Concerned politicians ask: ‘Who is running the show?’
QUESTIONS are being asked about who is running the government after it emerged that chief executive Charlie Parker has blocked a senior minister from seeing an internal report into the conduct of the former acting States police chief.
Up to 12 politicians – or almost a quarter of the Assembly – are understood to have grave concerns about ‘who is actually running the show’.
Their concern followed an exchange in the Chamber yesterday when Home Affairs Minister Len Norman said he had been denied, on ‘several’ occasions, access to a report following an internal investigation into the conduct of a ‘senior civil servant’.
The JEP understands an investigation was launched into the director general of Justice and Home Affairs Julian Blazeby, who originally came to the Island as a police officer, in the spring amid concerns about alleged bullying and harassment. Sources say a UK expert was drafted in to conduct the investigation, which has now been completed.
Former Assistant Home Affairs Minister Constable Deidre Mezbourian, who raised the topic during States questions yesterday, told the JEP: ‘This is a serious situation where the minister has told the States Assembly he has been refused sight of a written report and the person who has refused him is Charlie Parker, the chief executive. We want to know who is running the show.
‘The political response since my question has been extraordinary. Twelve Members have raised serious concerns about who is really in charge. They all say it is fuelling the public image as to who is really running this Island.’
And former Home Affairs Minister Kristina Moore told the JEP: ‘In terms of the chief executive withholding information from a minister when they have requested it, I think there would have to be very robust reasons as to why that information could not be shared and that was not apparent through the discussion in the Assembly this morning.’
Mr Norman and the government were both contacted for comment. A government spokeswoman said in a statement that ‘ministers are responsible for the strategy and policy of the government, while operational staffing matters are the responsibility of the chief executive’.
She added: ‘The chief executive, as head of the public service, is the accountable officer for all employment matters. Where appropriate, this accountability is delegated to managers to ensure the States Code of Practice is adhered to.
‘Employment matters are always confidential, and we do not comment on any individual cases.’
During yesterday’s States questions, the Home Affairs Minister told the Assembly he had made ‘several requests to see the report and so far that has been denied’. Mr Norman added that he had discussed the situation with the Chief Minister. He continued: ‘How he resolves it is not up to me, but I expect him to deal with the situation.’
That prompted Mrs Mezbourian to ask him if he felt the Chief Minister was ‘managing the chief executive as he should be doing’.
The Bailiff, Sir William Bailhache, presiding, ruled that it was not fair for the minister to answer the question.
Mrs Mezbourian, a member of the States Employment Board, said the body had not been formally notified of the investigation. She added: ‘My concern is that external investigations should be on the agenda, if they happen, as an item for noting. We don’t manage staff but certainly we should be aware when such things happen.’
Mr Blazeby has been contacted for comment.
Earlier this year, when asked about the investigation, a government spokeswoman said: ‘As a standard policy, we do not comment on confidential employee matters.’
According to the government’s Bullying and Harassment Policy, which was introduced in January, bullying is classified as ‘offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient’.
Under the policy, harassment is classed as ‘unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual’.