Thursday, March 27, 2008

Haut de la Garenne Investigation Causing Tempers to Flair

Chief Minister Frank Walker and some Jersey residents seem overwhelmed by the media spotlight focused on their tiny island.

One of the locals said, "I've never seen so many people going up and down this road. It's a bit sick really. Are these crimes what Jersey is going to be remembered for?"

The Belfast Telegraph reports: Just days after the partial remains of a child were discovered in a former Jersey care home at the centre of a major child abuse investigation, tempers were beginning to fray within the States of Jersey Assembly in St Helier.

(Note: In the March 14th entry, I gave a link to the videos referred to in this Q&A.)

Deputy Andrew Lewis: "Will the Chief Minister (Frank Walker) be taking exception with the BBC over the technique that Jeremy Paxman - the very biased technique - he used in interviewing him?"

Chief Minister: "I have not yet decided whether I will be taking another complaint forward on the facts that Mr Paxman totally misquoted me with his opening question and then refused to accept my answers to those questions."

Deputy Geoffrey Peter Southern: "Does the Chief Minister regret using the words 'shafting the international reputation of the island' on television?"

CM: "I was unaware because I was not told - against the code as I understand it of the BBC - that the cameras were working. But no, I do not regret what I said. What I said ... was - and I excuse the language but it was, I thought, a private conversation: "You are seeking to shaft Jersey internationally"."

The Constable of St Helier, Alan Crowcroft: "Does the Chief Minister have a communication strategy for dealing with the current problem and if so when is he going to start using it?"

CM: "I do not believe that question even deserves the dignity of an answer. If the Constable cannot see how we have met the onslaught from the national media then he must be both blind and deaf."

The exchange provides a telling image of a government desperate not to damage the glossy reputation of sunny, wealthy and safe Jersey.

As one Jersey resident said, "There have been rumors going around for years. It should have come out ages ago but nobody would listen. There is a lot of suspicion about who knew what."

Senator Stuart Syvret Blog