Tag Archives: Haut de la Garenne

one rule for some, another rule for others…

The following documentaries, broadcast on consecutive Thursdays are both highly recommended. In their very different ways both shed light on how significant individuals and corporations are allowed to operate above the law:

Panorama: Tax, Lies and Videotape

first broadcast on BBC1 on Thursday 19th September at 8:30–9:00 pm
Editor: Tom Giles
Producer: Andrew Head

Reporter Richard Bilton closely scrutinises the Con-Dem government’s repeated claim that it is taking a tougher stance on tax evasion as well as closing loopholes in order to recoup a few of the multiple billions currently lost to the Treasury due to corporate tax avoidance. Teaming up with former tax inspector and current reporter for Private Eye magazine, Richard Brooks, together they reveal that instead of clamping down on tax avoidance, the government has in fact been making a concerted effort to open up even more loopholes for the corporate giants to exploit, with the justification offered that Britain needs “to make our tax system competitive”. Bilton comes to the rather startling conclusion that rather than closing tax havens down, the present government is instead turning the whole of the United Kingdom into what will quickly become the biggest tax haven in the world.

available on BBC iplayer until Tuesday 16th September 2014

Click here for link to BBC iplayer

Dispatches: The Paedophile MP – How Cyril Smith Got Away with It

first broadcast on Channel 4 on Thursday 12th September at 8:00pm-9:00pm
Executive Producer: Tom Porter

Reporter: Liz MacKean

When Cyril Smith died aged 82, a little more than three years ago, he was remembered with widespread affection. An inordinately large, jolly old man of the people who called a spade a spade. “A big-hearted man” said Menzies Campbell, “who, in everything he did, gave a hundred and five percent.” “Quite literally a larger than life figure, and he will be sorely, sorely missed” said Nick Clegg.

Glowing obituaries aside, however, there were also accusations that Cyril Smith was rather less than big-hearted and actually quite unlikely to be “sorely, sorely missed”. Allegations running as far back as 1979 when first aired by a small independent Rochdale Alternative Press and then immediately picked up on by Private Eye in the same year. The charge being that “Big Cyril” (the title of his autobiography) was guilty of sexually abusing teenagers at a local hostel, Cambridge House, he had also co-founded.

As with the case of Jimmy Savile, these allegations of child abuse persisted, yet Smith found it easy enough to ignore them when alive, and like Savile, had continued abusing his old victims and grooming new ones, in spite of the fact that the many allegations against him were known to be true by countless colleagues and others within their respective circles. Worse still, that these crimes were actively facilitated by a number of institutions and organisations and then ignored by police over a period of many decades.

In the Savile case, West Yorkshire Police have been directly accused of involvement in the cover-up, although their own report concluded that there was “no evidence” Savile had ever been protected from arrest or prosecution, even if there had been an “over-reliance on personal friendships” between Savile and some officers, and that “mistakes were made”.1 Mistakes were made… the old excuse. We hear it all the time: this official version of a shrug and a wink. Of course, sometimes mistakes can be criminal too.

When it came to the case of Cyril Smith, however, it appears that the police acted somewhat more promptly and responsibly. So although police again failed to proceed with the original investigation into offences committed at Cambridge House, when, a few years later in 1969, another complaint had been made, the police did indeed begin an official investigation.

But there was to be no prosecution of Smith. The police investigation certainly continued to gather evidence against him – his police file eventually running to eighty pages – however, it seems that Smith then sought and received support from friends in higher places. According to Dispatches, contacting his local MP, Jack McCann, who was also Deputy Chief Whip and a senior member of the Labour government, and in little more than a week later, receiving a response from the Director of Public Prosecutions as follows:

“Any charges of indecent assault founded on these allegations, as well as being somewhat stale, would be, in my view, completely without corroboration. Further, the character of some of these young men would be likely to render their evidence suspect.”

So the police file was marked NFA (“No further action”) with further investigation or prosecution deemed “not in the public interest”. After this, it was kept locked away in a safe by Special Branch in Lancashire.

Tony Robinson, a Detective Sergeant in Lancashire Special Branch, actually saw Smith’s file and he told Dispatches that he was “disgusted” by what was going on:

“It annoyed me that by virtue of a person’s position quite serious offences can be just pushed under the carpet. No further action taken… I could not understand at the time why a criminal file should come into the Special Branch offices to be kept in a locked safe. Certainly not Cyril Smith’s file – it was a straight criminal file – and we, by and large, should not have held that file. There was no need for us to hold it.”

Then in the 1972 by-election, which followed from the death of Jack McCann, Smith himself was elected Liberal MP for the constituency of Rochdale. And four years later, when the Liberals came to power as part of the Lib-Lab pact, suddenly MI5 began taking more of an interest in the criminal file which Special Branch were holding.

Tony Robinson again:

“I was manning the office and the phone call came from the security service, the term being used “box 500 here” [the codeword validating the call as being from MI5] “We understand that you have a file on Mr Cyril Smith, the Liberal MP for Rochdale…” “Yes –” “We want that file sending down to this office this date by special courier. The fact that the security service wanted the file brought to my notice, obviously, that he was about to be vetted. And the file would obviously be very revealing… it would render him entirely unsuitable to hold any form of high office.”

Nevertheless, Smith did very well for himself, of course, and was awarded with a knighthood in 1988.

Click here for link to 4OD

It concerns me that some readers may think it insensitive or distasteful to link a programme about the on-going financial misdemeanours of a government in bed with large corporations to a very different documentary which details the more horrifying past crimes of a paedophile like Cyril Smith, especially when, in one way, the link is, I admit, a convenience of timing (the two programmes having been broadcast within a week of one another and my intention here being to recommend both). However, I can also see another and much better reason to make such a connection.

I will try to justify myself in greater detail below although the overriding reason for making the link is already contained in the title of the post: the hands off approach to our major financial fraudsters (whether tax avoiding or committing more serious offences) and the licence granted to Cyril Smith being indicative of a society riven by a two-tier tax and criminal justice system – benefit fraudsters subject to imprisonment, but bankers “too big to jail”; CRB (recently expanded to DBS) checks for the ordinary citizen, but secret service protection for Cyril Smith (and we just happen to know about Smith). To argue my case further, it will be helpful to return to the story of Jimmy Savile in order to draw comparisons and differences between his case and that of Cyril Smith.

Following the revelations about Jimmy Savile and subsequent setting up of Operation Yewtree, there have been a number of high profile arrests of other associated celebrities alleged to have been sex abusers, but as yet, and in spite of overwhelming evidence pointing to a widespread cover-ups involving institutions including at least one police force, 13 hospitals within the NHS, and the BBC, to my knowledge there have been no prosecutions at higher levels within any of these organisations – and do please correct me (by adding a comment and preferably a link) if I am wrong. Last December, it was indeed formally announced that “the strand of a police operation investigating abuse carried out by Jimmy Savile has been completed”:

Scotland Yard said Operation Yewtree, the inquiry into historic abuse, was collating its report and hoped to publish early in the New Year.2

And yet, from the very start of this extended police inquiry, it was already known that Savile had had access not only to patients at a number of hospitals including Stoke Mandeville (where he earned his reputation for being such a wonderful charity fundraiser), as well as many schools and children’s homes including Duncroft (and if further allegations are confirmed Haut de la Garenne in Jersey), but still more outrageously to high-security psychiatric hospitals Ashworth and Broadmoor. And just the fact that Savile was given the keys to Broadmoor3 presents us with quite staggering evidence of complicity at the very highest levels (quite possibly leading all the way to government), but it would seem that no-one is likely to be arrested and charged as an accessory to these crimes.

So the Savile investigation appears, to my mind and I imagine to many others, to have been as much about distraction and the maintaining of a cover-up than a genuine attempt to dredge up the appalling truth about child abuse at an institutional level. Certainly it is to be hoped that justice will be done in other ways, with Stuart Hall (recently convicted), Freddie Starr, Rolf Harris and others, if found guilty, being duly sentenced for their predatory crimes, but why stop there?

For the immunity which permitted Savile and Smith to carry on abusing throughout nearly the whole of their adult lives appears to have rubbed off on to many of their close associates, and especially those in positions above a certain social level: the managers and directors of the institutions where Savile and Smith were given free rein, and those in the police forces and secret services who also turned a blind eye. So the suspicion is that, if you like, there is a kind of “glass floor”, which once above, guarantees impunity – whether that is as a banker pushing fraudulent schemes and money-laundering, or as a person of high social standing (such as an MP) addicted to child abuse.

And we should perhaps just remind ourselves that both crimes destroy the lives of their victims, although in markedly different ways. The least fortunate victims of our current bout of white collar corruption already starving in many of the poorest nations, with millions in Europe and America also destitute: dependent on food banks, or, in the case of fifty million Americans, barely surviving on food stamps.

Corruption takes many forms, and although we are accustomed and thus inclined to think of it in terms of crimes like bribery and fraud, corruption doesn’t always begin and end with transfers of money. After all, there are a great many of forms of deception besides fraud and, alongside bribery, plenty of alternative methods of coercion, sometimes violent, and including, to offer a very relevant example, blackmail. So when a politician like Smith is found to have been compromised by a sex scandal locked away by MI5, then the question also becomes one about democracy itself. A question that expands and asks what do the secret service hold in their files on our current batch of politicians?

We are living at a time when corruption of financial kinds is not only rampant but also more blatant than perhaps ever before, even if criminality within the banking sector is hardly news – here, for instance, is a breakdown of recorded crimes committed during the last century posted last Thursday [Sept 19th] by washingtonsblog with links throughout. But then, today’s financial system isn’t just riddled with fraud, thanks to the invention of derivatives, it is largely built from it.

At the same time, our most senior politicians are increasingly bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists – after a few years in office, the select few then offered multi-million pound salaries “to work for” J. P. Morgan or Goldman Sachs. None of this is a secret.

In short, we have become a society sick with corruption – by which I mean widespread moral disintegration. Although, at the same time, and conversely, it is easy to see that in other significant ways our society has also been changed for the better – fine examples being the backlash against racism and the rights won by women, gays, and the disabled – and thanks to our heightened concern over child abuse, it seems that once again another vulnerable group is now being granted long-overdue protection.

So when we hear about Savile and Smith, and see that their vile crimes have at last been investigated, it is quite possible to believe – especially since I think we are all aching to believe – that here, at last, is some evidence of a society getting to grips with a problem of the past. However, when we discover that these latest investigations have really scratched no deeper than the surface, then should we not be demanding much more again? Or do we simply accept that there has always been one rule for some, and another rule for the rest of us… when this is the sordid bottom line of all corruption.

*

Clarification and correction:

In the article I had originally written:

And yet, prior to this extended police inquiry, it was already known that Savile had had access not only to patients at 13 hospitals including Stoke Mandeville (the hospital where he had earned his reputation for being such a wonderful charity fundraiser), as well as many schools and childrens’ homes including Duncroft (and if further allegations are confirmed Haut de la Garenne in Jersey), but still more outrageously to high-security psychiatric hospitals Ashworth and Broadmoor.

In fact the precise start of Operation Yewtree remains unclear to me, although by Thursday 4th October, the Metropolitan Police Service certainly announced that it had “agreed to take the national lead in assessing the recent information regarding allegations made against the late Jimmy Savile”, the same statement adding that: “It is not an investigation at this stage.”* There is also no mention as yet of “Operation Yewtree”. All I am certain of is that Operation Yewtree began in October.

What I can also be sure of is that less than a week later [Oct 10th], the BBC was reporting on abuse at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and that two days later [Oct 12th], the Guardian was already reporting on abuse at Stoke Mandeville hospital, Leeds general infirmary, the Haut de la Garenne children’s home in Jersey and Duncroft approved girls’ school in Staines, Surrey. There is also a report in the Daily Star [Oct 14th] linking Savile to abuse at “two other highsecure units, Ashworth Hospital in Merseyside and Rampton, Notts.”••

I have therefore edited the original version to read as it now does, replacing “prior to” with “from the very start” and “13 hospitals” with “a number of hospitals including Stoke Mandeville”.

1 From an article entitled “Jimmy Savile ‘not protected’ from arrest, West Yorkshire Police say” published by BBC news on May 10, 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-22476937

2 From an article entitled “Savile abuse part of Operation Yewtree probe ‘complete’” published by BBC news on December 11, 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20686219

3

Savile had been involved with Broadmoor for quite some time – West London Mental Health NHS Trust, which now runs the hospital, believes his involvement as a volunteer began in the late 1960s or early 70s. He had become part of the furniture, being given, no one seems to know quite when, an office in the grounds of the hospital, a bedroom, which he called his “cell”, above it, and – astonishingly – his own personal set of keys to the hospital wards.

But it now seems clear the apparently genial celebrity, while telling reporters he was the “voluntary assistant entertainments officer”, had been using his position to abuse inmates with impunity.

From an article entitled “Jimmy Savile’s Broadmoor role came with a bedroom and keys” written by Esther Addley, published by the Guardian on October 12, 2012. http://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/oct/12/jimmy-savile-broadmoor-volunteer-role

The same article continuing:

Broadmoor may be the institution where Savile was given the most senior position, but allegations of abuse have now been linked to at least five other establishments – the BBC, Stoke Mandeville hospital, Leeds general infirmary, the Haut de la Garenne children’s home in Jersey and Duncroft approved girls’ school in Staines, Surrey. At Duncroft, according to some reports, he would stay in the headmistress’s quarters. At Stoke Mandeville, too, he had his own room, as well as an office.

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Leah McGrath Goodman campaigns for release of ‘missing’ video of her 12-hour detainment at Heathrow

Leah McGrath Goodman, American author and investigative journalist, was in the process of writing a book based on her inquiries into the Haut de la Garenne child abuse scandal when she was suddenly banned from re-entering the Channel Islands. Back in November, I posted an article summarising Goodman’s story and marking the one-year anniversary of her ban – The same post also included a link to member of Jersey parliament, Trevor Pitman’s petition on Change.org, which called on the UK government to restore Leah Goodman’s UK Tier-1 visa.

Since that time, I have received a number of updates courtesy of Trevor Pitman and change.org regarding the progress of Goodman’s efforts to return to Jersey in order to continue with her investigation. Earlier to today, I received the following message which I will reproduce in its entirety below:

Dear Wonderful Friends,

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for getting me my UK visa back. You really did it. Because of your signatures on this petition — just your taking one or two moments to sign it — I was this year awarded a brand-new Tier-1 visa. When I release my book on Jersey, I will dedicate it in part to you — and the power of many to do what just one person cannot.

Quick update: I returned to the U.K. for the first time this summer and was welcomed warmly in both London and Jersey by many old friends and contacts — and even some new ones who have decided to take up the cause and offer help. More on my UK experiences here: http://bit.ly/15Pavt4

While much remains to be done before I publish my book, just knowing I have your support has gotten me over some of the greatest hurdles of my life — and there are some big ones, as some of this work can be most tiring!

Now that I have my visa back, we have one more hurdle to climb: will you help me? We have asked the UK Border Agency to release the FULL VIDEO TAPE RECORDINGS of my 12-hour detainment at Heathrow Airport. I am entitled to this full record of my treatment behind closed doors under the UK’s Data Protection Act — yet the UK Border Agency keeps ignoring requests from both me, as well as members of UK Parliament!

This weekend, Member of Parliament John Hemming initiated a Change.org petition urging the release of my “missing” tapes: http://chn.ge/14KScFQ

If you have just 5 seconds, please sign. (Your signing also will allow me to stay in touch with you, as this petition is about to close.) The power of groups has shown itself to be the most effective way to push for necessary change that I know. By getting these tapes released, we establish the seriousness of what the UK Border Agency is actually doing behind closed doors to journalists who report on truths some people wish to hide.

In light of the latest detainment fiasco this August at Heathrow involving David Miranda and his partner, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, it seems it is time to send the UK Border Agency a strong message that harassing journalists in their work within a democracy is NOT okay.

If you agree, please make your voice heard here: http://chn.ge/14KScFQ

Regarding Miranda and Greenwald, I published this on The Huffington Post this weekend about what it’s really like to be a “normal” person one day and a quote-unquote government target the next: http://huff.to/19TEmSk

Information is the new currency of our world. But being a journalist should not be a crime. You have shown me that as long as I am brave and do this job as best I can, I can always count on amazing supporters like you.

If you’d like to stay in touch or send me a note, please feel free to do so anytime on Twitter @truth_eater, or on my blog at www.leahmcgrathgoodman.com. Or just sign this and I will be able to send you a copy of my book when it comes out: http://chn.ge/14KScFQ

All the best to you and thank you again. I could not do what I do without you.

Leah

This message is courtesy of Trevor Pitman, Deputy of the States of Jersey who started the petition “John Vine, UK independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration: Restore the visa of banned journalist Leah McGrath Goodman #FreeJersey”.

 

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Leah McGrath Goodman wins the right to return to Jersey

Leah McGrath Goodman, American author and investigative journalist, was in the process of writing a book based on her inquiries into the Haut de la Garenne child abuse scandal when she was suddenly banned from re-entering the Channel Islands. Back in November, I posted an article summarising Goodman’s story and marking the one-year anniversary of her ban – The same post also included a link to member of Jersey parliament, Trevor Pitman’s petition on Change.org, which called on the UK government to restore Leah Goodman’s UK Tier-1 visa.

Since that time, I have received a number of updates courtesy of Trevor Pitman and change.org regarding the progress of Goodman’s efforts to return to Jersey in order to continue with her investigation. Earlier to today, I received the following message which I will reproduce in its entirety below:

A Message from Leah McGrath Goodman:

At last, I have received my UK visa — a visa that will last me two full years!

And you, my wonderful friends, are the reason for this amazing victory.

I want to confide that at the final moment, the visa was held up by the UK Border Agency in New York, but Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley John Hemming put in a parliamentary question to Immigration Minister Damian Green about the delay and, presto, my visa arrived a few days later. (The magic of ministerial questioning.)

I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Jersey Immigration, which did a fantastic job of working with us once we were all able to fully communicate. (One of them actually contacted us late on a Sunday night to make sure all was in order.) In the final analysis, they had to overcome a struggle too.

I will be writing much more in the days to come, but for now I just want to say I am so grateful.

Let’s show the world that the power of numbers (with a little help from social media) can bring justice to those in need. This is a new era and the Internet can accomplish much — especially for those on a small island.

As I continue my work, I will be writing about what I find in my travels at leahmcgrathgoodman.com. Hope to see you there.

While you’re at it, please also check out the blog of Trevor Pitman, the courageous man who launched this petition and a member of Jersey’s Parliament. He can be found at: http://thebaldtruthjersey.blogspot.com

We’re also on Twitter guys! But we don’t want to deluge you.

Next month, Jersey legislators will be voting on whether a Committee of Inquiry will be allowed to do a comprehensive vetting of the island’s handling of its decades of child abuse. Will the committee be permitted to do a real investigation? This is an important time for eyes to remain on the island.

This is only the beginning, so please keep in touch. Remember, without your witnessing these events as they unfolded — and, now, as they continue to unfold — little would have changed. A thousand thanks to you.

We did it — !

Leah McGrath Goodman

P.S. Your excellent notes of support have been passed on to the victims’ advocacy group in Jersey, so those who still suffer every day know that people care for them. Because of your comments, they will not feel so alone.

This message is from Trevor Pitman, Deputy of the States of Jersey who started the petition “John Vine, UK independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration: Restore the visa of banned journalist Leah McGrath Goodman #FreeJersey”.

 

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Leah McGrath Goodman wanted the truth about Jersey, so they banned her…

In 2012, an American author and journalist, Leah McGrath Goodman, found herself banned from the UK and Channel Islands, which she says followed the Jersey establishment discovering she was writing a book about the historic child abuse inquiry focussed on Haut de la Garenne. Both the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and Jersey’s customs and immigrations service insist her ban was unrelated to her journalistic investigations. […]

A spokeswoman for the UK Border Force told the Guardian: “Ms Goodman was refused entry to the UK because we were not satisfied she was genuinely seeking entry as a visitor for the limited period she claimed. Further enquires showed that she attempted to mislead the Border Force officer about her travel plans and the reason she required entry to the UK.”

Goodman disputes this. She said: “To date, the UK Border Force can do little more than accuse me of intending to possibly commit a future transgression, as it has been forced to admit there has been none. This has been a bit like the film Minority Report, in that I am being pursued for something that hasn’t actually taken place. As a former Tier-1 visa holder with a spotless record, I was surprised to be locked up, denied legal representation and banned from a country for which I’ve always held the highest respect. I have never misled the UK Border Force, nor have I ever intended to. I do realise it is a delicate situation, but I hope I might finish my work.”1

Click here to read the full Guardian article published on 28th June.

Shortly afterwards in July, Leah McGrath Goodman gave an interview on the BBC:

As did Michael Robinson, who was speaking on behalf of Jersey’s Custom and Immigration Service:

Then in September, Max Keiser interviewed Leah McGrath Goodman [Episode 339 of Keiser Report], asking about her ban from the UK for reporting on the Jersey scandal, as well as discussing the “$5 billion per square mile” in laundered money that keeps Jersey afloat:

[Jersey] is a peculiar possession of the British Crown. It is the largest offshore tax centre in the world – has more money than in any other. And it’s a very secretive island. It runs itself as a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy – it’s very complicated. Technically Britain has legal ties to it but it runs itself. […]

Well, I was researching Jersey for a while – a couple of years. And at the time that I got property over there, I met with immigration to just make sure that my affairs were in order and they said that they were, but when they found out what I was researching, they flagged me – they didn’t tell me – and the next time I crossed the border I was imprisoned underneath Heathrow Airport, and they went through all of my things, they refused to give me a lawyer or let me call my consulate, all my rights were taken away from me, and then they sent me back to the United States. I still have not gotten a straight answer as to why. […]

Jersey has a really polished international reputation as a tax haven, but internally it has a lot of political problems ever since scandals involving an orphanage in 2008, where it seems that for decades, children were allegedly tortured, raped, murdered – and there were many victims who are still alive, who can tell their stories very clearly. They’re being completely ignored and my feeling is that it does need to be investigated more thoroughly, and they need to be able to speak their truth.

Everyone who has come near this particular scandal to look into it – from the policemen to the health minister – have all been either driven off the island or thrown out of their jobs. It’s been very bad, and it seems like there’s been a big effort to try to keep eyes away. […]

I know that when the BBC interviewed me about this recently, and the Guardian this summer, when they found out I was being banned, what ended up happening was, Jersey said: Miss Goodman, we invite you to come back to the islands. They have not removed my ban, but they are publicly stating that I am welcome to come back even though I’m still banned. And the UK says Jersey’s not letting me come. Jersey says the UK is not letting me come. So you can see how they can kind of toss it back and forth, and try to create confusion for someone who’s just trying to do the right thing.

Leah McGrath Goodman is still denied entry back into Jersey. To mark the ban’s one-year anniversary, Trevor Pitman, member of the parliament of Jersey launched a petition on Change.org, urging the UK government to restore her UK Tier-1 visa.

UK Member of Parliament John Hemming tables motion in support of this petition: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/504

Click here to read more about Leah McGrath Goodman and the Jersey case on her own website.

1 From an article entitled “Jersey’s ‘secrecy culture’ led to my suspension, says former police chief: Graham Power claims he was punished for daring to investigate allegations against some of the island’s power players” written by Helen Pidd, published in the Guardian on June 28, 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jun/28/jersey-secrecy-culture

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