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Minister receives reprimand

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ECONOMIC Development Minister Philip Ozouf has made history by becoming the first Minister to be reprimanded.

Chief Minister Frank Walker told the States yesterday that the Senator had breached procedure when, against the advice of his own officers, he gave extra funding of £95,000 to the Battle of Flowers Association for this year's event.

It made a record loss.

He said that the Council of Ministers took the issue seriously and that Senator Ozouf had been formally written to about his errors and had been told to ensure that procedures were in place with his department to ensure that it could not happen again.

The council is also issuing new guidelines to all States departments to tighten up the rules concerning the spending of public money.

But the council stopped short of saying that Senator Ozouf had breached ministerial guidelines, as alleged by Senator Ben Shenton, who made the complaint against him.

'We are convinced that he acted in the best interests of Jersey,' said Senator Walker.

'He was seeking to boost what is a major event.

He made a genuine error.

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Who of us has not done the same? The important thing is that one learns from one's mistakes.

That is what is happening with the Council of Ministers themselves.

He (Senator Ozouf) was bitterly let down by the Battle of Flowers Association.

But he has accepted that errors were made, and what we need to do now is move forward.' But that is not good enough for Senator Shenton - he may still take a vote of censure to the House against Senator Ozouf.

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'The Council of Ministers has closed ranks,' he told the JEP today.

'I don't think they have dealt with it properly.

It is not good enough to say that he thought he was acting in the interests of the Island.

This is taxpayers' money.' Senator Shenton has asked for a copy of an internal report compiled for the Council before deciding his next step.

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