COMMENT: Report into treatment of tow-truck firm’s owner was shameful for Jersey

Helier Clement

Helier Clement

THERE are those who contend that the function of journalism is threefold – to inform, educate and entertain – but this bolshie little crapaud begs to differ. In my view the function is very simple – to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.

I was never more conscious of the latter than when I read the absolutely scathing – not to mention embarrassingly shameful, from a Jersey point of view – account of the report of Northern Ireland police chief George Hamilton into the complaints made by businessman Roy Boschat.

What appears to have happened to Mr Boschat at the hands of the States of Jersey Police seems to me to cut right across the age-old legal maxim that presumes a person’s innocence until guilt is proven.

Let alone never having been found guilty of a criminal offence, Mr Boschat was never even charged, one of the effects of this being that he was never afforded a public forum – in the shape of a court appearance – in which to deny allegations made in a letter sent by the then deputy chief officer of the States police, Lennie Harper, to all 12 parish Constables.

That letter advised them not to use Mr Boschat’s vehicle recovery business – something which I believe any business would have extreme difficulty in coping with, no matter what its trade or profession.

In his investigation, Mr Hamilton found that some of Mr Boschat’s requests for information, which should have received a response within 40 days, were not answered for a period of years – failures which the Police Service of Northern Ireland chief found to be ‘pretty widespread’ and ‘systematic’.

I have no idea at all whether or not Mr Boschat did in fact ‘bung’ certain police officers in order to solicit custom for his business but I do know that he was never charged in relation to that allegation and it goes without saying that he was never convicted. There is little doubt in my mind that the action of no less a person than someone carrying the clout and authority of extremely senior rank within the States police writing that letter to the 12 parish Constables probably killed off Mr Boschat’s business.

Although it is rare, it is not unknown for that lot in the Big House to recognise that someone has suffered a wrong at the hands of an official or entity within the public sector and compensate that individual and the case of fireworks entrepreneur, now Deputy, Terry McDonald is probably the most recent precedent for this.

A couple of decades or so ago, there would have been no shortage of Members willing and able to take a case such as this to the Big House and argue forcefully for a bit of justice for Mr Boschat. I hope that still prevails, for there can be little doubt that he has indeed been afflicted by the comfortable.

AND finally… As a former pupil – although not a very good one, I hasten to add, and certainly nowhere near old enough to be part of the Class of ’52 – of Hautlieu School, I had more than a passing interest in the feature last week marking the forthcoming 65th anniversary.

It was interesting to recall the distinction that people like Tommy Horton brought to Hautlieu through his sporting achievements on golf courses the world over and I smiled when I reflected on the fact that about the only thing he and I had in common in relation to our schooldays was that we both left at 15 – a year earlier than the majority of our peers. Interestingly, Tommy was not the only pupil in that original intake to take sporting prowess to the national stage in the United Kingdom. Terry Le Main found fame – I can’t remember the team he rode for – as a top-level speedway rider in the UK while Geoff Vowden played football for Nottingham Forest, Birmingham City and Aston Villa, becoming the first substitute to score a hat trick in the Football League at one stage.

I also have a feeling that former Senator Ted Vibert also found fame on the football pitch and I seem to recall that it was for a top-ranking amateur side in the days when amateur football was extremely popular and well supported – the Amateur Cup Final being played at Wembley and televised live. Corinthian Casuals are the team which spring to mind, but I would be wrong.

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