A “proper review” should be held into the way St Helena Police were allowed to investigate two social workers who had made whistle-blowing claims against them, a UK Member of Parliament has said.
St Helena Government has denied that there was any possibility of “inappropriate influence”, even though officers would have appeared able to access emails containing corruption claims against the police service.
One of the social workers has also expressed anger about the way St Helena’s Attorney General, Nicola Moore, announced the outcome of the case without informing him.
Martin Warsama has also taken legal advice about critical comments she made that appeared to relate to all four of the former officials who were investigated over an adoption case.
All four were cleared – including her own predecessor, Frank Wastell.
Mr Warsama has also written to the Attorney General demanding to know the basis of criticisms made about them – and to ask why he was not told about them before they were made public.
None of the people investigated were named in the Attorney General’s statement, but three of those involved had been publicly identified elsewhere.
The statement attributed the criticisms to independent counsel who had reviewed evidence in the affair. But St Helena Government has refused to name the two lawyers who reviewed the files.
Mr Warsama said he did not even know about Nicola Moore’s statement until he was sent an internet link, two days after it was issued.
Chief Justice Charles Ekins had recommended that the case should be reviewed by an independent lawyer to see whether there might have been perjury or an attempt to pervert the course of justice – both serious crimes.
But Mr Warsama feared the police investigation would give officers the opportunity to seize emails that would reveal allegations he had made about the handling of sex abuse cases.
The British government has since commissioned an inquiry by Sasha Wass QC into alleged police corruption on the island. Mr Warsama was due to meet her in London on Friday, 27 February 2015.
The government dismissed any suggestion of a conflict of interest for police because of oversight by the unnamed independent counsel, and the involvement of Merseyside Police. Mr Warsama was not pacified.
Concerns about the investigation and the events that led to it were sent to the British MP John Hemming. In an email, he said: “This needs a proper review, but that may need to be after the elections [in May 2015].”
Asked for a comment, he said: “It worries me if whistle-blowers are investigated by those against whom they have blown the whistle.”
Mr Hemming has been praised by Britain’s Home Secretary for his campaigning on sex abuse. On 4 February 2015, he told the House of Commons he had documentary evidence that officials in London turned a blind eye to child abuse on St Helena.
Mr Warsama said Nicola Moore had breached his privacy by revealing that information had been passed to the professional bodies of the four people investigated in the adoption case.
He said such information should have been confidential. Ms Moore has pointed out that the Daily Telegraph had already reported than the social workers’ professional body had been investigating.
The Health and Care Professions Council, which regulates social workers, also said that complaints were kept private under its duty of confidentiality.
Questions put to St Helena Government:
On 27 February 2015, St Helena Government press office was asked: “Could you please tell me the names of the two independent Counsel who reviewed the judgment and addendum in the adoption case on Ascension? It should be a matter of public record and easy to establish.
“Although none of the investigated people were named, it is widely known that they included Claire Gannon and Martin Warsama (the latter has told me so) and that they had acted as whistle-blowers, making allegations against St Helena Police regarding sex abuse.
“Could you please give me a comment on the fact that the two social workers were being investigated by the very police force against which they had acted as whistle-blowers? There would appear to be a conflict of interest and I expect to write a story to this effect.
“Please say when Operation Ladder commenced, and when the investigation was complete. Please say whether anyone was arrested and bailed in the course of the investigation.”
Response from St Helena Government:
Received 27 February 2015: “No personal details will be provided as to the identity of any individuals concerned. The oversight by independent counsel, both at the instigation of the investigation and when deciding upon charges, plus the close involvement of Merseyside Police, removes the potential for any inappropriate influence by anyone including the St Helena Police Service. As was made clear in the Attorney General’s statement, the investigation flowed directly from a recommendation from the Chief Justice following concerns relating to the conduct of a family case in the Supreme Court. It is therefore quite evidently incorrect and misleading to link the investigation to the issues raised by those persons who assert that they are whistle blowers. Kind Regards….”
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