Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Friday, 14 November 2008

Jersey minister 'right to resign'

Wendy Kinnard
Wendy Kinnard was blocked by the Council of Ministers

Jersey's former home affairs minster says she acted with "integrity" throughout the investigation into child abuse in the island.

Senator Wendy Kinnard's statement follows speculation over her role in the way politicians and police have acted over the investigation.

Ms Kinnard, who resigned unexpectedly in October, said she was right to quit on a "matter of moral conscience".

Police are investigating claims of abuse at a former children's home.

This week a newspaper article questioned whether her resignation was to do with the review of the police investigation into historic child abuse.

Speaking in public for the first time since her resignation, Ms Kinnard, said that had nothing to do with it and she was confident her public record would show she had acted with "competence, probity and integrity".

'Moral conscience'

In her statement, she said: "This statement is to clarify that my resignation from the Council of Ministers was for the reason given in my statement to the States.

"In Jersey judges are presently obliged to give a corroboration warning to a jury in certain cases including sexual offences and offences against children. In other jurisdictions judges have a discretion as to whether a corroboration warning be given.

"In a 2002 case the Privy Council held that to give judges discretion was the correct approach, otherwise there was a risk of juries being confused by the mandatory direction.

"Thus the mandatory warning in cases involving sex offences has adverse implications for both complainants and, indirectly, defendants.

"My department strongly recommended that the law in Jersey be changed. That was my own view and the view of the current Minister of Home Affairs and others.

"The council decided not to approve the recommendation, but to defer consideration of whether to make the change, giving no specific time frame within which the matter might be reconsidered by the council.

"While recognising the Council of Ministers' right to take a different view, my judgment was that the council had no real intention of changing the law in any reasonable time frame despite the recommendation to do so.

"As the matter was one of moral conscience and principle I was entirely right to resign."

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