Ulster officer's anger as the file is closed on abuse scandal

Ulster officer's anger as the file is closed on abuse scandal
13 January 2011
Belfast Telegraph

Former Jersey probe detective says some of the guilty are still free

THE police officer from Northern Ireland who launched a major child abuse investigation that brought scandal to the island of Jersey has claimed that some of the main abusers have escaped justice.

Lenny Harper told the Belfast Telegraph he is frustrated and disappointed that the three-year investigation into child abuse at Haut de la Garenne children's home -- dubbed the 'House of Horrors' -- has now been declared closed.

Seven people have been convicted of abuse, but Mr Harper said a number of "more prominent" abusers are still walking free.

The Londonderry man hit the headlines three years ago when he headed up the inquiry, which faced a series of criticisms from leading political figures and other police officers.

At one point police said they believed they had recovered the remains of a child from the cellar of the home, only to later admit what they had thought to be a fragment of skull turned out to be a piece of coconut shell.

Despite the criticism, evidence of widespread abuse at the home was discovered and seven people were eventually convicted.

"There are child abusers still out there who have not been brought to justice for what they did at Haut de la Garenne.

"I'm very unhappy and disappointed that the investigation has been closed.

"A few of the less prominent people have been convicted, but there should have been more convictions of more prominent people.

"I am disappointed for the victims," said Mr Harper, who retired from the force two years ago before the completion of the investigation.

He added: "There are people who have been able to get away with so much and I am disappointed for the victims who went through the trauma of making statements and giving evidence.

The investigation created a media frenzy when it was initially claimed by police that what may be the partial remains of a child had been discovered.

Speculation about the investigation escalated out of control and was probably fuelled by Mr Harper's willingness to speak openly with the media before any concrete evidence was confirmed.

It was at this stage that he faced a barrage of criticism, and two years later Mr Harper, who is now living in Ayr in Scotland, said there is still a smear campaign being waged against him.

He said: "From the start there have been a number of people trying to discredit the victims, the inquiry, me and those that worked with me.

"It is disgusting what they are trying to do.

"It doesn't affect me personally, because anyone who knows me knows the truth.

"I am still having to respond to all the lies and attempts to discredit the investigation.

"I am fed up with it, but it is nothing compared to what the victims are still getting.

"I will continue to defend myself and the victims. I am still in correspondence with them.

"I would love to see them get justice, but that will not happen while the current constitution in Jersey stays the same.

"The political and prosecution system is not separate in any way."

Mr Harper said his life would have been less difficult if he had not got involved in the case, but that he would not have turned his back on the victims.

"Life would have been easier, but that would have meant turning a blind eye to what was going on.

"It would have meant doing what everyone had done before.

"There are still people in Jersey fighting for justice and they are getting pressure. Even though I left two years ago, I will still dip in and out when asked to by the victims, or if there is ever any need for evidence. But I have absolutely no desire to go back to Jersey at this time."

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