(Update: Paxman section removed – see my comments below the story.)
Jersey’s controversial ex-Senator Stuart Syvret, whom I write about in Treasure Islands, has a very important new post on his blog, entitled Jersey – or Palermo? It powerfully, even shockingly, backs up what I wrote about Jersey in treasure Islands.
The story starts years ago with a child abuse scandal, which was written about a fair bit in the mainstream press in Britain and Jersey, but amid allegations of a large-scale, systemic cover-up by the Jersey establishment. Before I get onto the real meat of this blog – the words of a top Jersey policeman – take a quick peek at just a couple of its bizarre twists and turns.
The child abuse probe was led by Northern Ireland-born Lenny Harper, who discovered not only the shocking scale of abuse, but also, perhaps even more shocking, the culture of complicity and cover-up that seemed to pervade the entire Jersey establishment, on this and other questions. What Syvret has now published is the text of an affidavit signed by the former Deputy Chief of the (Jersey) States police. Here are a few choice sections of the affidavit, which speak — or should I say shout — for themselves. I have no reason to believe this isn’t the genuine article. Harper:
“This was also where I began to discover that the normal rules of law enforcement did not apply in many areas of Jersey life.
I went to Jersey in 2002 full of expectation of the challenge that lay ahead. I soon learnt that it was like nowhere else in the British Isles. I was puzzled at first by the hostile reaction from politicians to our efforts to stop the few bullies in the force from making the lives of their colleagues miserable. This turned to anger at the complete obstruction to all our efforts to regulate the possession of high velocity weapons on the island. I began to then see the close links and the way in which the various arms of Jersey society worked in order to stop any modernisation. I saw the law being enforced by the Honorary forces, not on the basis of right and wrong, but simply on who was known to each other, or who went to school with each other. When we tried to tackle police corruption, we again ran into a wall of hostility. This time it was organised, as politicians and government ministers gave open support to the corrupt cops and their associates. Prominent politicians met openly with disgraced corrupt former officers and made excuses for them.
There are no checks and balances on power and the abuse of it. This is obvious each time one tries to make a complaint against any member of the government.
With such an absence of controls, such an absence of accountability, the ordinary decent people of Jersey are helpless. Intentionally or not, the system has allowed corruption to flourish to such an extent that those seeking to combat it are the ones open to scorn.”
This is nothing short of an international scandal. Perhaps surprisingly, or perhaps not, I can’t find anything at all about it on the Jersey Evening Post’s website (through a search on “Harper” – even though Syvret’s widely read blog was published last Saturday. The “weapons” thing mentioned in the affidavit isn’t a tax haven issue – at least I don’t think so – but it is so instructuve about the rule of law, and so bizarre and unexpected, that I think I’ll highlight it here:
During the questioning of a man in connection with the unlawful possession of firearms he told officers that the SOJ Police Firearms Clerk, Norman Woods, had given him information about police activities in relation to himself. Accordingly I arrested Woods and searched his home address. At his address I recovered a huge number of firearms lying insecure in a bedroom. These included an RPG7 Rocket Launcher which was later found to have only a minor fault. Among the dozens of other firearms found at his address were some which had been handed into the police for destruction. Lying around the room on the floor next to weapons such as 7.62 rifles, machine guns, and magnum revolvers, was a large quantity of ammunition for these and other weapons. A ‘SEACAT’ Missile Launcher was also taken from his home.”
Whaaat? Remember – this is one of the world’s pre-eminent tax havens, which claims to be a ‘well-run, well regulated, transparent and co-operative international financial centre.”
And remember these are not the words of just anyone. This is one of Jersey’s former top police officers talking.
And if this, for some reason, weren’t enough to dispel any doubt about the sheer corruption of the place, one might ask Jersey’s former economic adviser. He’s called John Christensen. Read all about him in Treasure Islands too.
Syvret has also had some airing on this blog before. See my earlier post, entitled Stuart Syvret, Jersey’s first political prisoner since the Nazis left.