17th November 2017
IN AN EVER-TROUBLED WORLD WE NEED TO BE UNITED AND STRONG BUT OUR UNELECTED WOULD-BE POLITICIANS HAVE LEFT SARK DIVIDED AND EXPOSED
No one could have done a better job of destroying Sark’s future than the ex-serviceman Reginald Guille, the multi-tenement owning multi- millionaire Edric Baker and the Island’s self-styled ‘chief minister’ Charles Maitland. Ably assisted by sycophants such as the thug and would-be hard man Alan Blythe and taxpayer-funded state employees Paul Williams, Peter Byrne, Antony Dunks, Robert Cottle, Peter La Trobe-Bateman and Cormac Scott, they represent all that is wrong with the governance of Sark.
They, along with every other member of their parliament of would-be politicians, have not faced the electorate. They have not received a single vote from the electorate. They have no mandate from the people of Sark to govern on their behalf, to levy taxes or to make laws. Nevertheless, they continue with their charade, posing as a democratically elected government whilst the rest of the world looks on with disbelief.
We are fortunate indeed that in Sark our future does not lie in the hands of these unelected would -be politicians who have shown their contempt for the most basic principal of democracy, that of going to the people and receiving mandate to govern on their behalf. In Sark, the only person with the authority to shape our future is our Seigneur, Major Christopher Beaumont. By right of a Crown Lease that can trace its origins back to the reign of Elizabeth I, Major Beaumont owns Sark’s constitution and its jurisdiction.
Winston Churchill once wrote:
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
The truth in Sark is that despite the protestations of the likes of the UK Ministry of Justice, the governments of our neighbouring islands and, in fairness, the previous editorial stance of this publication, Sark is Major Christopher Beaumont’s Island and all the time we choose to live and work here, we are his people. As such our Seigneur is at liberty to lead the Island to wherever he sees fit and all indications are that he is determined to lead us to prosperity and strength so that we can protect our autonomous status and our right to self-determination.
The factual data reported on the front page of this week’s edition of the Sark Newspaper represent a devastating indictment of the destruction that the Island’s unelected would-be politicians have inflicted on us all. At a time when the western world has enjoyed a long-sustained period of low inflation and all but zero interest rates, we in Sark have seen a deterioration of living standards as a direct result of our unelected would-be politicians’ policies of economic ethnic cleansing.
When one looks at the mess that these unelected unqualified and inexperienced would-be politicians have made of the Island’s economy, it is a wonder that Major Christopher Beaumont has decided to come and live here at all. It is to his credit that he has. By doing so he is sending out a clear message to the people of Sark, that of a belief that he can use the powers vested in him courtesy of his Crown Lease to turn around the fortunes of his Island and with it those of his people. But, what a mess he has inherited!
Whilst property prices across the UK have risen by over 35% on average since 2008, the value of houses in Sark have fallen by 30%, a differential in growth in real terms of 65%.
The number of year-round residents living in Sark has been driven down from over 650 in December 2008 to below 390 today.
Property tax has risen an eye watering 116% since December 2008. There can be no greater weapon in our unelected would-be politicians’ armoury than that of using discriminately taxation to target prospective inward investment. Their perverse ideology has resulted in massive tax hikes for all property owners in Sark, who have become caught up in the state’s attack on the largest inward investor in Sark’s history.
Activity in the building sector, the barometer of any economy, is 60% down from the average enjoyed in the years leading up to 2008. This collapse in customers’ confidence to spend on their properties does not take into consideration the boom years for the sector of 2009 to 2013 when the Aval du Creux Hotel, Stocks Hotel, the Dixcart Bay Hotel, La Moinerie Hotel and Hotel Petit Champ were collectively beneficiaries of inward investment into Sark of over £35million.
Employment in Sark is down 70%, which is little wonder when the Island’s unelected would-be politicians refuse to allow Sark’s principal economic driver, its tourism industry, access to the markets on mainland Europe - markets that are essential to its survival. The introduction of a Customs post that would allow visitors from France direct access to Sark in under an hour would transform the Island’s economy and provide for decades of year-on-year economic growth. The benefits would flood down throughout all sectors of Sark’s economy and allow us to repopulate the Island with working men, women and families. .
The failure of Sark’s unelected would-be politicians to allow the hospitality sector access to new markets has resulted in the Island’s hotel bed stock declining by 66% over the past nine years. Sark can boast a collection of hotels which are the envy of our competitors across the Channel Islands and the west coast of France. The quality of accommodation and service of every hotel in Sark means that our combined offering is of a standard rarely found in what is an ever-competitive market. It is doubtful that any single destination can come close to us. Nevertheless, of Sark’s six hotels only two remain open, La Sablonnerie and Stocks Hotel. Neither of these can fill their rooms throughout the short summer season and are having to resort to high season discounting. More competition in this market would be a pointless exercise therefore the remaining four hotels will stay closed until such a time as the entire tourism industry in Sark is given direct access to the markets of mainland Europe..
The impact of our unelected would-be politicians’ policy of economic ethnic cleansing is not felt by the Island’s hotels alone. Over 55% of Sark’s retail space lies empty and unlet. Numerous small cafés, restaurants, bars and shops around Sark have closed their doors as a result of having to compete for a smaller and smaller slice of an ever-decreasing tourism market.
A key aspect to making the Island attractive to incomers must be the capping of any further increases to personal taxation. Our unelected would-be politicians have increased the tax burden on the private individual by an inflation-smashing 52% since December 2008. As Sébastian Moerman, an unelected member of Sark’s parliament Chief Pleas observed earlier this year:
“We don’t need higher taxes, we need more taxpayers”.
Added to Sébastian Moerman’s view that we need more taxpayers is the widely held belief in Sark that we need more children. The number of pupils attending the Island’s school has plummeted by 40% since December 2009.
Within the factual data set out on the front page of this edition lies the reason for the change in editorial stance of this publication. A man can change his mind and circumstances can change it for him. Faced with these irrefutable facts it is impossible to see how Sark can retain its autonomous status, its independence and its right to self-determination if our future is left in the hands of unelected, incompetent and self-serving would-be politicians.
Only this week Guernsey politicians were calling for greater independence from Westminster. Sark does not need greater independence, we already have it courtesy of the powers vested in our Seigneur Major Christopher Beaumont through his Crown Lease. At time when we should have been building our economic strength and securing our right to self-determination, our unelected would-be politicians have been systematically destroying our economy. At a time when we needed unity like never before, they have created only division.
What an uphill struggle our new Seigneur has, what a monumental task. We must unite and stand shoulder to shoulder with Christopher Beaumont to rebuild our economy and secure our right to self-determination.
9th November 2017
Readers of the Sark Newspaper have been asking me why the editorial stance of my publication has changed recently? What has happened to make me change my mind so fundamentally? My response to these questions is that a person can change their mind and circumstances can change it for them.
It is my view that we are living in a highly regulated and increasingly troubled world and that Sark’s autonomy is unique and must be protected. Recent events have led me to believe that our Seigneur Christopher Beaumont recognises this and understands that because of the numerous issues facing Sark, we must all work together to secure and retain our autonomous status, our independence and our right to self-determination.
I believe that our Seigneur does not want his Island or his people to have to rely on the outside world either politically or economically. To achieve this, he recognises that it is imperative that he becomes the Seigneur of an independent and prosperous Sark.
Cometh the time, cometh the man and Christopher Beaumont is in my opinion a man who has the right attitude, skills and desire to implement changes for the benefit of all Islanders. If I am right, and he does lead the Island out of its current economic and political paralysis, history will judge him with respect and honour and acknowledge him as the man who retained and protected Sark’s independence and right to self-determination for generations to come.
3rd November 2017
CHRISTOPHER BEAUMONT OFFERS A NEW DAWN FOR SARK BUILT UPON OPENNESS, TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Sark is very fortunate to have a Seigneur who owns our constitution and, equally importantly, our jurisdiction. This makes our Island unique in an ever more troubled world. The powers vested in Christopher Beaumont guarantee our independence as an autonomous state and our right to self- determination. Sark is outside the jurisdiction of the UK and is not subject to the laws of the British parliament. Sark is not part of the European Union and is not answerable to EU laws and regulations. Equally, we are not subject to the laws and regulations of the States of Guernsey. The endless stream of new laws and regulations pouring out of Europe, the UK and Guernsey are made by democratically elected politicians on the basis of promises they cannot keep. The fact remains that we are better off without them. In Sark we have a parliament of unelected would-be politicians, all of whom we would most certainly be better off without. Not one of them have faced the electorate. Not one of them has received a single vote. Not one of them has a mandate from the people of Sark to govern. Unelected, unqualified and incapable, they have spent the past nine years proving themselves to be vindictive, malicious, short-sighted and self-serving. Concentrating all their effort and using their unaccountable and unopposed power to oust those trying to build something in Sark. They have destroyed the Island’s economy.
Following the sudden death of his father in July of last year, Christopher Beaumont should have inherited a prosperous Island with a flourishing economy. Instead he assumed ownership and responsibilities for an Island with an economy that is in a state of collapse following nine years of state-sponsored attacks on businesses, jobs and the livelihoods of its own people. He should have assumed command of an Island where inward investment was flowing in, providing employment and raising living standards year-on-year. Instead he found himself in control of an Island that has not only shunned the largest inward investor in its history but has spent its time and resources throughout the past nine years on attacking and undermining the investors, their investments, their representatives in Sark and their employees.
These are simple statements of facts of the economic reality of the self-legislating autonomous Island which the 23rd Seigneur of Sark, Major Christopher Beaumont, inherited some 16 months ago. They have been repeated many times in past editions of this publication and make difficult reading but only by understanding the magnitude of the problem facing Sark can we work together to find and implement the solutions.
Sark’s economy is in a state of collapse. Over 225 jobs have been lost and most of the unemployed have had no choice but to leave the Island for good and make a life for themselves elsewhere. Many of those remaining are suffering hardship, having difficulties paying the rent and putting food on the table. Shops and businesses, big and small, have closed down, others are on the verge of bankruptcy
The lives of many families have been devastated and over 260 Islanders have already left whilst others are in the process of leaving simply because they have no other choice. The fact that the Island’s resident population has dropped from 650 in 2008 to below 390 today and is shrinking rapidly speaks for itself. Sark is losing its life-blood, its people. The Island’s cash reserves are depleted, consisting mainly of worthless shares in the Isle of Sark Shipping Company, whilst swingeing tax increases are continuously imposed on a diminishing number of taxpayers.
Sark is not sustainable - neither its tourism-dependent economy nor the population which depends on that economy for their livelihoods. Without a dramatic change - without a viable economic plan which includes the border control that will give Sark direct access to the European tourist market and without a fundamental reversal of policy to restore investor confidence. The Island has no viable future, neither economically nor demographically.
Given the above it is to Christopher Beaumont’s credit that he didn't simply give up on Sark and walk away. A lesser man may well have done so but he appears, on the face of it, to have chosen to move to Sark and take on the responsibility of protecting our autonomous status. He has already broken the mould by agreeing to address the members of Sark Chamber of Commerce later this month with his vision for the future of Sark.
Rumours currently abound around Sark with regard to where the Seigneur and his family will live and what they will do with the most iconic building on the Island, La Seigneurie. In a commendable act of openness, transparency and accountability he at that meeting will take the opportunity to reveal his future plans for La Seigneurie.
The Seigneur will find that he will be listened to with respect and courtesy when he addresses the members and non-members of Sark’s Chamber of Commerce. However, he will be perfectly aware that in the questions and answer session in which he has agreed to participate he will hear views and concerns that are representative of all Islanders. Meanwhile, he will no doubt be aware that he will only meet and get the views of all members of Sark’s community by engaging with them individually or in in small groups. Indications are that he has already begun this process and that given time, everyone in Sark will have had the opportunity to meet with the Seigneur and express their views, concerns and hopes for the future.
To many in Sark the refreshingly inclusive approach which Christopher Beaumont has brought to the role of Seigneur has not taken them by surprise. People have been contacting this publication to point out that the new Seigneur has never bought into the one-party state boycott of businesses owned by individuals identified as enemies of the state.
His frequent low profile visits to Sark over the past ten years reveal that he is a man of conviction who will not be pushed around by any individual or group. He shops where he wants to shop, eats out where he wants to eat out and drinks where he wants to drink, regardless of who owns or operates the business.
He will be only too aware that numerous hospitality businesses he has visited over the years, both large and small, have had to close their doors through lack of trade. There are simply not enough visitors coming to Sark, particularly staying visitors, to sustain the Island’s principal economic driver, its tourism sector. In recent years Sark has benefitted from two seasons of prime time national television coverage courtesy of the BBC 1 programme An Island Parish. Despite this free nationwide advertising and promotion of Sark, a total of 12 half hour episodes, visitor numbers from the UK remain stagnant and show no prospect for any meaningful future growth. Only by opening up Sark to the vast tourism markets of mainland Europe will our own tourism sector be able to attract more staying visitors for our hotels, guest houses, self-catering units and campsites.
Christopher Beaumont will know that there is nothing new or clever in the simple concept of having a customs post in Sark and allowing continental visitors travelling from the west coast of France to travel directly to Sark. For most of the 20th century our Island welcomed commercial vessels and their passengers who had made the short journey from the French ports of Dielette, Carteret or Granville into Sark.
If we quickly remove Sark’s self-imposed obstacles to the vast tourism markets of mainland Europe, we need then to focus on what we have to offer prospective visitors. Our unique selling points are the Island’s natural beauty and the fact that we are a self-governing autonomous state whose rights to self-determination sit with one person, our Seigneur Christopher Beaumont. However, the international tourism market is brimming with competitors willing and able to attract visitors to their destinations and we must smarten up our act if we are to compete with them and bring in good value high spending customers.
The Island’s pot holed and dusty roads must be consigned to the annals of history. We could begin by resurfacing the Harbour Hill, which in its present state is a disgrace that would not be tolerated in a third world African state. We need things for visitors to do. A golf course, tennis courts, world class spa facilities. Co-operation by tenement owners could see the realisation of the vision of a cliff path which would allow visitors to circumnavigate the Island - 40 miles of the world’s most stunning coastline. In the coming weeks we will find out if some, if not all, of these ideas, form a significant part of Christopher Beaumont’s vision for the future of Sark.
26th October 2017
ONLY CHRISTOPHER BEAUMONT HAS LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY IN SARK
Whilst the outside world looks on, the would-be politicians who make up Sark’s one-party state have spent the past nine years destroying our economy, depopulating the Island and putting their own self-interest above that of the future of the Island and its people. Unelected and unaccountable, they have driven the economy into the ground and are now set on finding someone, anyone other than themselves, to blame.
We can’t trust, nor do we need to trust, the 24 members of Sark’s unelected parliament - Chief Pleas. Not one of them has faced the electorate. Not one has received a single vote. Not one has a mandate from the people to govern. They have passed laws and pursued policies which openly discriminate against inward investment, businesses and jobs. The net result is numerous small and large businesses are having to close their doors through lack of trade. Over 225 jobs have been lost and the number of year-round residents has collapsed from over 650 in December 2008 to below 390 today.
In less than ten years of economic ethnic cleansing, the past and present members of Sark’s one-party state parliament have overseen a 40% drop in the number of people living here.
Only one individual has the legitimate authority, the skills and, we must hope, the will to change the future of Sark and that individual is the Island’s 23rd feudal lord Major Christopher Beaumont. The fact that he has such powers, courtesy of a Crown Lease which was established in the mid-16th century, makes Sark an Island unequalled in the western world.
Sark’s future as an autonomous state is in the hands of Christopher Beaumont. Following the sudden death of his father, Michael, in July 2016, he inherited the powers and responsibilities that come with the ownership of Sark’s constitution and jurisdiction. Most importantly, he inherited a self-legislating Island state that has an inalienable right to self-determination.
Sark is geographically on the edge of Europe; only 20 miles of sea separate us. Crucially, we are not controlled by Europe. As a Crown Dependency we are protected by the UK but we are not governed by them. We are part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey but are an autonomous state, courtesy of our feudal lord’s Crown Lease.
In a troubled and ever-changing world we have to depend on Christopher Beaumont to protect our unique rights and institutions. We cannot rely on unelected would-be politicians who have delivered only economic destruction and paralysis to the Island and its people.
Christopher Beaumont has inherited an autonomous state which has the right to make its own laws, control its own waters and seabed, and levy and collect our own taxes. We have our own judiciary and we have our own police force, manned by year-round local Sark residents.
We have the right to have our own Customs officers, again local men and women, to allow us to access the vast tourism markets of mainland Europe. The cost of training and paying our own Customs officers can easily be met by administering a landing charge that reflects the cost of allowing the people of Europe direct access into Sark.
Each and every one of these rights and institutions are unique to Sark. In an ever troubled and changing world, where events can change the fortunes of nations in the blink of an eye, we must find ways of working together to support Christopher Beaumont in protecting our precious autonomy.
We can only do this by building a strong economy that can attract new inward investment from a myriad of investors. We need to create the economic environment that will see businesses of all shapes and sizes reopening in Sark ahead of the 2018 tourism season. A man can change his mind and events can change it for him. We must ensure that Christopher Beaumont is supported from all quarters in his duty to lead Sark out of its current economic paralysis.
He cannot do it on his own. He must build alliances with potential investors into his Island, be they large, medium or small. Hiking up taxes on businesses is the last thing Sark, an autonomous state which must rebuild its economy or die, needs to do. It is discriminatory and creates the ultimate deterrent to inward investment and economic growth. The fact that Sark’s future lies in the hands of Christopher Beaumont and not unelected would-be politicians offers the greatest protection to the Island’s priceless autonomy.
20th October 2017
CHRISTOPHER BEAUMONT IS THE SOLE GUARANTOR OF OUR RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION
In these post-Brexit days it is clear that Europe is dividing in a way that has not been witnessed since the Second World War. Old fault lines are reopening and in doing so they are providing central governments with opportunities to muscle in on what they perceive to be troublesome regions. Only this week we learn that the Spanish government will trigger article 155 of its constitution, thereby revoking Catalonia’s autonomy. Overnight the autonomous community encompassing the provinces of Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona will simply disappear.
In Sark we are fortunate to have the powers that safeguard our autonomy vested in one individual, Christopher Beaumont, the Island’s 23rd Seigneur. It is he who guarantees our right to self-determination, courtesy of a Crown Lease which has its origins set in the reign of Elizabeth I. This is a lease that has stood the test of time and today, over 450 years since it was first granted, it continues to enshrine our right to self-determination.
Sark has its own parliament, its own court, its own judge and its own police force. It is on the edge of Europe but not controlled by Europe. As a Crown Dependency, we are not part of the UK and not governed by the UK but nevertheless protected by them. Although only 2.1 sq. miles in size, we are ‘the jewel in the crown’ of the Channel Islands, yet none of our larger neighbouring Islands rule over us.
However, the outside world is pressing against Sark like never before. Many of those who walk the corridors of power off-Island question our right to self-determination.
For nine years Sark has been sleepwalking towards oblivion. There has been no leadership, nor has there been any unifying idea, apart from a futile resistance to comply with 21st century standards. Instead of focussing on strengthening the Island’s economy, the state has relentlessly pursued a policy of economic ethnic cleansing.
The net result is that the population has collapsed from over 650 year-round residents in 2008 to below 390 today. One has only to look at the drop in the number of pupils attending the Sark school to see the long-term impact of this disastrous policy. Recent data shows that it has dropped from 47 to 27, a disastrous and unsustainable 42.5% collapse in the number of school children in Sark.
All indications are that these numbers will continue to fall dramatically in the coming years. It is widely acknowledged that, to maintain population numbers in any society, a birth rate of 2.1% per capita is necessary. This year in Sark we will celebrate the arrival of only two babies to year-round resident mothers, a birth rate per capita of a mere 0.5%.
It is in the gift of Christopher Beaumont to stop this madness. He can bring about societal change to alter the disastrous course that is driven by an outdated feudal ideology. He can, if he chooses, set about uniting Sark and set it on a course of economic prosperity, paving the way for businesses to reopen, which will in turn create jobs, raise living standards and repopulate the Island.
Although only in the role for a little over 15 months, Sark’s feudal lord Christopher Beaumont will have learnt that defending our right to self-determination is a demanding task. It is a task that has been made all the harder by the collapse in the Island’s economy in the wake of almost a decade of economic ethnic cleansing. He will know that as a result of this policy, the world is coming at Sark at just the time when it is least able to defend itself.
We do not have a single elected politician in our government. This leaves us vulnerable and exposed on the world stage when we make the false claim that we are a fully representative democracy. Not one of the members of our parliament has faced the electorate. Not one member of our parliament has received a single vote from the electorate. Not one member of our parliament has a mandate from the people to govern on their behalf.
Sark is currently a toxic mix of a failed system of government and collapsed economy. If anyone thinks that Christopher Beaumont has an easy job ahead of him sorting this mess out, they are deluding themselves. Sort it out he must if he is to guarantee our future autonomy and with it our right to self-determination.
The time has come for all stakeholders in Sark to come together to rebuild the Island's economy and work towards creating a fully representative democracy. To do so will require a strong individual to unite us all. Only time will tell if Christopher Beaumont is that man.
12th October 2017
THE POWERS TO PROTECT US ALL
ARE VESTED IN ONE INDIVIDUAL
Whilst there is much that divides the people of Sark, there are many things that we all have in common. First and foremost, amongst these is a determination amongst Islanders to ensure that Sark defends its unique status in the world and in doing so retains its precious autonomy.
Sark is on the edge of Europe; geographically we are just 20 miles from the west coast of mainland Europe, whilst not being controlled by Europe. We benefit from being part of the United Kingdom but are not governed by them. Sark is one of the Channel Islands but, unlike Alderney, no other Island has the right to exercise control over us.
We have our own parliament that shapes and makes our laws. We set and collect our own taxes. We have our own court of law with powers equal to that of the High Court in London. We have our own judge, a year-round resident of Sark. We have our own police force that is manned by men and women. All of whom have to be full-time year-round residents of Sark to qualify to serve.
We have the right, if we so choose, to appoint our own customs officers. The precedent set by the criteria for candidates to our judiciary and law enforcement agency would also require them to be year-round residents. We could, if we wish, combine the roles of police officer and Customs officers and have dual badged officers, employed by the Island, who could be given professional training to allow them to operate to internationally recognised standards.
In an increasingly dangerous, mad and confused world Sark has the right to determine its own future. We are fortunate that in one man, Christopher Beaumont, we have someone who holds the constitution on our behalf. Courtesy of a unique Crown Lease that can trace its legitimacy back over some 450 years, he is in the unique position to protect his Island and the rights of his people to self-determination. We have yet to learn if he possesses the qualities required to be a truly remarkable feudal lord protector of the Island of Sark. In April of this year he told the members of the Guernsey Chamber of Commerce that:
“I view the responsibility I have as being the current custodian of Sark’s unique position within the world.”
“I have only been Seigneur for a matter of months. The transition was instantaneous. The learning process about Sark however started from an almost standing start and has continued at a frantic pace. Being Seigneur puts me in a position of privilege and some responsibility.”
He went on to demonstrate that he had a full understanding of Sark’s unparalleled status on the world stage:
“Sark is unique in that it is a Crown Dependency with direct relationship to Her Majesty and that is through a perpetual lease that is currently held by me but originally granted 452 years ago by Elizabeth I. In today’s terms that means that Sark is a democratic self-governing jurisdiction with a degree of independence. Sark makes its own laws, raises its own taxes, pledges allegiance to the Crown for the protection offered from Her Majesty’s government. The Ministry of Justice, the Lt. Governor and I all take an active interest in Sark’s good governance and government.”
Unfortunately, Christopher Beaumont failed to follow up his understanding of Sark’s autonomy with an honest assessment of the difficulties facing the Island’s economy. He was therefore unable to put forward solutions to the economic problems that, left unchecked, threaten Sark’s autonomous status. He instead opted to trot out the ‘tried and tested’ theme of Sark being ‘a land of milk and honey’; devoid of any of the issues that face the real world. His message was clear: ‘all is good in Sark and nothing will change.’
This was perhaps understandable. By his own admission Christopher Beaumont had, at the time, been engaged in a learning process that was taking place at a frantic pace. By now he will have learnt that his Island is a far cry from the ‘land of milk and honey’ that he so eloquently described to Guernsey's Chamber of Commerce. Sark’s economy is in terminal decline. The population has dropped from over 650 in December 2008 to below 390 today. The number of pupils attending the Island’s only school has plummeted from 47 to 27 over the same period of time.
A person can change their mind and, more often than not, circumstances can change it for them. We must hope that Christopher Beaumont is a man who will accept that he was mistaken. He must address the real issues facing Sark. In doing so he can protect all of our futures.
6th October 2017
THE DECLINE OF SARK’S ECONOMY PREDICTABLE, AVOIDABLE, YET RECOVERABLE
At this week’s meeting of Chief Pleas, Sark’s wholly unelected parliament, long-time member Christopher Nightingale announced that he would be closing his dairy business in mid-November. In a voice trembling with emotion he told the assembly that he would run his current stock of milk bottles down and, once they were gone, the dairy would close for good. This is both a human and economic tragedy for Mr Nightingale, his family and the people of Sark.
This is a tragedy that could have been avoided. Had the governance of Sark not focussed its time, energy and resources over the past nine years in attacking its perceived enemies and had instead adopted a policy of cooperation between government and business the dairy, along with the numerous businesses that have been forced into closure by the state’s policy of economic ethnic cleansing, would be positively thriving.
This publication, along with many Islanders, has a huge respect for Christopher Nightingale. As a hard-working farmer he has dedicated his life to the care of his animals and to producing high quality dairy products, the foremost of which is, of course, local milk. A man with a huge natural presence and a disarming charm, over the years he has shown himself capable of leaving his political ideology within the confines of the committee offices and engaged with all sections of Sark’s society. He is by no means unique in this, but, amongst the few members of Sark’s government that do engage with all of Sark’s residents, Mr Nightingale stands head and shoulders above them all.
Over the past year he has been instrumental in Sark Estate Management’s Terry Crowther’s work in building a beef herd that will be grazing the land that is being returned to pasture following the closure of its vineyards. Many of the animals within the herd have been purchased from Mr Nightingale’s dairy business and his advice and support have been invaluable.
Sark’s dairy is yet another business that has fallen foul of the Island’s anti-business policies. This week’s meeting of Chief Pleas was of note in that it marked the moment in time when Sark’s ‘establishment’ finally acknowledged the dire state of the Island’s economy. True to form they could not bring themselves to admit that it is of their own making, preferring instead to apportion blame to the very people they have wasted the past nine years attacking.
Even now there are hard-line feudal fundamentalists that will see Sark’s economy die and would surrender the Island’s autonomy, rather than set aside their bitterness and hostility and seeking a solution to Sark’s woes. That said there are perhaps signs that amongst their midst there are some voices of reason that see that the only way forward for Sark is to establish a culture of open, transparent and accountable governance and an economic climate to attract desperately needed inward investment. Charles Maitland, reflecting on Sark’s governance for item 12 of the agenda, said:
“I have met some angry residents over the past few weeks, probably no doubt the same residents that bothered to reply to the exhaustive consultation sent out by the Good Governance PDT earlier in the year. They cannot understand why Chief Pleas cannot grasp the need for reform and get on with it and consider that much of this attitude is driven by self-interest. Certainly I think that Chief Pleas is in danger of becoming a laughing stock; we fudged the issue of reducing our numbers to 14, settling for the dangerously high number of 18 and then, to make matters worse, refuse to take the next logical step in agreeing to the establishment review which asks the committees to look at what functions could be delegated. There are many that say some Conseillers are more interested in what Sark can do for them rather than looking to see what they can do for Sark. Self-interest and protection of their jobs and the way they undertake those jobs supervised by the committee of which they are a member would seem to be paramount.”
Sébastien Moerman, assessing the dire state of the Island’s economy, stated:
“The priority should be the economy. We have a declining economy. We need to attract new taxpayers and investors to Sark. If we carry on the way we are it is very likely that we will become a retirement home.”
The decline of Sark’s economy was as predictable as it was avoidable. The closure of the Island’s dairy provides a wakeup call, if any were needed, to all on Sark. Over four years ago the letter opposite was sent to the Sark government warning them of the consequences of inaction on their part. The offer of a public / private initiative to establish a Customs post remains on the table. We must work together to build a sustainable economy. We must create a prosperous future for the generations that follow us, and in doing so, protect our precious autonomy.
“It is an undisputable fact that Sark’s economy is facing an uncertain future. The numbers of tourists and day visitors coming here are alarmingly low. Not only does this have an impact on the Island’s tourism-related businesses where income is down, it also affects the Island’s revenues as illustrated by the drop in last year’s income from Impot. Revenues from hospitality businesses on the island show that a further substantial drop in impot revenues for this year can be expected. Furthermore, with desperately low levels of freight and all but stagnant passenger numbers, the Isle of Sark Shipping’ revenues are falling with the company expected to follow last year’s appalling losses with a further loss in trading this year. Once again the Island’s taxpayers will have to bear the cost of supporting the Company’s shortfall in cash flow and, indeed, its commitment to the banks.
The small size of the Guernsey market, the only daily market open to Sark, is obviously insufficient to sustain the Island’s main industry, namely tourism. As a result, unemployment is rising and record numbers of people are having to leave the Island.
There is only one solution that will deliver an immediate boost to Sark’s economy and in turn its job market; you and your Committee have the responsibility to act without further delay and confirm that there will be a Customs post on Sark in place before the beginning of the next tourist season, starting in April 2014. There is no alternative if you wish to provide a future for Sark and its people - and in the process help to resolve the differences that divide the island by creating an economy for the benefit of all.
Sark has nothing to lose and, indeed, there is no alternative. I confirm that the cost of providing all necessary facilities for a customs post will be met by SEM, be it in the form of a portacabin or refitting an existing structure. SEM will also commit to provide accommodation for the Customs officers, which leaves the Island of Sark bearing the cost of the seasonal salaries only.
Sark is an attractive, low cost destination with some 8million people living in the immediate vicinity of North West France alone, only an hour or so away across the Channel. The strength of the Euro works tremendously in our favour. A pint of lager, for example, costs twice as much in France as it does in Sark and this applies to many other consumer items and tourism-related services.
Tourism is a major contributor to the economies of all the countries in the Western world. Sark can no longer support itself through the declining number of visitors from the Bailiwick Islands alone, Islands which have their own problems in dealing with their economies. Sark can no longer sit back and hope for the best. We have to act and act now.
It is vital for Sark’s various tourism-related businesses, and all other sectors of the economy that benefit from a healthy tourism market, that there is a commitment from the Island’s government without further delay. We merely need to know now that there will be a Customs presence on the Island for the next season so that we can immediately plan and start marketing accordingly. The Tourism Committee is currently canvassing businesses to advertise in its 2014 – 2015 tourism brochure and it is of crucial importance that we can begin marketing direct access to Sark from France in this publication.”
28th September 2017
NOW IS THE TIME FOR FEUDAL LORD CHRISTOPHER BEAUMONT TO ACT IF WE ARE TO REBUILD SARK’S ECONOMY
Is Sark’s economy on the verge of turning the corner?
“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning,” Winston Churchill famously said.
Could it be that 10 years of economic decline are about to come to an end? We have had a new Seigneur for a little over a year now. If we are to take him at his word, he was ill prepared to assume the powers and responsibilities thrust upon his shoulders following the sudden death of his father in July 2016. Some 14 months on, is Christopher Beaumont ready to show the leadership that his Island needs and in doing so pull Sark back from the brink of economic collapse?
Since 2008 the Island’s economy has been in a downward spiral. Common sense and sound economic principles have been abandoned in favour of the self-interest of the few and a feudal ideology intent on driving the Island’s economy and its people into the ground.
Close to a decade of economic ethnic cleansing has seen the year-round resident population of Sark fall dramatically, from over 650 in December 2008 to below 390 today. If allowed to continue, this course of action can lead to only one outcome: the loss of Sark’s autonomy, Christopher Beaumont’s and his people’s most precious asset.
Sark’s feudal lord has a once in a lifetime opportunity to halt the Island’s economic decline. It is in his gift to reverse the fortunes of his people and set Sark on the road to economic growth and prosperity. It is reported that in private conversations Christopher Beaumont has expressed a view that holidaymakers and day visitors being able to travel directly between France and Sark would be beneficial to the Island’s tourist industry. This is an encouraging development and one that all stakeholders in Sark will view with intense interest.
As the Island’s 23rd feudal lord, Christopher Beaumont has the power and, as importantly, the influence to shape the Island’s future. If he recognises the benefits of Sark opening up its economy to the vast tourism markets of Western Europe he should say so publicly. If there is no appetite for this amongst the hardliners in his wholly unelected parliament, then he should engage with the private sector to bring it about. His presence at the table in negotiations with ferry companies looking to ply this route would be invaluable.
All stakeholders in Sark are looking to Christopher Beaumont to show leadership. It is time for him to act to halt the terminal decline in Sark’s economy and protect the Island’s priceless autonomy.
21st September 2017
FUTURE PROSPERITY FOR SARK OR YEARS OF FURTHER DECLINE? ONE MAN HAS THE POWER TO DECIDE
On Monday of this week Sark’s absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont returned to the Island to discover that his unelected government has finally come clean about the dire state of the economy. Buried within the agenda of the next meeting of Chief Pleas, to be held in ten days’ time, is a damning indictment of the results of ten years of state-sponsored economic ethnic cleansing.
Whilst ostentatiously professing to be a report about the future of the dairy industry the report’s sponsors, Helen Plummer and Charles Maitland, use the opportunity to reveal the one-party state’s shift from denial of the numerous economic problems facing the Island to one of acceptance and, naturally, blame. Predictably Helen Plummer and Charles Maitland, along with the rest of the members of the wholly unelected Chief Pleas offer no solutions to Sark’s economic woes. They instead call for hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer’s money to be spent propping up a Sark industry that, in keeping with every other business sector, cannot survive in the current economic climate.
If ever the Island of Sark needed strong leadership it is now. If nothing changes the people of Sark will endure further years of economic decline until the time comes when the Island can no longer sustain itself and is forced to surrender its autonomy. In recent weeks the Sark Newspaper has observed that it will be better for Christopher Beaumont to be the feudal lord of a prosperous Sark than a failed state. We have also posed the question that is being asked daily by Islanders: “can Christopher Beaumont be the man who fixes Sark?”
Sark’s 23rd Seigneur certainly understands the importance of the Island’s autonomy. In a speech delivered to Guernsey’s Chamber of Commerce on the 24th April 2017 he explained:
“Sark is unique in that it is a Crown Dependency with direct relationship to Her Majesty and that is through a perpetual lease that is currently held by me but originally granted 452 years ago by Elizabeth I. In today’s terms that means that Sark is a democratic self-governing jurisdiction with a degree of independence. Sark makes its own laws, raises its own taxes, pledges allegiance to the Crown for the protection offered from Her Majesty’s government.”
Christopher Beaumont could have also added that, being both geographically and politically on the edge of Europe whilst not being controlled by Europe, Sark has the rights and freedoms to shape its own future. Rights and freedoms that other jurisdictions can only dream of.
For many years Sark has been looking for a leader, someone who will energise and empower the Island so that it can take its rightful place on the international stage as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Channel Islands. This was something highlighted by the then Minister of State for Justice Lord McNally in his verbal submission to the Justice Committee in November 2013:
“It [Sark] has to have some economic future other than for retirees who have pensions that they have already made, it has to give a future for young people and for a working population. I just feel at the moment that there is not enough empathy in the community of people clinging to the old ways, who fear change, who oppose investments and ideas. They just see everybody as an enemy and the others just see the others as barriers to progress.”
“At the moment it is very difficult to look to somebody who properly gives leadership in Sark.”
Could Christopher Beaumont be the elusive somebody whom Lord McNally called on to deliver leadership in Sark? In the absence of a democratically elected government he is the only man with the power to decide if Sark is about to embark on years of prosperity or years of further economic and social decline. Is the Island's 23rd feudal lord coming to Sark for a quiet retirement or is he coming to lead? If he is coming to lead he would do worse than take heed of the last words spoken by Lord McNally during his visit to Sark in April 2013. Lord McNally quoting from a local journal, the Sark Scribe, reflected:
“Of course there are things that do need fixing and it is hoped that Conseillers will now start to look seriously and constructively at supporting our faltering economy, encouraging the creation of jobs, consulting with residents before they draft new legislation, creating a strategic plan for Sark, costing the much needed Border Agency presence, moving forward on land reform, reducing health care costs and a myriad of other things that are serving to keep Sark as the poor relation of the Channel Islands.”
14th September 2017
AN OPPORTUNITY THAT COMES ONLY ONCE IN A GENERATION
“I was a military engineer for about 25 years, graduating from Sandhurst in the late 70s. I retired from the regular Army in 2002. Since then I have worked in a variety of businesses, mostly in project and programme management, finally ending up as a manager at Rolls Royce.”
This is how Christopher Beaumont summarised his working life when addressing the Guernsey Chamber of Commerce on the 24th April 2017. He continued:
“Being Seigneur puts me in a position of privilege and some responsibility.” “I have only been Seigneur for a matter of months and the transition was instantaneous however the learning process about Sark started from an almost standing start and has continued at a frantic pace.”
The privilege and power he inherited upon becoming Sark’s 23rd feudal lord in July 2016 gives Christopher Beaumont a unique opportunity to fix Sark’s broken economy, an opportunity that comes only once in a generation.”
If he chooses to do so he will secure a bright and prosperous future for his Island and his people. He will also stave off the threat of outside intervention and safeguard Sark’s autonomy for his heirs and for future generations of Islanders. Having spent the past 15 years in project and programme management, Christopher Beaumont will have gained valuable experience and skills which, if applied to resolving Sark’s problems, could quickly turn the Island’s economy around.
Before beginning this process key questions must be posed and answered honestly and objectively:
WHY HAS SARK FALLEN FROM GRACE?
If history has shown us one thing it is that the transition of governance from archaic feudalism to a fully representative modern democracy is never a smooth path to travel. In December 2008 the people of Sark believed they were seeing the end of 450 years of feudal rule. The reality is that they woke up the morning following the Island’s first sham ‘democratic’ elections only to find that they were as much under the yoke of feudal rule as they had ever been.
What has ensued since is a collapse in governance. We are now ruled over by an unelected feudal lord, his unelected state officials and the unelected members of a sham parliament who have no mandate from the people to govern.
WHETHER SARK CAN BE PUT RIGHT?
Sark holds a unique place in the modern world, on the edge of Europe without being constrained by the endless stream of regulations that come pouring out of Strasbourg on a weekly basis. A British Crown Dependency with all the benefits that brings however empowered to make and shape its own laws. Sark can be put right but only by setting aside the Island’s feudal ideology and adopting a pragmatic and inclusive approach. Sark needs inward investment to strengthen its economy and ensure that it retains its unique independent status on the world stage.
Ten years of economic ethnic cleansing which has seen the year-round resident population collapse from over 650 in December 2008 to below 390 today must come to an end. Sark must repopulate, in the main with young working men, women and families.
Fixing the economy is key to repopulating Sark and the economy will never begin to recover until we remove all obstacles that prevent us trading with national and international markets. The Island’s principal economic driver is its tourist industry. Growth in this critical sector will only be achieved by turning back the clock and allowing direct access into Sark from the vast market of mainland Europe via the west coast of France.
WHO IS THERE TO FIX SARK?
There is no shortage of people already living in Sark willing and able to assist in the reconstruction of the Island’s economy. The question that Christopher Beaumont needs to answer, honestly and objectively, is who is there to obstruct him if he chooses to rise to the challenge of rejuvenating Sark’s economy? His sham parliament is dominated by a handful of hard-line ultra conservative feudalists who would see the Island surrender its unique autonomous status rather than allow it to develop into a fully representative 21st century democracy.
WHEN IS SARK’S RECOVERY LIKELY TO BEGIN?
Christopher Beaumont has been presented with a problem, a solution and the privileges and powers to do something about it. The future of Sark rests on his shoulders. Only time will tell us if he is the man to seize this once in a generation opportunity.
7th September 2017
BETTER TO BE THE FEUDAL LORD OF A PROSPEROUS SARK THAN A FAILED STATE
THE FUTURE OF SARK IS IN CHRISTOPHER BEAUMONT’S HANDS
‘THE GREAT CONTRACTION OF SARK’S ECONOMY’ CAN STOP
Almost a decade of economic decline has seen Sark’s year-round resident population plummet from over 650 in December 2008 to below 390 today. The overwhelming majority of those who have left have been working men, women and their families; the very lifeblood of the Island’s future. The history of the years of economic decline have been documented within the pages of this publication and across the local, and at times, national media. As a result of this, the reasons for Sark’s unprecedented economic decline and subsequent depopulation are understood and accepted by those who walk the corridors of powers in Westminster and Windsor.
The ‘great contraction of Sark’s economy’, as one local journalist described it, must stop if the Island is to retain its autonomy. The reality is that it can stop overnight. All that is required is a setting aside of the issues that have divided the Island over the past ten years and the reaching of an understanding between those who govern, democratically, and those who are willing to invest into Sark’s economy to create businesses and desperately needed jobs. This cannot happen without the intervention of the Island’s 23rd feudal lord Christopher Beaumont. Only he can bring his powers to bear on those who would rather see Sark fail than embrace change.
The Island needs to attract a variety of inward investors, each bringing their own knowledge and experience to the table. No single investor is going to be interested in committing resources into Sark without first being convinced that he or she is not on their own. It is the role of a democratically elected government to provide the economic climate which gives confidence to inward investors that the Island is a safe place to invest. Get that right and Sark will not be short of people willing to invest in the Island and its people.
In two weeks’ time the Seigneur of Sark, Christopher Beaumont, and Her Majesty’s representative in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, Sir Ian Corder will attend an opening ceremony for the recently refurbished Clos a Jaon self-catering cottages. This project, undertaken by Andrew Miller, the son of Sir Peter Miller, a long-standing tenant member of Chief Pleas in Sark up until December 2008, is exactly the kind of inward investment that the Island must welcome. The project created work for the hard-pressed building sector and, now completed, will no doubt employ local labour to service these cottages along with Andrew Miller’s other self-catering properties.
When Mr Miller’s guests arrive, what will they, as well as other staying visitors, find to do in Sark? Numerous hotels are closed whilst the two hotels that remain open are having to heavily discount their rates but are still unable to fill their rooms throughout the desperately short tourism season.
Half of the restaurants and shops in The Avenue, Sark’s main thoroughfare, are boarded up and are finding it impossible to attract tenants willing to commit their time and capital to running their own business. At least five individual owners of commercial properties in The Avenue cannot find takers for their premises, regardless of how low they drop their rents.
Over 20% of the Island’s entire housing stock sits empty. Once again numerous landlords have dropped their rents time and time again to no avail. In Sark’s current economic climate you can barely give a property away. Numerous property owners have taken to letting out their homes as guest houses or self-catering units but are finding themselves fighting over a smaller slice of an ever-smaller cake.
What Sark needs is more staying visitors. Only they will give the economy the boost it needs to drag itself out of the doldrums and provide the trade that will allow the Island to thrive and prosper. Sark is getting all of the customers it can though the Guernsey route, courtesy of the state-owned Isle of Sark Shipping Company. For years numbers have remained stagnant and they are not set to increase any time in the foreseeable future. The future for Sark’s principal economic driver, tourism, lies in opening the sector up to the vast market of mainland Europe. This one simple action will see an immediate influx of inward investment into Sark. There will be no end of ultra conservative feudal hardliners who will try to build a case based on anecdotal evidence and rhetoric as to why the Island cannot afford to do so, but the simple economic facts knock their arguments clean out of the ring.
The cost of allowing Guernsey’s professional border control officers to man a Customs post in Sark from spring of next year would be covered many times over by hard revenues collected by the Island’s exchequer. The landing tax from visitors coming to Sark directly from Dielette, Carteret and Granville alone would contribute enormously to the cost.
This however should not and cannot be viewed in isolation. It is the many economic benefits that Sark and its exchequer would reap forthwith that make the case for a Customs post irresistible.
With the prospect of access to new markets that can deliver visitors in sufficient numbers to justify inward investment, the Island’s empty hotels, restaurants, cafés, shops and bars would quickly rise to the challenge and open their doors to do business and trade in next year’s more favourable and realistic economic environment.
Inward investors such as Andrew Miller will find that their businesses are able to attract more and more customers as a result of Sark being able to offer visitors a variety of places to visit, be they hotel restaurants, bars, independent cafés or shops. This is what the 21st century traveller demands and Sark is better placed than its competitors across the Channel Islands to deliver it.
Forward thinking inward investors will see far beyond this initial liberation of the tourism sector in Sark. There is work crying out to be done across Sark both in the private and public sector. The Island needs to attract sufficient tourists willing to spend their money in businesses and in turn pay taxes on goods and services to swell Sark’s exchequer. This would provide funds for improvements in the Island’s infrastructure, care for its elderly, sick and vulnerable and the education of its children.
A much-needed boost to Sark’s economy could be provided by fulfilling the late Lawrence de Carteret and his close friend Colin Teers’ vision of a golf course. The recent announcement of the opening of The 19th Hole, a café and bar on the ground floor of the mothballed Hotel Petit Champ has been met with universal approval across the Island. Preliminary surveys suggest that the construction of a course similar to that on the Isle of Harris in Scotland would be suited to Sark, given that it takes advantage of the natural contours of the land.
The added bonus of such a sympathetic development on Le Grand Beauregard tenement is that the work could be undertaken using mainly local Sark labour. Such a facility would give Sark a much-needed edge over its competitors. It is difficult to envisage any destination in the world offering such spectacular unspoilt views to golfers making their way around what would be a truly unique course.
A world class golf course demands world class facilities to support it and the rebuilding of the iconic Beauregard Hotel would contribute to a building boom that would inevitably follow the opening up of Sark’s tourism sector to the vast markets of mainland Europe via the west coast of France and ports of Dielette, Carteret and Granville. In recent years Sark’s beleaguered building sector has shown that it can rise to the challenge and carry out major refurbishment works to the Island’s hotels without investors having to resort to employing off-Island building contractors to undertake the work. The works undertaken during the last building boom some seven years ago at La Moinerie Hotel, Stocks Hotel, the Aval du Creux and Dixcart Hotels all stand as testimony to the capability of Sark’s construction sector.
The Island must repopulate or die. The simple action of allowing Guernsey’s professional border agency officers to man a Customs post in Sark from spring of next year can be the stimulus that the Island’s economy so desperately needs. A new building boom, the reopening of all of Sark’s hospitality facilities and the creation of further attractions will result in numerous working men, women and their families repopulating the Island. Each and every one of them will pay taxes into the Sark exchequer, be consumers of core services such as electricity, gas and oil and will occupy the numerous houses that sit empty across the Island.
The continued contraction of Sark’s economy can and must stop now. One man, Christopher Beaumont, can make it happen. The question is, will he be part of the problem or will he rise to the challenge and be part of the solution?
31st August 2017
SARK’S CONSTITUTION IS INCOMPATIBLE WITH DEMOCRACY
A constitution is defined as the “body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organisation is acknowledged to be governed.”
Sark’s constitution is based on the fundamental principle that the feudal lord owns the Island; he owns the land and he owns the judiciary. He has controlling power over the constitution, since his ownership of Sark and the corresponding powers, rights and privileges form a crucial part of that constitution.
His unelected sham parliament can fiddle as much as it likes with the petty details of its own organisation. Whatever this unelected mob decides or does, it is meaningless. Even if they wanted to, which they clearly don’t, they have no power to write absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont out of Sark’s constitution. No one apart from the Crown can take away from him what is his.
Each and every one of the feudal lord’s unelected and archaic powers, rights and privileges are contrary to democratic principles. Sark’s constitution - the body of fundamental principles and established precedents in accordance with which Sark is governed - is, quite simply incompatible with democracy in any shape or form.
24th August 2017
THERE IS NO DEMOCRACY IN ABSENTEE FEUDAL LORD CHRISTOPHER BEAUMONT’S ROGUE ONE-PARTY STATE
What democracy has a hereditary absentee feudal lord with overriding and irremovable power over the constitution?
What democracy is presided over by a hereditary absentee feudal lord who owns all the land and has controlling power over the political decision-making process as well as a court with unlimited jurisdiction?
What democracy has a wholly unelected government?
As seen on the front page of this Edition of the Sark Newspaper, on Monday this week the Guernsey Press published a strongly worded ‘Opinion’ which quite rightly condemned Sark’s sham parliament, Chief Pleas, for its lack of openness and transparency. “Secrecy does democracy no favours”, the headline runs.
It is most welcome that, at long last, a member of the local media breaks ranks by openly criticising the inacceptable way in which unelected absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont’s self-legislating mini-state is governed. Each and every one of the criticisms made are valid indeed.
The problem is that they are all based on the false premise that Sark is a democracy and that its sham, wholly unelected parliament somehow represents the Island’s people.
“The continuing lack of information about last week’s private meeting of Sark’s Chief Pleas calls into question the island’s commitment to open government”, the Guernsey Press thunders.
The commitment referred to is non-existent, consisting of lip service and pretence - box-ticking to persuade the powers that be at the UK Ministry of Justice that the British Crown Dependency of Sark is intent on adhering to basic standards of good governance. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The secrecy surrounding the one-party state’s sacking of the managing director of the state-owned and monopoly-operating Isle of Sark Shipping Company Ltd was not a one-off, singular occurrence. Nor was the extraordinary meeting held in camera - in secret. Strict secrecy pervades the governance of Christopher Beaumont’s Island; it is endemic.
Such is Sark’s one-party regime’s commitment to secrecy that they have created the ‘Secret Parliament’ - the so-called Policy Development Committee, which consists of all members of Chief Pleas. ‘Secret Parliament’ meets behind doors which are firmly closed to the public and under Chatham House Rules, which means that no minutes are taken and no one can be held accountable for what they said. ‘Secret Parliament’ meets once a month, four times as often as the statutory public meetings, and, as illustrated by the absence of meaningful debate of any kind during the public meetings, it is during the ‘Secret Parliament’ sessions that Sark’s wholly unelected ‘government’ hammer things out. The public meetings are just a rubber-stamping exercise - a formality.
The secrecy doesn’t stop there. The one-party state of Sark has no less than 24 more committees. All of which are manned by the unelected members of Chief Pleas, unelected state officials and unelected and co-opted ‘volunteer’ members of the public. Although it is these committees that set policy and devise all the new laws and regulations that get imposed on the people of Sark, none of the committee meetings are open to the public and no minutes are put in the public domain.
The Sark secrecy doesn’t stop there either. A high number of the members of the assembly that the Guernsey Press lambasts for its lack of transparency are benefiting financially from the state, be it through un-tendered supply contracts, subsidies or taxpayer-funded state employment. Despite these unelected people making decisions that directly affect their own livelihoods, there is no information available to the taxpaying public detailing who they employ, in what capacity and how much they are paid. Examples include unelected tourism supremo and Shipping chairman Sandra Williams, who has enjoyed over a decade of rent-free business premises at the publicly owned Island Hall. The unelected Paul Williams, who is awarded un-tendered contracts as well as state employment. The unelected Antony Dunks, chairman of the ‘Secret Parliament’ who is paid by the state to act as secretary for the one-party state’s Development Control Committee of which he was chairman for many years. The secrecy of the one-party state is used to cover up practices which would be inacceptable in any democracy and can only be described as corrupt.
Not even there does the secrecy end. In a meaningless statement posted on the state website, Christopher Beaumont’s unelected ‘government’ proclaims its commitment to tax transparency whilst regretting that the data relevant to the international community’s ongoing war against tax evasion and other financial fraud is not collected in Sark. Of course, it isn’t. Total secrecy is a necessity to maintain the Island’s status as a tax haven and a centre for just the kind of lucrative but unregulated “offshore financial services” that international bodies like the OECD and the EU Commission are out to eradicate. Total secrecy is, in other words, necessary in order for Sark’s unelected rulers to make substantial amounts of untaxed and undeclared money whilst continuing the destruction of what little remains of the Island’s open economy.
“It seems that it is not only the skies of Sark that are impenetrably dark but also its politics”, the Guernsey Press observes.
There are no politics in Sark. No Labour, Lib Dems or Conservatives. No opposition. No debate. No alternative solutions are ever considered. A totalitarian one-party state, ‘politics’ in Sark’s governance are limited to one ideology only; to the strictest adherence to the directives of an unelected absentee feudal lord and his enforcers - Sark’s unelected ruling elite. There are no politics in a dictatorship.
“Nothing alienates voters and potential candidates more than secrecy and this meeting only increases the sense of a government distanced from a section of its electorate”, the Guernsey Press states in its final salvo.
What electorate? The people of Sark haven’t seen a ballot box since 2013 and not one member of the unelected mob posing as the Island’s ‘government’ is there as a result of receiving votes. The only “section” of the population from which this one-party mob isn’t distanced is themselves. Not one of its rank and file members - and not one of its leaders - has received one single vote from this Island’s people. Not one of them has a mandate to act on the people’s behalf.
No one in Sark has a representative in the Island’s sham parliament. Its unelected leaders and members represent no one but their unelected absentee feudal lord and themselves. They protect no one’s interests but their unelected absentee feudal lord’s and their own. The notion that the British Crown Dependency of Sark is a democracy is a fraud. It is governed by a totalitarian regime with parallels to fascist Germany of the 1930s which are as unpalatable as they are real and inescapable.
It is this absence of democracy and democratic process of any kind which is Sark’s main problem. The lack of transparency and openness - the impenetrable secrecy which hallmarks the Island’s governance and administration - is only a symptom.
Sark is owned, dominated and controlled by Christopher Beaumont, an unelected absentee feudal lord with controlling and unassailable power over its constitution, judiciary and land. His feudal powers, rights and privileges under Sark’s constitution - the laws and customs in accordance with which the Island is governed - are incompatible with democracy. As long as he retains these powers, rights and privileges, government by the people for the people is an impossibility in Sark. Any media accusations of secrecy will be shrugged off with an arrogance that is only ever displayed by people who don’t consider themselves accountable to anyone.
17th August 2017
UNELECTED ABSENTEE FEUDAL LORD CHRISTOPHER BEAMONT’S UNELECTED ONE-PARTY REGIME:
NO MANDATE TO GOVERN OR PASS LAWS
The legislation they create is meaningless. It is not enforceable because it is introduced by an unelected group of individuals who do not represent the people of Sark or protect
The British Crown Dependency of Sark is a lawless Island where no one has a mandate to do anything except the unelected absentee feudal lord who owns it - its constitution, its land
and its judiciary.
Sark’s laws are unenforceable and will remain so until the Island has a legitimate parliament which is democratically elected by the people.
10th August 2017
AN UNELECTED ABSENTEE FEUDAL LORD WITH NOTHING BUT CONTEMPT FOR HIS PEOPLE
60 TIMES the Sark Newspaper has appealed to Christopher Beaumont on behalf of the people of this Island.
60 TIMES we have pleaded with Beaumont to give his Island a chance to build a viable economy based on tourism.
60 TIMES we have appealed to him to allow a Customs post on his Island to enable visitors from the nearby coast of France direct access to Sark.
60 TIMES we have pointed out to Christopher Beaumont that, without this Customs post Sark’s all-important tourist industry will continue to decline and the Island’s economy with it.
60 TIMES we have urged the hereditary feudal lord with power that extends to all aspects of life on Sark to consider the devastating effect that the on-going depopulation has on the Island.
60 TIMES we have drawn his attention to the fact that, unless urgent action is taken, the disastrous level of depopulation will continue unabated because there is no economy to sustain the Island’s working population.
60 TIMES we have pointed out that keeping the Island’s budget balanced by continuously imposing swingeing tax hikes on a steadily shrinking population is not sustainable and that Sark is heading for bankruptcy.
60 TIMES we have urged Christopher Beaumont to use his power - his ownership of this Island’s constitution, jurisdiction and judiciary and his control over the political decision-making process - to support a fundamental reversal of the destructive policies adhered to by his unelected ‘government’
60 TIMES we have urged Sark’s unelected absentee feudal lord to use his extensive power to relieve the plight of his people by allowing economic development on his Island, without which it has no future, neither economically nor demographically.
60 TIMES our appeal has been ignored, met with nothing but a contemptuous wall of silence.
Under Sark’s constitution, the fundamental principles and established precedents according to which this Island is governed are to this day based on a piece of paper owned by successive unelected members of the Beaumont family, namely the Crown Lease Elizabeth I, granted to Helier de Carteret in 1565.
Various amendments and legislation have been introduced since then, the latest being the much amended Reform Laws of 2008 and 2010. However, none of these amendments and laws do anything to alter the basic fact that Sark’s constitution is firmly based on the feudal lord’s ownership of it.
No Sark parliament, whether elected or unelected, has the power to take that ownership away from Christopher Beaumont. No Sark government, and no UK government for that matter, has the right or the power to take away from Sark’s 23rd feudal lord the constitution that he inherited.
Sark is one man’s Island; it is the personal property of one man who, like all dictators throughout history, controls the lives, the livelihoods and the future of the people. With this ownership and power comes responsibility. Responsibility for the wellbeing of the Island and its people. It is a responsibility that Christopher Beaumont chooses to ignore.
Not only under the constitution that he inherited but also under the feudal covenant, Christopher Beaumont holds the responsibility to protect his people and to give them access to justice. He has failed on both counts.
By refusing to establish border control and fit-for-purpose policing, he is failing to protect them physically. Through his own court, which through nepotism, incompetence and vested interests, is incapable of delivering justice, he is failing to protect them judicially too. The vassals of still-feudal Sark are as deprived of the benefits of feudalism as they are of the benefits and freedoms of democracy.
Christopher Beaumont, like his late father and predecessor Michael Beaumont before him, is in breach of his Crown Lease. He is not protecting his people. On the contrary, he is, with every day that goes by, endangering his people. Depopulation, economic decay, lack of justice, a dilapidated infrastructure, drug abuse, criminality, widespread poverty and appalling mismanagement hallmark this Island under the ownership of the Beaumont family.
There is only one person who enjoys Sark’s feudal lord’s protection and that’s the feudal lord himself. Christopher Beaumont, following closely in his father’s ignoble footsteps, is not using the autocratic power vested in him to protect his people. In breach of the feudal covenant and in breach of his Crown Lease, he is using it only to protect himself.
Under Sark’s constitution, Christopher Beaumont is, as highlighted in the booklet on Sark’s constitution written in 1993, personally responsible to Her Majesty the Queen for the Island of Sark and answerable to her representative in these Islands, the Lt. Governor of Guernsey.
This means that unelected absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont is answerable to the Crown for the depopulation of Sark, for the destruction of Sark’s economy, for the failure to establish law and order, for the neglected infrastructure and, last but not least, the failure to introduce democratic process and good governance.
Why would unelected absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont not listen to our appeals on behalf of the Island’s people? Why would he, an heir to autocratic power, substantial wealth and extensive privilege, openly renege on the responsibilities and obligations that his position entails? Why does he, in breach of his Crown Lease, deny his Island and its people a future?
Because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Like his avaricious father before him, Christopher Beaumont wants power and status without responsibility. He has demonstrated numerous times over the 13 months since he came to power that he has nothing but the purest contempt for the people of Sark.
The unelected absentee feudal lord is gracing his Island with his presence for a few days this week. When walking along Sark’s deserted Avenue, he should bear in mind that his people have seen right through him.
3rd August 2017
UNELECTED ABSENTEE FEUDAL LORD CHRISTOPHER BEAUMONT: RESPONSIBLE TO THE CROWN FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
This is how the late feudal lord Michael Beaumont described his own role in his 1993
booklet entitled ‘The Constitution and Administration of Sark’:
The Seigneur “is not an Officer of the Island and apart from the duties mentioned has no “job” as such. However, as titular head he is required to act as the Island’s Representative, responsible to the Crown (represented by the Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey), and he must oversee the smooth running of the administration, causing it to be modified when necessary.”
The ‘duties’ highlighted by Michael Beaumont are the feudal lord’s privileges of exercising his autocratic and unelected power to appoint each and every member of Sark’s judiciary, to preside over the political decision-making process in his sham parliament, to control the Island’s administration and, in return for this extensive power, pay Her Majesty the princely sum of £1.79 a year in rent.
A perfect example of a cunning old autocrat, Beaumont skips very lightly over the crucial fact that, Reform Law or no Reform Law, Sark’s constitution dictates that Sark’s feudal lord is very much “responsible to the Crown” for his Island. Like his late father before him, unelected absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont is ultimately and undeniably responsible to the Crown for everything that goes on in Sark.
Unelected absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont is answerable to the Crown, represented by the Lt. Governor, for the depopulation of the Island - for the process of economic ethnic cleansing which has caused so many, young and old, newcomers and old Island families alike, to find their hopes and aspirations for a happy life in Sark crushed by its autocratic and self-serving feudal lords and their all too willing servants in the Island’s unelected sham parliament.
Unelected absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont is answerable to Vice Admiral Sir Ian Corder, Lt. Governor of Guernsey, for the systematic and wilful economic destruction which has imposed so much misery and hardship on the lives of so many people.
The responsibility is Christopher Beaumont’s, and Christopher Beaumont’s alone, for what amounts to crimes against humanity, the likes of which have not been committed in Europe since the fascist state of Germany of the 1930s. The Crown must finally hold him to account
27th July 2017
Whilst absent from Sark and living in the Malvern Hills in the UK, unelected feudal lord Christopher Beaumont, who owns the constitution of Sark and controls every aspect of life on the Island
COLLECTS £50,000 A YEAR, TAX FREE
for exercising autocratic powers not vested in one private individual in Europe since fascist Germany of the 1930s;
and for dominating and controlling a wholly unelected sham parliament which is wilfully destroying Sark’s economy and depopulating the Island in a process of economic ethnic cleansing, the likes of which has not been seen in Europe since fascist Germany of the 1930s either.
20th July 2017
A FEUDAL LORD FAILING IN HIS BASIC DUTY TO PROTECT HER MAJESTY’S TERRITORY AND CITIZENS
For 57 weeks unelected absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont has ignored our appeal on behalf of his Island’s people to use his extensive power under Sark’s constitution to introduce border control on the Island. His father and predecessor Michael Beaumont ignored the same appeal for 127 weeks.
Sark’s unprotected borders are a threat to the security and safety not only of the Island’s own people but also that of the over 65 million citizens of the entire UK Common Travel Area.
The sole reason why the Crown Lease which Christopher Beaumont now owns was created in the first place - the only reason why Helier de Carteret became the first Seigneur of Sark back in 1565 - was to protect Her Majesty’s territory, i.e. the UK’s borders, with 40 armed men to “keep the Island free of the Queen’s enemies”.
The British government has long since taken over the responsibility for the military protection of Sark. However, the Queen’s enemies are not just foreign armies, they are also terrorists, drug smugglers, gun runners or other criminals. All of whom can be repelled from Her Majesty’s territory by a vigilant border control.
By refusing to have border control in his jurisdiction, absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont, the 23rd Seigneur of Sark, is not only failing to provide protection for Her Majesty’s citizens in Sark, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man and mainland UK, he is actively obstructing their security.
The Crown must revoke the lease on the Fief of Sark for the simple reason that its current owner, Christopher Beaumont, has, like his late father before him, made it abundantly clear he has no intention whatsoever of honouring the basic principle on which that Crown Lease was created.
13th July 2017
SARK’S FEUDAL LORD CHRISTOPHER BEAUMONT:
IN BREACH OF THE FEUDAL COVENANT
Last week the Sark Newspaper reported extensively on Sark’s constitution and how the Island’s feudal lord’s control and ownership of it gives him power that far exceeds that of his sham parliament. Democracy cannot exist where an unelected hereditary feudal lord retains controlling power over the constitution, the political decision-making process, the judiciary and the land. It is contrary to all principles of democracy. The people of Sark are deprived of the freedom and benefits that democracy brings. Despite the Reform Laws of 2008 and 2010 the British Crown Dependency of Sark is still feudal.
The feudal system is one of mutual obligations - a covenant - between the feudal lord and his vassals:
“Feudal duties ran both ways, both up and down the feudal hierarchy;
however, aside from distribution of land and maintenance of landless
retainers, the main obligation of the feudal lord was to protect his vassals, both militarily from incursion and judicially via court justice.”
Like his late father Michael Beaumont, absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont is failing in his main duties to the people of Sark. By refusing to establish border control and fit-for-purpose policing, he is failing to protect them physically. Through his own court, which through nepotism, incompetence and vested interests is incapable of delivering justice, he is failing to protect them judicially too. The vassals of still-feudal Sark are as deprived of the benefits of feudalism as they are of the benefits and freedom of democracy.
By reneging on his main obligations to his people whilst enjoying the power, status and privileges that his position gives him under Sark’s constitution - enjoying absolute power and ignoring the responsibility it entails - Christopher Beaumont is in clear breach of his feudal Crown Lease. The Crown has every right, and indeed a duty, to take it back.
7th July 2017
SARK’S UNIQUE CONSTITUTION
This is the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of “constitution”:
“A body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state
or other organisation is acknowledged to be governed.”
In the introduction to his booklet “The Constitution and Administration of Sark” of 1993, the late feudal lord, Michael Beaumont, wrote that his intention was to “bring together all the principal law and customs that together form the constitution of the Island.” In the chapter entitled “The Constitutional Position of Sark” he confirms that:
“Its present constitution was originally framed under a Royal Charter of 1565, reinforced by letters Patent in 1611.”
Historic UK, an organisation promoting the history and heritage of the UK, explains it like this:
“In 1565 Queen Elizabeth I rewarded Helier by granting him the feudal title of fief, with an obligation to maintain 40 households and men with arms to defend the island and to pay the Crown the twentieth part of a knight’s fee annually for the privilege – in today’s money that is about £1.79! This royal recognition formally established the constitutional basis which survives on Sark to this present day.”
The fundamental principles and established precedents according to which Sark is governed are to this day based on a piece of paper owned by successive unelected members of the Beaumont family, namely the Crown Lease that Elizabeth I granted to Helier de Carteret in 1565.
Various amendments and legislation have been introduced since then, the latest being the much
tinkered with Reform Laws of 2008 and 2010. However, none of these amendments and laws do anything to alter the basic fact that Sark’s constitution is firmly based on the feudal lord’s ownership of it. No Sark parliament, whether elected or unelected, has the power to take that ownership away from the Beaumont family. No Sark government, and no UK government for that matter, has the right or the power to take away from Christopher Beaumont the constitution that he inherited - an inheritance which very efficiently prevents democracy from taking hold on this Island.
Sark is one man’s Island; Sark is the personal property of one man who, like all dictators throughout history, controls the lives, the livelihoods and the future of the people.
It is unique, extraordinary and outrageous in equal measures that the only jurisdiction in the
free world where one man, the son and heir of the late Michael Beaumont, owns the constitution and has controlling power over the lives of people who have no representatives in an unelected parliament in a British Crown Dependency. That, however, is what Sark’s constitution in practice means for this Island’s people.
29th June 2017
EVIDENCE THAT SARK IS A DICTATORSHIP
“There is no legislative basis upon which to hold a referendum in Sark.”
Unelected ‘lead politicians’ Charles Maitland and Robert Cottle
This was made in a ‘press statement’ issued by the one ruling party state of Sark on 21st June 2017 and repeated in a follow-up mailshot with the same wording on Tuesday of this week.
It is clear that in the absence of any Sark legislation with regard to the holding of referendums, the one-party state and its unelected leaders consider themselves entitled to ignore the will of the people.
A referendum of any kind should be welcomed. There is nothing more democratic. A referendum directly reflects the wish of the people. As we saw in the UK last year, in a democracy a referendum result overrules the government of the day because it expresses the will of the people who voted that government into office.
In the absence of any elections, the so-called ‘government’ fronted by the self-appointed would-be ‘chief minister’ Charles Maitland and the self-appointed would-be ‘minister for economy’ Robert Cottle were never voted into office by the people of Sark in the first place. Now they have made it absolutely clear that no referendum results will be recognised by them. The will of the people is immaterial in the one-party state of Sark.
As it has always been in any dictatorship throughout history, be it fascist Germany of the 1930s, Stalin’s Russia or Kim Jong-un’s North Korea.
22nd June 2017
In the UK two well known newspapers have joined together across the political divide, resolute and united in their belief in liberty and what it means:
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." - Orson Welles
The Sark Newspaper could not agree more. As far as the press is concerned, this liberty is enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”
As reported in this publication, this is a universal liberty which the unelected rulers of Sark have done their utmost to deprive the Island’s people of. Be it by organising state-sponsored ‘demonstrations’ against the free press or attempting to sue the Editor for criminal harassment, they have unsuccessfully tried to close down the free press that is holding them to account in the public interest. They have unsuccessfully tried to deprive the Sark public of their right to receive that information.
Neither Sark’s unelected absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont nor the unelected members of his one-party parliament want to hear what the Sark Newspaper has to say, nor, for that matter do the Crown, the UK Ministry of Justice or the democratically elected government of Guernsey. They too would dearly like to see the Sark Newspaper closed down for exposing inconvenient truths which they don’t want to hear.
The concept of liberty does, however, go far beyond the freedom to receive and impart information. Everywhere else in the civilised world liberty is taken for granted in all aspects of life, from governance, economy and enterprise to social, educational and humanitarian matters but not in Sark.
15th June 2017
NOTHING BUT CONTEMPT AND INDIFFERENCE FROM
SARK'S UNELECTED ABSENTEE FEUDAL LORD
A new summer - and it is coming up to a full year since Christopher Beaumont inherited his “fabulous legacy” of autocratic power, substantial wealth and property from the late feudal lord Michael Beaumont.
When Christopher Beaumont first arrived in Sark, clearly unprepared for his role despite his late father’s advanced years, the Sark Newspaper asked whether his succession to Sark’s carved ‘throne’ heralded a new dawn for Sark. In the hope that the arrival of a new, younger and presumably more enlightened feudal lord was the precursor to a new beginning in which Sark could build a viable future, we gave Christopher Beaumont time and space to show his people that he was one apple that had rolled far away from the tree.
To prompt the unelected feudal lord with controlling power and ownership over Sark’s constitution, jurisdiction and judiciary to share his views, hopes and aspirations for his Island with its people, the Sark Newspaper asked a series of questions:
Does Christopher Beaumont envisage a Sark which continues as it is - as a sham democracy, a one ruling party state with a one ruling party parliament, the members of which are carefully selected rather than elected by the people?
Does he envisage an isolated Sark which is a gated community for a well-off elderly population of independent means with a collapsed, unsustainable economy which doesn’t support a working population?
Does he find it acceptable that his Island is being depopulated and that it is losing its young?
Does he envisage his parliament continuing down the road of wilful economic destruction by maintaining a hostile political climate in which only state-owned or state-sponsored businesses can survive?
Does he envisage his Island being able to go on balancing its books by increasing the tax burden on a diminishing number of taxpayers?
Does he envisage his Island remaining a centre for unregulated “offshore financial services”?
Does he envisage his Island remaining a paradise for criminals and fraudsters of any kind; that the special position and unique circumstances of his Island are exploited by people who can come and go as they like, no questions asked?
Does he envisage his Island - his people and himself and his family - being held hostage forever into the future by a state-owned, monopoly operating shipping ‘life-line’ which is financially unviable, unsustainable in its current form and unable to operate anywhere else than the stretch between Guernsey and Sark?
Does he envisage a Sark where the feudal landholding system is rigidly upheld?
Does he envisage his Sark as a totalitarian state in which dissent is not tolerated and opinions can only be openly expressed if they concur with the party-line set by unelected leaders? A place where it is acceptable for members of parliament to march and campaign against the free press?
The Editor of the Sark Newspaper also invited Christopher Beaumont to his house for a cup of coffee over which he could outline his hopes, plans and visions for the Island’s future. This invitation was dismissed out of hand. The new feudal lord had no wish to associate himself with this publication.
ndeed the entire exercise of clearing the decks for a new era under Christopher Beaumont’s leadership was as futile as the hope that Sark would finally be allowed to build the democracy and the economy it urgently needs in order for the Island to have a future at all.
On 15th July 2016 Sark’s unelected absentee feudal lord was interviewed by BBC Radio Guernsey and it turned out that his answer to all the questions we asked, was a resounding YES. Instead of addressing his people, who were eagerly waiting to learn more about their new unelected supreme leader - and instead of accepting the invitation from the Sark Newspaper - Christopher Beaumont chose the platform provided for him by the BBC to tell the people of Sark, as well as the world at large, that nothing would change.
Instead he expressed his disappointment with “criticism of the Island’s system of government” and declared himself to be “fully supportive of Sark’s government, Chief Pleas”. “There’s a perfectly good, working Chief Pleas and its gets my full support”, he told the BBC. Seigneur Christopher Beaumont had no intention whatsoever of putting his inherited powers and privileges to good use by promoting desperately needed reforms and changes, despite the fact that he thereby declared his “full support” for a government which is not elected by his Island’s people, does not represent his Island’s people and has, time and again over the past eight and a half years, proved that it has no intention of doing so in the future.
“I do view those that are critical of the system, in particular of my role, are just not acknowledging the truth”, Mr Beaumont ominously declared to the BBC, laying bare that he sees nothing wrong at all with a system under which he, an unelected private individual accountable to no one, inherited power and privileges unequalled by crowned heads and elected leaders across the free world in addition to substantial wealth and property.
The British Crown Dependency of Sark remains a totalitarian one-party state where criticism of the system - and in particular of the feudal lord’s role in it - is not tolerated under any circumstances and must be shown to be wrong and, indeed, unreasonable, with the help of Her Majesty’s representative is these Islands, the Lt. Governor, if need be.
The next time Sark’s unelected absentee feudal lord exposed himself to the media was in September 2016, when an incredulous Sark public was faced with large glossy photos of the newly minted Seigneur posing as ‘lord of the manor’ in front of the house which to this day remains occupied by Mr & Mr Synnott on the front page of Sark Life.
Busy with his life in the UK, the absentee feudal lord stayed out of the media limelight for a few months, not to feature again until he seized the opportunity provided by the Christmas Chief Pleas meeting on 18th January 2017 to spread lies, poison and propaganda about the newly closed down Sark Vineyards Ltd. Without availing himself to the facts, without once lifting up the phone and speaking to those involved, the uninformed and autocratic absentee feudal lord laid bare his adherence to the party-line set by his father. This he did by reading out a malicious statement no doubt prepared for him by his mentor and his father’s chief enforcer Reginald Guille. This statement derided the vineyards and its owners, condemning Sark’s only new industry in many decades and lying about the reason for the closure, namely the unelected sham parliament’s intention to introduce a unique-in the-world tax on the production of alcohol.
Then, in late April this year, the unelected absentee feudal lord once again regaled an unquestioning off-Island audience with his views on and visions for his Island, this time at an event organised by the Guernsey Chamber of Commerce. It goes without saying, without having the courtesy to address, much less consult, the people of his Island first.
This event was, as became glaringly obvious, part of a meticulously planned propaganda onslaught which was devised and carried out by Beaumont and the Lt. Governor, Sir Ian Corder, in concert. Partly facilitated through secret meetings over dinner at Government House where hand-picked unelected representatives from Sark colluded with hand-picked representatives from Guernsey commerce, politics and the Law Officers, Beaumont’s address just happened to coincide with Sir Ian undertaking a ‘fact finding trip’ to Sark. Both events just happened to generate extensive local media coverage, all of which was wildly inaccurate in its upbeat portrayal of present day Sark.
Here we are, in the middle of a new summer. Beaumont is still an absentee feudal lord, despite assuring us he’d be moving to Sark about now during that BBC Guernsey Radio interview last year. He still hasn’t had the decency to address, let alone engage with, the people of his Island publicly with regards to his views and plans for the future.
He doesn’t need to. Unelected and accountable to no one, the UK resident Christopher Beaumont holds totalitarian power over every aspect of life on this Island. He has made it absolutely clear that the only people he intends to address and engage with are those who conform with his views and do his bidding, be they in Government House, in St James Chambers or unelected members or state officials of his own sham parliament. Any person or body outside that sphere is treated with derision and contempt, their needs, wishes and aspirations to be discredited at any opportunity at any cost.
Unelected absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont is more than happy with his “fabulous legacy” of power, property and wealth, regardless of the fact that his Island is bankrupt, politically, economically and demographically. For 48 weeks he has contemptuously ignored this publication’s appeal on the behalf of the Island’s people to use his extensive power to reverse the decline of Sark and help his people build a future for themselves. Clearly he is indifferent to the harsh reality facing the many who don’t enjoy his and his unelected regime’s patronage. He couldn’t care less and has nothing but contempt for those suffering hardship and those who have no choice but to get on the infamous boat that leaves in the morning.
Unelected absentee feudal lord Christopher Beaumont possesses power, privilege and wealth courtesy of an inherited Crown Lease. Under that lease he also has duty of care with responsibility for the welfare of his people. Given his indifference and obvious contempt for that people, he is negligent of his duty and in breach of his lease. As an act of common decency he should therefore, as this publication has suggested before, hand it back to the Crown.
8th June 2017
NO CONSTITUTIONAL POWERS
This sham ‘government’ does not represent the people of Sark.
SARK: THE ONLY SIGNATORY TO ECHR WITH AN UNELECTED ‘GOVERNMENT’ UNDER AN UNELECTED SUPREME LEADER
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was ratified by the UK in 1951 and, two years later, it was extended to the Bailiwick of Guernsey, which became signatories to ECHR in 1953.
The Convention’s aim was to eliminate totalitarianism in Europe - to protect the people against atrocities and abuse of power by the state such as that carried out by Hitler’s Germany which again led to World War II.
In the year 2006, and after much procrastination, the ECHR was reluctantly incorporated in domestic civil law in Sark as well as in Guernsey, through the Bailiwick-wide Human Rights (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2000.
The then feudal lord Michael Beaumont was not best pleased about it and stated publicly on several occasions that this was the worst thing Sark ever did, which tells you all you need to know about the attitude of those who govern Sark, both then and now.
This Bailiwick legislation was, as laid out on the Guernsey government website, apparently introduced with the best of intentions:
“The broad aim in introducing the Law was to help create a society in which people’s rights and responsibilities are properly balanced and where an awareness of the Convention rights permeates our government and legal systems at all levels.”
“The Human Rights Law makes it unlawful for a public authority to act incompatibly with the Convention rights and allows for a case to be brought in a Bailiwick court or tribunal against the authority if it does so.”
“The Human Rights Law applies to all our legislation, policies and procedures.”
Although the Beaumont family’s one-party regime voted it through, their intention never coincided with those of Guernsey. As ever - as with financial services regulations, as with international tax transparency and as with universal standards of good governance, to mention but a few, Sark’s totalitarian rulers signed the dotted line to get the outside world - Guernsey and the UK Ministry of Justice - off their backs and went on to ignore it.
The Human Rights Law is not applied to the legislation, policies and procedures of the one-party state headed by unelected feudal lord Christopher Beaumont.
Not one member of Sark’s sham parliament, the Chief Pleas, is elected. Not one of its members has a mandate from the people of this Island, nor does feudal lord Christopher Beaumont, who dominates and controls the political decision-making process from his carved throne on a raised dais. The unelected feudal lord has powers over the constitution overriding that of the equally unelected body of the assembly.
Contrary to ECHR and in breach of the Human Rights Law, Beaumont and his unelected state officials continue to govern Sark in their own interest, not just ignoring the needs, wishes and interests of those they claim to represent, but in direct and open contravention of the needs, wishes and interests of the people as well as the legislation to which Sark is a signatory.
Instead of creating “a society in which people’s rights and responsibilities are properly balanced” in accordance with the ECHR and the Island’s own Human Rights Law, Sark’s feudal lords and their loyal one-party members have relentlessly created a society where they themselves are the only ones to have any rights; rights which the rapidly diminishing number of Sark taxpayers carry the responsibility to fund.
Whilst the unelected Christopher Beaumont and his totalitarian regime continue to introduce destructive legislation, policies and procedures which are devised solely to maintain their own positions of totalitarian power, status and privilege, Sark’s unelected rulers hand themselves state patronage, employ themselves in taxpayer-funded jobs, promote their private businesses through the state’s taxpayer-funded channels and operate lucrative but unregulated “offshore financial services” to line their own pockets. All whilst the Island is rapidly losing its young working population because of it.
The unelected individuals who hold absolute power in Sark never had any intention of applying the Human Rights Law on their Island and no one can make them do it. Simply because the self-legislating state of Sark is the only signatory to ECHR with an unelected ‘government’ under an unelected supreme leader accountable to no one - just the kind of lawless rogue state that the ECHR was designed to rein in.
1st of June 2017
True beauty is not a concept limited to what you see with your eyes. Sark’s stunning views, picturesque bays and abundant wildflowers is not enough. To be a truly beautiful Island, Sark must also be a happy Island, reflecting the prosperity, freedoms and rights of the people who live and work here.
As the deeply flawed Reform Laws of 2008 and 2010 failed to introduce democracy and put an end to 450 years of feudal rule, the people of Sark must endure tyranny. Sark is Western Europe's only dictatorship; a self-legislating state where the people do not have a single democratically elected representative. They are under the control of an unelected feudal lord, his unelected state officials and his unelected one-party sham parliament.
Deprived of basic freedoms and rights and, certainly, any hope of prosperity, the people of Sark are governed by unelected individuals who are there for their own benefit and represent no one apart from themselves; an unelected mob who will support any system, even a failed one like Sark’s, to protect their own interests. The bond that holds feudal lord Christopher Beaumont’s sham ‘government’ and its supporters together is the lack of regulation which enables lucrative, unregulated “offshore financial services” to thrive and prosper, whilst the open economy lies in ruins.
Visually Sark is undoubtedly a beautiful Island but it is not a happy one. The destruction and divisions brought about by a one-party regime which, for over eight years, has relentlessly pursued a policy of economic ethnic cleansing that cannot easily be reversed, even if there were a will to do so. Stunning scenery and spectacular views cannot protect the people of Sark against the power of an unelected autocratic leader and the unelected members of his one-party state.
Today, Sark’s reputation as the jewel in the crown of the Channel Islands is overshadowed by its dysfunctional system of governance, fully deserving of comparison with fascist Germany of the 1930s, and the impact of Sark’s visual beauty is spoiled, eclipsed by the unhappiness and despair of the Island’s people.
25th May 2017
MEANINGLESS CHANGES TO THE REFORM LAW
MAKE NO DIFFERENCE TO THE DIRE SITUATION SARK IS IN: MOVING THE DECKCHAIRS ON A SINKING SHIP
Due to the failed Reform Laws of 2008 and 2010, the British Crown Dependency of Sark is a failed state.
Sark is ungovernable because, under the totalitarian rule of the unelected feudal lord Christopher Beaumont, who is accountable to no one yet holds controlling power over the constitution, jurisdiction and judiciary, the Island has developed into a one-party state with more in common with Germany of the 1930s than any representative democracy on earth.
Sark is ungovernable because its ‘government’ consists of an unelected mob who represents no one except themselves and toes the party line as set by the feudal lord and his chosen leaders to secure for themselves the continued benefits of patronage, be they power, status or of a financial nature.
Sark is ungovernable because there is no rule of law. The law is enforced partly by the unelected members of the sham parliament and partly by hopelessly conflicted, short-term amateur constables answerable to the feudal lord and his unelected ‘government’. The law is upheld, supposedly, by an equally hopelessly conflicted judiciary, the members of which are, to a man, untrained and inexperienced in matters of law and appointed by the feudal lord himself and answerable to him for their positions and their income. Despite his lack of training and knowledge, principal judge Jeremy La Trobe-Bateman, feudal lord Christopher Beaumont’s uncle, nevertheless sits alone and has unlimited jurisdiction, including complicated child custody cases.
Sark is ungovernable because Sark’s wholly unelected regime, from the feudal lord himself down to the lowliest seat-filler in his sham parliament, ignore principles of democratic process, ignore principles of good governance, ignore expected standards in public life, ignore the needs and wishes of the people over whom they rule and ignore facts and dates and ignore common sense.
As a result, the Island of Sark is sinking; the economy is broken and the population is shrinking at an alarming rate with many of those remaining facing hardship. Crucially, the people who remain on the Island - there are barely 400 left from a population of 650 only eight years ago - have lost hope of things will improve the future.
The situation is critical. It is patently clear that Sark has no democracy or good governance. The Island’s economy is no longer sustainable, nor is its population. Nor, for that matter, is Sark’s unelected government, which is now unable to find enough recruits willing to fill its unelected seats. A failed state in all aspects, the Island is heading for oblivion - for ceasing to be an independent, self-governing jurisdiction.
Charles Maitland, the self-appointed ‘chief minister’ elected by no one and with a mandate from no one, is spear-heading the one ruling party regime’s solution to its own ungovernability - its own sinking.
This solution does not address the root cause of all that ails Sark, namely the feudal power structure which the Reform Laws failed to remove, thereby making democracy an impossibility. Nor does it introduce law and order or address the broken economy by announcing the urgently needed reversal of the destructive policies that broke it in the first place - as illustrated by the feudal lord’s 49 weeks of silence in response to our appeal opposite. Nor does the solution, soon no doubt to be labelled a “masterstroke” by its instigator, Charles Maitland, do anything to halt the steady stream of people, mostly young working couples and their children, who are leaving Sark for good to build a life for themselves elsewhere.
No, as always, Sark’s one ruling party is once again spending its time and scant resources on shoring up their own and their feudal lord’s unelected powers rather than acting for the common good in accordance with common sense. Pathetically, the unelected Maitland and his unelected colleagues in Christopher Beaumont’s regime are, with their feudal lord’s blessing, planning to avert the inevitable disaster by reducing the number of chairs in his sham parliament.
Much good it will do them. It is very much like rearranging the deckchairs for the orchestra playing on the sinking Titanic. Puppet maestro Maitland is frantically rearranging the seats for his discordant orchestra whilst the ship that is Sark silently sinks.
18th May 2017
ON A DIFFERENT PLANET
On Monday 24th April 2017, the Guernsey Press carried a two-page spread on Lt. Governor Sir Ian Corder’s ‘fact-finding’ tour on Sark, resplendent with colour photographs of his prowess on a bicycle and sprawling headlines proclaiming how business is thriving on Sark.
How can it be, Sir Ian, that the Island is booming when shops are closed and people leave, left right and centre? The fact is, of course that it isn’t true. The Lt. Governor’s visit and the corresponding media coverage was a carefully planned propaganda exercise by Sark’s unelected sham government, choreographed to coincide with feudal lord Christopher Beaumont’s revelation of his ‘vision’ for his Island at a Guernsey Chamber of Commerce event taking place of the same day.
By supporting this propaganda, both that presented in the Guernsey Press and that spouted by Beaumont to his unquestioning audience, all of which seeks to paint a picture of life on the Island of Sark based on lies, misinformation and wishful thinking, Sir Ian Corder declared his allegiance to the Beaumonts and their totalitarian regime. Unlike his predecessor, the late Air Marshal Sir Peter Walker, who refused to be awed or intimidated by Sark’s feudal lord and whose leadership was an inspiration and a great support for the people of Sark, Sir Ian appears to be taken in by the web of deceit presented to him.
Indeed, whilst addressing his deferential audience consisting of the lower echelons of Guernsey’s business community Beaumont as much as admitted that his talk was part of a propaganda onslaught by pointing out that, in support of his various lies and misleading statements, he had brought copies of the triumphant Guernsey Press coverage, which was “available here”.
The Sark Newspaper has already reported in detail on those lies and misleading statements; we have heard all these lies many times before over the last eight years.
The unelected feudal lord wants the world at large to believe his lie that “Sark is a democratic self-governing jurisdiction”. Self-governing, yes, but democratic? How can it be when the Island is led by an unelected hereditary feudal lord who presides over a ‘government’ which is a body of people none of whom have been elected, none of whom have a mandate from the Island’s citizens to govern on their behalf and none of whom represent anyone apart from themselves and their feudal lord - an unelected mob posing as a ‘government’?
The unelected feudal lord wants the world to believe his lie that he is “non-political” despite the fact that he presides over the political decision-making process from a raised dais, has the right to - and does - speak politically and persuade the assembly below him in any way he sees fit and put propositions before them which they are highly unlikely to oppose in view of the feudal lord’s extensive powers of patronage.
The feudal lord wants the world to believe his lie that the unelected ‘government’ of which he is the supreme but unelected leader “presents the lightest of touches” as far as the business community is concerned. In view of that government’s very public vendettas against the privately-owned Sark Electricity Ltd and Sark Vineyards Ltd, it beggars belief that no one in an audience consisting of business people protested.
The unelected feudal lord wants the world to believe the lie that Sark’s public finances are in enviably good order when the fact is that the balance sheet relies on worthless shares in a near-insolvent shipping company and unsaleable assets whilst the meagre budget is balanced by failure to maintain the crumbling infrastructure, failure to educate the children adequately, failure to support the sick and the elderly and failure to invest in the future. All whilst Sark depends on an annual subsidy from Guernsey’s taxpayers of some £2 million a year - twice the Island’s official budget - to function.
What we have also heard before, both from the current feudal lord and from his equally uncaring late father Michael Beaumont, is the Island of Sark portrayed as a utopia - somewhere “most view as a complete idyll”. Anyone from off-Island will be forgiven for falling for this falsehood, but it doesn’t wash with what remains of the local population. Natural beauty, certainly, is abundant, but that is as far as the idyll goes. A casual day-tripper will be blissfully unaware that Sark Islanders are deprived of democracy and subjected to the totalitarian rule of an unelected feudal lord and his unelected ‘government’. An unsuspecting tourist guided to the rose bushes at La Seigneurie Gardens will not be made aware that the people of this Island have no statutory right to social security, welfare or health-care of any kind if they are elderly, become ill or fall on hard times. A cruise ship passenger sitting down for a cup of tea is not likely to dwell on the fact that Sark’s children do not get GCSE-level education unless their parents are able to pay the cost.
What we have never publicly heard before, however, is Sark’s feudal lord belittling the people who suffer because of his self-serving and uncaring rule. In patronising tones the highly-privileged Christopher Beaumont, who recently inherited substantial wealth, highlighted how many Islanders manage “up to seven-part time jobs... seamlessly” as if such a life were desirable and indeed unavoidable. It is neither desirable - seven part-time jobs signifies financial hardship and a total lack of job security - nor is it unavoidable. If Beaumont permitted his Island to develop an economy that sustains the working population, his people would not have to scramble around to find work six hours a week mowing lawns and cleaning windows for seven different employers to be able to, if they are lucky, pay the rent and feed their children. Christopher Beaumont is not just detached from reality, he is on a different planet from the rest of us - and so is the Lt. Governor who fails the people of Sark by lending credibility to their untrustworthy feudal lord.
11th May 2017
WHY WE NEED AN APPLICATION TO THE
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
People get the government they are prepared to accept. Therefore - because the people of Sark accept it - their Island is governed by an unelected body of people whose governance can only be described as mob rule.
No one in the outside world is willing to rescue Sark. By openly acknowledging and paying homage to our unelected feudal lord and his unelected sham ‘government’, the outside authorities with a responsibility for and interest in the good governance of Sark - the Crown, the UK Ministry of Justice and the democratically elected government of Guernsey - have made it patently clear that they will not lift a finger to hold Sark’s unelected rulers to account or help implement the democracy which the people of Sark were promised over eight long years ago. It is far more convenient for them to smooth things over and keep up the pretence - the utter falsehood - that Sark is a democracy and nothing is wrong in spite of the overwhelming and glaringly obvious evidence to the contrary.
That does not, however, mean that we, the people of Sark, have to accept being governed by an unelected one-party regime led by an unelected and autocratic hereditary feudal lord and his chosen and equally unelected enforcers. Continuing to do nothing whilst Sark dies under the yoke of tyranny is no longer an option. We must help ourselves.
In Germany of the 1930s tyranny became a way of life because it was too late to oppose or stop the brutal and ruthless fascist regime. It was the rise to power of that regime which created World War II. Despite its clear parallels with fascist Germany of the 1930s, it is not too late to stop the tyranny of Sark’s unelected totalitarian regime under an unelected feudal lord.
There are three ways of making our non-acceptance of the status quo absolutely clear, both to the leaders and members of Sark’s totalitarian regime and to the world at large: by protesting openly and publicly, by refusing to pay the taxes raised by unelected state officials with no mandate from the people to do so and, crucially, by appealing to the European Court of Human Rights.
The European Convention on Human Rights - ECHR - came into being during the aftermath of World War II. Originally drafted mainly by the UK government, it is an important part of international law which is there to protect the individual against abuse of power by the state.
The governance of the British Crown Dependency of Sark is hallmarked by its breaches of ECHR; its people are deprived of their right to self-determination, deprived of their right to justice and law and order and deprived of their right to build a future for themselves. In the western world, today there is no greater example than Sark to illustrate why the ECHR came into being and became law across Europe; there is no greater example of tyranny. A one-party state under an unelected and autocratic leader has forced through a policy of wanton economic destruction and wilfully brought about the mass depopulation of an already sparsely population Island in a process akin to economic ethnic cleansing of which any European fascist state of the 1930s would have been proud.
Over 35% of Sark’s population has left, mainly young working families and their children. In the absence of an economy to sustain the working people with jobs and an income, Sark’s population has shrunk from 650 eight years ago to under 410 year-round residents today.
The root cause of this unacceptable situation is the unelected powers, rights and privileges of one unelected individual accountable to no one, supreme autocratic leader and hereditary feudal lord Christopher Beaumont. He holds unelected powers which, in breach of ECHR, enable the ceaseless abuse of power by an unelected totalitarian state fully deserving of comparison with fascist Germany of the 1930s.
The past eight years have shown that passive resistance to this mob rule doesn’t work. Indeed, passive resistance has proved to be no resistance at all with appeals to the Lt. Governor and the Ministry of Justice leading nowhere, resulting only in fruitless rounds of empty talk and hollow promises off the record. All whilst the wilful and malicious economic, demographic and social destruction wreaked by the self-serving Beaumont family’s self-serving one-party regime has been permitted to go on unabated.
The British Crown Dependency of Sark is now at a tipping point where it is becoming unsustainable in all aspects. The need for change is urgent if this Island is to have a future.
The only solution is for the people of this Island to make their opposition seen and heard; to publicly and openly oppose the tyranny of the unelected and unaccountable feudal lord. To publicly and openly defy the tyranny of the unelected and unaccountable members of his one-party mob who make laws, administer laws and raise taxes without a mandate from the people, last but not least, the people of Sark must make an application to the European Court of Human Rights and have the unelected power that destroys Sark challenged and adjudicated in an international and independent Court of Law.
If we, the people of Sark, are not prepared to stand up for our basic human rights and oppose the unelected and autocratic Christopher Beaumont and his sham parliament, then we must face the inevitable consequences, permanent unemployment, further depopulation, continued despair and no hope of a future.
4th May 2017
IF WE GET THE GOVERNMENTS WE DESERVE, WHAT HAVE THE PEOPLE OF SARK DONE TO DESERVE THIS?
We get the governments we deserve, the saying goes. It isn’t true for the British Crown Dependency of Sark.
The people of Sark are stuck with an unelected and autocratic hereditary feudal lord who cannot be voted out of office but, nevertheless, dominates the political decision-making process because he owns and controls the constitution, jurisdiction and judiciary of the Island.
The people of Sark, who haven’t seen a ballot box for four years, are stuck with a sham parliament that is entirely unelected since not one of its members has received a single vote. A sham parliament which has no authority in the absence of mandate from the people to govern on their behalf.
The people of Sark are stuck with a one-party state, the leaders, officials and members of which rule over their lives without considering anyone’s needs and interests apart from their own and without adhering to the most basic standards of good governance.
The people of Sark are disenfranchised; they have no one representing them, they have no one safeguarding their interests and they are utterly powerless to do anything about it.
Uniquely in the civilized world, the people of Sark have, for the past eight years, been subjected to a relentless campaign of state-sponsored economic destruction undertaken by their own government. Intentional economic destruction carried out with open eyes by those in power, regardless of the unemployment, hardship and suffering it caused amongst the working population. State-sponsored economic destruction which has led to an unprecedented and on-going depopulation of Sark akin to the economic ethnic cleansing of Germany during the 1930s.
How about protests, you may wonder? Only members and supporters of the one-party state can march in confidence. They have no fear of retribution from the all-powerful one-party state and its unelected leaders and members. For them, marching against lawful activities, be it agricultural projects or the free press holding them to account in the public interest, provides them with a badge of honour. A way to prove their loyalty to Christopher Beaumont’s one ruling party state and secure the corresponding rewards of patronage.
Only in a democracy do the people deserve the government they get. The people of Sark have done nothing to deserve a totalitarian one-party government under an autocratic hereditary feudal lord, none of whom have been voted into office.
The only thing the people of Sark have done wrong, their only mistake, was to believe that the Reform Law of 2008 would deliver democracy to the Island. That mistake was also made by the UK’s Ministry of Justice and the Crown, but it is the people of Sark alone who are suffering the dire consequences.