Jersey probe cop Lenny Harper: I’m being set up as the fall guy
The Northern Ireland-born police officer who headed up the Jersey child abuse probe is to tell the High Court in London next month that the UK must intervene in the case to ensure justice for the victims.
Lenny Harper, who retired in August after leading a two-year long police inquiry into historical child abuse on the island, told the Belfast Telegraph that he will be giving evidence to the High Court about obstructions he faced while trying to bring cases to court during his time at the helm of the investigation.
Mr Harper also said he believes that a smear campaign has been launched against him in a bid to set him up as the fall guy should the police investigation fail.
The Londonderry man, who now lives in Ayr, will give evidence during a legal challenge over the handling of the Jersey child abuse investigation. The action was launched in August by a campaign group — set up by Lib Dem MP John Hemming and Jersey senator Stuart Syvret — that says it does not have confidence in the island's authorities.
The group wants a judicial review of what it has called the “failure” of UK ministers to “enforce the rule of law”. The island's attorney general has said criticism of its justice system was “misplaced”.
“The courts of Jersey have been delivering justice week in, week out for centuries,” he said. “Justice will be done.”
But Mr Harper said he will tell the High Court of his concerns that victims may not get justice unless an outside body steps in.
“I will be giving evidence about the obstructions and problems I met in trying to get cases to court.
“I was always reluctant to say publicly that I thought someone from the outside should step in. But I think someone from the UK needs to intervene in some way to make sure the victims get justice.
I believe all this |nonsense is to |discredit me and to set me up to take the fall. There has been no more progress in the Jersey case, so I really think this is all about finding |someone to take |the blame
“It is concerning that there have been no more arrests or any progress in the case,” he said.
The Jersey Police Complaints Authority is currently investigating a formal complaint lodged by Mr Harper about comments made by his successor Deputy Chief Officer David Warcup and Detective Superintendent Michael Gradwell at a recent Press conference.
During the media briefing Mr Warcup attacked Mr Harper’s inquiry. He said there were no suspicious deaths at the former children's home Haut de la Garenne and that the investigation was not conducted properly.
However, Mr Harper said the comments “grossly and deliberately or negligently,” misrepresented views and statements made by him to the media.
“I believe all this nonsense is to discredit me and to set me up to take the fall. There has been no more progress in the case so I really think this is all about finding someone to take the blame,” he said.
Mr Harper also told the Belfast Telegraph he recently received a “bizarre” letter from Mr Warcup requesting the return of any unused documents relating to the case.
“I have no unused material whatsoever. I have nothing which is relevant to the inquiry. This letter was very puzzling and a little disturbing. I can only think of two possible reasons — one that it is an attempt to intimidate me just before I give evidence in the High Court or two, that it is an attempt to set the scene to blame me for any discontinuation of proceedings. In light of all that has been happening I believe I am being set up to take the blame if no charges are brought.”