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"Toothless" system needs changing

Thursday 02 August 2018

"Toothless" system needs changing

Thursday 02 August 2018

A prominent campaigner in Guernsey has welcomed plans to change the Code of Conduct which States members must adhere to and she is urging other people to have their say during a public consultation on the matter.

Until the end of August, members of the public can pass comment on the Code of Conduct itself as well as various aspects of it including the content of the Code, how complaints are considered and investigated and the sanctions available.

Sarah Griffith MBE, who used the Code of Conduct panel to lodge a complaint against a Deputy earlier this year, has said the current system is "not appropriate for 2018."

Ms Griffith lodged her complaint over comments made by Deputy Jan Kuttelwascher outside the States Chamber ahead of a debate on assisted dying in the island. He was caught on camera by various media outlets and members of the public saying that people with terminal illnesses could kill themselves if they wanted to, and also that there are some people who would like to assist in dying. He later said that comment was meant in jest but many people were offended and upset by the things he said.


Pictured: The moment Deputy Jan Kuttelwascher was caught on camera discussing assisted dying ahead of a States debate which was being reported on around the world

Ms Griffith made an official complaint which was deemed worthy of investigation and she was invited to present her complaint to members of the Code of Conduct panel. Four people were in attendance to hear her complaint - which Ms Griffith said felt more like giving evidence in court.

The complaint against Deputy Kuttelwascher led to him being cautioned. Ms Griffith said if she had known how the Code of Conduct system would play out, she would not have "wasted my time, and everyone else's time."

Peter Roffey

Pictured: Deputy Peter Roffey who is leading the review of the Code of Conduct processes as President of the States Assembly and Constitution Committee

That system could now change though, with Deputy Peter Roffey leading efforts to update the Code of Conduct and the way it is used. He said he needs public feedback though to ensure the new methods are better.

“It is important that the public and People’s Deputies provide feedback on theirexperiences or opinion of the Code of Conduct, to help the Committee shape any recommendations that might arise out of the review. I would encourage people to write to the Committee expressing their views”.

The Terms of Reference for the review can be found alongside a copy of the Code of Conduct on the States of Guernsey website and anyone wanting to comment can write or email their comments in, or use the 'Contact us' section on


Pictured: There are a number of ways to get in touch to have your say on the possible changes to the Code of Conduct States members must adhere to

Ms Griffith will be having her say on any possible changes and said she would urge others to do the same.

"I'm really glad to see this review is happening," she said. "The system really is archaic and it definitely needs revising.

"It needs to have some teeth and that's the crux of it. At the moment it is toothless. If I had known he would just get a slap on the wrist I wouldn't have wasted my time, or everyone else's."


Pictured: Sarah Griffith, with her grandchild, is well known for campaigner on different matters in the island and overseas - she was disappointed with the outcome of a recent code of conduct complaint she lodged after an incident which left many people angry and upset

Ms Griffith feels some people may be put off lodging complaints because of the current system and she said that shouldn't be the case.

"I don't condone flighty complaints against deputies - that wastes everyone's time. But genuine complaints should be taken seriously.

"I would always encourage people to complain about a miscarriage of justice or an injustice. I know some deputies have faced really ridiculous complaints and I don't support that but serious complaints should be raised. The system as it is at the moment though, there is no point."


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