Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 12:22 UK

Jersey 'abuse' reports criticised

Sir Philip Bailhache
Sir Philip said a rigorous investigation was taking place

Media coverage of an investigation into alleged sexual abuse at a former children's home in Jersey has been criticised by the island's bailiff.

Sir Philip Bailhache used his traditional Liberation Day Speech to call some reporting an "unjustified and remorseless denigration" of Jersey.

He said Liberation Day was a chance to shake free of misinformation.

Police are probing claims dating back to the 1960s at Haut de la Garenne, after allegations by former residents.

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The bailiff echoed comments made by the chief minister, arguing that the real scandal was what had been written and said about Jersey since the investigation at the former children's home was made public.

Sir Philip has been touched, to some extent, by some of the coverage due to the close attention given to the appointment of a known sex offender to the Honorary Police.

Review team

The bailiff, who was attorney general at the time, admitted with hindsight Roger Holland should not have remained a member of the voluntary force.

In his speech to mark the anniversary of the anniversary of Jersey's liberation from German occupation in 1945, Sir Philip said: "This year we have learnt that even in peacetime, once a media bandwagon starts rolling, it is difficult to distinguish what is true from what is fictitious."

He said a "rigorous investigation" was taking place and a "balanced judgement" would be possible in due course.

Meanwhile, the Howard League for Penal Reform has revealed that it is sending a review team to the island.

According to charity, the purpose of the team's visit is to: "Examine existing policies and procedures to safeguard the welfare and wellbeing of children in the penal system in Jersey and to make recommendations about how these may be improved."

It said its terms of reference have been agreed with the Jersey government.

In 2006, officers began covertly investigating claims of sexual and physical abuse of children at the former children's home.

The investigation was stepped up in February after police found the partial remains of a child's skull buried in concrete in a stairwell.

During the excavation of four underground rooms which have been uncovered, police have found a number of items, including shackles and a bath, which they say corroborate claims from victims.




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