depends on the ability of the police, the prosecution and the courts being able to operate free of political interference and intimidation.
Any action by a government to seek to remove the head of any of these agencies is a severe step which should only be taken with significant thought and fully in accordance with the required procedures. This should also be accompanied by a full recognition of the potential wider consequences for the island's reputation and for public confidence in the independence of the criminal justice process.
13. In this context my position is that my suspension was neither proportionate nor necessary, and in any event, was carried out without fairness or proper procedure. It was an action which was seemingly designed to publicly humiliate and demoralise me to in the hope that I would lose the will to continue to remain in office.
For the avoidance of doubt I have no difficulty whatsoever in being held to account for the proper discharge of my duties as the Chief Officer of the Islands police. I do however have a legitimate expectation that any challenges will be addressed in a calm and professional way through the due process of law and agreed procedure. I object strongly to the arbitrary manner in which issues affecting my position have been addressed over recent weeks.
The Association which represents the interests of Chief Constables in the U.K. has reviewed my case. They have determined that my suspension cannot be justified and they have written asking that I be re-instated with immediate effect. At the time of writing I am told that they have received no satisfactory reply and that further action on their part is now probable.
14. The issue in which I am now engaged involves a range of complex legal and constitutional issues for which there is no known local precedent. Ministers tell me that they are acting throughout with the full advice and support of the Law Officers' Department. I have asked, in the interests of fair play, that I be provided with independent legal advice in order that I can understand these issues better. The Minister has refused this request. I am therefore being placed in a situation which requires me to confront the full wealth and power of the Council of Ministers and Law Officers' Department while working from home supported by family and volunteers.
I am undeterred by this situation and I am now taking preliminary steps to seek a review of my suspension by the courts. During this process I will act as a litigant in person and will prepare and present my own case.
Thank you for reading this brief and I hope that you have found it of value in gaining a fuller picture of current events as they affect the leadership of the force and the independence and integrity of policing in the island.
Graham Power, QPM