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Ferbrache to face formal questions in the Assembly

Ferbrache to face formal questions in the Assembly

Wednesday 01 September 2021

Ferbrache to face formal questions in the Assembly

Wednesday 01 September 2021

CCA Chairman Peter Ferbrache will be asked to set out what advice he gave his close friend and client David Nussbaumer in relation to an alleged isolation breach at the Farmhouse Hotel, which the hotelier declined to report.

Deputy Ferbrache has denied any recollection of the conversation he had with the Managing Director of the Farmhouse at the end of May.

He has insisted to Express that he would "never, ever" tell someone not to comply with the Covid-19 regulations, which he makes and renews monthly as the head of the States' emergency decision-making committee. 

Mr Nussbaumer's leaked emails state that he sought "sufficient leeway" from his friend and lawyer not to report members of staff for a potential covid breach, citing the repercussions for the business. 

According to conversations between Mr Nussbaumer and a housekeeper, she was found hiding in a room at the hotel having been in there with her self-isolating partner for at least 90 minutes. 

Since those emails were uncovered over the weekend, Gundega Dremaine, 43, and Aivis Licitis, 34, have both been charged with breaching the island's self-isolation rules. 

However, questions remain over the hotel MD, and the CCA Chairman, who reportedly changed his mind after originally stating that Mr Nussbaumer should report his employees to the Guernsey Border Agency.  

Pictured: Deputy Gavin St. Pier has submitted formal, written questions about the advice given to Mr Nussbaumer in this situation, and any other times Deputy Ferbrache has shared advice or inside information to family, friends or clients. 

Mr Nussbaumer initially refused to answer specific questions on what he described as “private and confidential conversations” between two close friends. 

He then alleged that Farmhouse Director Alan Chick dealt with the incident, however his colleague denied this, saying Mr Nussbaumer had got this incident mixed up with a separate suspected breach at the Cobo Bay Hotel days later. 

Mr Nussbaumer has since asserted that he "fibbed" to the housekeeper about contacting Deputy Ferbrache in order to frighten her, that the emails obtained by Express "do not reflect" the conversations he had with the CCA Chairman; and latterly, in other media, that his emails were being used towards a smear campaign of the island's Chief Minister. 

This series of events has made it even more important that Deputy Ferbrache offers a full and frank account of what he did advise Mr Nussbaumer, according to the man who preceded the CCA Chairman as the island's Chief Minister.

Peter Ferbrache

Pictured: “I would always advise anybody, as a general rule, if there has been a breach of the regulations, to report it and do whatever is necessary to correct it, which might involve taking a test and seeing if it is negative" - Deputy Ferbrache. 

“There have already been several different versions of events, further muddled by an admission of lying by one individual – all of which is highly unsatisfactory," said Deputy St. Pier.  

"Whilst there is clearly a criminal investigation being conducted by the Guernsey Border Agency, given the alleged involvement of the Chair of the Civil Contingencies Authority in this affair, it is entirely appropriate that the Chair is scrutinised and accountable publicly in the Assembly by States Members."

Asked for comment, Scrutiny Management Committee President Yvonne Burford said that “it would not be appropriate [for the SMC] to investigate the matter while there is an active police investigation.”

That should not stop the States and the public from holding its most senior politician accountable, says Deputy St. Pier.

"That is the role of the Assembly, parliamentary questions and elected representatives. The public are fully entitled to expect openness, honesty and transparency from those they elect.”

He has asked the Chief Minister to detail exactly what advice he gave Mr Nussbaumer, to explain any times he has given advice or discussed breaches of Covid regulations with family, friends or clients; and whether he has ever shared confidential information about lockdown or Guernsey's exit from lockdown.

It follows allegations by another deputy, Charles Parkinson, that Mr Nussbaumer has previously been able to advise his staff of information about the relaxation of lockdown restrictions before they were put in the public domain.

It added: “We would like to reassure the public that we respond to reports of self-isolation breaches and follow up all legitimate lines of enquiry.”

The CCA has also been asked for comment. Acting Chair Deputy Heidi Soulsby, in place of the recused Deputy Ferbrache, said: “Members of the Civil Contingencies Authority are aware of the media reports and social media comments.

"However, the CCA is not the appropriate body to comment on or investigate any allegation of a breach in the law.”

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