Jersey, Britain’s greatest centre for tax dodging and money laundering…second only to the City of London…also enforces a culture of denial about child abuse and punishes reporters and public officials who investigate it.
In 2012 American journalist Leah McGrath Goodman of Newsweek got a short-term visa so she could investigate Jersey’s notoriousHaut de la Garenne children’s home. Her punishment was swift. UK Border Agency staff arrested her and banned her from Jersey and the rest of Britain too. A journalist with no criminal record, working for a respected US news magazine was treated as if she were a member of Islamic State.
Goodman was left in no doubt that she was banned for looking into abuse. She mentioned in passing to a Jersey immigration officer that she was investigating Haut de la Garenne. “His face went white and he almost ran out of the room to get his superior.” The next time she returned to Britain, border guards arrested her, held her at Heathrow for 12 hours, then deported her. The UK Border Forcesaid there was no sinister explanation for its behaviour – it was just not satisfied that she was a genuine visitor. Goodman said the officers holding her made it clear her case had been “flagged up by Jersey”.
The Lib Dem MP John Hemming tabled an early-day motion in parliament stating that Goodman had a “clean immigration and travel record” and was “a former resident of the UK”, and that “there were no problems with the immigration service until she told them what she was intending to write about.” The UK Home Office backed down and said she would be allowed to return. But when Goodman flew to Heathrow last November, border guards arrested her again. “I am frightened to come to Britain now,” she told a UK news magazine.
Police eventually collected 100 accounts of abuse at Haut de la Garenne and secured six convictions. But before they got them, senator Stuart Syvret, Jersey’s health minister, accused the island’s government of failing to protect children for decades. The Jersey State Assembly passed a vote of no confidence in him in 2007. The next year, the island’s ministers suspended the chief of police, Graham Power, for making sensational claims about abuse at the home. He accused ministers of “a state-sponsored, taxpayer-funded personal vendetta.”
Last week, when British Home Secretary Theresa May announced the terms of reference for Justice Lowell Goddard’s Inquiry into Historical Child Sex Abuse in England and Wales, MPs asked her to extend its remit to cover the Jersey scandal. She refused.