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Blog: Miss A, reporting sex abuse allegations and the murky world of finding the truth

Credit: ITV Channel TV

There’s an inherent difficulty when it comes to reporting allegations of sexual abuse of any kind.

There’s the duty of care to the alleged victim beyond the obligation to protect their identity: to tell their story fairly and accurately, to avoid re-traumatising them as you ask them to recount what happened while a TV camera is present, and to manage their expectations of what broadcasting it to many thousands of people may achieve.

That last point varies by story. From a personal fight for justice to a broader “the public need to know what’s going on” approach.

In the case of Miss A, there was all of that, combined with a wider duty of care to avoid what’s known as the ‘jigsaw identification’ of other parties involved in the story, including both her and the alleged perpetrator.

Curiously, one of the most difficult aspects of this case is making sense of the police and prosecution process. That is because the States of Jersey Police and Home Affairs Minister both declined to be interviewed on camera for my investigation, and the Law Officers’ Department have a policy of not commenting on individual cases.

I make no criticism of that stance, it’s their prerogative, but it does leave questions hanging in the air - fairly or unfairly.

Why wasn’t a dossier of apparently damning evidence enough to bring the case to court?

Were prior alleged personal acquaintances between a police officer, a third party, and the accused a factor in the case? Had they been known, should they have been declared? Indeed, they may have been. We just don’t know.

There are a thousand other details around this case I have not included in my reporting. Partly for legal reasons, partly for fear of identifying parties, partly because of a need to keep a complicated story simple enough to be told in the finite time available on a television news programme.

I’ll be honest. What’s surprised me most is that the Home Affairs Minister declined the offer of an interview. His statement, as featured in full in my report, indicates his familiarity with the case in question. Yet his response is bland and benign, and asserts full faith in the force despite a catalogue of (to me, valid) concerns.

Miss A now doesn’t want to pursue a formal complaint as, frankly, she doesn’t trust that it will do any good.

Her supporter, who has a long history of working closely with the police to successfully secure prosecutions, also thinks something has gone wrong in this case.

This one is a personal fight for justice AND a “the public should know” situation.

Sadly, on both counts, Miss A may never get the answers she feels are overdue.

Here is my full report:

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