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Deputy faces caution after Guernsey Party members' complaints

Deputy faces caution after Guernsey Party members' complaints

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Deputy faces caution after Guernsey Party members' complaints

Wednesday 18 May 2022


Deputy Charles Parkinson has committed "minor breaches" of three sections of the Code of Conduct for States’ members.

The Code of Conduct Panel has issued Deputy Parkinson with cautions for two of the breaches – the lowest level of sanction available. If Deputy Parkinson accepts the cautions, he will face no further action. If he does not accept them, they will be referred to the States’ Assembly for resolution.

The Panel said the third breach was "sufficiently minor that there should be no sanction for it". 

Deputy Parkinson was cleared of various other alleged breaches of the Code.  

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Pictured: The Code of Conduct case will reach the States' Assembly only if Deputy Charles Parkinson does not accept the cautions issued by the Panel.

The complaints against Deputy Parkinson, pictured top right, were made by three senior figures in the Guernsey Party: Deputy Mark Helyar, pictured top left, who leads the Party in the States; Kate Miller-Helyar, the Party’s Secretary; and David Piesing, an advisor on the committee which runs the Party.

In total, Deputy Parkinson faced 15 claims of breaching the Code for words he wrote or spoke about Deputy Helyar and a local charity and for failing to declare trusteeship of another local charity on his declaration of interests form.

The Panel hearing the complaints was chaired by The Very Reverend John Guille and also included Dame Mary Perkins and Stephen Trevor.

The Panel has written a nine-page report on the claims against Deputy Parkinson, his defence against the claims and its findings. It will be published in full after Deputy Parkinson has decided whether to accept or contest the cautions issued by the Panel.

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Pictured: The complaints against Deputy Charles Parkinson were made by three senior figures in the Guernsey Party, including its leader in the States, Deputy Mark Helyar.

Its report states: "The Panel considered the complaints by type as there was considerable overlap between those made by the three complainants.

"The first complaint (made by all three complainants) was that Deputy Parkinson had used in a Facebook post a phrase to describe Deputy Helyar’s politics which was a slur and not an accurate description of Deputy Helyar’s political position.

"The Panel decided not to state in this decision what words were used. This inevitably clouds the events giving rise to the complaints, but we considered the point carefully before deciding not to repeat the words used.

"Deputy Helyar said that his politics did not match the words used by Deputy Parkinson. They were a slur and went far beyond the usual exchange of views between politicians.

"The words had clear connotations for most people and suggested a set of extreme political views which he did not hold. His family had been harassed and the use of such a description of him might increase harassment.

"The words were insulting and besmirched his personal and professional reputation.

"Mrs Miller-Helyar said that the words used were categorically untrue of Deputy Helyar and would affect the personal and professional reputation of Deputy Helyar and also his family.

"Mr Piesing said that the words used were universally understood to mean a set of extreme political beliefs. There was no evidence that those were Deputy Helyar’s politics.

"In response, Deputy Parkinson said that the words in question needed to be considered in the context of how he had written them – they immediately preceded the word ‘deputy’. It was, therefore, obvious that he meant them to qualify the word deputy and were a description of Deputy Helyar’s politics in relative terms compared to other States’ members, past and present.

"The Panel concluded that the words used by Deputy Parkinson against Deputy Helyar breached the Code because they had a generally accepted meaning which is how the majority of readers would understand them.

"Even if they had not been meant in any malicious sense by Deputy Parkinson when he used them, they would be taken to mean something specific which was not acceptable or accurate to use in respect of Deputy Helyar."

Deputy Parkinson was issued with a caution for that breach.

Anti Discrimination Gathering

Pictured: Deputy Mark Helyar's views on discrimination were at the centre of one set of complaints made against Deputy Charles Parkinson which the Code of Conduct Panel upheld.

"[Another] complaint (made by Deputy Helyar and Mrs Miller-Helyar) was that Deputy Parkinson had wrongly and untruthfully attributed comments Deputy Helyar made in the States of Deliberation about discrimination in Guernsey and had maligned the work of the Citizens Advice Bureau as a long-standing local charity.

"The Panel decided that Deputy Parkinson had misrepresented what Deputy Helyar had said in the States’ debate."

Deputy Parkinson was issued with a caution for this breach.

"In respect of the other part of that complaint about Deputy Parkinson’s comments about the Citizens Advice Bureau in Guernsey and Deputy Helyar’s chairmanship of it, the Panel decided that Deputy Parkinson’s references to it could not be regarded as a breach of any section of the Code. There was no negative inference about the work of the Citizens Advice Bureau."

citizens advice talk to someone

Pictured: Deputy Mark Helyar and Kate Miller-Helyar alleged that Deputy Charles Parkinson had maligned the work of the Citizens Advice Bureau but that complaint was thrown out by the Code of Conduct Panel.

"[A] complaint (made by all the complainants) was that Deputy Parkinson had failed to disclose that he was a trustee of Liberate. He had not entered that trusteeship in his Declaration of Members’ Interests and yet Liberate’s charity registration with the Guernsey Registry showed that he was one of its trustees.

"Deputy Parkinson said that if the Panel found that his trusteeship of Liberate did fall within the category of trusteeships which needed to be declared he would willingly make the necessary declaration. He obtained no material benefit from his position and it did not occur to him that he needed to include it in his Declaration of Interests. He had included it in his manifesto. He was proud of the role and believed it was widely known and had been referred to in some States' debates.

"The Panel decided that the fact that Deputy Parkinson had not gained materially from his trusteeship was irrelevant to whether he should have registered it. While he had now resigned from it, it was a position which should have been included in his Declaration of Interests the whole time he held it. He had therefore breached…the Code by not declaring it during that period.

"We decided, by a majority, that while the Code had been breached it was sufficiently minor that there should be no sanction for it."

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Pictured: Kate Miller-Helyar also alleged that Deputy Charles Parkinson had breached the Code of Conduct by incorrectly asserting that Deputy Mark Helyar had called him a "snake oil salesman". The Panel found that Deputy Parkinson had misrepresented Deputy Helyar's comments but had not breached the Code.

"Deputy Parkinson breached several provisions of the Code. However, it regarded each breach as being relatively minor.

"We think that this case falls under section 38 in that, although we find that three of the complaints have been substantiated, each breach of the Code of Conduct was a minor one.

"In each of the two complaints where we think that a sanction is justified, it can be disposed of by cautioning Deputy Parkinson.

"If each such caution is accepted, a report of our decision will then be forwarded to the Presiding Officer and to Her Majesty’s Greffier, so that the report can be made available to members of the public."

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