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"Flawed" process, but it's all we have

Wednesday 26 February 2020

"Flawed" process, but it's all we have

Deputy Carl Meerveld has defended his use of the Code of Conduct process, after he was accused of weaponising it in a highly emotional statement released by one of his political colleagues who was on the receiving end of a complaint.

Deputy Meerveld had lodged complaints against all five members of the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture last summer.

This week, the panel confirmed they had looked into the matter and found Deputy Matt Fallaize had breached the States Members' Code of Conduct, in relation to an email he sent interfering in the recruitment process of a Head of Curriculum and Standards. But, the panel also confirmed there was no case to answer for Deputies Peter Roffey, Richard Graham, Mark Dorey and Rhian Tooley. 

education sport and culture committee

Pictured: ESC has been under fire lately, but in this case four of the five members were cleared of breaching the States Members' Code of Conduct. 

Deputy Roffey has gone public with his feelings over the "misinformed" complaint made against him, saying that if Deputy Meerveld had contacted him directly they would have quickly agreed that he was not involved and the complaint need never have been lodged. 

However, the complaint was lodged and Deputy Roffey was informed of it on the day his wife died. The investigation continued as his mother's health deteriorated, and he went public with his situation yesterday, the day his mother's funeral was held. 

Deputy Meerveld has said he of course sympathises with Deputy Roffey over the bereavements he has suffered, but says it was an "unfortunate coincidental timing of the complaint and hearing", and it was not intended, "particularly as my family have also suffered bereavements during this period". 

He said the complaints were not used as "weapons" as alleged by both Deputy Roffey and Fallaize, but rather that the Code of Conduct is one of the few ways anyone can hold a States Member to account. 

"I based my complaints primarily on statements issued by the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture. Inclusion of social media commentary illustrated the extent to which I believe the Committees' actions have brought the States into disrepute and did not form the primary basis for the complaint as erroneously stated by Deputy Roffey.

"Both Deputies Fallaize and Roffey have accused me of 'weaponising'  the Code of Conduct process for political advantage, but this could not be further from the truth. The Code of Conduct process, however flawed, is one of the few ways anyone (a member of the public or Deputy) can hold Deputies accountable for their actions."

ESC code of conduct

Pictured: Four of the five ESC committee members were cleared of breaching the Code of Conduct. 

Deputy Meerveld insists he has acted with integrity, often refusing media requests to discuss the Code of Conduct complaint while the panel was working through its investigation.

"At every stage, I have acted with integrity. I submitted my complaint to the States Members Conduct Panel privately, without liaising with any other Deputies. The only reason people became aware of it was that Deputy Fallaize himself emailed Deputies and the media regarding it. Despite requests from the media, I did not share my complaint with anyone other than Deputies (after Deputy Fallaize made them aware of it) during the six months until Code of Conduct Panel convened to make a decision. 

"Unlike Deputies Fallaize and Roffey, I have also not attempted to politicise the findings in which the President of a principal committee has been found guilty of breaching two of Code of Conduct rules. His guilt being due to "Deputy Fallaize appeared not to be fully aware of the implications of the Civil Service Code". Something that is particularly ironic considering he was President of the States Constitution and Constitution Committee (the Committee responsible for writing the rules) and is arguably one of the principal architects of our new structure of government."

Deputy Meerveld has released copies of his complaint against Deputy Fallaize so "readers can judge for themselves if my complaints were "a fishing expedition" or "mere supposition or conjecture" as claimed by Deputies Fallaize and Roffey respectively".

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