Sadly, now that Home Affairs Minister Ian Le Marquand has informed the States that in 2006 the police began compiling secret dossiers on States Members, the conspiracy theorists’ worst fears might appear to have been most emphatically substantiated. There is, however, an important and ironic twist in this bizarre, disturbing and totally unacceptable tale of top-level surveillance in the apparent absence of suspected crime or hint of any legitimate investigation.
The conspiracy theorists have been known to express their contempt for and mistrust of the present States police administration and accuse them of being hand-in-glove with behind-the-scenes movers and shakers.
But as Senator Le Marquand made abundantly clear yesterday in his commendably candid, clear and forthright statement to the House, a tight-knit group of police officers from what might be called the force’s previous administration – headed by Graham Power, who is now under suspension and investigation, and his now-retired deputy, Lenny Harper – were the only ones in the loop as far as the secret dossiers were concerned.
Ironically, policemen who are held by those who detect something rotten at the heart of present-day public life to be paragons now stand accused of activities that have far more in common with police state methods than anything that can be laid at the door of today’s senior officers.
Quite rightly, States Members are outraged at the idea that documents including police record checks plus unspecified data so potentially sensitive that even they will not be allowed access to it resided in files known only to the force’s former top echelon. The sinister overlap here between politics and policing is truly frightening.
Also quite rightly, there are demands for a full inquiry into this whole affair. Any such inquiry must, at the very least, determine exactly who authorised the compilation of the dossiers, who considered this to be legitimate policing and who should now be held to account. It also goes without saying that its results must be published in full.
The general public, moreover, will be eager to know if the secret record keeping by the police has involved people other than States Members. This, too, must be addressed satisfactorily and openly if Islanders’ minds are to be put at rest.