The cause of silence is self-interest
Tuesday 5th March 2013, 3:27PM GMT.
THE journalist who first broke the story that led to the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien and his apology for his sexual conduct had this to say at the weekend:
‘One of the big difficulties for the Church is the instinct to cover up and protect itself,’ she said. ‘This says to individuals who have been wronged – you do not matter as much as the public face of our institution.’
Is it, in the context of the AFR Advocates settlement, wrong to see the same tendency here in government?
Who, for instance, requested the confidentiality arrangement and who had most to gain from it being imposed? Certainly not AFR. Why was Home’s knee-jerk reaction to say that no financial details could come out?
Was it to prevent named police officers from being criticised for wasting public funds or to prevent the Law Officers from being similarly chastised for, as islanders would see it, wasting more money defending the indefensible?
Preventing the full cost reaching the public domain is a calculated act because it damps down voter and taxpayer anger and reduces the likelihood of meaningful investigation.
Look at the fishing limit debacle. A piece of legislation with as much power as an order banning the sale of cycle clips on a Sunday was supposed to stop UK and Jersey fishermen doing what they had been doing for decades and potentially cost them hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Yet no one has been held to account, no meaningful questions asked and no one held responsible.
So it is pretty clear why the police and not AFR asked for the confidentiality agreement and yet another precedent against full disclosure has been established, to the detriment of taxpayers and to the relief of those who might be embarrassed by what their actions have caused.
But perhaps the most chilling expression from the Policy Council on this has been that not even a Freedom of Information law would have teased out the required information.
The inference – and similarity with the Church quote above – is clear.
Government decides how little to release and for reasons that are entirely self-serving.
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