Cost Of Failed, Taxpayer Funded, Super Injunction Remains A Secret.

After more questions asked of alleged Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, by Deputy Trevor Pitman, in the Island's Parliament today we still don't know the full amount, to the taxpayer, of the failed superinjunction placed on former Health Minister Stuart Syvret.

Senator Gorst ducked, and dived, a number of questions surrounding the case with only very little given away. We did, however, find out that the four proxies, it would appear were "invited" by Data Protection Commissioner, Emma Martins to take action against Mr. Syvret.


Data protection commissioner "invited" the claimants to come forward, according to Deputy Mike Higgins. How many other people has she "invited" Will she be inviting Stuart Syvret to make a claim against disgraced former Housing Minister, Deputy Sean Power, after he stole personal data belonging to Mr. Syvret and his ex partner which caused it to be published on a reported paedophile protecting hate-site? No she has already ruled that stealing other people's personal data, sharing it with others, and causing it to be published on the internet is a "regulatory" offence and not criminal.

Senator Gorst also revealed that the four "representors" (proxies) contributed nothing, financially, towards the cost of the case. Which brings us back to a previous posting where we published an extract from the court judgement HERE which read;

"he has put the Representors to unnecessary expense and has failed to engage with the litigation and he has repeatedly breached the order. The consequence of this conduct has been that the Representors have been put to unnecessary expense." 

They were put to NO expense, unnecessary or otherwise. 

Good (unanswered) questions from Deputies Tadier and Higgins also which left Senator Gorst floundering. (recording below)

VFC credit TJW for this recording.







Deputy Pitman on Radio Jersey about Stuart Syvret’s Secret Court Case

Deputy T Pitman.



Discussing Stuart Syvret's Secret Court Case on Radio Jersey this morning with good old Matthew Price with just the one Question  "In the interests of free speech should we be allowed to say anything we like online?"

 

TheJerseyWay would like to Credit & Thank BBC Radio Jersey for making these recording's possible.

Stuart Syvret Secret Court Case on State Radio.

Further to our EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with former Jersey politician and Health Minister Stuart Syvret concerning the secret court case/super-injunction, BBC Jersey broadcast an edited interview with him this morning on the radio.

The question BBC was asking its listeners was "In the interests of free speech should we be allowed to say anything we like online?"

We have a few others such as;

"Has the Data Protection Law been abused in a secret court case? 

Why did these four proxies not use libel/defamation laws in order to publicly clear their names? 

If justice must be SEEN to be done why was this, taxpayer funded, court case in secret? 

What ramifications could this very dangerous precedent have for journalism across the board, so-called "accredited" and so-called "non accredited journalists alike?

Who brought these very unlikely bedfellows together and what was the motivation?

Is everybody treated equally by the law/Data Protection Office when attempting to make complaints?

How much did this secret court case really cost the taxpayer?

Below is the recording of this morning's broadcast on State Radio. Deputy Trevor Pitman was also live in the studio which will be published on TJW later this evening.

VFC credit the BBC for the recording below.




The States in Tweets

I rather like the anonymous Tweeter who goes under the name of "Ringbinder", after Alan Maclean's notorious ringbinder, which nudged over the voting button at a critical time, and gave the deciding vote needed for the town park.  Here are some Ringbunder tweets, ascerbic and cynical, but that can be a breath of fresh air, reminding me of "Hardbencher" alias Betty Brooke.
 
Ringbinder:
 
Ringbinder is back from hols @ the typing pool & ready for the States. I see the usual time wasting questions are back from their hols too!
 
Ha ha! Dep Tadier is talking about the reputation of Jersey. This buffoon has done more to damage Jersey's reputation than anyone we know
 
Listening to Deputies Pitman & Tadier, you'd almost think they wanted Jersey to be on the French Black list. Where's their loyalty to Jersey
 
Tell Dep Baudains that the individual telephone numbers are not in the back of the JT Directory. Is this really good use of States time??
 
Is the Deputy of Grouville a one trick pony! Apart from the Gorey Cycle Track, does she have any knowledge of any other States projects?
 
"will the minister get off his backside?" Will the Const of St John learn some parliamentary language?
 
Our stationery cupboard inhabitants tend to take comedians seriously & politicians as a joke.. I wonder how many others agree? #justasking
 
Sean Power, meantime is thumping the planning drum, and "begorra", it is tough being on a Planning Panel! I imagine that it can be hard to be on a Planning Panel, where you have to make difficult decisions, but I do wonder at the judgement of anyone who thinks Rob Duhamel has been a "model Minister" - maverick Minister would be a better description. Deputy Duhamel throws out ideas, sometimes half-baked, and never seems to have the thorough follow-through that is needed - case in point, the recent comments he made about asbestos waste, which were thrown out without consulting his Civil Servants, and nearly scuppered talks with a company about disposal of asbestos. Anyway, here is a taste of Deputy Power's Tweets:
 
Brickbats across the Assembly Chamber this morning on planning. Members do not want to serve on Planning Panel but happy to ask leading Q's
 
The CO-OP has the misfortune to own an island site at Charing Cross. Decide on location of deliveries and height and job done
 
Rob Duhamel has been a model Minister in the way he has handled all the challenges, in house, outside and from all those that dislike him
 
Reform of the States is up again, again, again, again and again............self-serving, self-protecting, self-interest.....and change??
 
BBC Radio Jersey meanwhile has been looking at education, tweeting:
 
Professor Ed Sallis - the former principal of Highlands College - says planned changes to Jersey's education system need to be published
 
They also had an old interview from last year, in which Patrick Ryan was prevaricating about the delays to the much anticipated Green Paper, and in which he repeatedly said that some of the items on it were being implemented anyway, and "education reforms were steaming ahead". If he uses metaphors like steamships, it is perhaps no wonder that the good ship education and its cargo of green paper has not yet arrived at harbour. Let's hope it has not struck an iceberg, because of course, any changes made which reflect on fee paying schools, as Deputy Ryan knows only too well, would not be good for his chances of re-election next year. Icebergs ahead, and the prudent Captain Ryan, like Stanley Lord of the California, drops anchor, and has radio silence until it is too late to do anything.
 
RussellLabey is tweeting about the Minister for External relations, as a possible exercise in Empire Building. It does depend who gets the post; if Senator Bailhache, I can forsee more civil servants being taken on board, and budgets increased, just like "Yes Minister".
 
States of Jersey Minister for External Relations - more expensive empire building, be careful what you wish for...
 
James Rondel meantime has a tweet about the nonsensical way in which he has had to provide paperwork to a department which could easily obtain  them from the Student Finance office in the same building - joined up government it is not. Do you remember we were promised once that all the new Ministerial government would give us efficiencies and "joined up" government? When politicians speak in clichés, it is clearly good reason to distrust them:
 
Social Security Minister admits Student Finance are located in the same building as his dept... Strange communication seems to be nil!
 
"Streamlining the service of communication" sounds like spin. I have to provide his dept with a copy of my birth certificate to show that I am a student, and to cover missing contributions. Why is his Dept incapable of communicating with Student Finance? #samebuilding
 
TheVoiceJersey is tweeting about the recent Stuart Syvret court case, although since this refusal to give details on cost, Chief Minister Ian Gorst has since made a statement after the States sitting, in which he have the costs of the court case as being in the public interest; he did the same when he gave out details of Bill Ogleys' golden handshake. I rather like the way in which he reflects on matters and changes his mind, and gives details - something his predecessor Terry Le Sueur seemed unable to do.
 
Chief Minister refuses to tell us how much secret court case cost the taxpayer.
 
Chief Minister refuses to explain why data protection was used and not libel
 
LeahFergusonITV tweets on question time in the States, and mentions the sum involved - £400,000. If I was unduly cynical, I'd suggest that probably represents one day in court, and some rather high-powered lawyers. But, as they, say, justice must be done, and justice must be seen to be done. Except that it was held in secret.
 
Politicians are back from their holidays, meeting for the first States sitting. Many questions on France putting Jersey on tax blacklist.
 
Dep Tadier asks when will the real reason for the French blacklisting be revealed. Chief Min says seeking to understand how problem arose.
 
The atmosphere in the States has hit a lighter hearted note as politicians discuss phonebook distribution.
 
Social Security Minister says he's "not on a witch hunt" in bringing in sanctions against people who walk out of work for no just reason.
 
Chief Minister reveals legal costs in Data Protection case against former Senator Stuart Syvret are almost £400,000.
 
Politics Jersey has a snippet revealing Patrick Ryan's thinking, which needs a bit of deciphering - a replacement school for Les Quennevais will be built on a different site. Let's hope it is not like the change to Haut Vallee, where staff had to re-apply for their own jobs.
 
Les Quennevais School likely to be rebuilt in St Brelade if Education can get the money. Minister rules out rebuilding existing school
 
And so the debate tweets on about Foreign Minister, which was decided in favour - 35 for, 10 against, with one abstention. I like the way in which the term has changed. Back in April, when it was first mooted, the position was the "Minister for External Affairs", but now it has changed to the much less comical "Minister for External Relations".
 
So alas one can no longer joke about the double entendre, and imagine the Minister enjoying naughty weekends away; instead we have the much more humdum "Minister for External Relations", and the most one can do with that is to imagine the Minister keeping tabs on Great-Grandma in Scotland and other elderly relatives.
 
DeputyMacon Beginning the debate on whether or not to create an external relations minister.
 
politicsjersey CM describes External Relations Minister as essential to represent Jersey overseas. Sen Ferguson says wait until govt reforms are resolved
 
GaelMezec Debate on Foreign Minister is betraying small mindedness of some of our members. Have they heard of globalisation?
 
SamMezec Typical xenophobic nonsense coming from the States today in the debate on a foreign affairs minister. "Wah wah wah, it's all the UK's fault"
 
GaelMezec Dep Southern says we shouldn't create foreign minister when people are unemployed but good foreign relations create jobs?
 
SamMezec They complain about the ending of the reciprocal health agreement and how bad the UK was, when it was Jersey that lied about the money.
 
SamMezec They complain about the ending of LVCR and how bad the UK was, when it was Jersey that abused it and helped them lose money.
 
SamMezec Was just about to tweet the phrase "delusions of grandeur" when Deputy Pitman used it in his speech. Bugger!
 
SamMezec Social Security department telling people they can get their new work cards printed right away, but 2 people I know had to wait a week
 
philipozouf States Assembly to commence considering my further strengthening of Public Finance Law which governs States Finances. ow.ly/22AyrZ
 
SoJRingbinder We're letting our thoughts run wild in the stationery cupboard, can you imagine if Montfort Tadier was the Foreign Minister!? #doomed
 
GaelMezec Dep Pitman making debate on Foreign Minister about independence. Its about 'more independence' not 'complete independence'.
 
SamMezec @SoJRingbinder Or alternatively you could imagine Philip Bailhache. If you think Tadier would screw it up, have a think about Bailhache...
 
SamMezec Constable Gallichan bemoans more talk of reform, yet it's partly her fault things are as they are as she helped hijack Electoral Commission.
 
SoJRingbinder Deputy of St Mary... I'm sure he's a very nice chap, but he's a bit like the 20mph speed limit in his parish... too slow!
 
SamMezec @GaelMezec Nothing wrong with suggesting that "more independence" is actually about making "complete independence" easier.
 
SoJRingbinder @SamMezec Well let's hope Montfort stands for the position. I'll happily bet you £10 that he doesn't get it. Wonderful thing democracy!
 
SamMezec @SoJRingbinder I'd happily bet you £1,000 he doesn't get it. It's a done deal, that's why it's so crooked.
 
politicsjersey and with that done the CM expects to make appointment at a States sitting soon
 
SoJRingbinder @politicsjersey Great news. I wonder how many ring binders they'll need to kit out the new department? Some overseas travel needed I think!!

Data Protection Abuse in Jersey Courts?

"The Data Protection Act  is increasingly being deployed as part of a claimant's arsenal in defamation claims." (Robin Hopkins)
 
A recent Court case concerning Stuart Syvret raises a number of concerns.  The case centred on his blog, and accusations which were considered defamatory. The usual course of action, you might imagine, in cases of defamation is to sue. That is, after all, the action that was taken by Senator Frank Walker when various accusations were being made about him regarding allegations of wife-beating. The Telegraph reported the story:
 
"Frank Walker - a senator of the island's governing body and, as president of its powerful Finance and Economics Committee, its equivalent of Gordon Brown - was, the rumour went, a serial wife-beater. Now a full-page public apology in the local newspaper announces that two prominent local men are sorry they ever suggested such an untruth. One of them is Leslie Norman, a successful accountant. The other, Francis Amy, chairman of the island's Constables Committee which runs its volunteer police system, has apologised further, for falsely alleging that Senator Walker abused his office by taking "improper and corrupt inducements". (1)
 
Frank Walker took legal action, because this kind of untruth would be considered slander or libel (if in print) and that was the legal avenue to pursue when people were defamed. Although they lost their action, the same due process of law was followed by Trevor Pitman and his wife when they considered themselves defamed.

In this case, the Court Judgment noted:
 
"Mr Syvret set up the Blog in January 2008.  The four representors are amongst those who have been repeatedly identified by name on the Blog as having, amongst other things, engaged in criminal behaviour." (2)
 
So the cause of libel for defamation would have been the same. But in this case, none of the people involved pursued that kind of claim. Instead, they side-stepped that route by getting the Data Commissioner to treat the accusations as violations of the Data Protection Law. The result was that the tax payer stepped in to pursue the case on their behalf.
 
"The case for the representors is that Mr Syvret is a "data controller" within the meaning of the DPL and that he has processed their personal data by uploading, publishing and storing false and offensive posts on the Blog.  The representors contend that the allegations made about them on the Blog are untrue and unjustified." (2)
 
The critical argument was as follows, following Carter-Ruck:
 
"It appears to us that Jersey law should give a wide meaning to the term "data".  Since posts on the Blog are disseminated to others by computers and/or the internet, we consider that posts on blogsites fall within the scope of the DPL."
 
While Stuart Syvret has certainly made hostile opinions about individuals, matters of opinion as well as matters of fact are now being drawn into the scope of data under the Data Protection Law:
 
"It is to be noted that data includes "any expression of opinion about an individual".  We have noted the hostile and abusive opinions expressed by Mr Syvret on the Blog."
 
This would certain run counter to the UK where the information commissioner takes a very different initial view regarding opinions given on the "Solicitors from Hell" website:
 
"The Information Commissioner responded that the DPA was not designed to deal with such issues and that it was "not the purpose of the DPA to regulate an individual right to freedom of expression - even where the individual uses a third party website, rather than his own facilities, to exercise this.""((4)
 
What makes matters worse is that the whole case was shrouded in secrecy. You have only to look at libel cases in the past - Olga Johnson against Donald Lucas, or that or Mr and Mrs Pitman against the JEP - to see that the treatment of the case is conducted in public, with witnesses, documentation, etc all presented in a transparent manner. Justice could be seen to be done.
 
But in this case, justice is enfolded in secrecy. According to the Court records which are available,
 
"This was a case where we are quite satisfied that if any publicity were to be given to facts of the case (including the nature of the relief sought, the evidence given and the terms of the present judgment), the object of the application would be defeated.  This means that no reporting of any part of the proceedings is permissible".
 
But this was a judgement given on  13th June, 2013, yet on 18 Sep 2012, John Hemming spoke about the matter in the House of Commons, where it is a matter of public record, protected by Parliamentary Privilege. This should have been known to those involved, including the judge.

It should be noted that the House of Commons Hansard cannot be subsequently redacted to remove names, as can happen here after recent changes in Jersey law. Hemmings stated:
 
"Bloggers are being threatened to stop them talking about people. Decisions by the state not to prosecute cannot be challenged, nor is private prosecution allowed. The country is Jersey. The journalist is Leah McGrath Goodman, who is an American. The chief of police was Graham Power. Furthermore, [names redacted by myself] have, with the assistance of the Jersey Government, obtained a super-injunction against ex-Senator Stuart Syvret-under the Data Protection Act of all things-to prevent from him saying things about them on his blog that are true. Mr Syvret has evidence that criminal offences are being swept under the carpet, but nothing is being done."
 
It may seem that the case of Stuart Syvret is an extreme case, where the Data Protection Commissioner was right to pursue the matter, although having no evidence available - as for instance in Olga Johnson versus Donald Lucas - we have no way to know, apart from general arguments that bloggers may be considered processors of personal data under the Jersey Data Protection Law.
 
We also have no idea of the costs involved, but this route, which circumvents traditional approaches for libel, is obviously very useful for those who consider themselves - perhaps rightly - to be maligned because they no longer have to pursue matters at their own expense, but can expect the State to pick up the tab.
 
Ominously, the judgment also notes that:
 
"I understand that in the present case the Data Protection Commissioner has indicated that she considers it to be likely that similar cases to the present may arise in future and that guidance from the Court as to the approach to be adopted would be welcome."
 
Returning to the UK, The "Solicitors from Hell" website, despite the judgement of the information commissioner was taken to court. The court judgment was that:
 
"The court held that the Defendant was a data controller of personal data (including sensitive personal data) relating to the solicitors in question and had processed this data "in a grossly unfair and unlawful way by, in particular, [.] publishing highly offensive defamatory allegations about these solicitors and other individuals on the Website.""
 
As lawyers Ashley Hurst and Jack Gilbert note (on The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog):

"The ruling in the Solicitors from Hell case is potentially very significant, as it leaves the door open to potential defamation complaints dressed up as complaints under the DPA being made directly to the ICO."
 
It appears that the same practice is now being followed in Jersey Courts.
 
And Hurst and Gilbert note the potential advantages of this in gaining silence before claims have been tested in the courts:
 
"Ordinarily, a claim brought under the DPA alone will not be cost effective. Whilst such claims can be more straightforward than libel claims, awards for damages are usually small when compared to a successful claim for libel and a complaint to the ICO will not result in an award of damages at all. The real advantage of bringing a claim under the DPA lies instead in the alternative remedies that it can offer to claimants seeking alternative relief"
 
"Perhaps the most useful remedy that a claim under the DPA can provide, however, is the ability to obtain an interim injunction. It is a long-established rule in defamation law, dating back to 1891 (in the case of Bonnard v Perryman [1891] 2 Ch 269), that a court will not grant a claimant an interim injunction where the defendant expresses a bona fide intention to defend the claim."
 
"For claims brought under the DPA, however, quite the opposite is true. Indeed in many circumstances it will be of the utmost importance that a defendant is prohibited as soon as possible from continuing to process data in a way that is inconsistent with the DPA. Employing such a remedy in a defamation context can therefore provide a claimant with a powerful remedy that would not be available under traditional libel proceedings."

While we all want protection for our reputations online, should it be at the expense of tax payer funded and secret court proceedings, where matters of opinion as well as matters of fact can be silenced?
 
Links
(1)   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1335453/Cream-of-Jersey-society-whips-up-scandal.html
(2)   http://www.jerseylaw.je/judgments/unreportedjudgments/documents/display.aspx?url=2013/13-09-04_AB_and_Others-v-Syvret_170.htm
(3)   http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120918/debtext/120918-0003.htm
(4)   http://inforrm.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/protecting-reputation-how-the-data-protection-act-is-being-used-and-abused-ashley-hurst-and-jack-gilbert/

Return of the Bolt-Hole?

Reform is back on the agenda, with propositions by Trevor Pitman and Philip Ozouf, which are essentially tweaks to Option B; there is also the option which Philip Ozouf finds acceptable, of a return of the Senators, albeit in a diminished form.
 
I can't see how the Senators can continue as things stand. Existing Senators may stand again, but it is almost certain that no Deputy will stand as Senator and risk a political career on an Islandwide decision. No Constable as far back as I can ever remember has ever stood as Senator, usually the move is from Deputy or Senator to Constable.
 
So where are the extra candidates of good calibre to come from? It will come from rank outsiders. And yet there are people saying that the Chief Minister, for example, should be a Senator, which doesn't leave much choice from existing States Senators (if re-elected) and rank outsiders - and with the exception of Sir Philip Bailhache, it is highly unlikely any of them will stand a chance of being elected Chief Minister on their first election to Senator if they haven't been in the States before.
 
That is no doubt why Senator Ozouf is trying to overturn the proposition which was originally brought by Deputy John Le Fondre. I made the following two predictions back in July 2009, when John Le Fondre originally proposed a one day "general election", and which, incidentally, Senator Ozouf supported.
 
a) There would be an increased risk of losing a seat, with no fall back position of Deputy. This would stop the abuse of people losing out on a Senatorial platform, and an Island mandate, then sneaking back in as Deputy (and sometimes even taking back the position which was the cause of their defeat as a Senator). But it would also mean that more Deputies might prefer to play safe, and stay with their local constituency. From looking at past elections, it seems that while Senators are elected more on Island issues, for Deputies, how they respond to the local Parish matters (and listen to constituencies) weighs much more heavily on the voter. Deputies can become Ministers, so one scenario would be to see more Deputies staying in safer seats rather than chancing a sometimes fickle electorate.
 
b) Because the Le Fondré proposal does not include changes to boundaries, and retains the Senators (and the status quo), this means there would be 12 Senatorial positions up for grabs, which is a lot to choose from! If Deputies prefer to play safe, this means that there may well be a shift to new candidates, who have nothing to lose, and existing candidates who feel established and secure enough to try again.
 
The States attempted to address problem (b) by reducing the number of Senators down to 8 from 12. But nothing was done regarding problem (a), and I have had personal contact from Deputies who have told me - after that change - that they would no longer contemplate leaving the relative safety of a Deputies seat (where they were polling top) for a Senatorial one (where they risked all). One has to remember that the advent of paid politicians has meant that it has become a career rather than a hobby, and there is added inducement for playing safe.
 
Senator Ozouf's proposals regarding Senators is essentially to shift their date back by a month; in other words, to allow Deputies to have "two bites of the cherry", a situation which has been to the advantage of Clarrie Dupre, Don Filleul, Terry Le Main, Paul Le Claire and Guy de Faye, to name a few.
 
As Ben Fox said of the original change:
 
"The drawback, as already been said, is you will not have 2 bites of the cherry.  Well the Deputies do not have 2 bites of the cherry and maybe if people know that they do not get 2 bites of a cherry, they might have the opportunity of putting a little more into it or recognising that maybe it is not for them as far as the public is concerned."
 
This was one reason why Deputy Le Fondré wanted one election day, to prevent Deputies seeking an Island wide mandate, being rejected by the electorate as Senators, getting back in as Deputy, and being returned by the States to the same position of Minister that they had before. As he said back in 10th September 2009:
 
"I believe my proposition is fairly close to what I believe the public wants, i.e. elections on the same day; not this present system whereby we have Senators and Connétables on one day and then the Deputies, as the also-rans in a way, 6 weeks later.  Interest falls, turnout falls and, in my view, democracy does suffer."
 
That happened on a number of occasions with Presidents of Committees under the old system, and it always come across - rightly - as a kick in the teeth for the electorate. They rejected an individual Islandwide on their political record; yet the same politician, the "also ran" has a second chance via a safer seat, and can be returned to the same position on which the island rejected them.
 
Do we really want a return  to that kind of abuse of the system? Or is it worth it for the price of allowing Deputies to advance to Senators, by providing a safety net? Those are the questions which need to be debated by the States before shifting the date of the Senatorial election. There is nothing wrong with Senator Ozouf raising them again, but it is worth noting the arguments for a single election day, which also included this contribution from Alan Breckon about falling interest in the separate Deputies election:
 
"I remember Deputies' election day last year and meeting Deputy Le Fondré at St. Lawrence Parish Hall and to say he looked as sick as a parrot is a bit of an understatement because he was well fed-up; it was a case of spot the voter.  What he said to me when I went into vote was: "You were right, single election day is what we should do" because the voters were trickling in few and far between because I think there had been a bit of exhaustion and a hangover from the Senatorial vote; I will touch on that in a minute.  The reason why - and I have had this in the past when I have gone around and knocked on doors in St. Saviour - people say: "Not you lot again."  Well until the last Senatorial election, I had not been in a Senatorial election before, so it was not me, it was somebody else.  But they were absolutely fed up with life-size posters, leaflets, media, now websites, and there were exhaustive supplements in the paper, and it was played out.  When it came to the Deputies - and I know because I have been there a number of times - we were in a hangover situation where your first job was to convince people to stay interested because obviously then you would have the Senatorial result and it may or may not have been what they wanted but they were exhausted, usually by a large number of candidates."
 
And the same point was made by Constable Len Norman:
 
"I supported a general election, I always have done, and I believe that if I voted against having a general election now, I would be a hypocrite and that is one thing I am not and I will not be.. what this will do, and I think it was proven when we had the duel elections for Constables and Senators last year, it encourages and excites the population more than having 3 elections at very odd periods."
 
While Deputy Macon pointed out another problem with different timings, and I certainly remember how wretched it can be to turn out in dark, wind, cold, rain:
 
"I think one of the differences that I have seen in the voter turnout between Senators and Deputies is the fact that the election is held in November where it is cold, where it is wet.  We know that human behaviour, as humans are creatures. darkness, as dampness, does have an effect on our behaviour.  It does make us stay more inside.  My concern is the proposal for an October election or is it to be in November because that does depend on my vote."
 
Likewise, Sarah Ferguson commented:
 
"The public are not stupid and they are perfectly well aware that this particular amendment removes the bolt-hole.  In fact I have been lobbied about this, the latest being on the taxi rank this morning as I came in, very much in favour of one election day.  In the U.S. elections they have them on one day.  On that day you vote for a Senator or 2 Senators, Congressmen and the municipality.  If you do not make it in the Senatorials, that is it.  You do not have the Congressmen bolt-hole.  It is nice to be able to have a fallback position but life is not like that."
 
Do we really want a return to the "bolt hole"?

A Snapshot of Jersey Justice/Administration.




The first segment is of former Health Minister Stuart Syvret which he published on his own Blog HERE

The second is a member of public who contacted Deputy Trevor Pitman and was posted HERE

The third segment is of fellow Blogger, and member of the public, Ian Evans which was posted HERE

The fourth segment is from an ex-pat Brit, member of the public, which is never before seen footage. However we did publish a Blog with another interview which was posted HERE

The fifth segment of former Senior Investigating Officer of the Jersey Child Abuse atrocities, Lenny Harper , and was posted HERE

The sixth segment was an exclusive interview with American Author, and Investigative Journalist, Leah McGrath Goodman, which was posted HERE

The seventh segment is member of public, Team Voice Member, and Blogger Rico Sorda, which he published HERE

The eighth segment is of former Jersey politician, and Human Rights Campaigner Bob Hill, which published HERE

The ninth segment is of Jersey politician, Deputy Mike Higgins and was published HERE

The tenth segment is from a BBC documentary and features Jersey's current, disgraced, Home Affairs Minister, Senator Ian Le Marquand which was posted HERE

The eleventh segment was of a member of the public, and small businessman, Sam Cannon, which was posted HERE

The twelfth segment was of the same member of public/businessman and was published HERE

The final segment is of two Jersey sitting politicians, Deputies Trevor, and Shona Pitman which was posted HERE

The States Referendum Proposals Vote: A Comment

The debate on the Referendum was bizarre, not least because it was brought by Privileges and Procedures, and yet more members were voting (and speaking) against the proposition brought by their own committee.

Had Andrew Green's proposition got through, it would have swung most of the Option A camp in support, but the hard-line Option B people were against anything other than the proposition as it stood, arguing that was the only one with a mandate. Sometimes it seems that common sense, and a notion of what might just work, goes out of the window. There has been a lot of talk about sticking to principles, but in this instance, sticking to principles is rather like putting the Titanic at full steam ahead towards an oncoming iceberg.

The Option C camp were against any form of the proposition, with or without amendments, but would have possibly lost had Deputy Green's proposal got through. It won the support (on Twitter / Facebook) of both Trevor Pitman and James Rondel, so it was a reconciliation option. Deputy Green is a Minister, and is not particularly known to have any specific ideological baggage. The trouble was the Option B camp who said "Option B or nothing", and ended up with nothing. Their conscience may be clear, but their sense of judgment is as good as Captain Smith on the Titanic.

So the good Ship of State struck the iceberg, and sank, much as had been predicted by the pundits. And that left Senator Le Marquand's proposal, which came in the event that the vote on the Referendum was lost.

But Deputy Philip Rondel had an interesting "Move to Next Item" supported by a lot of Option B people, to avoid Senator Le Marquand's proposition,  no doubt feeling that they needed time to re-organise. It didn't get through, and that left Senator Le Marquand's proposal, of which part (b) was passed:

"to request the Privileges and Procedures Committee to seek alternatives for reform of the Assembly."

It has been a set back for Senator Bailhache who stood as Senator on a Reform platform, grabbed an independent commission for the States (on the mantra "we can sort ourselves out better than an outsider"), and pushed through the Referendum. I think it was simply too rushed, hence bad choices, no "none of the above" option (so you had to stay away and not vote if you didn't like the options), and a dismal failure of turnout.

Quite what platform Senator Bailhache can stand on at the next election is uncertain, but his credibility with the public (already battered over the Plemont debacle) must have been damaged considerably. This is the man who said in his manifesto that "The reputation of the States in the Island has seldom been lower." On that basis, and his reform platform, he was given the task of chairing the Electoral Commission, and the end result of the vote means that the reputation of the States has probably sunk even lower than when he began.

My own feeling was that the Referendum was too rushed, and at the wrong time, and without enough choices. It would have been better to hold it at an election - that increased the vote on European Time which had a respectable turnout. When people are turning out to vote, an extra slip with simple questions is much more likely to be accepted.

And if it was an election issue, it would have had the advantage of appearing as an issue on hustings, generating extra interest, and less of a non-binding opinion poll, because politicians would be put on the spot before they were elected themselves.

The wording was also poor. The exclusion of the Senators, except as the status quo, put many people off voting at all. I was hoping for something like:

Super constituencies - yes / no
Constables - yes / no
Senators - yes /no

Then the outcome of that would determine the shape of the options for the States to vote on rather than being pre-determined, and excluding options from the start.

The proverb says that "Pride comes before destruction, and arrogance before a fall" (in its original form) and Senator Bailhache's conviction that he was the man for the job who could save the States too lacking in humility. He has certainly had a fall. And the face-saving apology to Deputy Pitman and the two businessmen, comes across as grudging and damaging; if he can't remember having confidential papers out to read on any flight, it shows someone who clearly doesn't have a razor sharp memory.

Can he escape by being "Foreign Minister" (or Minister in Charge of External Affairs, which is a title that I'm not sure any self-respecting politician would like to be saddled with (or are they just deaf to double innuendo?). It is a possibility. The figure of the "statesman" speaking to the UK and elsewhere might just get him back in the States at the next election. It was a card that Frank Walker played successfully when he managed to come in 5th place in the Senatorials. But he'll have to be careful - too much jet-setting could remind people of the jaunt on behalf of the Electoral Commission which really looked like an extravagant waste of money, and on which he went anyway, deaf to any public criticism.

The States are now hoping for a new PPC and something to vote on before next year. I'm not a betting man, but I don't think there is a hope of any changes in the membership of the house. The best that can be hoped for, which I gather Deputy Montfort Tadier, as Acting Chairman of PPC is working on, is a reform of the voting system.

The case for alternative votes, or single transferable votes, was accepted by the Electoral Commission, and won widespread support across all parties (A, B and C) as a much fairer way than first past the post, which is well known to produce unfair results - a number of eminent mathematicians such as Ian Stewart have proved this mathematically. So there's a good deal of hope for change. The Commission said:

"A Single Transferable Vote System should be introduced in elections for Deputy in 2018 and should the Constables remain as members of the States, an Alternative Vote System should be introduced in respect of their election.'

And the second reason why a change to voting systems could come is because the Parishes actually used an alternative voting system for the Referendum. It took slightly longer, but was surprisingly quick, and showed that even with manual counting systems, Jersey is quite capable of rising to that challenge. It has been a tried and tested option. The public have already been educated - at least as far as alternative voting was concerned, and the low number of spoiled papers showed they managed with ease. Sometimes politicians underestimate the intelligence of the voting public.

The final importance is that it means that every vote counts. First past the post wastes votes, which is another reason for low turnouts. But it would be ironic if the voting reform - which the Electoral Commission declared was something for next time, actually came into force before the reform of the membership of the States. That which was left out may turn out to be more significant than that which was voted out.

Deputy Tadier has not let the grass grow under his feet, and has already just lodged a proposition:

"to bring forward plans for the implementation of a single transferable voting  system (STV) for multi-member constituencies and an alternative voting (AV) system for single member constituencies in time for the 2014 elections."

http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyPropositions/2013/P.086-2013.pdf

The Wonderful World of Politics

Reading Hansard makes you wonder if politicians ever think before they speak. I've been looking back at the last sitting (2nd July) before this one, and Senator Le Gresley is cheerfully telling the States that officers use all kind of policy documents, but the general public have no idea what those are. It's like something out of Franz Kafka:
 
"The Income Support Scheme is a very complicated scheme and if we were to make available every single policy document that officers use when determining claims, we would be publishing the equivalent of the Holy Bible. I could not do that but what I said today about the policy will be recorded on Hansard and that is the policy we currently have."
 
Shona Pitman, who asked the question about policy, wondered if the basic guidelines could be made available online. It does seem extraordinary that there are parts of the Income Support Scheme which are not in the public domain relating to how it actually operates. It seems rather like Deputy Pryke's proposed Health (Dwellings) Law, which depended upon "intentions" that were not actually enshrined in the law.
 
Sometimes, there is a rare outbreak of common sense. Deputy Baudains was asking Alan Maclean about arrangements for local fishing boats to be registered. Senator Maclean replied that the matter had been investigated, but a pragmatic approach was taken:
 
"I have investigated this matter and discovered that there has been a problem concerning a local fisherman only a few weeks ago. In this case the fisherman was fishing with an unregistered boat and was stopped by the States Fisheries Section and told he must have the vessel registered. It is illegal of course not to do so and crucially it is not safe until it has had its safety check carried out. The Fisheries Section did not take the hard-line option which they could have done in such circumstances by ordering the fisherman to destroy his catch. Instead, a more pragmatic approach required him to immediately register the vessel. From the time that he was stopped operating his unregistered vessel until the safety check was carried out was a total of 13 days"
 
The EU, of course, has also relaxed its guidelines on catches, where fish trawled by mistake not in a quota would just have to be destroyed or discarded, they can now be sold. Food waste is something which needs to be minimised, and if officialdom can actually act more in the interests of the consumer, that is to be commended.
 
The Connétable of St. John, Phil Rondel, noted that he had no trouble getting a registration card:
 
"Having been in this morning and picked up my own registration card, where it says I am entitled, it was a pleasure to walk into a States department, go in, show your identification and walk out with a card within a couple of minutes. It appears things are working well."
 
A cynic might suggest that when a well-known politician goes into Social Security with identification, the process might well be streamlined. School leavers are finding it considerably more difficult, as they have no record of employment, and need to get letters from their schools giving details of the period they were educated there. The schools have not given these automatically, perhaps because the students may have in fact gone on to Highlands for further full time education. With schools about to break up, this could be difficult, as it could for students looking for a holiday job. These are matters being picked up by Phil Rondel's next door municipal neighbour, Constable Juliette Gallichan (of St Mary).
 
I have also been told of cases where there have also been problems locating employment histories even though the department should have them on its computer. That's not to say that these problems cannot be ironed out. There are bound to be teething problems. But the sunny optimism of Phil Rondel rather overlooks those cases.

The waddling duck of taxation rears its head once more. Deputy Tadier was asking about the extra 1% added to ITIS and where it was really a change to the 20% base rate of income tax. Senator Le Marquand was replying as rapporteur, Senator Le Gresley seemingly having vacated the Chamber after his earlier reply.
 
"The proposed initial 1 per cent long-term care contribution rate is not an increase in income tax. It is a new contribution specifically set up to meet long-term care costs. It could be viewed as a kind of insurance against future residential care costs. I want to make it absolutely clear, it is not a departure from the 20 per cent maximum income tax rate. The Minister for Social Security has explained the proposed long-term care contribution rate of 1 per cent will become an additional liability under the Social Security Law."
 
It is being collected by ITIS rather than Social Security because it is levied not just on those paying social security (working age) but also on contributors of pensionable age. He says that:
 
"As the Taxes Office already collects money from both of these groups it is a sensible and cost-effective solution to collect the new contribution through these existing taxes office processes."
 
So Deputy Tadier comes back asking him to acknowledge that it is (1) a levy up to 1% (2) a levy paid for on the basis of income tax.
 
Senator B.I. Le Marquand: "Initially 1 per cent, yes, that is indeed my understanding. I have made inquiries from the Treasury in relation to this who tell me that, effectively, people will have one bill but with 2 parts to it; one which is an income tax liability and the other which is their liability under this, with the 2 being added together as to the total sum due."
 
 Deputy M. Tadier: "Can the Minister see how it could quite easily be confused that this is an increase in income tax, given that it is not appearing on anyone's social security contributions as a separate item, it is appearing on their income tax form as a separate item and it is being collected by income tax? Will the Minister perhaps respond to that first?"
 
Senator B.I. Le Marquand: "It is very difficult for me to comment as to what may or may not confuse people as some people are extremely easily confused as is readily seen in this Assembly by some of the questions and possibly by some of the answers. I think that every effort will be made to make it clear on the forms that this is a separate sum being collected for a separate purpose."
 
There's a clear air of someone floundering here, who has perhaps not been properly briefed for the question.
 
Deputy M. Tadier: "So essentially, Minister, you are saying that 1 per cent of income tax will be ring-fenced for a separate purpose. Do you acknowledge that just because it is ring-fenced in itself does not make it not an income tax as far as those who have been charged are concerned?"
 
Senator B.I. Le Marquand: "I am not 100 per cent certain that the calculation of the 1 per cent will be done on exactly the same basis as income tax is done. I am afraid I do not have that level of detail but essentially it is a 1 per cent levy which is based upon income but which is being collected for a separate purpose and not as part of the collection of income tax."
 
It waddles like an income tax duck, it quacks like an income tax duck, and we all know what Bill Clinton said about that - but we are told nonetheless that this is not an income tax, but like the ugly duckling, will no doubt grow into a social security swan.
 
It is clearly the stuff of which fairy tales are made, and I don't believe it for one moment, and neither will most of the general public. They will accept it and put up with it, as they put up with a good many things, but it is an extra  income tax in all but name, just as "user pays" is so often a stealth tax by another name.

Poor Senator Le Marquand - within a few minutes he was being asked to read the Chief Minister's mind. The Constable of St Lawrence asked a question:
 
"A member of the public recently paid to attend a conference in order to gain access to a number of Ministers. What inquiries has the Chief Minister made to establish the validity of the claims that this gentleman had been unable to speak to the Ministers?"
 
Senator B.I. Le Marquand: I am unable to answer that question because it is asking me to have knowledge of what is in the mind of the Chief Minister, which I do not have.
 
The Connétable of St. Lawrence: No, it is not asking the Deputy Chief Minister to have knowledge of what is the mind of the Chief Minister but rather it is asking him to speak about the actions that the Chief Minister took following the assertions that this gentleman had been unable to reach Ministers.
 
Senator B.I. Le Marquand: I do not know.
 
It might be better if questions directed to absentee members of the Council of Ministers were in future deferred to when they returned; but it does provide a certain degree of probably unintentional humour in Senator Le Marquand's replies.
 
There was vote to put though an open ballots for elections of Ministers, chairmen, committees and panels and no longer by secret ballot. The proposition was already been approved by the States and the amendments put the various arrangements into effect. As this is something already voted on, I would have thought abstention by those who voted against would have been enough, but a few members decided to vote against, which I found surprising. For the record, they were:
 
Senator B.I. Le Marquand
Connétable of St. John (Phil Rondel)(
Deputy S.S.P.A. Power (B)
Deputy G.C.L. Baudains (C)
Deputy of St. John (Patrick Ryan)
Deputy J.P.G. Baker (H)
 
It was approved that electronic devices (as long as they were not intrusive) could be used in the States Chamber after the trial period. This did lead to one rather amusing remark by Senator Le Marquand (where is he getting his jokes from?):
 
Senator B.I. Le Marquand:  Although I am not yet the proud owner of an iPad myself, I do support this. I think it is useful and important. But I do have one plea, and that is a plea for the expansion of the current system of fines in relation to: "Oh, my phone is going off" because I was recently at a meeting when suddenly we were being spoken to by no less a person than Winston Churchill on the device. It seems to me that there ought to be some sort of penalty agreed on a voluntary basis for such indiscretions in the same way. It seems a logical extension.
 
The only people who voted against iPads etc were in the end:
 
Connétable of St. John (Phil Rondel)
Connétable of St. Saviour (Sadie Rennard)
Deputy S. Pitman (H)
Deputy G.C.L. Baudains (C)
 
I have no idea why Deputy Shona Pitman voted against it; perhaps she can't get her husband's attention unless she tweets him? Is that the bald truth of the matter?
 
(For those who don't get the allusion @baldtruth is his twitter handle).

Jersey’s injustice system.

Today the island's State Media (and independent media) were invited to the Royal Square in Jersey to witness, and hopefully report on, a make-shift version of a Clameur de Haro enacted by Jersey resident Sam Canon. Only Channel Television turned up from the State Media.

Mr. Canon tells us he "has nowhere left to go" after being another victim of the so-called Jersey "Justice" system. Out of sheer desperation, and after going through the "correct channels" for the past eight years felt the only option left to him was to drop to his knees, in the Royal Square, and plead for help, hoping somebody/anybody will highlight, and take notice of the cruel injustices he claims to have suffered at the hands of the Jersey courts/administration.

Mr. Canon's situation, as regular readers will be aware, is a very familiar one, where any injustices suffered at the hands of the so-called "justice" system will fall on deaf ears.

We have had a number of high profile cases of alleged judicial corruption highlighted over the past few years, whether it be the illegal suspension of the former Police Chief Graham Power QPM and subsequent Judicial Review and related matters, the alleged leaking of confidential police data by former SIO Mick Gradwell, secret court cases involving former Senator Stuart Syvret, alleged non Human Right Compliant case involving Deputies Trevor and Shona Pitman to name but a few.

In the coming days we will be listing/publishing an inventory of the abuses of justice Mr. Canon claims to have suffered in his eight year battle against, what is increasingly looking like, a corrupt, and not fit for purpose "justice" system.

In the meantime we ask readers/viewers to spend 50 seconds of their time watching the video below of a member of public being reduced to pleading on his knees, in a public forum, for some kind of help in order to get something that resembles justice on this Island? Is it time for the UK to fulfil its constitutional obligation and restore the RULE OF LAW?