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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 12:03 GMT
Jersey 'cover-up faces exposure'
Police searches at Haut de la Garenne
Beneath special tents, police are trying to access a bricked-up cellar

An ex-minister on Jersey says he will expose a "cover-up culture" as searches continue at a former children's home on the island where remains were found.

Police investigators at the Haut de la Garenne home in St Martin are focusing their attention on a bricked-up cellar.

Former health minister Stuart Syvret told BBC News he will publish evidence to show the authorities failed to act on child abuse claims at another site.

A statement from Jersey's chief minister is also expected.

The BBC's Sanchia Berg said Mr Syvret's allegations will relate to a school and a secure unit on the island.

It is understood the police inquiry into allegations of historic abuse in Jersey pre-date these claims.

The senator's allegations that island authorities ignored evidence of abuse of children in its care have been vehemently denied by Jersey's Chief Minister, Senator Frank Walker, who is due to address the island's Assembly later.

He has described Mr Syvet's allegations as "deplorable" and said the ex-minister, who was dismissed from his post last year over the way he is alleged to have treated staff and colleagues in his ministry, was seeking to "politicise" the situation.

Special helpline

The remains of a child were detected by a sniffer dog at Haut de la Garenne on Saturday, and police have identified six more sites of interest have been identified near the former children's home.

Officers were alerted to the site during their investigation into child abuse allegations stemming from the time when the centre was a home for children with behaviour problems.

Within Jersey: 0800 169 1173
Outside: + 44 (0)20 7825 7489

A special helpline set up by the NSPCC at the request of the police has received 63 calls from adults claiming to have been abused as children on the island.

So far, 27 of those cases have been referred to the authorities for investigation.

Haut de la Garenne

Jersey's deputy police chief, Lenny Harper, has said officers are investigating why so many complaints were not dealt with in the past.

Mr Harper said: "Part of the inquiry will be the fact that a lot of the victims tried to report their assaults but for some reason or another they were not dealt with as they should be.

"We are looking at allegations that a number of agencies didn't deal with things as perhaps they should."

He said that so far his officers had uncovered "no evidence of a cover-up of any Jersey government".

Mr Harper said archaeologists and forensic scientists were concentrating on a number of "trenches" at the site where the remains, which include a skull, were found.

Worldwide leads

The information that sparked the excavation had been provided by three sources, he confirmed.

Jersey Police began investigating allegations of abuse in 2006.

Police have identified dozens of possible suspects in connection with the wider inquiry, with detectives following up leads in Europe and as far away as Australia.

The investigation involves several government institutions and organisations, with the Haut de la Garenne home and Jersey Sea Cadets the main focuses of the inquiry.

Haut de la Garenne
Jersey Police began investigating allegations of abuse in 2006.

It is centred on the abuse of boys and girls aged between 11 and 15, since the 1960s.

The excavation of the home, involving sniffer dogs and ground radar, started on Tuesday.

Police are using two springer spaniels - seven-year-old Eddie, who specialises in detecting human remains and was involved in the hunt for missing Madeleine McCann in Portugal; and Keela, three, who is trained to sniff out traces of blood.

Haut de la Garenne started life in 1867 as the Industrial School, for "young people of the lower classes of society and neglected children".

It is now Jersey's Youth Hostel and featured as a police station in the TV series Bergerac, which was set on the island.

Police say it is vital that any alleged victims still unidentified contact the incident room as soon as possible, on 0800 735 7777. There is also an NSPCC helpline on 0800 169 1173 within Jersey, or + 44(0)20 7825 7489 from outside.

Childline's Esther Rantzen on Jersey case

Secrets behind children's home
24 Feb 08 |  Jersey
Child's body found at care home
23 Feb 08 |  Jersey

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