Friday, 28 October 2011

Jersey's Haut de la Garenne abuse case at High Court

Haut de la GarenneSeven people were convicted after the abuse inquiry, with four linked to Haut de la Garenne

A group of former residents of the Haut de la Garenne children's home are suing the Jersey government at the High Court in London.

They are seeking compensation over abuse at the home and say the States has taken too long to agree a deal.

Their lawyers believe the High Court can hear the case and it is the only way they will get redress.

The States said such cases had to be heard in Jersey's courts and it was dealing with compensation claims.

The compensation claims follow an inquiry, between 2007 and 2010, into historical abuse at the island's children's homes.

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[Jersey authorities] think if they ignore it for long enough, it will go away but it won't... there are too many people, there's too much come out”

Haut de la Garenne abuse victim

Police took 1,776 statements from 192 alleged victims during the inquiry, which led to seven convictions, four of which were linked to Haut de la Garenne.

However despite the prosecutions, Alan Collins, a UK-based solicitor representing nearly 40 former residents, believes going to the High Court is the only way they will get compensation.

"Not only must justice be done, it must be seen to be done," he said.

"For them, that means taking proceedings to the High Court in London, they feel that is the only opportunity they now have to be recognised and to be compensated."

Jersey's Chief Minister, Senator Terry Le Sueur, insisted a system for compensation claims had been set up and the "process is ongoing".

"[However] the States of Jersey is not aware of any moves to bring action in the English High Court in relation to claims for compensation made in relation to the inquiry," he said.

"In any event, the English Courts have no jurisdiction to entertain an action for damages against the States of Jersey that relate to events that are said to have occurred in Jersey, and any such claim would need to be made through the island's separate and independent judicial system."

'Not our fault'

But Mr Collins disagreed and said: "The High Court in London is well used and has many years of experience of dealing with cases of this nature, I am unaware of any such case being tried in the Jersey court."

One victim, a woman who spent several years at Haut de la Garenne in the 1970s, said she was forced to have sex with a member of staff up to five times a week.

She said no one at the home seemed to notice or care and now feels the Jersey authorities are deliberately delaying dealing with compensation claims.

"They think if they ignore it for long enough, it will go away but it won't not this time, there are too many people, there's too much come out," she said.

"The only thing they'll understand is when, if necessary, we all stand up in a court and say 'Look this is what you did, this wasn't our fault, we were kids, we were wards of court, you had a duty of care, simple'."


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