Outlined below is a written question (with answer) I asked at the last States sitting with regard to the ridiculously overdue ‘Napier Report’. The question is a straight-forward one and needs comparatively little explanation. I post it now only in the light of the latest saga encountered in trying to finally get the author’s long-overdue findings into the public arena.
As some readers will have heard by now this latest delay is being put down to the sending of official letters to a number of key players in the suspension of the former Chief Police Officer. These letters are known in the trade as ‘Scott letters’. When utilised they are meant to provide a last chance for any individual about to be criticised, and possibly even face disciplinary proceedings, as a result of aspects of their conduct to attempt to explain or justify this.
At least that is how it works in the UK. The process is not meant to be a means of manipulating the findings of a report in order that potentially embarrassing elements of those findings might then be watered down or be kept out of the public arena. Will this same above board process be carried out here in Jersey? Just consider the answer to my question below for a moment:
“it (the report) will be published in full.”
Even long overdue, a clearer promise one could surely not get, and I hope that it ultimately proves to be adhered to. However, whilst not only have politicians subsequently been unable to get an answer to the question of when exactly did the Chief Minister and the senior civil servant at his department receive a copy of the report, I also have it from a pretty reliable source that attempts will be made to keep certain key details likely to lead to disciplinary measures confidential.
And this simply can’t be right.
One good thing about having focussed so much on what was obviously a deeply flawed process surrounding the suspension of the Chief Police Officer as I did has been that – and in stark contrast to the Home Affairs |Minister’s temper tantrum in the States last month I can’t help but point out – I knew that I for one would not be eating the Minister’s much-vaunted ‘humble pie’. The process and its handling has, after all, been a total shambles. This is I’m afraid cold, hard fact no matter how much he might try to deny it.
Not least in the simultaneous use of material meant specifically for a full disciplinary procedure whilst all disciplinary measures were in fact unceremoniously dropped. Indeed, if one is to go by the inconsistent statements from the Home Affairs Minister between Scrutiny hearings and the States Assembly itself suggest most likely were never genuinely to be pursued at all?
Now, while I believe that all must be accountable for their actions if things don’t go as they should, criticism of the Chief Police Officer’s failings have been played out in full view of the public – some might say to overkill by certain sections of the media – yet this has been done, as I say, without the proper full and fair disciplinary process that both the individual at the centre of it all and we, the taxpaying public, should have been able to expect to be certain no stone was left unturned.
Could it really consequently be right if some of the equally significant failings – I can say no more than that right now – of some of those deeply involved in the very same process are allowed to be hidden away by means of a quickly cobbled together excuse of ‘confidentiality’; likewise the outcome of any resultant disciplinary action?
The answer has to be 100% that it is not. Neither will the presentation to politicians and the public of a report ‘redacted’ until it is only 30% of the original text; 10% of the overall material - thus removing the bulk substance of the issues at hand. Will such a ploy be attempted? With the Chief Minister apparently now back from a break it is high time he laid any such concerns to rest. Maybe he will even let us know if the now retired former Chief Police Officer got the offer of the Scott letter process…
Written Question to the Chief Minister 22nd July 2010
'Will the Chief Minister clarify the full reasons as to why the report into the issues surrounding the suspension process of the Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police - promised to the Assembly to be completed in six weeks - has instead not been completed prior to the announcement that all disciplinary measures were to be dropped; further still, when will this report be completed and made available in full to all States Members?'
The original timescale for the completion of the independent review into the suspension of the Chief Officer of Police was six weeks as stated in the Deputy’s question. Unfortunately, due to difficulties in arranging convenient dates for interviews and travel disruptions caused by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud, it was not possible to complete the interview process with one of the key witnesses during the Mr Napier’s first visit to Jersey. A second visit had to be arranged to that suited both people.
All of the interviews were completed by 9th June 2010 and I am awaiting the final report. Unfortunately, due to other work commitments, Mr Napier was unable to complete his final report immediately after the interview process was complete.
I have been advised by Mr Napier, that he is currently writing his final report which should be completed by the end of July. Once the report has been issued and all parties concerned have had the opportunity to consider any findings, it will be published in full.