Another gag gets them off the hook

WHEN police raided a local firm of advocates, it was a pretty heavy-handed affair, not least because they ignored guidelines relating to lawyers representing clients and because officers threatened to break down a door unless allowed in at 3 o’clock in the morning.

WHEN police raided a local firm of advocates, it was a pretty heavy-handed affair, not least because they ignored guidelines relating to lawyers representing clients and because officers threatened to break down a door unless allowed in at 3 o’clock in the morning.

Although police and the Royal Court judge involved have belatedly acknowledged that what they did was wrong, a number of questions remain and there has been no satisfactory explanation of why this matter was initially contested and then dropped.

Head of law enforcement Patrick Rice has at least given an interview – with limited release of information – but Treasury and Resources is ignoring questions and there is still no word on how the States’ in-house legal team got it so badly wrong in the first place.

And now that unknown but substantial amounts of public money has been wasted, the predictable cover-up is in place.

Negotiating non-disclosure arrangements might, as the head of law enforcement insists, keeps costs down but islanders will see it more as a way of hiding bad news and escaping the consequences of foul-ups.

AFR seem to think the same way, having offered to waive their rights to confidentiality on the settlement since taxpayer money is involved, a move that hardly suggests that they have tried to fleece islanders in establishing that they were victims of improper police conduct or are embarrassed by the sums they have obtained.

Less satisfactory in this is the role of the Royal Court. Since it has been established that the police officers were not properly supervised and, to that extent, out of control, the watchdog role of the court becomes even more important.

As AFR put it, ‘in these circumstances, we needed the judge to protect us. Regrettably, that did not happen.’

Is that indicative of too close a relationship between cops and court or a consequence of critical faculties being dulled in the early hours? Was that why the raid was planned for 3am?

The reality is that islanders will never know.

When things go wrong, those involved circle the wagons and rely on gagging orders to get them off the hook.