Monday, 28 October 2013

Jersey's Dean----- The truth, the whole truth or nothing but a Whitewash?

Last Thursday after submitting 7 emails and waiting for over 2 months I finally met Dame Heather Steel. The meeting was due to be held at Church House which serves as the headquarters of the Church of England. However on learning of HG’s attendance the administrators asked that the meeting be held elsewhere so an alternative venue was found.

Winchester is reported to have committed approximately half a million pounds on a Visitation/Investigation into the Dean’s handling of an allegation of abuse on HG by a Church Warden. The investigation which is in 2 parts is headed by the former Bishop of Chelmsford John Gladwin who is looking into the Constitutional position between Jersey and Winchester. The other part is headed by Dame Heather Steel a High Court Judge who is tasked with investigating the Dean’s handling of HG’s complaint and whether he and another member of the clergy should face disciplinary proceedings.

It had been suggested by the Dean’s supporters last March that the investigation is not about HG’s complaint but more to do with a “spat” between the Dean and Bishop Dakin and a power struggle between the Winchester and Jersey hierarchy. Having been involved with the matter since last March it is becoming evident that the Dean’s supporters are correct and HG is again a victim of another cruel and serious mismanagement by the Diocese of Winchester.

Dame Heather’s appointment was announced on 15th May but surprisingly no Terms of Reference were published. Questions were asked of her perceived conflict and of her relationship with Senator Sir Philip Bailhache who has played a leading role in supporting the Dean. Dame Heather was also to be assisted by a member of the States of Jersey Police who HG claims were less than professional when investigating her abuse allegation and later when they arrested her in her pyjamas, refused her bail which led to her being held her in custody for two weeks and then left destitute at a UK airport on a cold October evening when still in her pyjamas.

In May after reading several of my Blogs HG contacted me and we agreed that I would act as her mediator. HG now lives on the street and our only means of communication is via email and only when she is able to gain access to broadband at libraries etc. HG had been unaware of the Korris report and the Visitation. I contacted John Gladwin, informed him that I was in regular contact with HG and if he felt it helpful HG would be prepared to see him provided I accompanied her. I was of the view that she needed support not only during the Visitation process but also in her every day life. Also steps should be taken for the public apologies to be given to HG personally.

John Gladwin wanted to see her and a date was agreed for us to meet with sufficient time being given for HG to get the meeting. We all met in June which was the first and only time we met; ironically it was on Methodist Church premises. We all felt that it was a productive meeting and that we should meet again. Very importantly it was agreed that steps would be taken by John Gladwin to provide support for HG and that all communication relating to the investigation would be through me. This was to avoid HG further distress and for good management.

In early August Dame Heather’s TOR was published but it was unclear whether they included HG’s arrest and deportation. A few days later a large advert appeared in the JEP which gave the impression of having been paid for by the Dean’s supporters. It called on members of the public who had complaints about the Bishop of Winchester to submit them to Dame Heather.

To the best of my knowledge neither Dame Heather nor the Diocese has ever clarified the matter so there is a presumption that Dame Heather is supporting both camps. On 15th August I wrote to Dame Heather for the first time seeking clarification of the advert and whether her TOR included HG’s arrest and deportation. I also said that I wished to meet her. I wrote a further 6 times and copied in John Gladwin and eventually the Bishop’s Chaplain asking that they would forward my emails to Dame Heather because I was not receiving replies.

Until I met Dame Heather last Thursday I had been of the belief that the Visitation and investigation was being conducted in a timely and coordinated manner and the left hand knew what the right hand was doing, but alas this is not case. Rev.Gavin Ashenden has publicly questioned Bishop Dakin’s handling of the Visitation and has called on him to apologise to the Dean and HG for the suffering they have endured as a result of it. I can understand where he is coming from.

It is now evident that Dame Heather was unaware of the June meeting with John Gladwin or of the promised support and line of communication. How can that be, that elementary mistake has led to unnecessary hurt, delay and expense, none of which can be levelled at HG’s door.

In mid August Dame Heather emailed HG asking to meet and also instructed an Advocate to request her former Advocate to seek permission of HG for access to the police and court papers. I was not copied into Dame Heather’s email exchange but now know that HG objected to her participation on the grounds of perceived conflict. HG also saw the request for her documents as an intrusion by a person with whom she had no confidence, with a foot in both camps and as a betrayal of the John Gladwin agreement.

As mentioned above I continued sending emails to Dame Heather seeking clarification and requesting we meet but to no avail even though I copied them to John Gladwin and the Bishop’s Chaplain asking that my emails be forwarded to her. However on Friday 18th October in the late afternoon I received a phone call from Dame Heather saying that she understood that I wished to see her. We had a lengthy conversation and in summary she told me that her report was almost complete and did not want to delay its submission to John Gladwin. I asked how she could submit a report if she had not seen one of the key witnesses to which she replied that HG had refused to meet her. I explained the circumstance outlined above and it was eventually agreed that we would meet on Thursday at Church House in London. I said I would contact HG asking that she attend. I also asked for an independent note taker because the promised notes of our June meeting had still not been received and I wanted a record of our meeting.
I was able to make email contact with HG who agreed to attend and although without funds she said she would find her way to the meeting.  Unfortunately due to travel difficulties she did not arrive. At Thursday’s meeting I asked that another date be arranged because there were extenuating circumstances as to why we had not met. Also although I had HG’s case papers, I would not release them without her consent. Dame Heather initially said that to arrange another meeting would incur further expense and she really wanted to complete her report because so many people were waiting for it.  I asked what price justice and that the Korris report had been criticised because neither HG nor the Church Warden had been interviewed. I was surprised to hear Dame Heather say that she has not interviewed the Church Warden either. 
Dame Heather clarified her TOR and that the arrest and removal issue were not included but she was addressing the matter at Bishop Dakin’s request, so one may ask why they were not in the TOR?  What is without doubt is that Dame Heather does not believe that HG was arrested in her pyjamas, the police did not allow her to get dressed, that she twice attended court and was eventually left destitute in the UK whilst still in her pyjamas. The arrest/deportation issue is clearly a major embarrassment to Winchester so it will be interesting to see how the issue is covered in Dame Heather’s report given that she has refused to see HG or seen the case papers.
My meeting with Dame Heather lasted 3 hours, I asked that I be given a transcript of the meeting but was told that I could but only if I was prepared to pay for it. The meeting was tape recorded and I have asked both Dame Heather and Bishop Dakin for a copy of it. There was no independent note taker but notes were taken by Dame Heather who has sent them to me. They are simply notes which are sketchy and some of the writing is hard to decipher.
Dame Heather has made it clear that even though she has not seen HG or heard her evidence or read the documentation, she is adamant  that nothing will be gained by seeing  her now and thereby delaying her report. If she does not need to see HG why did she want to see her in the first place and why did she go to the expense of instructing Advocates to contact HG for the case papers?
I have written a lengthy letter to Bishop Dakin, not only for record purposes but to explain why I believe that Dame Heather has not satisfactorily conducted her investigation. I have said that the investigation should be impartial, it should expose what is wrong, commend what is right and make recommendations to ensure that when a highly vulnerable person is abused by a church officer, their complaint will be investigated without fear or favour and they do not end up at a UK airport in their pyjamas and left destitute.
There were gaps in the Korris report and lessons should have been learnt. However there will be gaps in Dame Heather’s report because lessons have not been learnt. The witnesses not seen by Korris have not been seen by Dame Heather how can that be? 

It would be totally wrong to claim that HG refused to see Dame Heather because that is not the case. It is now Dame Heather who is refusing to see HG. It could be because Dame Heather has already reached her conclusions and does not want HG’s evidence in case she has to change them.

What is becoming abundantly clear is that the Visitation is a waste of time and money, the guilty will be found innocent and the innocent condemned. What sort of message is the Church of England sending out to the poor, needy and vulnerable members of our society?

Last Friday Dame Heather informed me that my emails had been traced. It is said that God moves in mysterious ways and now my emails have been traced but will He now ensure that we get an honest report or will it be a whitewash?  

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Jersey's Dean-----HG's Guest Posting--An Open Letter.


Following the suspension of the Dean last March a number of his friends rallied to his support, published letters, called for it to be lifted and claimed that he was victim of gross injustice. I don't have a problem with friends giving their support to the Dean but regretfully when doing so they made derogatory remarks about the real but forgotten victim who is a young lady known as HG.

It is also evident that apart from apparently having no interest in HG's well being they have no appreciation of the difficulties she has to encounter every day of her life. The supporters claim to be Christian but readers might have a different view and I will be interested to learn of them.

Below is an open letter which HG has written in response to remarks made by some of Dean's supporters.


Dear Bruce Willing, Philip Bailhache, Gavin Ashenden and others,

I thought I would write in response to what I see as a smear campaign against myself by you in response to the Korris report that assesses the Dean of Jersey to have done wrong. I have silently endured your very unchristian response to the Korris report for a long time
I am deeply dismayed by your approach to the matter.

I am first and foremost very sad to see how far behind the rest of the world Jersey is with regards to attitude to mental health. You claim me to be mentally ill and you use that against me not only in a way that criminalises me but in a derogatory way that puts your view across in a way that makes it look as if you are removing credibility from all people with mental illness. I have several comments on that, firstly ‘mental illness’ covers a very wide range of illnesses, from mild forms of depression and anxiety/phobia to the more severe forms of psychosis and schizophrenia.

It is important to remember that even people who are seriously mentally ill are still human and have a side to things, and that the attitude you are showing is simply that ‘people with mental illness are not credible’, sadly it is people with mental illness and people on the autistic spectrum who are most vulnerable to abuse, because they are isolated, need care and are vulnerable, can be misunderstood and often isolated lacking in voice and effective advocacy or interpretation.

I am dismayed that you, in your positions, are not enlightened on the subject of mental health, to the point where you are using my supposed mental health condition to scapegoat and vilify me and remove my credibility.

The damage you have done to me by scapegoating me in your efforts to clear the Dean and clergy in Jersey of misconduct is pretty horrifying, firstly because, hopefully you would know better than to scapegoat and verbally bash someone who has a physical disability, I do not understand why you feel that the equivalent is not the case with mental illness but that you feel that you should further hurt someone who is already suffering illness in order to achieve your own aims.

Also, Mr Willing, calling me a ‘poor unfortunate woman’ is the kind of terminology that belongs in the dark ages, it really shows up how Jersey has not moved forward with the rest of the world in understanding mental health, autism and other conditions.

To conclude on mental illness, I am diagnosed as free from it. not only was I diagnosed as free from mental illness in a psychiatric report done in La Moye prison, but again in Winchester five months later, again in Sussex a few months following, and again in a comprehensive report from my current clinical psychologist who specialises in autism and trauma and has been in practice for 20 years.

You need to stop excusing the wrongdoing of the Dean and Church in Jersey by using mental illness that I do not suffer, and if you insist on proceeding to use my ‘mental illness’ as an excuse for the wrongdoers, you need to name my mental illness and back it up not only with clinical proof but with reasons why it is an excuse for the Dean and church’s misconduct.

Most mental illnesses can strike at any time and anyone can suffer rich or poor, believer or non-believer, I ask you, do you expect to lose your own credibility and rights if any of you were to be struck down with mental illness of any kind, be it mild depression or any other form of illness? In this day and age, even though Jersey is a long way behind most of the developed world in many issues such as mental health, human rights and equality, it astounds me that you are, in the media and in front of the world, behaving in this severely prejudiced way. I don’t know how to put this politely but ‘shafting Jersey to the rest of the world’ comes to mind.

And especially in the case of Gavin Ashenden making statements about mentally ill people being demon possessed and driving demons out during services, it is understandable why he was chosen as a Jersey clergyman, and his letters and statements about me when he doesn’t know me and only knows one side of what happened between me and others, he isn’t just showing how unenlightened he is about mental illness, or just how much an investigation into safeguarding in Jersey is needed, he is also showing that despite being an ordained Priest, he does not understand the basics of Christianity.

I am diagnosed as mildly autistic, suffering severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and severely psychologically damaged by my experiences not only of a very damaging upbringing but also of what happened to me in Jersey and the Diocese of Winchester. Those things are not so easy for you to use as excuses I guess.

Let’s move on to the subject of the Church.

Bearing in mind that I did not ask for this hugely disastrous visitation with its conflicts and PR Firms and reports that omit the views of key witnesses, I am astounded at just how unchristian the Deanery of Jersey has been in their smear campaign against me. Even if I did make a complaint, it was five years ago, was disregarded and could have been dealt with in private.

Let’s go back to the very basics of Christianity the ones that are hard for the older, more wealthy and influential people to swallow. Jesus said ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone’, is any clergyman or lay church worker in Jersey who has maligned me at Deanery meetings and in the press without sin? No, and no doubt in their own personal lives and histories, there are sins and skeletons, and yet they forget Jesus’ teaching, or, more horrifyingly, they do not know it or feel that, in this case, they can excuse themselves. Focusing on defending themselves or others who have done wrong.

When I left Jersey, I continued to suffer, mainly because I was condemned by the Church, until the day I was befriended by Catholics, and it was their words that saved me.
My dear Catholic friends, who remain dear to me two and a half years after I met them, taught me these simple things:

We are all accountable to God, the Church members who hurt me may have done wrong but it is between them and God, and I may have done wrong in retaliation but that is between me and God, and ultimately it is between me and God for me to confess my sins and be forgiven, and it is also up to the people who hurt me to confess before God and be forgiven by Him.
And there is no-one in Jersey who hurt me, who I have not forgiven, this does not mean that I am not deeply dismayed by their past and current behaviour.

I confessed my sins, and was provisionally Baptized a Catholic in order to be confirmed, as it was not possible to safely get my Baptism record from the Church of England, and in Baptism, all past sins are forgiven, and since my Baptism I have returned to confession with my sins and struggles regularly, and I love that integrity before God.

I can see that in Jersey no-one who has done wants to admit to their wrongdoing, and instead they are metaphorically stoning me, and using mental health as a rock to throw, which is, although they don’t realise it, tarnishing their image as Christians and certainly leaving them with a lot of wrong between themselves and God.

And I hope and pray that all of this can change, and that these people, Philip Bailhache, Gavin Ashenden and Bruce Willing will have a change of heart, come back to the basics of Christianity and cease to use the Church in incorrect ways.

I have an image of Jesus arriving in Jersey and going to these churches, homeless and unqualified, ‘different’ and saying things that people like Senator Bailhache and Bruce Willing do not like,  I have an image of them rejecting him and yet not being able to get rid of him, I have an image of them venting their wrath on him, I have an image of my own experience of Jersey, and I have an image of the crucifixion of Jesus at the hands of the Pharisees, and you know something? Those three images tell the same story.

I will discuss with you Senator Bailhache’s "campaign" to get the Dean reinstated. I know I am autistic but I do not understand why Senator Bailhache was so keen to clear someone who had done wrong at the expense of the person who had been wronged.

Senator Bailhache has never met me, and no matter what he is told about me, that is hearsay and he should know better, as a church member and as a representative of the States of Jersey, but especially as a church member who presumably professes to be a Christian, than to judge and condemn someone he doesn't even know.

As I said earlier, I know Jersey is behind the times, but Senator Bailhache shows just how seriously behind the times he is, as well as showing just how much wrong there is between himself and God.

Hopefully Senator Bailhache’s new promotion to Foreign Affairs Minister for that tiny Island of Jersey will ensure that his travel and liaison with other, less insular countries will broaden his mind and bring Jersey, and himself, a bit more up to date on courtesy, balanced judgements and mental health.

He has really showed himself up and done himself a disservice in running a campaign that harmed me in order to try and clear the Dean of misconduct that the Dean did commit.

Senator Bailhache makes me out to be a troublemaker and an abuser despite never having met me and acting only on what he has heard, this shows very plainly why Jersey’s Deanery needs a visitation, it also shows him as unprofessional, a judge who judges someone he doesn't know? Writes libellous letters about them to all and sundry and has such letters published as fact and with claims to represent the whole island? Islanders protested about this, but because of the tremendous power that Senator Bailhache has, his was the voice which was heard.

Even the Bishop and Archbishop were made to give way and reinstate the Dean without an enquiry, on the grounds of Senator Bailhache using his political position, his signature as ‘Senator Bailhache’, despite later stating that he was acting as a member of the church and thus had every right to support the Dean.

Let me return to how this fits in with the Church and God, if this behaviour by Senator Bailhache is endorsed, commended or acceptable to the Church, then the Church is not following Jesus and is not of God.

If Senator Bailhache describes himself as a Christian, then he needs to stop and look at what he is doing and has done, and he needs to realise that not only is he behaving in a very unchristian way and very displeasing to God, but he is also tarnishing the Church’s name, image and purpose, and should choose between continuing his unchristian behaviour and leaving the Church or considering how to achieve his aims, including supporting the Dean, in a proper, reasonable manner, without the unspeakable wrong of abuse of power in his political position while calling himself a Christian or his hate campaign against someone he considers to be ‘mentally ill’ in order to clear someone who has committed misconduct against that same person.



Monday, 7 October 2013

Jersey's Dean---Dame Heather-Saint or Sinner?

In early March this year following a review undertaken by Jan Korris on behalf of the Safeguarding Panel for the Diocese of Winchester Jersey’s Dean Bob Key was suspended.

Later in March it was announced that Bishop John Gladwin was appointed to head a Visitation/Investigation. The Terms of Reference (TOR) were published and it was evident that they mainly concentrated on the Constitutional position between the Jersey and Winchester but importantly did not include the Dean’s handling of an abuse complaint made in 2008 by a lady identified as HG against a Church Warden identified as EY.

The Dean’s suspension was lifted in early May following considerable pressure from Senator Bailhache and other interested parties. The Dean publicly apologised to HG but like the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of Winchester has not done so personally.

On 15th May the Winchester Diocese released news that Dame Heather Steel a former High Court Judge with strong links with the Jersey judiciary was to lead an investigation into the 2008 church safeguarding complaint. The investigation would feed into the John Gladwin investigation, but surprisingly no TOR was published.

Following the publication of several Blogs on the Dean's suspension, HG contacted me and we agreed that I should act as her mediator. I made contact with John Gladwin and arranged to meet him with HG in London on 11th June. I envisaged that the investigation process would be a traumatic experience and at the outset had made it made abundantly clear that the Church of England should provide HG with some tangible support as she was living on the streets. I also asked that arrangements should be made for the public apologies to be given personally.

At the June meeting concerns were expressed regarding Dame Heather’s conflict and absence of her TOR. HG’s deportation was most unjust, was a life changing experience, should certainly have been included in the TOR and we sought confirmation.

A promise was made re tangible assistance, we would receive a copy of the report made from notes taken at the meeting, HG agreed to attend a further meeting and I would continue to be the intermediary and all communications would be through me. We would receive a copy of Dame Heather’s TOR which we anticipated would include HG’s arrest and deportation. We also expected John Gladwin to brief Dame Heather of our meeting and agreements. To date no assistance has been given, no clarification given re the TOR, no second meeting has been arranged and Dame Heather has not interviewed HG.

What is the significance of HG’s arrest and deportation? For a full account it would be helpful to read my Blog “Did the punishment fit the crime? “ posted on 14th May to read please click HERE. In summary by 2010 HG felt a great sense of injustice, not only did she believe that the Dean, the former Bishop Michael Scott -Joynt and Safeguarding Officer Jane Fisher had failed to satisfactorily deal with her complaint against the Church Warden but there was no way they could be accountable as even her complaint to the Arch Bishop of Canterbury about their failure was ignored. In short she felt betrayed and humiliated. This betrayal is exacerbated following the recent June meeting.

In attempting to seek justice she made repeated telephone calls and sent emails to the Dean, Bishop and Jane Fisher. Korris claims that HG’s demanding and abusive emails swung between anger and fear. I am not condoning HG’s actions but I do question whether they were deserving of being arrested, detained in La Moye Prison for 2 weeks before being deported, left destitute in the UK and banned from returning to Jersey for 3 years.

Korris on page 41 says; “The decision and manner of HG’s deportation requires further investigation. It is clearly a matter of concern that a vulnerable adult in such a distressed state could be removed from Jersey with no thought to her imminent care needs.”

In page 47 in her list of recommendations which form the basis of the Steel TOR Korris records; “There will also need to be an investigation into the deportation of HG on 11th October 2010 and why there is there is a complete lack of recording of this matter by Dean RK from the date of her arrest.”

The Steel TOR was published in August and it is unclear whether the deportation is included so to seek clarification. I sent emails to Dame Heather on 15th & 27th August, 3rd, and 9th and 20th September, I also said that I would be pleased to meet her to discuss the matter. John Gladwin was copied in to all these emails.
Last Thursday 3rd October I again emailed Dame Heather with copy to John Gladwin stating that I would be drafting another Blog on Monday and asked whether the arrest and deportation were in the TOR and if she intended to meet me.

Unfortunately I have not received a reply and one is left to wonder whether Dame Heather is incredibly busy, inefficient or just rude. On her appointment Bishop Tim Dakin, said, “We are enormously grateful that Dame Heather has offered her considerable expertise to us all. As I have said before, we cannot stress enough the importance of safeguarding. We are committed to understanding fully the circumstances of this complaint and to ensuring that we take whatever action is required to ensure that our Church is a safe haven for the vulnerable.”

It is becoming evident that neither the Church nor Dame Heather is really interested in fully understanding HG’s complaint let alone address it and the real purpose of the Visitation is to address the Constitutional issue. This claim was made by the Dean’s supporters months back who claim that the Dean and HG are just pawns in a much bigger game.

It is now 7 months since the Dean was suspended and on Friday it will be 3 years to the day that HG was deported. If the Visitation is to have any credibility then Dame Heather must abide with Jan Korris’s recommendation and investigate HG’s deportation. The least she can do is to clarify her TOR and if she has no intention of reviewing the deportation issue then someone else should be appointed to so. It seems inconceivable that any report can be compiled unless all the concerns are addressed, and the complainant and all the witnesses are interviewed. 

To read “Did the punishment fit the crime” please click HERE.