Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 13:55 UK

Court bid for UK action in Jersey

Police officer at former home Haut de la Garenne
The inquiry is focused on a former children's home on the island

A legal action over the handling of the Jersey child abuse investigation has been launched at the High Court.

A campaign group set up by Lib Dem MP John Hemming and Jersey senator Stuart Syvret says it does not have confidence in the island's authorities.

The group wants a judicial review of what it has called the "failure" of UK ministers to "enforce the rule of law".

The Ministry of Justice said it could not comment while legal proceedings were ongoing.

And the island's attorney general said criticism of its justice system was "misplaced".

"The courts of Jersey have been delivering justice week in, week out for centuries," he said. "Justice will be done."

'Legal obligation'

Detectives are investigating claims of abuse dating from the early 1960s to 1986.

Three people have been charged in connection with the inquiry, focused on the Haut de la Garenne former children's home, and there are more than 80 other people being investigated by police.

Mr Syvret told the BBC: "I have full confidence in the police investigation but not in the administration of justice on Jersey."

The application for a judicial review was filed in London on Thursday.

The action is being brought against the Lord Chancellor Jack Straw and Justice Minister Michael Wills.

It states that as acting ministers of justice they have the "duty to maintain the rule of law in crown dependencies".

It comes after a Commons motion was tabled by the MP Austin Mitchell in July, calling on the British government to step in.

He has accused the authorities on the island of failing to prevent abuse for decades.

The Labour MP for Grimsby said there was a "prevailing desire on the part of the Jersey elites to sweep scandal and abuse under the carpet to preserve their reputation".

War bunker

In February, Jersey police began an exploratory search of Haut de la Garenne following allegations of abuse by former residents.

A World War II bunker close to the home has also been searched

So far police have found 65 milk teeth and more than 100 bone fragments at the site.

A World War II bunker, which is about 500m from the former home, is also under investigation after six witnesses alleged they were abused there.

Detectives say they are confident violence took place at the home, but a murder inquiry still remains only a possibility.

There are more than 80 suspects in the inquiry. Three people have been charged in connection with it, although more arrests have been made since the last person was charged in May.

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