Daily Mail, 25th October 2009
by Eileen Fairweather
A leading Jersey politician accused of leaking a police report is claiming asylum at the House of Commons because he believes he will not be given a fair trial on the island.
Senator Stuart Syvret, a former Jersey health and social security minister described by supporters as a ‘voice of the people’, fled to London shortly before he was due at a court hearing on Wednesday.
He has moved into the home of Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who is backing the senator’s case for ‘legal asylum’.
As a Channel Islands citizen, Mr Syvret has an automatic right to live in Britain, but the senator will tomorrow ask the British Government for ‘protection from harassment’ from the Jersey authorities.
He was arrested and charged in April for data-protection offences after he made public a police report into an aborted investigation into the conduct of a male nurse on the island.
On Friday, Jersey magistrates made an order for Mr Syvret’s arrest when he failed to turn up to two court hearings.
But Mr Hemming, MP for Birmingham Yardley, along with Labour MP Austin Mitchell and Lib Dem peer Lord Wallace of Saltaire, are supporting the senator’s application for protection from the Jersey judiciary.
They say the British Government should intervene because Jersey is a Crown dependency and Britain has a responsibility for its good governance.
Mr Syvret was the ‘whistleblower’ who previously claimed island officials covered up child abuse at Jersey’s Haut de la Garenne children’s home.
Arrests and charges were made. But when Mr Syvret called for an independent inquiry into the handling of that case, he was accused of damaging Jersey’s reputation and dismissed as health minister.
Mr Hemming said: ‘He is staying in my London flat as my guest and they can arrest him over my dead body. He is a brave and principled politician.
‘Jack Straw must act. The Jersey establishment care more about covering up their failures than protecting patients. Stuart has revealed a botched investigation into a major crime, but the authorities are prosecuting him rather than investigating the allegations about the nurse.
‘It is quite clear that the judicial processes in Jersey are skewed against Stuart. We should not allow him to be extradited, to be prosecuted in a kangaroo court.’
In March this year Mr Syvret, Jersey’s longest-serving senator, published details of a police investigation into a registered nurse in what he described as an effort to challenge ‘the Jersey way of constant cover-ups, a toxic culture of concealment’.
He claimed police feared the nurse was obsessed with death and that further investigation was needed, but that officers had been obstructed from interviewing witnesses by the island’s health services and senior officials.
The nurse has previous convictions and was sacked from his post after having sex with a seriously ill patient.
He was also arrested after a girlfriend claimed he had gone to her home and hidden stolen hospital drugs, for which he was convicted.
Police reports confirm that detectives found drugs at her house.
Background checks revealed further grave concerns, including complaints by relatives who claimed they had discovered him turning up morphine doses and a senior nurse who found that he had blocked a heart patient’s life-saving drip with a bung.
Following Mr Syvret’s publication of details of the investigation, Jersey police asked the Metropolitan Police to review its handling of the case.
A report by former Detective Chief Inspector Keith Eldridge of the Met’s Specialist Crime Directorate, which reviews unsolved homicides, confirmed that the nurse was ‘potentially a danger to women’ and prone to ‘predatory and violent sexual behaviour’.
He recommended that Jersey police ‘carry out an up-to-date risk assessment with a view to prevention of offences against vulnerable members of the Jersey community’.
However, he added that there were ‘no grounds to invite the Crown to review its position as there is no new evidence’.
Despite the report, Mr Syvret, 44, is still facing the possibility of a jail sentence should he be found guilty of breaching the Data Protection Act.
But he claims he fled Jersey only after he was advised that he may be barred from mounting a public-interest defence in court.
Mr Syvret said: ‘My home was raided in April by ten police officers, my parliamentary email account downloaded and I have even been billed thousands of pounds in court costs. I haven’t even been allowed legal aid so I have had to represent myself.
‘It has been a travesty of justice. During the past three months I have made around 50 different applications before the judge – relating to disclosures of evidence and the calling of witnesses – and every single one has been rejected.’
Mr Syvret intends to give himself up to police at the House of Commons tomorrow and then go through the unprecedented process of claiming the right to a fair trial on the mainland.
Lord Wallace claimed the Jersey government was attempting to silence its critics. He added: ‘Senator Syvret is a leading member of the States of Jersey. As an elected representative, it is his job to investigate the quality of public administration in Jersey and to respond to what those who voted for him have told him about past administrative actions.’