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Sign petition for journalist – and justice


US journalist investigating child abuse scandal in Jersey loses UK visa rights.

Leah McGrath Goodman is an American investigative journalist, author and former UK resident who was banned from the UK after launching an investigation into the alleged mass abuse, torture and possible murder of children on the island of Jersey – a British Crown Dependency and an offshore tax haven.

A petition has been set up asking for Goodman to be allowed a visa and to be able to continue her research.

Jersey made international headlines in 2008, after revelations about the Jersey orphanage Haut de la Garenne; nearly 200 victims alleged that the island’s government had turned a blind eye to horrific crimes against defenceless children for decades.

Evidence taken from the orphanage included the exhumed teeth, blood and bones of children.

Then, in short order, writes Trevor Pitman, Deputy of the States of Jersey, the island’s chief of police was illegally suspended, the health minister was thrown out of his job and evidence of children’s remains were irreversibly compromised.

It looked, said Pitman, like Jersey’s government was scrambling to shut down the investigation at all costs.

And, he continues: ‘After succeeding in doing so, Jersey’s government, to this day, squanders millions from the public purse to try to silence and discredit its critics and, most appallingly, shield the accused from being brought to justice…’

It seems, he writes, ‘that a number of [those accused] remain in high-ranking positions working closely with the island’s children – free to strike again.’

As the petition for Goodman to be given a visa and allowed to continue her research says:

‘Author and journalist Leah McGrath Goodman watched the investigation and digging at Haut de la Garenne from her U.S. home with interest.

‘As the national and international TV cameras turned away from the story, she remained interested and decided to write a book on the subject. She began making trips to Jersey to research allegations of cover-ups…

‘She set up a meeting with the Immigration Service and says it was all going well until she told them what she was writing about…’

And, it continues:

‘Ms Goodman successfully conducted her research until 11 September 2011, when the UK Border Agency detained her at the request of the Jersey Customs and Immigration Service.

[Without] …any charges, Ms Goodman was fingerprinted, photographed and stripped of her passport, phone, wallet and possessions and held in the basement of Heathrow Airport for more than 12 hours – past the legal limit – without access to a lawyer or the US consulate.’

This, the petition points out ‘was in violation of her human rights’.

‘She was then,’ it continues, ‘sent home and banned from the UK for two years (reduced to one year with the help of Member of Parliament John Hemming).

‘She has been denied a new visa and right of appeal.

‘In order for Ms Goodman to finish her research safely, she must receive pre-entry clearance from the UK – clearance it has so far declined to give her.

And it concludes by asking that Ms Goodman’s Tier-1 UK visa be restored, so she might continue ‘her urgent investigative work‘.

Leah Goodman wrote about how exactly – how horribly – the UK Border Agency detained her on her blog, and The Guardian looks at the issue here.

It’s an obvious fact that Jersey is in need of a government that will work to protect our children and bring justice to victims of abuse, not oppress them.

But, the petition raises further issues.

As blogger TomPride asks: Why on earth has the Home Secretary, Theresa May, agreed to this bizarre and unprecedented exclusion of an independent journalist who previously had a UK Tier-1 visa?

Is it, he asks, because May is afraid an independent journalist from outside the UK media establishment might be more likely to shine a light on fellow senior Tory Party members’ involvement in the growing child abuse scandal?

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