Sunday, 17 October 2010

An Empty Pot at the End of the Rainbow

At long last we have the Napier Report, that was going to resolve all the disputation about the removal of Jersey's Chief Constable, Graham Power. And it didn't.

The bottom line was a very carefully worded conclusion that Mr Napier could find no independent evidence of a conspiracy. Not that he was confident that there was no conspiracy, mind you, he just had a lack of independent evidence. As though any potentially incriminating notes had been carefully shredded, or something.

In a court of law, in most jurisdictions including Jersey, if someone can not be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, then they must be acquitted without stain on their character, presumed in the eyes of the law to be wholly innocent. Mr Power's many enemies, therefore took Mr Napier's conclusion to be a complete exoneration of the officials who removed him.

But, the Napier Report was not a trial, just an independent investigation, with no more power to acquit than it had to convict. And, the Napier Report did cite most of the circumstantial evidence that most neutral or pro-Power observers took as indications of a conspiracy, and made trenchant criticism of the way things were done. Not being a judicial verdict, but being an officially authorised opinion, these criticisms do reflect shame on their objects, and, worse, doubt on the competence of our present government. As if there were not enough of that, already.

So, in fact the Napier Report does rather more to support the view that there was something untoward about Mr Power's removal, than it does to clear the names of his superiors. Of course, it remains a matter of speculation as to why there was such a desperate rush to get rid of him. The idea that the child abuse investigation was going to eventually lead into embarrassingly high places remains tenable, but perhaps a little far-fetched. The Curtis Warren case happened on his watch, too, and HMP La Moye is not the standard of accommodation that Jersey usually likes to offer millionaire immigrants, so that might have upset somebody. The anti-corruption drive in the States of Jersey Police certainly trod on some well-connected toes, and owed favours may have been called in to pay him back. Power may simply have rubbed people, who thought they should have been sucked up to more, up the wrong way, so they looked for a more agreeable replacement. And what must now be the front-runner, in the absence of the clinching evidence that Napier failed to find, is that the higher powers were genuinely concerned that, despite the approval of the UK police organisations called in for expert advice, the Haut de la Garenne case had been conducted with gross incompetence, so they simply exercised some gross incompetence of their own in how they went about sacking him for it.

Not one of those possibilities reassures me that I am under sound government. Napier may have implied that there was no case for any more heads to roll, but there are now some thoroughly discredited men clinging to office.


st-ouennais said...

I believe they still have a third verdict option in Scotish courts - not proven. It amounts to the defendant walking free, but under a cloud of well founded suspicion. not proven

Ugh, It's Him! said...

They do indeed. Back in March 09 I posted a piece called "Doubtful Thinking" on this blog, suggesting that the Scottish model could be used as a starting point for an improvement here.

Anonymous said...

So its okay to stage an illegal raid on someone's home, okay to suspend someone with no credible evidence, but not okay to forget to update a driving licence and change of address whilst dealing with so many people who had been abused.

Anonymous said...

Well done for mentioning that Deputy Le Claire did not give details of an interesting converstion he overheard netween the then Chief Minister.
Le Claire is supposely meant to be a Christian, I wonder how the fact he did not come foward and recall the overheard conversation to Napier sits well with his conscience?
His report would have proved beyound doubt that there was a conspiracy going on the corridors of power.
Shame on him,and something that will not be forgotten when he appears at the hustings next time around .