“If I had lied, I would’ve ended up in La Moye”
THE law that prevents politicians from being prosecuted for perjury if they lie to official inquiries should be changed in the wake of the Deputy Andrew Lewis case, according to a woman who was abused at Haut de la Garenne.
Madeleine Vibert (57) said it was unacceptable that had she lied to the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry she could have ‘ended up in La Moye’ whereas the Deputy – who did lie to the inquiry – continues to hold office and faces no legal ramifications.
Ms Vibert – who has spoken out about the sexual, physical and mental abuse she suffered at the home in the 1960s and 1970s – said that such injustices, along with the involvement of former Bailiff and now Senator Sir Philip Bailhache in offering legal representation to Deputy Lewis when he appeared before a States disciplinary panel over the matter last week, only add to the perception of authority figures closing ranks out of self-interest.
‘That law has got to be changed. I want it changed,’ she said.
The Privileges and Procedures Committee, which is in charge of States reform and standards, last week found that Deputy Lewis had breached the Code of Conduct for politicians when he lied to the Assembly about the suspension of former police chief Graham Power in 2008.
It is currently considering what action should be taken against him.
The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry also found that he had lied to it in official evidence, which led to calls that he should be prosecuted for perjury.
However, it later emerged that under the States of Jersey Law politicians cannot be prosecuted for lying to a committee of inquiry as an extension of parliamentary privilege, which allows them to speak freely in the Assembly without fear of prosecution.
Ms Vibert, who was one of more than 200 witnesses to give evidence to the inquiry, said the St Heier Deputy had let Islanders down.
‘Andrew Lewis cannot be trusted, he lied on oath, he lied to the inquiry, he lied to his colleagues and to us,’ she said.
‘I had to put my hand on the Bible, we all had to, and if I had lied I’d be up at La Moye.’
She added that she wanted the States of Jersey Law changed so that politicians and members of the public are treated equally in such situations, with perjury charges possible for both if necessary.
Full interview in Tuesday’s JEP.