Thursday, 27 July 2017

Why I can't take part in the Advisory Panel on implementing the IJCI recommendations

Following the publication of the report investigating child abuse in Jersey, the Chief Minister invited me to be a member of an advisory panel he has set up to advise him on implementing the recommendations of the report.

I thought long and hard about whether I could make a positive difference if I took up this role, but sadly have come to the conclusion that the Chief Minister is handling the aftermath of the report poorly and I am better placed to argue for positive change whilst being independent from any advisory panel.


Dear Ian,

I have considered your invitation for me to take part in an Advisory Panel to help you respond to the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry's recommendations and have decided that I cannot take part.

I wholeheartedly support the recommendations made by the Inquiry and I will vote for any proposition which I believe takes the Island forward in getting these recommendations implemented. However, I believe that I can make a more positive contribution by offering advice across the floor of the Chamber and by continuing to work in Scrutiny.

The Inquiry's report emphasises the importance of independent scrutiny. You currently have plans to bring forward a proposal to take the independence away from the States Scrutiny Panels by allowing and encouraging Assistant Ministers to sit on Scrutiny. This is being opposed by Scrutiny and the Privileges and Procedures Committee, yet you have confirmed in States question time since the publication of the report that you have no intention to abandon these changes. I believe this is a huge error which will undermine our system of government and further embed the principles of the 'Jersey Way' where those in power have influence into many areas and will be able to stifle criticism, rather than allow those who have no obligation to support a here today, gone tomorrow government to take an objective approach as an independent and critical friend.

Whatever noble intentions the government may have in its attempts to implement the recommendations, innocent mistakes may be made along the way which I would be complicit in if I take up a role in advising the government. It is vital that there remain members who are not compromised by this process, who are able to speak out and oppose potential mistakes when they arise.

You have shown that you are not prepared to exercise your whip as leader of the government to make implementing the Inquiry's recommendations a red line in government policy. That is your choice. But it is wrong to then rely on Scrutiny and Opposition members to get the support you need. Just as I believe it is important for there to be a separation between the Judiciary and the Legislature, I also believe that the Executive must not be allowed to capture the Legislature. I believe that your approach so far is taking the Island in the wrong direction.

Were I in your position, I would seek to get the support of the Council of Ministers and then allow Opposition and Scrutiny to act independently to hold us to account.

As I do not have confidence in the process you have suggested, I cannot take part in it.

Kind regards,