Denny’s Super Bowl free ‘Grand Slam Breakfast’ brings 2 million diners

March 23rd, 2019

Friday, February 6, 2009

Denny’s 1,600 chain restaurants across North America, Puerto Rico and Canada, were slammed for eight hours Tuesday with hungry patrons standing on sidewalks for nearly two hours to take advantage of the $5.99 “Grand Slam Breakfast” giveaway.

Denny’s, a dining chain with annual revenue of about $900 million, has advertised in a TV commercial Sunday during the Super Bowl XLIII that it would give away its signature breakfast from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time Tuesday, at all its restaurants in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, while supplies lasted.

Denny’s Diner has promoted the iconic dish giveaway heavily, with a bold 30-second appeal ad that aired during the third quarter of the Super Bowl 43 on Sunday, plus another 15-second ad during the post-game show, offering a free breakfast to some 90 million viewers. In addition, it has placed a full-page ad in USA Today‘s Monday edition. The promotion was further announced on The Today Show and notices were also sent out to the chain’s “Denny’s Breakfast Club” members.

The NBC ad, which was bought to unveil a new promotion for customers squeezed by the recession, may have cost as much as $3 million, said Nelson Marchioli, CEO of Denny’s Corp. Super Bowl XLIII’s 30-second commercial time slot costs $2.4 million–$3 million for the airtime alone, excluding production and talent costs.

The game was televised live by the US NBC Sunday Night Football and Canada’s CTV Television Network. BayTSP has reported that, “as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, commercials that initially aired during NBC’s Super Bowl XLIII broadcast subsequently had been watched online more than 28 million times.”

“The promotion has a total cost of $5 million U.S., which includes $3 million for the commercial on NBC,” said a Denny’s spokesman, noting also that the company received about $50 million in news coverage, most of which was positive. According to a Denny’s representative, two million people walked through the restaurant chains’ doors Tuesday, and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour.

With the “Denny’s Feeds America” promotion, the company has reported 14 million hits on its Web site between Sunday night and Monday morning. Denny’s shares rose 6 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $1.98 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a range of $1.18 to $4.10 over the past 52 weeks.

“Denny’s free Grand Slam” has ranked in the top 10 Google searches early Tuesday and fell to No. 18 by the end of the promotion, while “denny s locations” was #9 on Google Trends, which tracks fast-rising searches. It has also held spots No. 1 (Denny’s) and 7 (Grand Slam) on Twitter‘s trending topics. It has generated much chat on Twitter, garnering 1,700 tweets on Tuesday, compared with its average of 59. Doritos, winner of the USA TODAY survey for best Super Bowl spot ad, had 933 mentions after reaching a peak of almost 3,300.

The idea of the TV ad was to get people to come in and re-evaluate Denny’s Diner. “A lot of people have forgotten what Denny’s is, or they think they know, while we’ve come out with a whole lot of new products. We felt like we needed to jump start the brand,” Denny’s Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Mark Chmiel said.

“We’re celebrating the Grand Slam this year,” Chmiel said. According to the company’s financial data, on January 15 Denny’s reported systemwide comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter were down 6.1 percent, compared to a 0.2 percent decline from the same period in 2007.

According to Robert Gonzalez, public relations company Hill & Knowlton spokesman, Denny’s has expected at least 2 million people to eat a free Grand Slam by the end of the promotion. “Every restaurant is packed with people and lines,” Gonzalez said. “Everything today is about fast. People are on the go, and they’re eating fast food. It’s cutting into sit-down dining,” he added.

“Each of the more than 1,500 Denny’s were planning to make about 100 Grand Slams an hour,” Denny’s spokeswoman Cori Rice said. It had predicted it will have served about 1,400 people per location, more than five times the normal volume. “Grand Slam Breakfast” is a four-item option on its menu, consisting of two pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon and two sausage links. It weighs in at 44 grams of fat, 56 carbohydrates and 770 calories.

Nationwide, Denny’s expected to sell about 2 million Grand Slams — about 15 percent of the annual tally. According to Mark Chmiel, chief marketing operator and executive vice president, the diner chain has reported approximately 2 million meals worth more than $12 million were given away nationwide and each Denny’s restaurant served an average of 130 Grand Slams per hour. It estimated it has earned about $50 million worth of public relations following the free Grand Slam campaign, Chmiel said.

The company is also experimenting with a Grand Slam Burrito and also has introduced for this year, a Grand Slamwich, which includes eggs, bacon, sausage and cheese between two slices of bread, with a teaspoon serving. “It already has shown strong consumer appeal,” said Chmiel. The company has received flood of e-mails and letters proving the positive impact of the Grand Slam campaign and commercials on its customers.

Chmiel also announced he’s planning a third major promotion in this year’s third quarter, which happens to include another major sporting event, the World Series. “That’s one we’re definitely looking at,” he said.

Jobless Paris Winslow of downtown San Francisco, California has joined the long line which stretched from the front door on Mission Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, to the corner of Fourth and up the block. “The economy is getting kind of scary. This line looks like those pictures of soup kitchen lines during the 1929 Great Depression,” Winslow said.

“I came all the way from San Francisco for a free $6 meal, Isn’t that pathetic? A year ago, I never would have done this. These days I’m willing to put my ego on the back burner,” said Stephen Weller, a jobless contractor who waited with his dog, Emmett. California Denny’s restaurant managers have issued rain checks (for free chilled meals, as security backed by actual bacon) to anyone who failed to get in by the 2 p.m. deadline.

A big eater could also “Slam It Up” by adding any two additional items for 99 cents each to their meal. Customers on Tuesday were also handed “bounceback” coupon books that include offers for additional free menu items with purchases. Chicago Tribune reporter Kevin Pang has eaten five free Grand Slams on Tuesday at five different Denny’s Diners in four hours. He claims to have consumed 4,100 calories at Harwood Heights, 5:36 a.m, at Schiller Park, 6:22 a.m., at Franklin Park, 7:08 a.m., at Melrose Park, 7:41 a.m. and at Grand Slam No. 5 Oak Park, 8:57 a.m.

“The Grand Slam has always been a Denny’s favorite. This free offer is our way of reacquainting America with Denny’s real breakfast and with the Denny’s brand,” Denny’s CEO Nelson Marchioli said in a statement. In 1977s, the Grand Slam started as a baseball-related promotion in Atlanta, Georgia. Its normal price averages around $5.99. Marchioli said the event was also a way to kick-off its “Year of the Grand Slam” promotion. Denny’s claimed it has sold 12.5 million Grand Slams a year.

“The economy’s tough and people are jumping all the way to fast food to try to figure it out. We all use fast food, whether it’s for time or convenience or for money. But you can go to Denny’s and you don’t have to give up a real breakfast and that was the whole focus of our commercial,” Marchioli explained. McDonald’s (MCD, Fortune 500) has done well during this economic meltdown since the global recession pushes people toward less expensive dining options.

McDonald’s has announced plans Wednesday to open 175 new restaurants in China this year despite the global economic crisis, thereby increasing the number of outlets in China by 17 percent, from 1,050 currently. Last month, McDonald’s 2008 net profit has risen 80 percent from 2007 to 4.3 billion dollars.

Marchioli has also introduced Denny’s $4 Weekday Express Slam, which is a streamlined version of the Grand Slam. “I want to take back share. For too long, we have allowed others to take share, whether it was Starbucks or McDonald’s. They’re fine competitors and I don’t expect to take all their business from them, but I’d like a little bit back,” Marchioli noted.

According to Rafi Mohammed, author of “The Art of Pricing,” people love free. “It triggers a Pavlovian response in people,” said Mohammed. If Pavlov’s dogs salivate when a bell rings, Denny’s free Grand Slam breakfast has attracted 2 million hungry customers. “I believe free maximizes trial and doesn’t devalue a product as long as it is a rare event. Aside from the cost, the major downside is that it attracts customers who truly have no intention of coming back,” he added.

According to University of Portland consumer psychology professor Deana Julka, people flock to free promotions amid just a few dollars saving because there’s nothing in life for free. “So when there’s something out there that costs nothing, it creates a psychological rush. Especially in these times when people feel overtaxed or overburden, there’s an internal reward people feel by getting something for free,” she said. “It’s being thrifty and feeling like you beat the system. Free really hits the spot for a lot of people,” Julka added.

“Free is an emotional hot button. When free is concerned, there is no downside – or, at least, we don’t see the downside immediately. So we overvalue everything that is free. People love free stuff, particularly when money’s tight,” said Dan Ariely, a business professor at Duke University, author of “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.”

Experts, however, explained these moves need to be done sparingly, since giveaways can teeter in the balance between desperation and a well designed marketing ploy. “Giving your product away for free is not worth it because it undermines your brand value,” said branding expert Rob Frankel, saying people are attached to the idea of it being free, than the actual product itself.

Free giveaways are not anything new in the food industry. “It just feels good when you can get something for free and not have to worry about it coming out of your wallet,” Frankel noted. Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread all have had free coffee and food promos last year. “In November, Starbucks gave away free cup of coffee to anyone who came in on Election Day. Have you taken a look at how Starbucks is doing now?” Last week it has announced it would shut down 300 stores, in addition to the 600 it already planned to close.

On February 24, IHOP will be offering a free shortstack to every customer to encourage donations (in place of the cost) for Childrens Miracle Network. The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) is a United States-based restaurant chain that specializes in breakfast foods and is owned by DineEquity. The chain had more than 1950 restaurants in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico. Since 2006, IHOP’s National Pancake Day celebration has raised over $1.85 million. In 2008, over 1.5 million pancakes (12 miles high if they were stacked) were given to customers for donations.

Denny’s (“Denny’s Diner”) is a full-service diner/family restaurant chain in the United States. It operates over 2,500 restaurants in the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Curaçao, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, and New Zealand). The resto chain is known for always being open, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert around the clock.

Today, Denny’s operates about 1,600 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. There are also about 578 Denny’s restaurants in Japan operated under a license by a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings, seven Denny’s locations in New Zealand, and approximately 38 Denny’s diners in the United States. Denny’s headquarters is now located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, headquarters of the parent company Trans World Corporation that acquired Denny’s in 1987.

Denny’s was historically notable for offering a free meal to anyone on their birthday. The offer included a limited number of meal options from a special birthday menu. The promotional ritual ceased in 1993, though occasionally individual franchises will continue the tradition.

In 2008, Denny’s has ceased to be in the ranks among the top diner chains in the $83 billion breakfast market, whose top five firms — McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and IHOP — accounted for 22 percent of the volume. “A lot of consumers have written Denny’s off their let’s-go-there list,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a consulting firm.

Super Bowl XLIII was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers (15–4) and the National Football Conference champion Arizona Cardinals (12–8) to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2008 NFL season. It was played on February 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadiumin Tampa, Florida. It has an attendance of 70,774 and 98.7 million viewers. Pittsburgh earned its sixth Super Bowl win, thus securing sole possession of the record for most Super Bowl wins.

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Australian copyright laws to be overhauled in 2006

March 23rd, 2019

Wednesday, December 28, 2005The Australian Federal Government has indicated that it will overhaul copyright law in 2006. The changes will legalise the recording of television shows and the right to transfer CDs to portable music devices.

The reforms, instigated by Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock aim to add “fair use” clauses for personal use.

A spokeswoman for Mr Ruddock said the Government was close to finalising draft laws which would allow people to copy music from CDs legitimately to their own portable music devices and tape television to watch later.

At present both “time shifting” (recording a television show to watch later) and “format shifting” (copying a legally owned CD to another format such as MP3 for play on a portable device) are illegal in Australia. While the Australian Federal Police do not pursue offenders, it still must act upon every complaint.

It is unknown whether the new laws will force a levy on blank CDs and portable music devices as they did when the laws were introduced in Canada.

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Search-and-rescue dog that found 9/11 survivor to be cloned

March 23rd, 2019

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A German shepherd who recovered the last survivor of the September 11, 2001 attacks is to be cloned. His owner, James Symington, a former police officer from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada entered an essay writing contest about why his dog should be cloned.

Trakr, the 15 year old German shepherd suffering from degenerative neurological disorder, was the subject of a contest-winning essay about why Trakr should be cloned that was written by Symington. Trakr and Symington received Humanitarian Service Awards from Jane Goodall for their heroics at Ground Zero. Symington is now an actor of film and television, sometimes credited as Peter James.

BioArts International sponsored the essay-writing contest. Five more dogs are to be cloned by its Best Friends Again program. While Trakr will receive free replication, the other dogs will have to participate in an auction with a starting bid of US$100,000.

BioArts is going to send the DNA of the 6 dogs to Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in Seoul, South Korea. A Sooam researcher said that the dog should be born in November.

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Western Australia apologises to abused wards-of-state

March 21st, 2019

April 7, 2005

The state Premier of Western Australia (WA), Dr Geoff Gallop, gave an apology to children physically and sexually abused in institutional care within the state between the 1920s and 1970s. The statement was given in reaction to an Australian Senate inquiry into institutional child abuse published last year.

“We acknowledge our state’s history, the role played by the state in providing care for children and particularly past practices in the provision of care,” Dr Gallop told Australian Associated Press.

“We apologise to all those people who were harmed as children while in institutional care, and express deep regret at the hurt and distress caused. We recognise that the effects of physical, psychological and sexual abuse did not end when these children became adults.”

Many of the children had been placed in care by government agencies.

“Overwhelmingly, the (submissions) make tragic and distressing reading. They tell of neglect, of shocking abuse, of predatory behaviour from so-called carers and of criminal activity,” Senator McLucas told federal parliament at the time of the Forgotten Australians report, last year.

“The evidence is also there that authorities in the church and in governments either knew or should have known that much of this horrific activity was occurring.”

The inquiry found that an apology was an important symbolism in recognising past wrongs and helping victims gain closure, according to an ABC News report. And Dr Gallop said the victims’ personal histories must be heard and acknowledged in order to build a better care system for the future.

WA’s Community Development Minister, Sheila McHale, said those wishing to find out about their time in care in WA as children should contact the Department for Community Development, which is also providing counselling services to those who were abused in an institution.

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Landslide causes train derailment in Italy; nine dead

March 21st, 2019

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

At least nine people have died in northern Italy after a landslide caused the derailment of a passenger train. A further 25 people were injured, according to emergency services.

The incident occurred earlier this morning near the border with Austria, in a mountainous region near Merano, a city around 300 kilometres north of Venice.

“There are nine confirmed victims, while 28 people have been injured, seven of them seriously,” reported the governor of the Bolzano-Bozen province, Luis Durnwalder, to the Reuters news service. Initially, eleven people were reported dead, due to what the governor described as a “counting error”. However, he noted that “there could still be someone buried in the mud”, so the death count is not yet final.

According to the ANSA news agency, the train had about forty passengers on board when it derailed. Sky TV, meanwhile, quoted officials as saying that three people are reported to be missing. The authorities say the landslide was due to a broken irrigation pipe, which caused rocks to fall onto the tracks below. Authorities say they are looking into why the pipe burst.

The trains front car hit two trees upon derailment, local media says, which prevented it from dropping off into a river below. The carriage, however, was hanging over the river, and firefighters had to use cables to stop it from falling any more. A crane was also dispatched the scene to help clean up debris, ANSA reported.

“The train is hanging off the rails about five meters from the river. It is now only a few trees that are holding up the train and preventing it falling into the river,” said a witness, Alex Rowbotham, to the BBC.

“[…] The landslide occurred at the very passage of the train. It hit the train,” said Thomas Widmann, a transport official for the city of Bolanzo.

The crash was the deadliest in Europe since February, when eighteen people died after two commuter trains ran into each other near Brussels, Belgium. Italy saw its worse rail crash two decades ago, when 29 people died following the derailment of a freight train carrying petroleum gas, resulting in several explosions.

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Sen. Larry Craig claims innocent of lewd conduct

March 20th, 2019

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sen. Larry Craig held a news conference Tuesday in Boise, Idaho to issue a public statement about his arrest in June, 2007 and subsequent guilty plea, August 8, to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

In his statement, Sen. Craig indicated that when he pled guilty to the charge, two months after the fact, he didn’t understand at the time what he was signing and declared himself innocent of any wrongdoing at the Minneapolis airport on June 11, 2007.

According to the arresting officer, Sgt. Dave Karsnia, who was dressed in civilian clothes at the time of the incident, he was using a bathroom stall when Sen. Craig entered the stall next to his. Karsnia reported the Senator tapped his right foot, and then stretched his foot over to touch the officer’s left foot. Sen. Craig also ran his hand along the bottom of the stall’s dividing wall. According to CNN, that type of behavior is known in the Gay community as a signal that the person wants to engage in lewd behavior. The officer subsequently showed Sen. Craig his badge. Using his other hand, Karsnia directed Craig to move toward the door. After some words and Sen. Craig’s refusal to cooperate with the officer, he was placed under arrest.

An additional charge against Sen. Craig, interference with privacy, had been thrown out. Sen. Craig received a ten-day suspended jail sentence, was fined US$500, and was given one year probation.

Sen. Craig admitted that he did not mention his arrest to the Senate Ethics Committee, which is not required by law, and also didn’t tell his wife and other immediate family members about his arrest until recent days.

Further developments to this story are available. See:
Republican leaders accused of double standard after Larry Craig’s resignation

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President Bush delivers 2006 State of the Union Address

March 18th, 2019

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

United States President George W. Bush delivered his annual State of the Union Address on Tuesday.

Contents

  • 1 Bush’s speech
  • 2 Democratic Rebuttals
  • 3 T-shirts prohibited
  • 4 Sources

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Fuel leak prompts 17,000-vehicle recall by Toyota

March 17th, 2019

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Toyota announced on Friday that it will recall around 17,000 Lexus vehicles in response to risks of the fuel tank in the cars leaking after a collision.

The Lexus HS 250h model was subjected to the recall following a US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation. Despite previously passing Toyota safety inspections, the conclusions of an NHTSA sub-contracted investigator were that; when the vehicles in question collided with an object at more than fifty-miles-per hour, more than 142 grams of fuel, the maximum allowed by US law, leaked from the crashed car.

According to Toyota, further tests did not show any additional failure of the fuel tank.

In response to the findings, Toyota issued a recall of all affected vehicles, since the company had no solution immediately available. The recall includes 13,000 cars already sold, as well as another 4,000 still at dealerships.

Toyota says it plans to conduct further tests to determine the cause of the leak. A Toyota spokesman, Brian Lyons, said that the company was “still working to determine what the root cause of the condition is.” It’s still unclear when exactly the recall will take place, or when dealerships will be allowed to sell this model again. Lyons said that Toyota is “working feverishly to get this resolved as soon as possible.”

Toyota isn’t aware of any accidents stemming from the leaking fuel tank in the affected vehicles, first introduced in the summer of 2009.

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Wikimania 2008: MediaWiki use in the U.S. Department of State

March 17th, 2019

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The last day of the Wikimania 2008 conference saw Saturday morning sessions on a variety of topics. Wikinews attended a presentation by Eric M. Johnson from the United States Department of State. Eric, a former NCO in the U.S. Marines, is the lead for the Knowledge Management Action team in the department’s Office of eDiplomacy, and involved in department’s use of Web 2.0 technologies for knowledge management. This includes blogs, and the key focus of his talk, Wiki culture in the U.S. Department of State.

Eric opened his presentation with an introduction to the U.S. State Department, one of the oldest agencies of the American government, which today has around 57,000 employees worldwide. When formed in the 18th century their offices and diplomatic staff operated largely autonomously due to lack of ability to communicate rapidly. By the mid-20th century this had changed with the advent of telegraph lines, and changed again with the Cold War and security concerns bringing to the fore the well-known term, “need to know”.

Now, in the 21st century, the volume of internal communication generated by the department is a staggering 1,800,000 cables a year, 1.5 billion emails, production of around 500,000 print volumes, and maintenance of approximately one thousand websites. Both internal and externally facing.

A pilot project was set up, Diplopedia, a MediaWiki wiki running on the department’s internal network, which outside of the department of defence is one of the largest private networks operated by the U.S. government.

A grassroots effort, this project to promote knowledge sharing differs from the well-known Wikipedia in that it does not allow anonymous edits. There are around 1,000 registered users who have contributed over 4,400 pages. Integration with the Department of State’s internal search engine prioritises results from the wiki, increasing the popularity of the site such that it has received over 650,000 page views. Like Wikipedia, users are required to provide sources for entered information at the foot of the article, and users are warned that it is a starting point and not an authoritative source of information. Data on visa requirements and information from other static department sites has been incorporated into the wiki.

Eric described the project as just reaching critical mass and attracting increasing interest from other departments. Among the ingredients leading to the success of the project were the cultural change with increasing awareness of the technology from Wikipedia, the formation by the community of a welcoming committee, and the taking on of roles to carry out tasks such as drafting. A number of staff act as “gardeners” tending to the wiki content, keeping it fresh, and well cross-referenced. The continual updating is a novel concept to many of their employees.

Unlike Wikipedia, and many other projects using MediaWiki, none of the Diplopedia pages are locked or protected. This even includes their main page. To date there have been none of the content disputes that have been an issue on Wikipedia, and the use of the wiki to replace traditional websites which are far more time consuming to maintain is seen as a logical extension of the project.

Carried out with no outside help, and by learning from others’ mistakes, the department has adopted mechanisms for assuming that contributions are well-intentioned, and has a body for oversight in the event of a dispute.

With the success of the project, eDiplomacy plans to introduce a separate, classified wiki. They will also expand the effort to compile biographies of foreign leaders, which was pioneered by the U.S. missions in Italy and Germany. This effort has proven valuable when combined with a version of the site available on portable devices such as the Blackberry.

The future holds moves to seek more support from management and integration with their primary authentication system. Among the features on the main page to keep the project interesting to staff is a “Diploquiz” which poses a weekly trivia question which can be answered from somewhere within the wiki.

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Remains of a child discovered in Jersey care home

March 16th, 2019

Monday, February 25, 2008

Parts of a body belonging to a child have been discovered at the Haut de la Garenne in Saint Martin, Jersey, a United Kingdom Crown dependency off the coast of Normandy, France.

The Victorian building, which was originally built as a children’s care home and is now a youth hostel, has been under investigation recently as part of an inquiry into child abuse which occurred during the 1960s. The investigation has now been refocused with the aim to excavate further the grounds of the building, under the command of a specialist team from the UK who will use ground scanners and sniffer dogs to detect any other possible remains.

The body is believed to date from the early 1980s though further information about the identity of the child has not yet been released. The remains were found buried underneath a concrete floor inside the building. Today, the Guardian newspaper revealed that there are fears of a possible six further bodies buried on the site.

“There could be six, but it could be higher than that,” according to lead investigator Lenny Harper, who further said, “Allegations range from physical assaults right through to rape. It is difficult to envisage more horrific crimes than some of those that are alleged to have been carried out here.”

A helpline set up to find more information about alleged child abuse at the Haut de la Garenne and Jersey Sea Scouts has garnered a total of 140 contacts, made up of those claiming to be witnesses or victims to the crimes. The information gathered from the telephone inquiry triggered the search of the grounds.

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