Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Jersey chief officer is suspended

Item thought to be shackles
Police thought a rusty piece of metal found at the home was shackles

Jersey's government has criticised a 4.5m police investigation into alleged child abuse at a former care home.

Ministers suspended the island's chief of police, Graham Power, after a new inquiry team said no-one had been murdered at Haut de la Garenne.

Mr Power denied any wrongdoing after detectives said information previously released by police had been inaccurate.

But home affairs minister Andrew Lewis said some aspects of the inquiry had "not been conducted properly".

Mr Lewis said: "It is evident that we didn't receive all the information about the historic abuse inquiry that we should have received."

He added that the matter had raised questions about the chief's role.

Mr Power has said: "I strenuously deny any wrongdoing and will rigorously contest any allegations in respect of my role."

Deputy Chief Officer David Warcup: "The forensic recoveries do not indicate murders"

Earlier on Wednesday, Deputy Chief Officer, David Warcup, had said there was no evidence that any children had been murdered or bodies destroyed at the former home.

He expressed "much regret" at "misleading" information released by his predecessor, Lenny Harper.

But Mr Harper later said Mr Warcup's statement was a "blatant misrepresentation" of his statements.

At a press conference, Detective Superintendent Michael Gradwell had discredited a number of Mr Harper's claims.

• After being examined by British Museum experts, a fragment thought to have been from a skull turned out to be a piece of Victorian coconut shell.

• "Shackles" found in rubble were simply "a rusty piece of metal", with no evidence to suggest it had been used for anything suspicious.

• There was no blood in the cellar, and a bath said to have had blood in had not been used since 1920.

• The "secret underground chambers" were just holes in the floor, "not dungeons or cellars".

• Most of the 170 pieces of bone found in the search came from animals. Three were human and two of these dated from between 1470-1670 and 1650-1950 respectively.

Mr Warcup added: "It's very unfortunate and I very much regret that information was put into the public domain by the States of Jersey police about certain finds at Haut de la Garenne, which was not strictly accurate."

Lenny Harper reacts to the latest developments in the inquiry

Mr Harper told BBC News: "My first reaction is of great disappointment at the blatant misrepresentation of things that I am supposed to have said, by David Warcup.

"He says that we were claiming there was a murder... I always said all along that we had no evidence of homicide."

He said that police had merely revealed they had been treating the home as a "homicide scene" and that officers had never labelled the cellars "torture chambers".

"The victims were telling us that they were lowered down into these rooms, which we made clear in our media statements used to be the ground floor of that building," he said.

He added that Mr Warcup's comments came at "an opportune time" for the Jersey government, as a report into the island's care system by the Howard League for Penal Reform was due to be released on Friday.

Senator Stuart Syvret, a former minister for health and social services, also criticised the press conference.

He said it was a bid "to justify the dismissal and abandoning of certain aspects of the Haut de la Garenne investigation, including the possibility of child deaths having occurred there, and certain of the more serious abuse claims".

It would appear there have been certain sums of money that did not need to have been spent
Senator Frank Walker
Jersey Chief Minister

Mr Gradwell said the child abuse inquiry would continue.

Jersey's Chief Minister, Senator Frank Walker, said he felt "let down" by the revelations.

He said a third of the investigation's estimated 4.5m cost had been spent solely on digging at the site.

"It would appear there have been certain sums of money that did not need to have been spent," he added.

Jersey Police launched the investigation into the Haut de la Garenne site, which was a youth hostel in recent years, in 2006.

It became public in February when officers said they had found what was believed to be part of a child's skull.

Scores of people then came forward saying they had been abused at the home between the early 1960s and 1986.

A spokesman for the Jersey Care Leavers' Association said: "We are relieved that there is no evidence of children having been murdered at Haut de la Garenne.

"This finding opens the way for a proper accounting of the abuse that many people suffered in the child care system in Jersey over decades."

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