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WATCH: Jersey's Bailiff 'trolls' care inquiry

Jersey's Bailiff speaking in the States Credit: States of Jersey
  • WATCH: Gary Burgess sits down with Sir William Bailhache.

As trolling goes, Jersey's outgoing Bailiff has proven he is up there with the best of them.

Sir William Bailhache used a paragraph from the 2017 Care Inquiry report which criticised his brother, the former Bailiff Sir Philip, and changed a few words to launch a stinging attack on Frances Oldham QC who led the inquiry.

Compare the words for yourself:

Frances Oldham, in July 2017, wrote of Sir Philip's apparent prioritisation of Jersey's reputation above the child abuse investigation:

We cannot accept that a politician and lawyer of his experience would inadvertently have made what he told the Inquiry was an "unfortunate juxtaposition" of words. We are sure that the way in which Jersey is perceived internationally matters greatly to him. His linking of Jersey's reputation to the child abuse investigation was, we are satisfied, a grave political error.

– Frances Oldham QC
The Bailiff's final speech on 9 October 2019. Credit: States of Jersey

Yesterday (8 October), Sir William Bailhache said in parliament:

I cannot accept a lawyer of the chairman's experience would inadvertently have drafted such an unfortunate juxtaposition of words. I am sure that the way in which Jersey receives her panel's report matters greatly to her. Her linkage of the allegations of lack of fairness in transparency and decision-taking by the Bailiff to historic child abuse was a grave error.

– Sir William Bailhache

It is almost a carbon copy.

An extraordinary and unprecedented speech in its own right, but that he has used Frances Oldham QC's words and thrown them back in her face moves this up another level.

He is unhappy at fresh calls for the dual role of the Bailiff as both presiding officer in the States Assembly and chief judge in the courts should be split. He objects to a perception of establishment cover ups and the so-called "Jersey Way" being linked to the high office he holds.

Credit: States of Jersey

In response today, the Children's Minister Senator Sam Mézec has told me:

A lot of victims and survivors have had their hopes pinned on the Care Inquiry's recommendations being treated seriously and implemented, and to see the person who holds the highest office of the land disregard it in such a partisan way and impugn the integrity of the members of that panel will probably have upset and worried some of them.

– Senator Sam Mezec

Sir William is retiring but he has lobbed a grenade that will spark a whole new debate about power at the top of Jersey back to life. This could get explosive.