Jersey's Chief Minister admits she didn't properly consider the ‘appropriateness’ of Deputy Philip Ozouf keeping financial services role after Petty Debts Court appearances

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THE Chief Minister has admitted she did not properly consider the ‘appropriateness’ of Deputy Philip Ozouf retaining his financial-services remit when she previously backed him despite his multiple appearances in the Petty Debts Court.

Deputy Kristina Moore told the States Assembly yesterday that ‘nothing had changed’ in her belief that ministers should uphold high standards in both their professional and personal life, after Deputy Ozouf resigned from his financial-services role prompting a ‘mini-reshuffle’.

Deputy Ozouf, who will remain as External Relations Minister, faced criticism after being summonsed to court on three occasions in as many months.

He was called before the Petty Debts court last week after St-Helier-based GP surgery Health Plus Ltd claimed that he had not paid a bill.

The minister had also been summoned in December over an unpaid St Saviour parish rates bill, and another bill of £2,500 relating to properties in Trinity. Both were paid shortly before the cases reached court.

This led to questions as to whether someone who had failed to keep on top of their personal finances should have political oversight for the financial services industry.

Earlier this month, Deputy Moore backed Deputy Ozouf to continue stating that ‘ministers should be judged on how they perform in their official role’ rather than on private matters.

Responding to a question from Deputy Sam Mézec during yesterday’s sitting as to what had changed in the five days between that statement and Monday’s announcement, Deputy Moore said: ‘I have always felt that ministers should uphold the highest standards. In relation to that, nothing has changed.

‘I also believe that ministers should be held to account for their actions and we, as a delivery-focused government, are focused on delivering for the public.

‘However, on reflection, it was my decision at the end of the week that I had probably not focused entirely on the appropriateness of Deputy Ozouf remaining with his portfolio of financial services.’

She added that she remained fully supportive of Deputy Ozouf remaining as External Relations Minister and that she was unaware of any potential future issues which could cause damage to the Island’s reputation.

‘We have readdressed an issue,’ Deputy Moore said. ‘I have identified that there was another way of looking at this issue and I have rectified it

‘It is sometimes difficult to maintain that balance of public and private life. In order to assist him [Deputy Ozouf] in doing that and assure he can deliver to the best of his abilities, I have undertaken this mini-reshuffle.

‘We need to be proportionate in this matter and I believe where we are now is an appropriate way forward. I am not aware of any issues that would be a matter of international interest.’

Social Security Minister Elaine Millar and Deputy Ian Gorst will be appointed as Assistant Chief Ministers for financial services, and join a ministerial group with Deputy Moore and Deputy Chief Minister Kirsten Morel.

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