13th September 2019


The freedom of the press is the guardian of democracy. This publication has long campaigned for an end to the needless laws and regulations that empower the state and chip away at our rights and freedoms. The past decade has seen numerous occasions when unelected members of Chief Pleas have abused their position to make laws and regulations that have ruined the Island's economy, destroyed jobs and resulted in an unprecedented depopulation of Sark from over 650 year-round residents in 2008 to under 390 today. A proposal coming before Chief Pleas on 2nd October 2019 takes this abuse of power to an entirely new level. The unelected Peter, aka Samuel, La Trobe-Bateman, Sark's de facto 'chief minister', is seeking to bring to the Island a law aimed at:

'Enabling a victim of harassment (whether or not the perpetrator has been convicted of an offence) to apply to the Court for compensation and/or an injunction preventing such behaviour. Breach of such an injunction would itself constitute an offence.'

This is an appalling attempt at further empowerment of the state over the rights of the individual. Regardless of whether or not you have been tried and convicted of the offence of harassment, the Sark judge will be empowered to grant compensation against you and grant an injunction restricting your behaviour on the hearsay of another Islander. Failure to accept his ruling will in itself constitute an offence. This is an empowerment of the Sark court that bypasses the fundamental principle of the individual being presumed innocent until found guilty and is an assault on the rights of the freedoms of the people of Sark. It is designed to curtail freedom of speech and to censor the free press and will inflict immense reputational damage to Sark on the world stage.

The reputational damage for Sark goes far beyond the substance of the grandly entitled 'The Protection from Harassment (Sark) Ordinance 2019.' This change in the law is being proposed by Peter, aka Samuel, La Trobe-Bateman, the son of the Island's principal judge Jeremy La Trobe-Bateman. The Island's unelected 'chief minister' is seeking a change in the law to allow his father, Sark's principal judge, to award compensation and grant injunctions against people without having first established whether or not the person is guilty of having committed an offence.

Further damage is done to Sark's reputation on the world stage by the fact that Peter, aka Samuel, La Trobe-Bateman is unelected. Despite being head of the Island's most powerful committee, Policy & Finance, he has never faced the electorate in a democratic election and has never received a single vote. La Trobe-Bateman does not have a mandate from the people of Sark to govern on their behalf. Yet, since January 2017 he has been making and enforcing laws without having first secured their authority to do so via the ballot box. His allegiance to the 'old guard' is evidenced by his numerous public declarations of support for the Island's long-time 'chief enforcer' Reginald Guille. Further evidence can be found on his nomination paper that lists his proposers as the state Prev˘t, Kevin Adams, and Sark's deputy judge Ewan de Carteret.

This law will have a further impact on the rights and freedoms of the people of Sark beyond their own exposure to its powers. It will inevitably be used by members and supporters of the 'old guard' to make false claims against the Editor of The Sark Newspaper with the intention of closing this publication down, denying the people access to the only independent media on Sark that is free from state interference and control.