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Chief Minister to sue Code of Conduct complainants for 'defamation'

Chief Minister to sue Code of Conduct complainants for 'defamation'

Thursday 15 July 2021

Chief Minister to sue Code of Conduct complainants for 'defamation'

Guernsey's Chief Minister has been told to "grow up" by one of his predecessors, after Deputy Peter Ferbrache warned that those who have "defamed" him in recent months over 'Gatland-gate' can expect to receive a court summons very soon.

The comments were made during debate on the 12-month suspension of Deputy Chris Le Tissier. Despite voting for Deputy Le Tissier’s year-long suspension “with a heavy heart”, Deputy Ferbrache took exception to the disgraced deputy's treatment by others on social media.

“The fact that he had to listen to, read, and adhere to the attack on social media is awful,” said Deputy Ferbrache.

“Social media is more often than not an ill; it is written by cowards; it is written by people who don’t have the courage to stand up and come speak to your face.”

To hammer home the point, Deputy Ferbrache launched into an attack on those who have allegedly defamed him during his time as Guernsey's senior politician.


Pictured: “In the past eight months I’ve had three complaints made against me that went to the [Code of Conduct] panel,” said Deputy Ferbrache.

He referred to one complainant who actively criticised the Chief Minister and the Civil Contingencies Authority throughout its handling of the corona virus pandemic.

Deputy Ferbrache then referred to two others who submitted official complaints to the Code of Conduct Panel regarding his handling of ‘Gatland-gate’.

“Two complainants alleged I was dishonest in remarks I made concerning the Warren Gatland situation,” he said, referring to contradictory remarks made about the British & Irish Lions Head Coach visiting Guernsey during lockdown.

“They were openly and avowedly supporters of Deputy Gavin St Pier, and they made these complaints on a politically motivated basis.

“They will in due course receive a summons from me in the Civil Courts for defamation,” he announced. 


Pictured: Deputy Ferbrache said of the three complaints made against him: “One was in bad faith and two were politically motivated.”

Deputy Ferbrache continued, slamming social media commentators.

“We have complainants who are allowed to say what they like in the absence of the person. That is contrary to any kind of precept of natural justice and should be changed forthwith,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Ferbrache called out two members of the original Code of Conduct Panel by name for agreeing to oversee the complaints made against Deputy Le Tissier, questioning their links to and support of his Chief Minister rival, Deputy St Pier. Neither of them had a right to reply during the States debate. 

Additionally, Deputy Ferbrache criticised ex-States Member Richard Graham for public comments he has made about the States in recent months. 

Pictued: Some ex-Deputies took to Twitter to point out the irony in some of the statements being made.

Deputy St Pier took issue to the threat of legal action, suggesting it could put people off being politically engaged.

“[A code of conduct complaint] is the best and only process the public have – it’s the only process we can show to them that gives them some kind of confidence that they have some recourse against the behaviours we display.

“We should endorse the right of the public to use that process and I think that threats of judicial review and civil action are not helpful in reinforcing to the public that they have rights to challenge us,” he said.

"You need to grow up and leave that alone, there's a good chap"

Another former Chief Minister Deputy Lyndon Trott stepped up to denounce the threat of legal action as well.

"It would be ridiculous for a Chief Minister to risk potentially damaging Guernsey or the reputation of the States and the island by bringing a defamation case against someone who'd made a code of conduct complaint against him [Deputy Ferbrache]," he said.

Deputy Lyndon Trott

Pictured: "My advice to him [Deputy Ferbrache] is that you need to grow up and leave that alone. There's a good chap," advised Deputy Trott.


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