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“Steps should be taken to right some historic wrongs”

“Steps should be taken to right some historic wrongs”

Wednesday 24 November 2021

“Steps should be taken to right some historic wrongs”

Wednesday 24 November 2021


Deputy Gavin St. Pier is making a fresh attempt to secure pardons for Guernsey policemen who were controversially convicted of crimes during the Second World War.

Many policemen were arrested for stealing from shops and sharing the food with islanders who were hungry and in some cases starving. Some were tried in both the Royal Court and a German military court and found guilty. There were allegations that some of the men were tortured during their interrogations.

At least 16 of the policemen were sent to German labour camps. Not all of them survived. Some returned with life-changing injuries or diseases. After the War, they were treated as criminals and denied their pensions. 

Historian Dr Paul Sanders, who has worked for years trying to clear the names of the men, said they were denied a fair trial.

"The British civilian court in 1942 [the Royal Court in Guernsey] acted like a kangaroo court in the worst dictatorship," he said.

The convictions of the men who stole to feed hungry islanders have been described as a taint on the justice system and consistently - but so far unsuccessfully - appealed by their families.

Deputy Gavin St. Pier has been pushing for statutory pardons for the men, saying that "steps should be taken to right some historic wrongs". But it has been nearly a year since he first brought the issue to the attention of the Policy & Resources Committee and it appears that nothing material has been done since.

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Pictured: The question submitted to the Policy & Resources Committee by Deputy Gavin St. Pier.

Deputy St. Pier has now submitted a formal written question to the Policy & Resources Committee in which he requests an update on when something will be done about the men's convictions and records. The Policy & Resources Committee must respond to Deputy St. Pier within 15 days. 

“The Policy & Resources Committee have previously said that they will deal with this, but it is nearly a year since I first raised the matter with them,” said Deputy St. Pier.

“I do appreciate that the team responsible have had a great deal of post-Brexit work and consequently it’s very easy to keep shunting this to the bottom of the pile.

“But time is running out for some of the closest descendants of those convicted. It’s time for action and I want to know when we are going to see it.”

If the Committee declines to reply with firm commitments and a timeline for them, Deputy St. Pier would have the option of submitting a Requête - along with six other States' members - asking the States' Assembly to direct the Policy & Resources Committee to act. 

 

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