Sunday, April 19, 2009
In his most candid interview to date, retired police chief superintendent, Lenny Harper – a 35-year veteran police officer - discusses Haut de la Garenne and the corruption he encountered well before the child abuse investigation.
Harper was recruited in 2002, to Jersey by then head of States of Jersey Police, Graham Power.
'Within weeks I realized that local politicians expected a degree of control over day-to-day operations that no UK police force would tolerate.'
Jersey operates with a system of Honorary Police. These are elected citizens - farmers, truck drivers, businessmen, etc - from the island’s 12 parishes that have the ability to countermand the Jersey Police. Incredibly, the head honorary constable is automatically seated in the States Assembly.
The ‘paid’ police force have to consult with these lay people and advise them of any and all evidence in a case – get this one – because only the Honorary Police can charge suspects!
Government and police make for strange bedfellows!
'Several times early in my posting I had to protest to the Attorney General's legal advisers about a refusal to charge in cases where the evidence was overwhelming.'
Harper's authority was challenged when he tried to tackle the massive arsenals of firearms on the island. Approximately 10,000 licensed weapons and numerous, unlicensed weapons – including semi automatic rifles – were held by a population of 90,000 people!
Were they going to war with somebody?
Harper's attempts to take action were repeatedly blocked by politicians.
'Strenuous attempts were made to intimidate us into not taking action with allegations that we were Brits who did not understand the Jersey way of life.'
Harper quickly discovered that many of the firearms licenses were issued to applicants with known criminal convictions.
Having received a tip, Harper raided the home of civilian police officer to discover a huge number of firearms lying unsecured in a bedroom. The cache included an RPG7 rocket launcher as well as weapons that had been handed into the police previously for destruction. There were 7.62mm rifles, machine guns, Magnum revolvers, and a large quantity of ammunition. Also confiscated was a Sea Cat missile launcher - usually carried on warships!
The employee was eventually convicted on several charges, however he was not sacked and the police force took him back.
Harper began a licensing campaign after discovering hundreds of people never renewed their firearms licenses and began arresting people including police officers, politicians, lawyers, and others. Most were given a slap on the wrist and a small fine.
In one case an application for a firearms license had been issued to a person despite the fact the person was convicted in 1992 of possessing a prohibited weapon and supplying controlled drugs. When police raided his house, they recovered 18 weapons and 183,000 rounds of ammunition. That is enough ammunition to shoot Jersey's entire population. Twice!
Harper also discovered three employees were using police money to buy computers for private use. Pornography was stored on some of them. The Attorney General refused to take legal action and politicians defended the employees.
Additionally, Harper found three detectives were discovered selling intelligence to women linked to drug dealers in return for sex. Despite film and audio evidence, no prosecution was authorized.
'The vast majority of cops on Jersey are honest and we owed it to them to bring to book the guys bringing them into disrepute.' Harper says. 'But the response of the authorities was to suppress everything.'
Harper spent his last year in Jersey on the excavation of Haut de la Garenne. Over one hundred witnesses have come forward with horrific tales of abuse and children just disappearing.
When Harper retired last August, a new team of detectives took over the investigation and quickly denounced Harper as an over-excitable and inexperienced officer and questioned Harper’s concerns, skills, and findings. They also claimed the 65 children's teeth found the home's cellars were left for the tooth fairy! Police now say there were no murders.
Three men - two of them former care workers - charged with abuse have yet been tried, over a year later! Jersey authorities have portrayed the alleged victims as compensation-hungry criminals.
'I'm used to flak,' Harper says. 'I don't care what a few establishment cover-up merchants and their pet poodles say about me. But I do care about the victims on Jersey. I'll keep speaking up for their sake.'
'We worked very hard to win the victims' confidence. I think now they will feel that there is nothing that they can do.’
The Haut de la Garenne investigation has ground to a halt. In it’s wake, a smear campaign began alleging that Harper himself was corrupt.
'Jersey is claiming that I left with loads of documents, unused material that could be needed in court. I think they're saying that so that cases can be thrown out. I have offered to go to any court in the UK and answer questions about alleged unused material.'
Head of States of Jersey Police, Graham Power, has subsequently been illegally suspended and accused of botching and illegal spending on the Haut de la Garenne investigation.
Two weeks ago, Senator Stuart Syvret, Jersey's former health minister who first raised the issue of abuse, was illegally detained and his home searched without a warrant under data protection laws. He was accused of leaking material to the media.
Syvret has been very vocal in exposing much of the government corruption for over a year, going so far as to appear at London’s High Court with British MP John Hemming to ensure that trials for the alleged child abusers be heard in Britain – a measure that Harper fully supported.
Harper ended his affidavit to the High Court by saying: 'With such an absence of controls, such an absence of accountability, the ordinary, decent citizens 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.'
'How come all these bent cops were able to complain about us, and their complaints were investigated at huge cost, but our investigations were closed down? I've often wondered what it was that we were really threatening.'
I think Denmark is ok, but something is certainly rotten in the States of Jersey!