Friday, June 24, 2011

La Reine de la Manche

"The Queen of the Channel", Jersey, Channel Islands, occupies a unique space. It is French but not French; it is British but not part of the UK; it is not in the EU but sort of of it; it is a tax haven sheltering under the relative respectability of a British Crown Dependency just off the coast of France.

In 1961, when I went there for summer work, it was a beautiful place, a sort of tourist paradise, advertised as a taste of France without the language problem. It was, and is still, more or less self-governing while formally the responsibility of the British Crown.

It is the only part of the "British Isles" to have been occupied by the Third Reich and the legacy of the occupation is still there to this day. Mind you, it did have some delusions of grandeur as illustrated by the limmo above, carrying the then current heads of state or government of the WWII allies: McMillan, JFK, de Gaulle and Kruschev.

The big tourist festival, akin to the St. Patrick's day parade for the Irish, was the "Battle of Flowers" where magnificent floats, completely covered in flowers, took part in a parade along the prom at St. Helier, the capital. When it was over the flowers were torn off the floats and pegged at one's opponents, whence the "battle".

All very idyllic, you might think. But revelations in recent times have shown this magic island in an entirely different light. Horrendous physical and sexual abuse of children, principally in institutions, has come to light. This was perpetrated by those in positions of power and has been systematically covered up by the Jersey administration for years.

When Senator Stuart Syvret, the Health Minister in the period 2005-2007, started poking the embers in response to complaints from victims, he was summarily sacked and has since been the object of villification and illegal harassment. The chief of police, who had come from the mainland, was also summarily sacked ("suspended") when he supported the efforts of his deputy to carry out the police enquiry into the abuse in a professional manner and free from political interference.

Ex-Senator Syvret is now working his way through the local courts en route to the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. The, now retired, former Deputy Police Chief has provided him with an affidavit which is well worth reading in full. Stuart has reproduced it on his blog.

Says it all. Unfortunately.

Update: subsequent post.


Póló said...

Stuart has just narrowly avoided going to jail on what is effectively a trumped up charge (he revealed the name of a suspect but his public interest defence was disallowed). He got 80 hours community service instead of a jail sentence. Clearly the oligarchy want to deny him martyrdom.

Just before goint into court, and as he thought at the time, on into jail, he announced that he would stand in the forthcoming senatorial election, not so much to be elected as to ensure that the issues were fully debated and the people of Jersey made an informed choice, whatever that might be.

You can see what might just have turned out to be his speech from the dock in his latest blog posting.

The video was made on the steps of the courthouse before the hearing.

Póló said...

Latest in the saga.

Stuart inverviewed before the latest court hearing.

He was not jailed but will not have any other opportunity in court before the election.

His attempt to read his evidence into the record was frustrated by constant interruptions from the judge and prosecution. Nothing new there.

Póló said...

Update: Stuart has just been released after serving a two month prison sentence.

You can catch up on the action here, here, and on his blog. The last one only while he is out of prison.