The former Head of Children’s Services, Mr Anton Skinner, on Thursday (30 July) continued giving evidence to the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.
Speaking for a third day, he recalled the circumstances around Jane Maguire being transferred to the Family Centre Service after being removed as House Mother at Blanche Pierre following abuse allegations. Her new role included running under-fives groups alongside an experienced nursery worker. Inquiry Counsel, Mr Patrick Sadd, asked Mr Skinner to comment on how much he was aware of the extent of involvement that Mrs Maguire would have had with young children.
Mr Skinner went on to describe his actions in the investigation into disclosure of abuse made by a young person originally resident at Heathfield about a member of staff, Witness 335. He talked about the involvement of the Police and the newly formed Child Protection Team (for which he had been responsible for setting up), as well as discussions about the case with the Education Committee. Witness 335 was given early retirement and an enhancement to his pension.
He also outlined what the disciplinary procedures of the States of Jersey were in 1991 and the issues around trying to fire people.
Mr Sadd then asked Mr Skinner about political interest and involvement in Children's Services, funding, and his relationship with Senator Stuart Syvret, in his role as President and latterly Minister of Health and Social Services.
Mr Skinner explained his department's retention policy with regard to destroying documents and archiving and talked about issues arising out of the Operation Rectangle Police investigation.
Mr Skinner spoke of the lessons learned both personally and professionally, some of the improvements achieved within Children's Services and the difficulties of getting laws passed in Jersey.
His concluding statement included apologies to all children affected by decisions made by himself and Children’s Services. He said there was no question of a cover-up as he did act on complaints as quickly as possible - but that there were lessons to be learned.
Mr Sadd also started to take Day 89’s second witness through his evidence. Mr Tony Le Sueur first appeared before the IJCI Panel last year to outline the history of Jersey’s Children’s Services since 1945 as part of his current role as Programme Associate on behalf of Health & Social Services in the States’ own Inquiry team. He confirmed that the appointment was not made on behalf of the IJCI nor was in any way related to the IJCI team.
Mr Le Sueur detailed various aspects of training, development and disciplinary policies and practices as well as child protection legislation during his varied career within Children’s Services since starting as a worker in a Youth centre in the 1980s, working at Heathfields and La Chasse in the 1990s and moving into senior management roles in the 2000s.
He talked about what he wanted the IJCI final report to achieve, and his fears that the funds wouldn’t be made available to implement any recommendations which he regarded as being a priority in order to protect vulnerable children.
Public hearings start at 0900 tomorrow (Friday 31 July) and Mr Le Sueur will continue giving his evidence from 1000.
Full transcripts and supporting documents will be available in due course.