Wednesday 17 July 2019
Thank you Sir,
I am grateful for your permission to make this this statements. I hope to clearly explain why I have resigned from the Committee of Home Affairs. I have done so with deep regret. Sir it was an honour to serve my island on that Committee, playing my part in keeping it safe and secure. Sir it is a well led Committee and I have the utmost respect for all its members and all the public servants who fall under its remit, especially those who serve on the front line and those who support them. They are our most precious resource.
Sir, it is P&R who in their wisdom commissioned and published governance reports on individual Committees. It is their conduct that I challenge. The procurement of a competent, impartial and independent reviewer, the terms of reference and the governance of the process and the publication, is down to that Committee.
In the CfHA report, the first page states us it was conducted under the auspices of "Public Sector Reform". This is about transforming the Civil Service and is led by the Chief Executive. Nowhere in the public information can I find any reference to conducting a governance scrutiny of political performance, neither would I expect to.
This process Sir is so flawed I don't really know where to start. I do not do personal attacks neither will I give currency to conspiracy theories. All I will say is, this house loves its Shakespearean quotes and "there is something rotten in the State of Denmark". Or perhaps in words used by the President of P&R "toxic and febrile". I will leave, to members and the public to decide what is going on here.
What has emerged is a public document using defamatory language which makes extraordinarily serious accusations pointed at the President and the Committee members, which are unsubstantiated by any modicum of an evidential process leaving the Court of public opinion to be judge and jury, predominately based upon throw away lines of a few of those interviewed. This offends natural justice, is completely unacceptable and has defeated any positive aims of the exercise.
The Code of conduct, which is rubbished in the report as are the panel, is the proper medium for any professional to make allegations of bullying or to accuse members of lacking integrity by acting for personal or political gain. Unlike this report any evidence would need to have been collected in fair and timely manner, dates, times what was alleged to have been said and in what context and gives a right to respond and call witnesses. But the report states "the code of Conduct panels are biased in favour of the Committee members and the existence of strong personal alliances, and even familial connections .... undermined the confidence of staff and Deputies in the ability of the code of conduct". This is quite a shocking allegation made without a sliver of evidence.
I have not been the subject of a code of conduct and as far as I am aware neither have Committee colleagues. Neither have I received any complaint whatsoever regarding my participation at any political meeting or my conduct in this house.
Sir, turning to the commissioning and process, I am the only politician who has gone through this twice, as a member of HSC last year and now as a member of Home Affairs. My experience is dramatically different.
Whilst, I was made aware of the reviews, neither of these Committees commissioned them but as a States Deputy I never formally agreed to being subjected to a review, signed any disclosure agreement of any kind and have not agreed its publication. This a matter upon which I have sought advice which is confidential, privileged and ongoing.
My experience of the two reviews is markedly different
The HSC review consists of 14 pages. Interviews were completed with all Committee members and two senior civil servants.
The CfHA review is 21 pages. The interviews were again completed with all the Committee but seven members of CHA staff were interviewed, including the former Head of Law Enforcement who retired from that position in December 2018.
HSC report was submitted to P&R by the reviewer in January 2019. Policy & Resources (P&R) released the HSC review publically on the 15th May 2019 and they did so in the full knowledge of the content of a "final draft" of the Home Affairs report.
The HSC interview I attended was in a private office at HSC Headquarters. The Home Affairs interview was conducted over the phone. The connection was not of a good quality and the demeanour or the reviewer did not put me at ease. The reviewer led the questioning through-out. None of the serious allegations were put to me.
In neither review did I indulge in any critical analysis of civil servants, or service Chiefs in my interview. I thought this was a confidential learning opportunity to develop my skills. At a recent meeting of the Home Affairs staff involved, collective disquiet was strongly expressed about the one sided criticism of the Committee and collective responsibility ignored. It is just not tenable to lay all the bad governance opinions solely at the Committee's door, unless of course that is the aim of the report. We are told governance is collaborative and I agree and want to do it better.
In the HSC report the outcomes of the interviews are in simple bulleted overview notes. The CHA report is different giving extended comment based upon the opinions apparently drawn, couched in defamatory language aimed at the Committee. These far reaching opinions are neither proportionate nor fair and the background research is woeful. The opinions do not pass the evidential test required to make such public allegations. The minutes reviewed are very selective (8 weeks) and represents only around 6% of CHA Committee meetings.
Sir, the reports introduction is revealing. It states that HSC was the first Committee "chosen" because "a previous [Health Board] had experienced serious problems with governance" and the "States of Guernsey" wished to understand how the new CfHSC had achieved significant improvements".
It is not clear who the States of Guernsey in this context and therefore actually who's opinion is quoted? Is it P&R or the Chief Executive? It is certainly not this assembly.
The introduction then says the CHA "was chosen" because of the "serious concerns about its governance". Who exactly had those concerns and why were they not articulated in advance as the reason for the review?
The Review was therefore conducted upon these preconceptions causing a structured negative and critical examination of Home rather than an impartial review "supporting the development and activities on good governance". The civil servants are depicted as innocent witnesses and as if they have no role in good governance. It is completely biased and lacks objectivity.
The methodology used is flawed and not fit for the purpose. There is a reliance upon one hour interviews or less, conducted with the Committees and Officers chosen by the Reviewer (only two in the case of HSC and seven in CHA). These were broken down into twelve question sets with one subdivided into 6. That is an average of about 3 minutes per question. This means that opinions have been drawn from subjective discussion led by the reviewer inviting certain scoring (one to five) but there is no clarity how these scorings were attributed or how the so called "triangulation" was achieved. It cannot be tenable for a review, P&R made public, to describe this as evidence, which is articulated in highly critical language.
Sir this was not an employment confidential staff appraisal environment where it is common practice everywhere in the public and private sectors that these type of processes are deemed sensitive whatever the outcome, because they harm the frankness and candour of such discussions and would completely undermine any employee's ability to develop collaborate working with colleagues.
What has emerged has now become a public spectacle fuelled by political Press comment. Where does this further the aims of the review, to "building relationships of mutual trust" and "collaborative approaches to managing issues".
Sir, I now specifically refer to the defamatory allegations and I ask what evidence there is to substantiate them.
The report alleges "The Committee fails in the process of developing strategy and policy because they do not give sufficient attention to major strategic and policy" and Sir "The Committee do not consistently use evidence to inform decision making"
Sir, again the research is woeful. These serious allegations are made after only looking at a very small number of Committee minutes and the very limited documents referred to in the appendix. Crucially it has ignored the fact that the Committee has so far in the three years of this term in fact agreed around 460 policy and strategic recommendations, after due consideration.
One of the key documents omitted from the reference list is the Home Affairs Committees delivery plan. This, on an annual basis, ties into the overarching P&R Planning cycle and is debated and was agreed in this house without challenge. Sir, together with Officers the Committee has in fact prioritised six key areas all highlighted in the current P&R plan. They have been highlighted by the President of Home Affairs in the statements to this house. It is online and open to scrutiny by all.
The report is dismissive of the major strategic achievements made by the Committee and staff in relation to BREXIT preparations, Security and Cyber strategy, Criminal Justice in respect of money laundering and terrorist financing, EU data equivalence, Extradition Law, a review of the Population Management regime, estate optimisation and the commissioning of a complete review of the islands Justice system all of which are vital in the delivery of the P&R plan.
In the Brexit piece alone 14 policy legislative submissions were made to the States. Sir in fact a total of 30 Committee Policy letters have been approved by the States this term.
The Committee have consistently used evidence presented to them through-out this term and listened very carefully to all the professional advice given. Sir, in doing all this the Committee has to occasionally probe and challenge in order to understand and justify policy and strategy, to be transparent and accountable. We are rightly challenged in the house, by the media and by the public. Sir, it's called democracy. Could we do better? Well of course we could and the Committee is fully committed to do just that
Sir, the report is very Law enforcement centric and regurgitates the HMIC report around operational boundaries. Its criticism. Indeed the listed references include four documents which re-visits the old ground of HMIC review appertaining to May 2016 until the end of 2018 under the tenure of the retired Head of Law Enforcement.
I shall be brief on this as HMIC has been subjected a Scrutiny Management Committee hearing and a full debate in this assembly. It is acknowledged by many that it is an expectation that Deputies will listen to their constituents, whether by receiving e-mails, social media or in the supermarket. I venture to suggest a candidate who was unwilling to pass on feedback or representations to civil servants would struggle to become elected. Indeed the HMIC reviewer stated that the Committees connection with the public was laudable. This is very different to operational interference and a protocol with the new Head of Law Enforcement has now been agreed. We have many excellent professionals particularly in Health and most current Home Services who actually welcome feedback rather than becoming precious. Of course this is a very difficult area for government and Officers and we must strive to do this better.
The review glibly makes accusations of a lack of focus on strategy. It and urges us toward the virtues of UK Governance in the footnotes and reference documents. Hello ... UK Parliament is in a shambles and some local government administration are in "special measures". Sir, why do we get consultants who do not value or understand the preciousness of our independence and want us to follow and become the UK?
Sir I refer to a letter to the times on the 5th of July 2019 penned by six former Metropolitan Police Commissioners [inc.one A C] a former HMIC inspector and the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers. They are asking for a Royal Commission because Police resources in the UK are "drained to a dangerously low level with the loss of 30,000 front line Officers". They report "lawlessness generated by knife murders and county line drugs" and the "perilously low public expectations of the Police". Sir they have Police and Crime Commissioners and protocols referenced in this report but Sir we have a well-resourced Law Enforcement capability to be proud of and a Committee that has fought to maintain front line services in times of financial constraint and are "close to the Community and held accountable to them". Sir, don't take my word for it. It appears in both the HMIC and the governance report.
So what exactly is the "strategy" craved and lacking and Sir, where was the evidenced paper from law enforcement informing the Committee?
The report also strays into making sketchy and narrow political comment around criminal justice policy. But Sir, the Committee has scoped, funded resourced commissioned and implemented a wide ranging review the first stage of which has been completed. It must be realised that the stakeholder consultation goes far wider than the Home Affairs and includes other Committees and the Courts. The Committee has indicated that a policy letter will be presented to the States at the end of this year which may well include further availability of alternative sentencing tools. It became clear during the process until corrected, that the Reviewer did not understand the importance of not interfering in judicial decision making and that sentencing is entirely a matter for the Courts.
Sir, I go onto the accusation that the Committee members are acting to gain political or personal advantage and lack integrity. Sir I refute this completely. Sir, my interests are fully declared in the register. They are simple, I have a wife and a family and a house.. I have no business interests. I have lived in this island man and boy and I am immensely proud to have served the public for 43 years prior to my election in a position where the demonstration of integrity was critical. I have also served the third sector for many years on the board of a charity. Sir I find the reviewer's assertion that I was not acting to achieve the best outcomes of this community I love with a passion, frankly abhorrent. Also the idea that I was somebody who was, I quote "passively virtuous not willing to speak up when things go wrong and take action on the lack of integrity of others" is utter nonsense.
Sir I have worked hard as a States member sat on two major Committees, ironically one which has received a gold star and the other given a public castigation. I have also sat on the P&R Brexit Sub- Committee and along with my President, the P&R /Home Affairs financial and transformational oversight Board. All this high level strategic work does not even get a whisker of a mention in the report. Sir in three years that adds up to around 230 meetings across States Committees. I will not be judged by P&R on my performance, through them publishing an unsubstantiated attack on my integrity and that of the President and members of the Committee. I am however entirely happy to be accountable to this house and the residents of this island.
Sir, I want to develop my skills and strive to do things better. Of course, there is room for improvement and properly evidenced feedback is very welcome. Sir I wanted, and I quote, "to agree collaborative approaches" and to "work towards a development programme". The contrary has emerged and is why I am resigning. Sir I wish Home Affairs all the best. They have an excellent and experienced President in the mother of the House. It has been an honour to work with all of Committee who are quality people. I urge this house to get behind them and support them in delivering what they have started in the remaining 11 months of this term.
Thank you Sir