Friday, 24 June 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.

Original post here where you can leave a comment.