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9 September 2015

A former member of the island’s Education Committee has been giving evidence to the Inquiry.

Former Deputy Patricia Ann Bailhache served on the committee from 1988 until 2002. She also chaired the Children’s Sub Committee until the early 1990’s when it was disbanded.

Mrs Bailhache, answering questions from Counsel Patrick Sadd, said that when she entered politics, a primary reason people voted for her was that she was known as secretary of the Jersey Deaf Children's Committee. She explained that she had no family connection to Philip and William Bailhache, well-known public figures, but: "Personal contacts and family reputations are significant in Jersey."

Mrs Bailhache told the hearing how Children's Services were funded by the Education Committee directly. It also had responsibility for schools and she felt Children's Services were the "poor relations."  She described how child care officers were extremely busy and there was difficulty in obtaining additional funding.

Mrs Bailhache was taken around the different children's homes by Anton Skinner, then in charge of Children's Services. She recalled meeting Jane Maguire at Le Squez home and remembered sitting on a settee and chatting, but Mrs Maguire "did not raise any particular concerns." However Mrs Bailhache viewed her as strict: "I felt she came across as rather overbearing."

At Les Chenes, Mrs Bailhache found its principal Mario Lundy "very enthusiastic" and said the children didn't seem to be intimidated by him.

Explaining how Children's Services never had enough staff, Mrs Bailhache said one of the reasons she eventually decided to disband the Children's Sub Committee was that officers were spending three days writing reports for it, and that time "could be better spent taking care of troubled children."

Mrs Bailhache also told how it was difficult to recruit foster parents. She said that one reason was the lack of pay. A further challenge was that banks in Jersey were on a recruitment drive and Children's Services couldn't compete with the salaries on offer.

In 1993 a report to the Education Committee from the Child Protection Team recorded an increase in the number of abuse allegations and referrals. Mrs Bailhache said: "perhaps we could have been stronger in getting money to assist the service" but she thought money would have been a "sticking plaster...not likely to solve the underlying problem."

Mrs Bailhache remembered the allegations of abuse at Clos de Sables sgainst Les Hughes, who was subsequently convicted and imprisoned, but said that once he was removed from his post, the committee had no further involvement.

At Heathfield home a member of staff known as Witness 335 was given early retirement following allegations of sodomy. Mrs Bailhache said that the committee would have gone along with this approach. Noting that it would be handled differently in 2015, she said it was "the way things were done in those days."

In the mid 1990's, Children's Services was moved to the Health and Social Services Department. Mrs Bailhache thought this move would give the service "more input". 

Full transcript and supporting documents will be published on the website as soon as they're available.

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