Allegations without substance
Thursday 20th September 2012, 4:30PM BST.
JOHN Hemming, the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament, represents a Birmingham constituency. You could, however, be forgiven for imagining that he has a seat in our own States Assembly.
Why? Because he seems to be at least as concerned about what may or may not have happened in Jersey as he is about affairs in his own backyard.
In the House of Commons earlier this week Mr Hemming, a political ally of former Senator Stuart Syvret, asserted that this Island is utterly corrupt and a hotbed of conspiracies and cover-ups. We have, of course, heard all this before, but the one thing that is consistently missing from these allegations is any sort of proof that would stand up to serious scrutiny.
All sorts of wild accusations about the Island and the supposed perfidy of its authorities fly about on the internet – but so do reports of flying saucers and alien abductions.
It is also worth pointing out that if many of these allegations were published in this newspaper it would very likely find itself in court facing a series of libel actions – which would be indefensible through lack of supportive evidence. But the bloggers who are responsible for defaming all and sundry online have little to fear on this score because potential litigants realise that they are men of straw incapable of paying any damages awarded against them.
Meanwhile, given that the UK has an explicit and well recognised duty to ensure the good governance of the Channel Islands, does Mr Hemming really believe that successive governments of various political hues have turned a blind eye to the scandals that he claims to detect? Perhaps he believes that the massive cover-up he is so eager to expose extends all the way to the UK’s corridors of power.
Meanwhile, someone from even further afield than John Hemming, US journalist Leah McGrath Goodman, is keen to investigate the historic child abuse issue. The key word here is investigate, so although she has been refused entry by the UK Border Agency over what seems to have been a visa problem – though some detect yet another conspiracy – our authorities should clearly make every effort to see that she is permitted to visit.
Honest investigation is to be welcomed – even if uncomfortable truths emerge. Unsupported slander fired from the hip under the protective cloak of parliamentary privilege is not.