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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 March 2008, 19:48 GMT
Army to search Jersey care home
Cellar at the Jersey former children's home
The building's cellar has become the focus of the investigation
A specialist military team has been called in to search for human remains at the former Jersey care home at the centre of an child abuse investigation.

Police say the team will use hi-tech radar equipment to help forensic officers who found part of a child's skull at Haut de la Garenne.

The care home is being searched after more than 160 people claimed they were sexually and physically abused.

Some other bones have been found but so far none have proved to be human.

'Sense of sadness'

Journalists will not be allowed to film or photograph the six-man squad due to the "highly sensitive nature" of their equipment.

An automatic sieving machine is also due to arrive to assist the forensic staff with dealing with the excavated material.

Whatever has to come out must come out. There is a desire for absolute transparency
The Very Rev Bob Key, Dean of Jersey

The same team was used in the wake of the floods that struck the Cornish village of Boscastle, when it was brought in to search for people who could have been buried in mud slides.

Meanwhile a Jersey churchman has spoken of "an overwhelming sense of sadness" as the 12-month investigation continues.

The Very Rev Bob Key told the BBC that there was a feeling in Jersey that the abuse inquiry needed to be undertaken with "great urgency."

He said: "Everyone is committed to rooting out whatever malignancy that was in there in the past. Whatever has to come out must come out. There is a desire for absolute transparency."

Holiday ads pulled

In the meantime, all advertisements for holidays on the island have been withdrawn from newspapers and television advertising.

Jersey Tourism acknowledged it was a risky move but said it did not want adverts appearing alongside news bulletins or stories about the inquiry.

It also emerged on Tuesday that the field being excavated was used to film burial scenes for the BBC detective series, Bergerac, which ran from 1981 to 1991.

A police spokeswoman said officers had been aware "for some time" of the building's history and stressed it has had many uses over the years.

TV filming was a possible explanation for the disturbed earth in the field but they also had witness accounts that remains could be buried there, she said.

There was no suggestion the fragment of a child's skull found by police had anything to do with the TV filming, she added.

Earlier this week, more items were removed from Haut de la Garenne and sent away for examination.

Police are investigating the claims of alleged victims who say they were abused at the home in St Martin in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Child's skull

Excavation work has been ongoing since the child's skull was unearthed under a floor in a stairwell at the home on 23 February.

Police have so far not ruled out the possibility that that the skull may pre-date the period under investigation and that the person may not have died unlawfully.

Deputy Chief Officer of States of Jersey Police Lenny Harper
Mr Harper says it is possible the skull predates the alleged abuse

The search has been extended to the building's cellar and grounds. Police also suspect there may be four bricked-up chambers in the cellar.

Deputy Chief Officer Lenny Harper, of Jersey Police, said his team had so far uncovered a "fair number" of bones.

He said: "We've identified the vast majority of these as being animal. There are one or two that are outstanding and we have to maybe have a closer look at them, but nothing that the anthropologist has identified as being human."

A dozen new detectives from the UK mainland have joined the inquiry; extra technical assistance provided and more incident room staff deployed.

The Howard League for Penal Reform has said it will be sending a review team to Jersey at the end of March to examine issues around the treatment of children in care in Jersey.

So far experts excavating the site have uncovered a set of shackles and a shallow bath. The shackles had been found on the floor but may once have been fastened to the wall.

Police have said that the bath and shackles corroborate some of the allegations made by alleged victims.

The site where the police search has resumed

Jersey puts holiday ads on hold
04 Mar 08 |  Jersey

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