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Code of Conduct Panel to be disbanded this term

Code of Conduct Panel to be disbanded this term

Tuesday 27 April 2021

Code of Conduct Panel to be disbanded this term

Tuesday 27 April 2021

Guernsey's rules committee will do away with the Code of Conduct Panel before the end of the States term, its President has confirmed, as he revealed plans to share a joint Commissioner for Standards with Jersey.

It was decided last year that the current States' Assembly & Constitution Committee should move towards the creation of an independent Commissioner to replace the Code of Conduct panel.

The Panel's most high-profile action - last month's recommendation to sack Deputy Chris Le Tissier from the States for offensive tweets under a pseudonym -is being appealed by the first-time Deputy.

He has told Express this week that his proposed appeal against the investigation's findings will be filed in the coming days. 

Deputy Chris Le Tissier

Pictured: The States' Assembly & Constitution Committee had to delete its copies of the Code of Conduct Panel's report after it emerged that it had been published prematurely, before Deputy Le Tissier had been given the opportunity to appeal its findings. 

The matter has been complicated further by the fact that the laws around the Code of Conduct process do not state a timeframe in which appeals must be lodged. 

States Assembly & Constitution Committee President Deputy Carl Meerveld said his committee is looking at ways to tighten up these rules, however no changes will be made that affect an ongoing appeal.

Deputy Meerveld suggested that the current situation underlines the need to reform the way that the behaviour of States' members is governed. 

Asked for a timeframe on delivery, he replied: "We are aiming to implement a Commissioner for Standards well before the end of this term. It is one of our priorities.

"It took four years for Jersey to go from making a resolution to implementation. We don’t anticipate it taking anywhere near as long as that, however it will require changes to the statutes of law and that will increase implementation time."


Pictured: Weighing in on social media disputes between islanders and politicians is not something the Jersey States’ behaviour watchdog is interested in.

Deputy Meerveld sees benefit in having a UK-based Commissioner without any links to Guernsey's political environment.

"We are approaching Jersey to see whether we can share their resource," he said. "There are two elements to that – there would be a reduced cost, and a reduced likelihood of any conflict of interests."

In his annual report for 2018, Jersey's Commissioner for Standards Paul Kernaghan caused a stir after writing: "I do not see it as my role to adjudicate on 'Twitter spats' between participants on social media [...] Thus I have dismissed several such complaints as I have judged them to be frivolous or vexatious." 

Asked if he thought it would be appropriate to have a Commissioner who did not wish to police social media behaviour by States members, Deputy Meerveld said the need to do so could be written into the terms of engagement.  

"I think social media is just another vehicle by which members can communicate and where offence can potentially be caused," he added.

What is the Code of Conduct Panel?

The State Members' Conduct Panel investigates complaints which have been made alleging that a member has breached the Code of Conduct governing Deputies' behaviour. The Panel is appointed by the Presiding Officer - the Bailiff - and is chaired by The Very Reverend John Guille.

The Deputy Chairman is Allister Langlois and the other members are Advocate Russell Clark, Dame Mary Perkins DBE, Barbara Steer, Advocate Louise Hall, Stephen Trevor, Mick Fooks, Sandra James MBE and Scott Ogier.

The Very Rev. Guille, Advocate Clark and Mrs James presided over Deputy Le Tissier's case. 

Pictured top: Sacc President Deputy Carl Meerveld.

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