Deputy: ‘Corruption a cancer in public sector’
The official response to corruption in the public sector is unacceptable, a Deputy has claimed.
Deputy Mike Higgins raised the issue in the States this week and threatened to go to the press and blow the whistle about one case which he said had been improperly dismissed as invalid.
In response, Solicitor General Mark Temple QC said that there had been no more than five allegations passed on to the Attorney General.
During States questions on Wednesday Deputy Higgins criticised the police, labelling previous investigations into offences as ‘cursory’.
The Deputy also talked about ‘going to the press’ to get results, if necessary, during a further question put to Chief Minister Ian Gorst.
Deputy Higgins said: ‘Corruption in the public sector is a cancer and it needs to be cut out. There are members of the civil service who are engaging in such practices and I would ask the Solicitor General how many cases alleging perjury and perverting the course of justice have actually been handed to his department?’
In response, Mr Temple said that no more than five instances of the offences had been raised but that the individuals involved would not be prosecuted.
He also said that it was not surprising that so few allegations of misconduct in public office had been reported as it was very difficult to prove.
‘The deputy has just raised another category of offence, which is perversion of the course of justice. I am not in the position now, on the floor of the Assembly, to undertake a detailed investigation in relation to that other category of offence. But, I repeat my earlier answer – perjury and misconduct in public office...there are no more than five,’ he said.
‘Those have been investigated, one is still under the course of investigation, but so far, we are not bringing prosecutions in relation to those allegations which have been raised with us.’
In a separate question, Deputy Higgins asked Chief Minister Ian Gorst what steps he would take if authorities failed to take action when an individual had ‘virtually exhausted every one of the official routes’ because people ‘weren’t taking the action they should do’.
Referring to a particular case, Deputy Higgins said: ‘I criticise also the Police Complaints Authority, who were absolutely unbelievable in looking at a complaint. They said the person concerned would be interviewed by inspecting officers and nobody came near him. As for seeing the evidence, the police dismissed it as not valid.
‘Now, when you are faced with that and we go through the various channels, what is the route? Do I have to stand here and start naming names? Or do we have to go to the press? We must have some way to try to deal with these matters. Can I ask the Chief Minister what his solution would be, please?’
In response, Senator Gorst said that he was aware of the case that Deputy Higgins was referring to but that it would not be right for him to be ‘drawn on it’.
‘I have had discussions with officials and that process is ongoing and it wouldn’t be right for us to consider it further in this Assembly,’ he said.