Friday, 9 June 2017

IICSA and publicity

At the hearing on Tuesday, about the only time Professor Jay said anything at all was to condemn the press coverage of the proposal to drop Ealing and Fort Augustus.

When the issue of press coverage was first raised by Ms. Karmy-Jones, Counsel to the inquiry,  Professor Jay. had the following to say, as recorded in the transcript
I want to comment here. We were indeed concerned to see the press coverage. It seemed to suggest that I had made a decision to exclude Fort Augustus and Ealing Abbey. I would like to make it clear that I have not made any such decision.
The only problem is that this isn't what the articles said. The Sunday Post said "Last week, Fort Augustus Abbey was left off the list of schools to be examined by the IICSA later this year." which is strictly correct. The CTI submission did have a list of schools to be examined later this year, and Fort Augustus was not on it. However the end of the article did make it clear no final decision had been made. The last word was given to an IICSA spokeswoman, as follows.
A spokeswoman for the IICSA said the institutions to be examined were still not set in stone – despite the new proposals. She said: “No decisions of any sort have been made about the matters to be considered at the hearing.”
Can't be much clearer than that.

The Times was even more careful in its coverage, saying:
Next week lawyers for Alexis Jay, chairwoman of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), will propose that no evidence be called about decades of abuse of pupils at Ealing Abbey and its adjoining independent school, St Benedict’s.
See that word "propose"? That's not an indication that a decision has already been made. And the Times also carried a response from the IICSA, as follows.
A spokesman for the IICSA said: “No decisions have yet been made about the matters to be considered at the Benedictine hearing that is due to start later this year. Submissions will be heard from inquiry counsel and core participants about this at the preliminary hearing.”
So it's a bit rich for Professor Jay in the hearing itself to complain that it had been suggested that a decision had already been made when both papers went to the trouble of making it clear that a decision hadn't been made. I don't think that Professor Jay deliberately lied in her role as chair, especially in a formal hearing, so I'm going to assume that Professor Jay, in her annoyance that the matter had been made public, was careless in her reading of the articles or careless in her characterisation of them. More care really is needed.

Ms. Karmy-Jones also went on at greater length about this, and part of what she said concerned the effect of the news articles on survivors.
... they are unfortunate, not least because of the very real distress that they will have caused a number of individuals, including core participants and potential witnesses to these matters.
I notice some vary careful wording here, about the distress "they will have caused". Not "they have caused", but "they will have caused". I rather suspect she doesn't have evidence that survivors have been caused distress by the newspaper articles, and of course she mustn't lie . What caused the distress was her own submission to the inquiry (accurately reported) proposing that Ealing and Fort Augustus be dropped. It was in all probability leaked to the press by survivors in their anger at the proposals, and I know for a fact that survivors of my acquaintance were very pleased to see the matter aired in public. One survivor has written to me as follows.
It is not stretching the truth to say that the grotesque proposal to drop Ealing because a trial might be prejudiced by testimony to the IICSA from victims of Benedictine abuse over at least six decades is what caused us all no small distress. Contrary to the IICSA’s opinion that the newspaper articles upset us, we welcomed the media exposés of this monumentally stupid proposal on the IICSA’s part. I spent a few days back in very dark places in my mind as PTSD and the urge to react with extreme violence — as I so often did as a young man — took a brief hold of me. I am afraid that I now see some of the individuals staffing the IICSA more as unwitting allies of pedophiles than of the core participants they should be treating with some modicum of respect.
That is an indication of the extent to which the proposals have caused very real anger among survivors. The Shirley Oaks Survivors Association has already withdrawn co-operation with the inquiry. The high-handed approach of the inquiry is alienating survivors and it's going to have to stop while they still have any survivors willing to participate in the public hearings.

1 comment:

  1. Jonathan, I am appalled at the suggestion that Ealing Abbey/St Benedicts School and Fort Augustus may be dropped from any enquiry. No stone must be left unturned to ensure that those students who were so tragically let down by those to whom parents had entrusted the safety and well being of their children receive justice in any enquiry. The upcoming trial of Soper in October must not be allowed to affect any enquiry however inconvenient the timing may be. Please can you use any influence you may have to ensure that the two establishments above are in no way downgraded and dropped from any enquiry; if there is anything any concerned commentator can do to assist such as writing to interested parties please publish details below.