Jersey police chief's anger at minister's e-mail slating abuse inquiry

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THE police officer heading the inquiry into child sex abuse in Jersey is considering legal action over an e-mail from the island's children's minister that has criticised his investigation.

Lenny Harper, Jersey's deputy police chief, said the e-mail, sent by Ben Shenton, the health and social services minister, to his cabinet colleagues, was "childish and bizarre" and "unhelpful to the victims".

It contains a personal attack on Mr Harper, referring to him as "Lenny Henry", and mocks the investigation, questioning whether the remains found so far are animal or human bones.

Police looking into allegations of abuse at the former children's home Haut de la Garenne say more than 160 people claim to have been physically and sexually abused there since the 1960s.

Forensic teams searching the site have found human remains buried in a stairwell and a network of secret underground chambers, where victims claim they were abused.

Mr Harper said the e-mail was a "clear attempt to damage the inquiry" and he planned to seek legal advice with a view to a libel action.

In it, Mr Shenton states: "My wife keeps referring to Lenny Harper as Lenny Henry – I don't think she's far wrong."

The deputy police chief said: "I have seen the very personal attack on me by Mr Shenton. My view is that it is rather childish and bizarre.

"It is unhelpful to the victims and the investigation. It is also in marked contrast to the support given by the chief minister and the home affairs minister and the magnificent response from the community."

Mr Shenton was unavailable for comment yesterday.

The news comes as another former resident of Haut de la Garenne has claimed she was abused – by Colin Tilbrook, a former headmaster who was also her foster parent. He ran the home during the 1960s and has since died.

Police will not reveal the names of any suspects in their inquiry, but it is understood Mr Tilbrook's name has come up a number of times in victims' allegations.

His foster daughter, Tina Blee, now 38, said he sexually abused her from the age of ten.

She said: "He was a monster and I want the world to know, in the hope it will help the police.

"To think he may have been involved in the deaths of children is almost beyond belief. What he did to me has affected my entire life.

"It (the abuse] always seemed to happen on Tuesday nights when his wife was out at spinning and weaving classes. He was having full sex with me and even put me on the Pill."

Meanwhile, five groups calling for the resignation of Jersey's chief minister, Frank Walker, have been set up on the social networking website Facebook. Mr Walker could face further criticism at a rally in the island's capital, St Helier, tomorrow.

Organisers believe it will let people have their say about the way the government has handled the abuse inquiry.

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