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Jersey politician caught on camera drinking wine in Scrutiny hearing

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AN Assistant Chief Minister has defended himself after being caught on camera drinking wine during a Scrutiny hearing.

Video grab of Deputy Scott Wickenden drinking wine during an online Scrutiny panel meeting. (28331717)

St Helier Deputy Scott Wickenden was seen sipping a glass of white wine towards the end of a ‘virtual’ Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel meeting conducted online last Monday afternoon.

When contacted by the JEP he said he had poured the glass ‘as the meeting was wrapping up’.

But he appears to have poured it much earlier – as he was also seen to raise the glass to his mouth one hour into the two-and-a-quarter hour meeting, before quickly putting it back on the desk.

The hearing, which members attended from their homes via video link, was held to discuss a range of issues with Social Security Minister Judy Martin, including how government finances would be used to support those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

A JEP reader, who contacted the paper with concerns that a Member was drinking alcohol during a public meeting, said: ‘If this Scrutiny hearing had taken place in the usual building you can guarantee he wouldn’t have been drinking alcohol. Ok, he was in his own home, but is it appropriate for an elected Member to be drinking alcohol in a public meeting?

‘It makes you wonder how seriously he was taking it.’

Deputy Wickenden, who is one of several Assistant Chief Ministers and was at the hearing in his capacity as Assistant Social Security Minister, said: ‘It was right at the end of the hearing – I was not drinking throughout the whole hearing.

'We were just wrapping up and I decided to pour myself a glass of wine. I am a 42-year-old man in my own home and I don’t see a problem with that.’

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When asked if he thought it was appropriate to drink alcohol at home during a meeting, given that he would not have done so if it had been held in the States Building, he replied: ‘I would not have done this in a normal hearing but these are not normal circumstances.’

Deputy Russell Labey, chairman of the Privileges and Procedures Committee which oversees States conduct, confirmed that no complaints had been received, but that if there had been, the matter would have been referred to the Commissioner for Standards.

Politicians attending the meeting included panel chairman Deputy Mary Le Hegerat, vice-chairman Deputy Kevin Pamplin and panel members Carina Alves and Trevor Pointon.

Richard Heath

By Richard Heath
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