Jersey child abuse case 'was not covered up'

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Channel Islands including Jersey

Frank Walker, the chief minister of Jersey, a United Kingdom Crown dependency off the coast of Normandy, France, denies that there was a cover up after a child's remains were found.

The allegations of a cover-up stem from statements by Stuart Syvret. Syvret, the former Minister for Health and Social Services for Jersey, said that "It's a continuum that we see. It's a culture of cover-up and concealment and tragically the recent evidence is just the latest manifestation of that."

It has come to light that Edward Paisnel, a notorious pedophile, used to visit the Haut de la Garenne children's home dressed as Father Christmas. Paisnel in 1971, was given a sentence of 30 years for 13 counts of assault, rape and sodomy.

Syvret says he was dismissed from his ministerial position after highlighting the "torture" of 11 to 16-year-olds in the island's care homes. He claimed he was "sacked for whistleblowing".

Police are currently investigating twenty-seven cases of child abuse on the island and recently discovered the body of one child at a care home Haut de la Garenne in St. Martin, and with a potential six sites in the area where more bodies may be located. The home was closed in 1986 and since 2003 it has served as a youth hostel.

Jersey's deputy police chief, Lenny Harper said "Part of the inquiry will be the fact that a lot of the victims tried to report their assaults but for some reason or another they were not dealt with as they should be."

Harper added that "no evidence of a cover-up of any Jersey government" has been found. "We are looking at allegations that a number of agencies didn't deal with things as perhaps they should."

Syvret has encouraged the government of the United Kingdom to assign independent judges to oversee any cases that result from the investigations.

Builders originally uncovered a body at the care home in 2003 but it was only since an operation investigate child abuse started in 2006 that progress has been made. An ex-minister of the States of Jersey, the parliament of the island, has criticised the handling of the case, stating that abuse cases were mishandled.

Walker told senators that all necessary resources would be use to find the abusers. "None of us imagined that children in Jersey could be abused and mistreated in the way that is being suggested," the BBC have quoted him as saying. "I express my shock and horror that these things have apparently happened within our island."

Specialist police from the United Kingdom have been investigating after an enquiry turned up 140 sources verifying the claims of abuse.


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