Senator Syvret – time to say sorry

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In March this year I published a blog about Senator Stuart Syvret, then Minister of Health in Jersey. I readily admit that this was a preemptive strike: the Senator had threatened John Christensen and myself saying he intended to use a range of right-wing web sites to besmirch our good names.

The reason was simple. As that blog noted, the Senator had in late March said on a web site that:

I never have been a member or supporter of organisation such as the Tax Justice Network & ATTAC and so on. I don't agree with them.

This was true with regard to membership. It was absolutely untrue thereafter.

Let me be straightforward: there was very little the Senator wrote or said on tax between 2003 and 2006 on which he had not sought my advice. On may occasions I edited what he wrote. Sometimes he blatantly used ideas I supplied to him. John Christensen has advised him since 1991, pretty much non-stop.

Now we don't regret that: Stuart Syvret was for more than a decade a rare symbol of integrity in Jersey. That has ceased to be the case in 2007 during which year he has, sadly, seemed intent on destroying his own career by throwing wild allegations at almost anyone he believes it possible to malign. Yesterday he was sacked as a minister by the States of Jersey as a result of a vote of no confidence on his handling of another matter in which he also made wild allegations.

I too was a victim of his wild allegations, as was my colleague John Christensen. He knew what he had said about his links with the Tax Justice Network was blatantly untrue. I have countless emails as evidence, for starters. But having realised that John Christensen and I are people of integrity who will not work with people who supply deliberate misinformation to the press he panicked in an attempt to suppress our denunciation of his statement . To do so he alleged that we had criminally blackmailed him in the course of his duties as a Senator.

This allegation was absolutely without foundation. John Christensen and I might have reasonable grounds (which we will not purse) for saying he threatened to blackmail us: the worst I did in correspondence with him was suggest that he sought medical advice, something his own senior civil servants repeated on the front page of the Jersey Evening Post a couple of months ago.

But the allegation once made to the Jersey police had to be pursued, and he required that it was. I supplied all the evidence Jersey police might ever have needed to prove the falseness of the allegation within seven days of it having been made. This was easy: one (admittedly 28 page) email exchange was the basis of the allegation and nothing within it could substantiate Syvret's claim.

I know Senator Syvret took somewhat longer to supply any evidence. And I now understand that more, and repeated requests were made of him by Jersey police for evidence to support his claim, which can only be because the claim he made based on the one email exchange provided was, as I always maintained, unable to support the allegation.

I was told today that the Senator has not produced that evidence. I'm not surprised., There is none. Furthermore he has now withdrawn his allegation and has asked that no further action be taken with regard to it. The Jersey police are confirming this in writing.

I am pleased to have this burden lifted from my shoulders. You can be entirely innocent and still be encumbered by such an allegation. But questions remain:

1) Will Senator Syvret now apologise?

2) Will the Jersey Evening Post give as much space to his withdrawing this allegation as it gave to him making it - which achieved a double page spread?

3) Why didn't the Attorney General of Jersey kick out this obviously groundless allegation? Or did it suit the government of Jersey to have John Christensen and I subject to such allegation?

4) Why did the Jersey Police never once (until today) contact either John Christensen and I with regard to this matter despite it's widespread coverage in the Jersey media? Is is customary for them to require those accused of criminal action to make voluntary contact with them and to provide evidence for their defence of their own free will, or was it the case that they had another agenda in play as a result of which they were quite happy to allow the allegation to remain unanswered for as long as possible?

5) Will the Senator now be charged with wasting police time? He purposefully did so to distract public attention from the real issue, which was his own untrue statement.

I will await answers with interest.

But I'm also pleased to be free of such allegation - and to know that there was no evidence to support them, as I always said.