Monday 20 November 2017

Ozouf: claims of bullying, resignation and mob rule

Monday 19 June 2017

Ozouf: claims of bullying, resignation and mob rule

This week will see the island's politicians decide if they have any confidence in Jersey's leaders - and the build up to that pivotal decision has bordered on the bizarre.

On Friday, it seems the Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, asked the man he has only just re-appointed to lead the critical financial services sector - Senator Philip Ozouf - to resign...for a second time. Senator Ozouf confirmed in a weekend blog post, that he was being asked to go, and accused unnamed States members of "bullying" him, that there were personal vendettas against him, and he was suffering "the rule of the mob."

The request to resign has ostensibly been rebuffed by Senator Ozouf, leaving Senator Gorst with little option but to remove him instead, or look weak. 

The last few days has seen the island's two most high-profile politicians - who were previously staunch allies - take to different media outlets to pursue their case.

Senator Gorst went on BBC Radio Jersey on Friday lunchtime to describe Senator Ozouf as a "distraction," and to say he was canvassing opinion amongst "back-benchers", as to what to do next. So far, no decision has been released, although it's believed a media statement was due to be published on Friday. Nothing happened. 

Then, Senator Ozouf used the JEP on Saturday to launch a personal defence against as yet unmade accusations of mismanaging his credit card expenses, in response to a Freedom of Information request which hasn't yet been published, but which is due before the end of the month. 

The article alleged that the FoI, when it is released, will show Senator Ozouf used his States credit card to pay for personal expenses, such as an expensive hair cut, clothing and a river cruise - but none of that information has been released, meaning Senator Ozouf's statement that he has done nothing at all wrong with his States credit card, actually comes before any allegations have, in reality, been made, or the relevant information even put in the pubic domain. 

Apparently, Senator Ozouf is going to publish those details about his credit card expenses himself, to clear his name. 

There is a second FoI request relating to Senator Ozouf's expenses, which has been published, which mainly relates to his extensive travelling, showing hundreds of pounds spent on taxis, a flight upgrade, passport photos, meals and rail journeys. This morning Senator Ozouf published the rationale behind each of these expenses on his personal blog.

It followed a weekend post in which he accused other Members of bullying, revealed that he had been asked to resign again, and claimed the "rule of the mob" was out to get him:

"Three weeks ago I celebrated my Civil Partnership. I’m a private person and did not publicise this important event in my life, and I took a week off after it. The attacks on my reappointment and on my integrity have intensified whilst I was away, and they became intensified in the last week after my week’s break. Just as most of the leaks about the Jersey Innovation Fund were made whilst I was supposed to be on holiday and necessitated spending hours dealing with the problem, this time my known week’s absence was used as an opportunity to build support against me and denigrate my reputation. Machiavelli would be proud!

"I have worked with and for many members over the past two decades of my public service. The conduct of certain members, however, is tantamount to bullying. It’s the kind of behaviour they suggest is wrong, yet to be clear: I’m the subject of a determined witch-hunt to oust me whatever the price. It’s personal and appears to be the continuation of a number of personal vendettas for past decisions taken, coupled with the rule of the mob. The roll-call of regular contributors to this campaign should be analysed for the interests that are held be these people.

"The pressure to resign, and leaks of my alleged sacking, is intensifying ahead of the Vote of No Confidence in the Chief Minister which has been brought allegedly for a number of reasons. My reappointment is said to be the catalyst. However, the proposition does not say that and it was threatened before my reappointment."

The fact Senator Ozouf has confirmed he has been asked to resign for a second time shows how deeply divided the current council of ministers is, split between those who support Senator Ozouf for his undoubted energy and skills in promoting Jersey, and those who want the Chief Minister to remove him as a deeply divisive figure, ahead of tomorrow's vote of no confidence.

That vote is definitely supported by 14 members, and needs to reach 25 votes to be successful. It's known that the Chief Minister met a series of back-benchers at the end of last week to gauge which way they would vote, and any actions he takes in relation to Senator Ozouf before the debate will be designed to gather enough votes to remain in office. 

So, as of this morning, nothing at all has changed. Senator Ozouf is still the Assistant Chief Minister responsible for Finance and Digital, and Senator Gorst is still the Chief Minister. 

On the basis of the last few days, it's not at all clear whether that will still be the position by this evening. 



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Posted by Gary Hudson on
Senator Ozouf should not have returned to any high profile position within the States after his resignation, then this impossible situation would not be an issue. The general public has no confidence in most States members as it is, without this 'playground tantrums'
Posted by Peter Watts on
Could we say of Senator Gorst, as Jeremy Thorpe said of Harold MacMillan "greater love hath no man than this - that he lay down his friends for his life."
Posted by Gordon Perry on
Senator O's track record is so bad that had he been employed in any other sphere he would have been sacked a long time ago. Five years ago the Auditor General criticised his bullying and harassment manner. He has been associated with the early and sudden departure of some senior civil servants, and more recently the "Innovation Fund" debacle, where he was found to not have been closely involved BUT in my humble opinion this was one area where he should have been hands on.
Lead by a Chief Minister who has shown at the very least ineptitude bordering on incompetence and a distinct lack of leadership the duo have between them dragged the Jersey political system into the realm of farce and ridicule.
GO both of you!
Posted by ColinCampbell49 on
Senator Ozouf complains about the timing of the attacks on his reappointment - yet the Chief Minister chose to issue the press release announcing Senator O's return at 6 p.m on a Friday and before a holiday when the Chief Minister himself was going to be out of the island the following week.
Shades of pot calling the kettle black!!!
Posted by Denise Shrives on
Claims of bullying ? well you know what they say "it takes one to know one !" Should he say or should he go ? What a shame the Jersey Public can't vote on this. Let him do the correct and honourable thing and "stand down". He must realise that he will never be voted for in the next election. He only just scraped in this time.
Posted by John Storey on
It takes one to know one , at the end of the day he must have not done his job well , why would so many people be so angry with him if he had , you just have to go back in time especially when he came back from his travels to India etc saying things like India will be investing in Jersey ,so creating more jobs , there's trip to China with the same outcome, where is all this money ?
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