Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 15:52 UK

Attorney General defends the law

Jersey's Attorney General has defended the island's legal system following allegations of a "cover-up" in the ongoing historic child abuse inquiry.

William Bailhache was speaking in his annual speech to Jersey's advocates at the Royal Court.

He said over the last seven months "a good deal of nonsense" had been said about Jersey's legal system.

He also dismissed calls for the UK Justice Secretary to intervene in the island's legal process.

There has been misunderstanding of our processes and damage done to reputations by references to "cover-up"
William Bailhache, Attornery General

Lenny Harper, the former detective in charge of the historic abuse enquiry, has repeatedly criticised Jersey's legal system, claiming it has delayed prosecutions and "sacrificed" victims' interests.

But William Bailhache - whose brother, Sir Philip Bailhache, is the island's Bailiff - said: "There has been misunderstanding of our processes, and there has been some damage done to reputations by generic and, so far, largely unfounded references to 'cover-up'.

"In this last seven months a good deal of nonsense has been said and written about our legal and judicial system, some of it by those who ought to have known better."

The Attorney General also dismissed calls for the UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw to intervene in the island's judicial process.

He said: "The idea that any politician, let alone one who has no electoral mandate from the people of Jersey, should be directed by a foreign court to consider interfering with the judicial processes of this court ... offends established principles of constitutional law."

In February, Jersey Police found what they believed to be a skull fragment at the site of the former Haut de la Garenne children's home.

Since then investigators have found 65 milk teeth and more than 100 bone fragments at the property.

Three people have been charged in connection with the historic child abuse inquiry, and action has yet to be taken on another two cases.

There are more than 80 suspects in the investigation.

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