Monday, 23 September 2013

Senator Sir Philip Bailhache---A Man of Influence--- Part 3

In my previous Blogs on Senator Bailhache in part 1 to view(click here) I reported how Bailiff and now Senator Bailhache was able to jump the law drafting queue thus ensuring that the “Loi 1960 au sujet du College Victoria.” was amended to cater for an independent governing board, where he was to be it’s first Chairman.

In part 2 to view (click here) I reported how Senator Bailhache although conflicted denied the right to lodge amendments to the proposition on the re-organisation of the Island’s Secondary Education. The debate was acrimonious; the proposition was defeated and led to the resignation of the Education President Connetable Iris le Feuvre who was succeeded by Deputy Evelyn Pullin.

Deputy Pullin had considerable experience in education having previously been head teacher at Vauxhall Manor Girls School near the Kennington Oval in London and later head at the Girls College. I had got to know Evelyn on my return to Jersey and offered to help in her election for Deputy, she accepted and I ran her campaign. Interestingly she told me that a young student living nearby would like to get involved. He joined me, proved to be a quick learner and a very useful and enthusiastic member. That student is the now Senator Ozouf. Deputy Pullin was elected and defeated a couple of young aspiring candidates who are now States Members, (Senator Alan Breckon and Deputy Rob Duhamel.)

Deputy Pullin had two main issues to address; attempting to solve the problems following the Secondary Education Debate and the Victoria College’s independence issue. In fairness to Deputy Pullen I don’t think she was politically astute for the task. A watchdog group had been formed and known as Equal Opportunities in Education (EOE), its Chairman was the late Christopher Lakeman. The Group had been quite vociferous prior and after the Secondary School debate and also raised a number of questions in relation Victoria College’s legal status, the lease of its premises, its financing and its affect on the Girls’ College. There was also the issue of the non payment of fees by its sixth form students.

 I had written to the Solicitor General Stephanie Nicolle re the payment of Rates and she was of the view that as Victoria College was independent it was liable. This would have further financial implications because the College would have to raise the revenue to meet its obligations which I doubt if any consideration was given to the matter prior to amending the College Loi.

In October 1995 I lodged a proposition requesting the Education Committee to prepare legislation – (a) (i) to repeal the Loi (1994)(Amendement No. 3) sur le Collège Victoria;
(ii) to provide for the Board of Governors of Victoria College to be constituted on the same basis as the four non fee paying secondary schools, Hautlieu and the Jersey College for Girls;
(b) request the Policy and Resources Committee to cause the necessary evaluations to be undertaken to determine whether the preparation of the necessary legislation might be added to the 1995/96 States Law Drafting Programme.

Initially my proposition was supported by the Education Committee but it intimated that it wished to make a minor amendment in relation to Her Majesty having Right of Attendance. This was an issue which did not trouble me. To allow for drafting I agreed to delay the date set aside for the debate. However further requests for deferment were requested to allow for consultation between the Governors and the Committee.

I reluctantly agreed and eventually a date for debate was set or 30th January 1996. What I was unaware of was that the Education Committee and the Governors were drafting a “Memorandum of Understanding.” This was akin to Neville Chamberlain’s letter of appeasement and it was patently obvious that Deputy Pullin and her Committee had allowed itself to be swayed by the Governing Body. However the Memorandum provided a cop out for many States Members who were Old Victorians or had offspring’s attending the College.

Prior to the debate the Board of Governors circulated a three page document stating its good a working relationship with the Education Committee and how it had invited the Education President and Vice President, (Deputies Pullin and Norman to represent the Committee on the Board. The letter made it pretty clear that although it valued its new found independence it still expected the States to continue providing the funds.

Over half a page was devoted to the Head teacher’s membership of the Headmaster’s Conference (HMC) in which it was claimed that if the States approved my proposition the Headmaster would be asked to resign from the HMC. This was a red herring because the reason for amending the College Loi was because it was claimed that the current Headmaster’s application to the HMC had been rejected.

The last page is published below and as one can see the signatories which included the Bailiff and his Deputy Francis Hamon (although their titles are omitted) were urging the Members to reject the proposition of the Deputy of St Martin, which was me.  At the foot of the page one can see that neither Deputy Pullin nor Norman was asked to sign the letter. If they were supposed to be Board Members one may ask why they were not asked?

The result was as anticipated with my proposition being rejected by 37 votes to 10, but it was a hollow victory because too many questions remained unanswered. Deputy Pullin soon ran into any number of problems including the possible relocation of the Girls College onto land and premises which were now “owned” by Victoria College. Whilst there was considerable open debate on the Board’s status what was conveniently kept under wraps were the allegations of abuse by staff member Jervis- Dykes which is well documented in a report by Stephen Sharp to the Board of Governors and the Education Committee. 

The report record that concerns relating to Jervis-Dykes were known to the headmaster and senior staff but conveniently omit to say whether those concerns were known to the Board of Governors. It will be for readers to determine whether the Board was aware but by the time the report was published Bailiff Bailhache was no longer Chairman.

Jervis-Dykes was accused and sentenced for 6 counts of indecent assault and one count of possession of an indecent photograph of a child. The headmaster resigned as a result of the issue. Stephen Sharp was quite scathing about the College’s handling of the complaint and stated the handling of the complaint was “more consistent with protecting a member of staff and the college’s reputation in the short-time than safeguarding the best interests of the pupil.”

That statement does not surprise me as I was the recipient of considerable verbal and written abuse from people with Victoria College connections who appeared to follow the principle of “my college right or wrong.”

I find it difficult to accept that concerns about Jervis-Dykes did not reach the ears of the Governing Body or Education Committee, but one wonders where the buck stopped. Deputy Pullin’s tenure as President was short lived, as mentioned above, I don’t think she was politically astute and in trying to please everyone, pleased no-one.Below is another Al Thomas cartoon which was published in the JEP which sadly was appropriate.

My proposition was debated on 30th January 1996 the Deputy Bailiff Francis Hamon who was due to preside retired from the Chamber to allow for the Greffier of the States, Geoffrey Coppock to take over the Presidency. Presumably as a Board Member Mr Hamon felt conflicted, however, if that was the case why did he and Philip Bailhache sign the letter above? As Crown Officers should they be urging States Members to reject a fellow Member’s proposition?  
Deputy Pullin resigned and was succeeded by Deputy and now Connetable Len Norman who was made of sterner stuff. As a former De La Salle student he was well aware of the different nature of Victoria College and De la Salle which was a private school which owned its own property and assumed full responsibility for its capital development. It was evident that the Victoria College Governors wanted independence from the States but still wanted it to assume responsibly for meeting all the Colleges running costs.

Under Len Norman’s presidency he successfully lodged a proposition on similar lines to mine. Peace was restored but there were a number of casualties including the sixth form students who are now required to pay fees. The Victoria College Governing Body is now the same as the other Secondary Schools including the Girls College.

It will be interesting to read what historians will make of Senator Bailhache’s short excursion into Victoria College affairs. Had he succeeded who knows whether it would have continued to provide a traditional type of education at modest expense for parents or would it have become an exclusive public school? 

What is evident is that Senator Bailhache was able to able to influence a number of people who acquiesced apparently without questioning his motives or the fact that he was abusing his Office.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Senator Sir Philip Bailhache--------------A Man of Influence-----Part 2.

As the law had already been drafted it was only a matter of months before the “Loi 1960 au sujet du College Victoria” became operative after having been forwarded to the Privy Council for confirmation and to the Royal Court for registration.

Sir Philip Bailhache as the Chairman of the new Governing Board was soon joined by the Deputy Bailiff Francis Hamon, Air Marshal Sir Michael Alcock, Rev. John Platt of Pembroke College Oxford, Richard Robins and Peter Norman.

As mentioned in my PREVIOUS BLOG the States was embroiled with proposals for providing for the education of pupils in the secondary sector. Dr Young assisted by Ken Spours had been commissioned by the Education Committee in April 1993 to undertake a review of post-16 education for the non fee paying schools. In September 1993 they presented their report.

In 1993 students attending Victoria and the Girls Colleges ceased paying fees once they reached the sixth form, this anomaly had been created some years previously. In their Report Young/Spours had made a number of recommendations and its favoured option was to establish a sixth form college for all students in the non-fee paying sector. This would have included both Colleges as the sixth form was non-fee paying.

In 1990’s the Committee system prevailed and the Education Committee’s President was Connetable Iris Le Feuvre of St Lawrence.  I had some sympathy with what she was attempting because there was a need for the existing costly and outdated education system to be updated but if she followed the Young/Spours recommendations it would be at the expense of a number of sacred cows.

On 20th June 1995 the Education Committee lodged P84/95 which was for the re-organisation of the Island’s secondary education in the non-fee paying sector. In my opinion it fell short of the Young/Spours favoured option in that it did not include Victoria or the Girls College. The date for debate was set for 25th July. Shortly afterwards I submitted an amendment to the Greffier which was to include both colleges

The normal procedure for lodging propositions, amendments or questions is that they are submitted to the Greffier who not only ensures they are grammatically correct but they also comply with Standing Orders. They are then forwarded to the Bailiff or in his absence the Deputy Bailiff whose decision is final. If approved the proposition is then printed and circulated to be formally lodged at the next States Sitting which in my case was Tuesday 11th July.

The Greffier must have been content with my amendment which was then approved by the Deputy Bailiff Francis Hamon who apart from being an Old Victorian was also on the Board of Governors. Like the Greffier he obviously found no grounds for rejection so my proposition was duly printed and circulated for formal lodging on Tuesday 11th July.

However before the 11th I was informed by Sir Philip that I had to delete reference to Victoria College in my amendment. He said that as a result of the amendments to the “Loi 1960 au sujet du College Victoria,” the College was now independent of the States. I was unhappy, Sir Philip was well and truly conflicted, out of order and overriding his Deputy but there was no appeal.

A short time after I was informed by Sir Philip that my amended amendment could not be lodged because in his opinion it would “negative the Education Committee’s proposition.” His decision was bizarre because if that was the case my original amendment would not have been approved by the Greffier, Deputy Bailiff and even Sir Philip who did not raise the matter when he told me that reference to Victoria College had to be withdrawn.

As my amendment was on the 11th June Order Paper the Bailiff had to inform Members that in his opinion my amendment was contrary to Standing Order No 21 (2) as such I could not present it and had to withdraw it.

When formally withdrawing my amendment I said that Members were only now learning of the true implications of their approval of the amendments to the “Loi 1960 au sujet du College Victoria” the previous year. There were mutterings of disapproval from some Members about Sir Philip’s conflict and being final arbiter. The JEP report is below.


The debate on the re-organisation was acrimonious with the defence of the schools and colleges taking priority over the education of it students. I believe the Education Committee had fudged the issue which left more losers than winners. The proposition was heavily defeated and it was evident that it had spilt the Committee, made the President's position untenable and she resigned soon after.

After the summer break Deputy Evelyn Pullin was elected as President. Her tenure was most troublesome, not only did she have to address the re-organisation but also the status of the Victorian Governing Board as I had made it clear that I would not let the matter rest.

I believed that Sir Philip had abused his position in relation to the law drafting and my amendments. His behaviour was unbecoming of a judge and QC. I, along with many other States Members were of the view that if Victoria College was independent of the States then those receiving the perceived benefits should pay for the privilege and not expect the tax payer continuing to do so.

During the ensuing months I carried out considerable research and asked a number of questions before eventually lodging an amendment to overturn the States decision of April 1994. It was a difficult task because of opposition from Old Victorians and parents who did not appreciate that independence had to be paid for via raising school fees. Independence would also impede on the College’s relationship with the Girls College and its sixth form in particular.

The JEP published the Al Thomas cartoon below illustrating my difficulties which I shall cover in my next Blog.