An attempt to delay the appointment of the next Government CEO until after next year’s election has failed after States Members were told that it would be unlawful.
Deputy Kirsten Morel withdrew his proposition seeking a delay after the Assembly received clear and unambiguous legal opinion from the Solicitor General, who told politicians that changing a recruitment process that is set out in law would be open to judicial review.
Between lodging the proposition at the end of July and Wednesday’s debate, it was revealed that an offer had been made and accepted by current Belfast City Council Chief Executive Suzanne Wylie.
However, as first reported by Express, the next stage of the process - contract signing - was put on hold as soon as Deputy Morel’s proposition was lodged. With it being withdrawn, a major obstacle threatening Ms Wylie’s appointment has fallen away.
Deputy Morel has withdrawn his proposition regarding the Government of Jersey CEO recruitment process.— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) September 15, 2021
In presenting his proposition before withdrawing it, Deputy Morel said that recruiting a CEO now was a gamble that the island could not afford to take.
The Assistant Minister praised Interim Chief Executive Paul Martin, who he said had done much to reverse the “cronyism, diminishment of status of the Assembly and lack of understanding in Jersey” that he believed had typified the previous leadership.
He added that the CEO should provide stability during the “necessary and inevitable instability of an election period”.
The Deputy then asked for the opinion of the Assembly’s legal adviser, Solicitor General Matthew Jowitt, who clearly stated that the proposition, if successful and enacted by the States’ Employment Board, would “drive a coach and horses” through the article in the island's Employment Law that sets out the selection process for the head of the civil service.
Pictured: In a speech before announcing he would be withdrawing his proposition, Deputy Morel paid tribute to Interim CEO Paul Martin.
“The political matters discussed here are not things which can alter the legality of selection that has been made,” he said, adding that the likely outcome would be, at the very least, a judicial review and possibly the chosen candidate choosing to sue the Government.
Although deciding to withdraw his proposition after receiving this advice, Deputy Morel questioned the Solicitor-General’s interpretation of some areas of the law, adding that the appointment was another example of the “powerlessness of this Assembly."
He also called for “much-need reform” of both the SEB and the Jersey Appointments’ Commission, which oversaw the selection process.
Pictured top: Deputy Kirsten Morel, Solicitor-General Matthew Jowitt and preferred candidate for the CEO job, Suzanne Wylie.
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