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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008, 19:24 GMT
Jersey minister sorry for e-mail
Jersey's deputy police chief Lenny Harper
Plainspoken Lenny Harper has been mocked by a Jersey minister
Jersey's health minister has apologised for an e-mail in which he appeared to criticise the policeman probing alleged child abuse on the island.

Health and social services minister Ben Shenton wrote to his colleagues comparing Jersey's deputy police chief Lenny Harper to comedian Lenny Henry.

Mr Shenton said parts of the e-mail, which was leaked to a newspaper, had been taken out of context.

It is understood that Mr Harper is no longer considering taking legal action.

Mr Shenton said: "If it had stayed within the people that it should have stayed within, which was within the cabinet, it shouldn't have undermined the police investigation.

"I fully apologise to Lenny Harper if I have insulted him in any way. It wasn't intentional. It was an internal email just asking for some facts, and it was very much a political email.

"It was not trying to dig into the case in any way."

In the e-mail, the senator said: "My wife keeps referring to Lenny Harper as Lenny Henry - I don't think she's far wrong."

Mr Harper had said he was considering legal action over the message.

But following Mr Shenton's statement, it is understood that he will not be taking the matter any further.

Childish and bizarre

So far, more than 160 people have come forward to police to claim they were physically and sexually abused at the Haut de la Garenne home over several decades.

A specialist military team has been brought in to assist a forensic search at the site following the discovery of part of a child's skull.

You may well ask why the very man responsible for children's welfare on this island would wish to sabotage the investigation
Lenny Harper
Jersey deputy police chief

Mr Harper said: "I have seen the very personal attack on me by Mr Shenton. My view is that it is rather childish and bizarre."

He added: "It is unhelpful to the victims and the investigation.

"You may well ask why the very man responsible for children's welfare on this island would wish to sabotage the investigation."

Establishment concern

Originally from Northern Ireland, Mr Harper served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary (now the Police Service of Northern Ireland), the Metropolitan Police and Strathclyde Police.

After six years in Jersey, he is due to retire in August.

He has promised to leave no stone unturned in his investigation and has questioned whether the island's authorities turned a blind eye to systematic abuse on Jersey.

As the investigation gathered pace last week, Mr Harper said officers were investigating why so many complaints had not been dealt with in the past.

Online protest

He said he had found no evidence of a cover-up, but added: "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."

Five online protest groups are calling for the resignation of Jersey's chief minister, Frank Walker.

More than 1,500 people have joined the groups on a number of social networking sites and they are planning a rally at the weekend, entitled 'Time for Change'.

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