Appointing chief executive ‘would be poor judgment’

ANY attempt to appoint a new government chief executive before a States debate on delaying the recruitment would show ‘very poor judgment’, the head of Scrutiny has said.

Charlie Parker stood down from the position following controversy surrounding his decision to take a non-executive director role with UK-based real-estate firm New River.
Charlie Parker stood down from the position following controversy surrounding his decision to take a non-executive director role with UK-based real-estate firm New River.

Senator Kristina Moore was responding to a report from The Belfast Telegraph which said that Belfast City Council chief executive Suzanne Wylie was set to take over the role as Jersey’s most senior civil servant.

However, next week the States Assembly is due to debate postponing the recruitment process until after the June 2022 election. The proposition, lodged by Deputy Kirsten Morel, is calling for interim chief executive Paul Martin to remain in post until that time.

Both Belfast City Council and the Government of Jersey have declined to comment on speculation that Ms Wylie is set to take over. A government spokesperson said that they would not comment until after the debate next week.

Senator Moore, who chairs the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, said: ‘We are still aiming to have a debate next week on the proposition from Deputy Morel.

‘Apparently there is some sort of legal argument that if you go against the will of the Appointments Commission you will also be breaching the law.

‘My view is that progressing this in spite of Corporate Services and Public Accounts Committee advice [not to] would be unwise and would show very poor judgment.’

Mr Martin took over on an interim basis in March from Mr Parker, who stood down following controversy surrounding his decision to take a non-executive director role with UK-based real-estate firm New River.

After Mr Parker left his role, Comptroller and Auditor General Lynn Pamment issued a report criticising the States Employment Board, which oversaw the appointment. She recommended that a ‘review of the original appointment process for the former chief executive’ be undertaken as ‘soon as practicable’.

Senator Moore said: ‘The C&AG did a review on what went wrong with the appointment of the previous chief executive and the processes within that.

‘The States Employment Board have not followed the recommendations of the C&AG. We [the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel] wrote to John [Chief Minister John Le Fondré] on 8 June and reminded him that he should not appoint anyone until he had followed the recommendations – one of those being not to offer somebody the job until we have agreed the terms of the contract.’

She added that if it was the case that Ms Wylie had been offered the role it would show that government had ‘little regard for democratic accountability’.

‘This situation is not about the person – it is about the process that has or hasn’t been followed. The recommendations of the C&AG have not been followed. Other advice from PAC and CSSP has not been taken seriously and we need to know whether the SEB are going to learn from the mistakes of the past, which have resulted in hundreds of thousands of pounds being paid out because of their actions.

‘For government to [seemingly] carry on on this path without listening to that advice is appalling,’ she said.

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