Jersey police have criticised media reporting about a supposed bone fragment found during the ongoing child abuse investigation on the island.
The Mail on Sunday reported that the fragment, previously supposed to be a child’s remains, was “really a small piece of wood or broken coconut shell,” according to forensic staff.
The paper claimed the chief investigator, Lenny Harper, was told about the forensic labratory finding six weeks ago but “kept it quiet”.
The discovery of the fragment at the former Haut de la Garenne children’s home, where more than 100 people have alleged they were abused, led to intense media speculation.
In response, Jersey police put out a statement confirming that in March forensic staff said the fragment could “possibly be wood or a seed”, but this was not definitive.
“This was qualified by the statement that if it was bone it was very old bone, again corroborating information available to the team,” police said.
Labratory staff said although the fragment was not bone in their view, police would need to conduct further examination to conclude this definitively.
The police statement said: “While the item has now been examined by three specialists, it has been ruled out of the enquiry because of the archeological context in which it had been found and it is not intended to proceed further with this exhibit.”
Police called the Mail on Sunday article “a selective and one-sided attack” that ignored information given to the reporter by investigating officers and specialists.
The abuse investigation team have identified 20 pieces of bone, together with six children’s teeth from the site of Haut de la Garenne, and results of tests are expected next week.
“At that stage we will know more about the possibility that there might have been unexplained deaths of children within Haut de la Garenne,” the police statement said.
Two people have been charged so far in relation to the abuse investigation, which is looking at cases dating back to the 1950s.