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Police chief suspended over denials that children were murdered

Text by: REUTERS
3 min

Jersey's most senior police officer was suspended on Wednesday after detectives on his force said there was no indication that murder had been committed at a former children's care facility under investigation for abuse allegations.

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LONDON - Jersey's most senior police officer has been suspended after his force said no murders had been committed at a former children's care home at the centre of a massive abuse inquiry.

Jersey Home Affairs Minister Andrew Lewis said on Wednesday he had suspended Chief Police Officer Graham Power pending an investigation into his role in the inquiry.

"It is evident that we didn't receive all the information about the historic abuse inquiry that we should have received, and that some aspects of this critically important police investigation have not been conducted properly," Lewis said.

"While we welcome the conclusion of the police that there was no evidence of any murders having taken place, we need to understand, and will establish, why this was not made apparent earlier on in the investigation."

At a news conference, detectives said information put out by police about finds at the home which indicated that children might have been killed and then buried at the Haut de la Garenne home were inaccurate.

"We regret this," said Jersey's Deputy Police Chief David Warcup. "At this point in time, our assessment is that the forensic recoveries do not indicate that there have been murders of children or other persons at Haut de la Garenne.

"Nor do we believe the evidence indicates that bodies have been destroyed buried or hidden."

Many of the bones which detectives said suggested they were dealing with a possible murder inquiry had been found to be either not human or dating from as far back as 1470.

Warcup said there were no reports of any missing persons, no allegations of murder and no suspects. However he said the investigation into alleged child abuse would go on.

Haut de la Garenne closed as a children's home in 1986. The historical abuse inquiry began in 2006, looking at allegations of offences made by about 100 people dating back to the 1950s.

However it came to prominence in February this year after police said they had found a child's body. In May, they said the discovery of human remains such as children's teeth and bone fragments, could lead to a murder investigation.
So far three people have been charged with sexual offences against young boys and girls as part of the inquiry, which has involved detailed searches of cellars at the home.

The former detective in charge of the probe, Lenny Harper, has criticised Jersey's legal system and there have been accusations that the island's judicial authorities were involved in an attempted cover-up.

However, Warcup said such criticisms were both unfounded, unhelpful and could jeopardise future trials.

"I'm also of the opinion that speculation and uninformed comment will also be shown to have had a detrimental impact on the inquiry and may indeed have had an impact on public confidence in the criminal justice system in Jersey, he said.

Harper told the BBC it was "unfortunate" that the statements would detract from the fact that serious abuse had taken place at the home.

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