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Care inquiry hotel bill topped £220k

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Care inquiry hotel bill topped £220k

The three independent panellists tasked with reviewing abuse against children in island institutions accumulated a travel and accommodation expenses bill of over a quarter of a million in a two-and-a-half year period between 2013 and mid-2016.

Over 31 months, spending on travel and hotels came to £278,558 – nearly £93,000 each on average. The vast majority of this – £222,940 (just over 80%) – was spent on accommodation.

In total, official figures show that the expenses relate to 1,183 days in Jersey across the three-person team, over the relevant period - an average of 394 per person.

Their longest stay lasted 40 days, and their shortest was just one. 

£52,567 was spent on air travel, while car hire and rail travel came to £3,051.

However, the final expenses sum could be thousands more. The figures, which came as part of a response to an Express Freedom of Information request, only covered bookings through the States’ travel booking system between December 2013 to June 2016.

aircraft-jet-landing-cloud-airplane-travel 

Pictured: Over £50,000 was spent on air travel. 

After that time, the panel members travelled to the island less frequently and therefore booked their own flights and accommodation, before submitting expenses claims. A spokesperson for the Freedom of Information team explained that it would take too long for the States to collate data from this period. For this reason, they added that they would also be unable to provide a further breakdown of additional expenses, such as meals.

Apart from three, all flights booked on the States travel booking system were economy class. The most expensive tickets came at £497, while the cheapest were listed as just £7.00.

The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry (IJCI) was set up in order to assess what went wrong in Jersey’s care system, leading to the abuse of children over a period of more than 60 years. 

independent jersey care inquiry panel

Pictured: The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry Panel - Frances Oldham QC, Alyson Leslie and Professor Sandy Cameron CBE.

It was headed by three independent UK legal experts. Frances Oldham QC - a specialist in criminal and child law – chaired the panel. She was supported by Alyson Leslie – a reviewer of child fatalities with a background in social work – and Professor Sandy Cameron CBE, who was formerly Director of Social Work in Scotland and Chairman of the Parole Board. 

During their stay in the island, the trio heard evidence from more than 450 people who lived in or were connected to Jersey’s care system, held 149 days of public hearings with more than 200 witnesses, and considered more than 136,000 documents.

Their review came at a cost of over £23million – a level of expenditure that has led to concerns, including from legal costs expert Jim Diamond, who has previously blogged on the matter. Last month, Express revealed that the public won’t be given a breakdown as to how £14million was spent on legal costs.

Before the inquiry’s conclusion, External Affairs Minister and former Bailiff Philip Bailhache and Treasury Minister Senator Alan Maclean expressed concern over the potential for rocketing costs. During a 2015 States Assembly meeting, Senator Maclean said: “I think at the very heart of the problems that we see before us in terms of controlling costs have been the fact that quite rightly this has been an independent inquiry set up; independence is obviously critically important. It meant that there has been a reluctance, quite rightly, for anybody to be seen to be interfering for risk of that being misconstrued in a way that would be very negative for the outcome of the inquiry itself.”

 

Comments

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Posted by Gillian Gracia on
Await the usual negative comments - but in my book money very well spent.
Posted by John Smith on
It was certainly spent - whether it was well spent is a whole different question. Just part of the scandal that £23m of tax payers money was spent (with little or no control), to find that bad things happened in the past, society has got a bit better since then, but more work needs to be done (and some people got some compensation). That's not a negative comment, it's simply the truth.
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