Jersey: MPs demand independent inquiry into abuse

MPs are urging justice secretary Jack Straw to appoint independent judges and prosecutors to deal with any cases emerging from the Jersey child abuse investigation.

Austin Mitchell MP has put forward a motion calling for an independent inquiry into child abuse, arguing that the Jersey political authorities have “failed to deal with the problems”.

Mitchell claimed the Jersey authorities were “seriously compromised by their repeated failures to act properly” and their concern over protecting the island’s reputation. “Were they to undertake the wide-ranging investigation required, they would, effectively, need to put themselves on trial as well,” the Labour MP said.

Child protection concerns

The motion condemned the “attacks” on Jersey’s former health and social services minister, Stuart Syvret, who was sacked after repeatedly raising child protection concerns.

Judges and prosecutors with “no prior connection” with Jersey should be appointed “to ensure the necessary impartiality of the judicial process”, the motion said.

Mitchell, a friend of Syvret, accused the Jersey establishment of “hushing up” the extent of child abuse on the island.

“Jersey is made up of a small, intimate community that is likely to suppress evidence,” he told Community Care. “The Jersey authorities could not conduct an effective inquiry as they would be implicated themselves for turning a blind eye to allegations of abuse.

Child’s remains

Mitchell argued the forthcoming review of child protection on Jersey by UK expert Andrew Williamson was “outdated” as it began before the police found the remains of a child’s body in a former children’s home last weekend.

“The Williamson review is not adequate as the problem is on a larger scale,” he said.

Mitchell said one way forward would be for Ofsted to regulate children’s services in Jersey, as in the UK. But he said the Jersey government – which is outside UK jurisdiction – would have to agree.

No current risks

Yesterday, Jersey’s chief minister Frank Walker reiterated his pledge to give “all the necessary resources” for the ongoing police investigation and said there were “no current risks” to children on the island.

He said: “There is no hiding place in Jersey for anyone who abused children or, who in any way may have colluded with that abuse and no stone will be left unturned to bring them to justice.”

More information

Early Day Motion: Child protection in Jersey

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