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'."


Alleged child abuse victims to sue at High Court

Jersey News from ITV Channel Television - Haut de la Garenne child abuse compensation case
Above: Haut de la Garenne


A group of people who claim to be victims of mental and physical abuse at the Haut de la Garenne children's home in Jersey are to sue the States at the High Court in London.

They want compensation for the abuse they claim to have suffered and are angry over delays in the island over hearing their case, which hit the headlines more than three years ago.

Alan Collins, Solicitor-Advocate of Hampshire solicitors, Verisona, who is acting for 38 victims, said the cases - which will each be brought on an individual basis - have taken too long to be heard in Jersey.

Mr Collins explained: "In spite of assurances from the States of Jersey that there would be an attempt to address the victims’ claims outside the adversarial process, no proposals have been forthcoming and as far as I am concerned, no serious attempt at dialogue let alone negotiation
has been made by the States of Jersey.

"The victims’ cases have been treading water for far too long. Many have had to give evidence in
criminal proceedings which has resulted in abusers being convicted. This was a harrowing experience. They have shown great fortitude and patience with the States of Jersey, and so they can be forgiven for concluding, given the complete failure to attempt to resolve the claims on its part, that enough is
enough.

"Let’s get the case before the court and allow the judge to decide whether we should be
compensated."

Mr Collins explained that damages are being
sought for the pain and suffering arising from the physical and sexual abuse sustained whilst the clients resided at Haut de la Garenne. Many were abused by members of staff - some of whom have been convicted. He argues that the States as the employers are legally responsible for the abuse committed by the staff, and as a consequence, should compensate the victims.

Jersey’s historic abuse investigation ran from September 2007 until December 2010 with the conviction of married couple Morag and Tony Jordan, who were house parents at Haut de la Garenne in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Others were suspected of abuse going back 70 years but died before they could be prosecuted.

We have contacted the States and are awaiting their response to the above.
Haut de la Garenne 'won't go away'

A group of former residents at a children's home are suing the Jersey government in the High Court in London after allegations of abuse.

Sancha Berg reports on the lack of movement on a public enquiry into the affair.

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