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Politicians pile pressure on Chief Minister over CEO loss

Politicians pile pressure on Chief Minister over CEO loss

Thursday 30 March 2023

Politicians pile pressure on Chief Minister over CEO loss

Thursday 30 March 2023


The Chief Minister is being pushed for answers on discussions on the future of role of CEO Suzanne Wylie prior to her resignation, decisions on how her departure should be communicated, and whether any complaints about “unacceptable behaviour” have been raised during her term of office.

The Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel - a group of politicians responsible for holding the Chief Minister accountable and overseeing government HR processes - yesterday issued a letter with 14 requests for information which they want a response to by 6 April.

They are

  1. The process to identify an interim CEO and the timeline in that regard. In addition, the timeline for announcing the interim CEO to members of the public.

  2. The process and timeline to recruit a new CEO to the role.

  3. The work being carried out regarding any potential changes to the scope of the CEO role and any legislative changes that will be required as a result. In addition, the impact of this workstream on the timeline for recruiting a new CEO to the role.

  4. How the current CEO role interacts with the structure of the Cabinet Office and the changes that are being considered.

  5. The workstreams that the current CEO is undertaking and the impact of her departure on the progress of the workstreams identified and how any negative impact will be alleviated.

  6. The Panel notes, during the Youth Assembly on 28th March 2023 that Deputy Morel responded to a question without notice in relation to the recent resignation of the CEO and on the working environment within the Office of the Chief Executive. Deputy Morel explained that the role of the CEO was a tough role and that together with the CEO consideration was being given to how the role could be better structured with regard to scale and scope. In light of this response, what concerns have been expressed by the CEO to you, to date, in relation the scope and scale of the role and her capacity to adequately fulfil the role?

  1. An update on the advancements regarding the whistleblowing policy which was implemented in November 2022 and is due for review in October 2024.

  2. The internal investigations being undertaken as a result of the claims made by Ministers and Government Civil Servants in relation to the working environment, culture and behaviours within the Office of the Chief Executive and whether an independent investigation into the matter will be pursued.

  3. The steps being taken to ensure a positive and productive working relationship between Ministers and Government Civil Servants, in light of the recent events.

  4. The process followed to inform all States Employment Board (SEB) members of the CEOresignation and whether all members were notified and made aware of the CEO’s resignation.

  5. Any agreements that have been made between yourself and the CEO on how the CEO communicates publicly following her resignation.

  6. Any communications to encourage the CEO to communicate publicly following her resignation.

  1. The records of every instance, during your term of office, where political discussions on the scope and scale of the role of the CEO have taken place, with and without the involvement of the CEO. Please also identify on how many occasions the CEO was involved in those discussions.

  2. All Government records, during your term of office, of any complaints raised by Ministers and Government Civil Servants regarding unacceptable behaviour.

Several of the questions related to the restructuring of the role of the island’s most senior civil servant.

In her resignation letter - released following requests by Express and the JEP - Suzanne Wylie wrote: "There is much political debate on the role of the CEO and my departure will also open the opportunity to assess if it should be changed and to what degree.

"I appreciate that the search will need to start now for my replacement, and I assure you that I will do all I can to support a new CEO coming into post." 

CEO_to_CM_Resignation_letter.jpg

CLICK TO READ: Suzanne Wylie's resignation letter, dated 14 March.

Mrs Wylie has not commented publicly on her departure. 

However, her letter stated that she was leaving with “much regret and genuine sadness”. 

It added: “It was never my intention to leave after such a short period, however, my circumstances are now such that I intend to take up a role back in Northern Ireland. 

“This will mean I am closer to my family at this point in our lives.”

Infrastructure Minister Deputy Tom Binet last week alleged that Mrs Wylie’s departure related an alleged culture of bullying in government among senior Ministers. He said he believed government communications on the matter of her departure to have been “disingenuous”.

Tom Binet.jpg

Pictured: Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet has hinted he is considering walking out on the Council of Ministers over their handling of the CEO's departure.

On Monday, he met with the Chief Minister to discuss his concerns and said during a TV interview that evening that he felt some of these could be addressed. 

However, following what was described by one source as a “tense” Council of Ministers meeting the following day, Deputy Binet suggested he was considering resignation.

"I think I may have been over optimistic yesterday in believing that problems I have identified could be resolved," he said in a statement.

"As such, I am going to take a few days to consider the best way forward."

Meanwhile, Reform Jersey is calling for an independent investigation into claims of bullying in government aired in an ITV Channel report earlier this week.

READ MORE...

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REVEALED: CEO Suzanne Wylie's resignation letter - and the CM's delayed reply

TIMELINE: Who knew what about CEO’s departure and when?

WATCH: Chief Minister apologises for "unclear" comments over CEO exit

Gov in crisis as CEO Suzanne Wylie resigns

FOCUS: Four CEOs in just over five years... a tale of controversy

FOCUS: The key moments in a year leading Jersey's public service

UNPLUGGED: Wylie, in her own words...

Is it time for a joint Jersey and Guernsey CEO?

Revealed: Gov CEO's blog from 48 hours before shock departure announcement

Was Gov "disingenuous" over CEO resignation or "transparent"?

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Comments

Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by IanSmith97 on
I am an ex civil servant. During my career I had deputies, senators and constables phone or visit me and try and get me to do things which I was not allowed to do by law. I also had politicians phone up on behalf of people who were not their constituents. This behaviour would not be tolerated in the United Kingdom. MPs who are doing constituency work and have cause to take up cases have a procedure. They write to the CEO of the government agency concerned with the problem who then makes enquiries with the section of his/her department/agency to find out what is going on. In my experience, and I was not the only one, some states members here act like tin pot dictators and phone mid ranking and even low graded civil servants and put pressure on them i.e. the “don’t you know who I am syndrome”. This is a form of bullying, using their political position in an inappropriate manner. It’s time the CEO of the public service hammered out a proper procedure with the Chief Minister for states members to contact states departments and not phone staff direct and act the big I AM.
Posted by Tobias Philpott on
Jersey's Civil Service is too big and inefficient. Anyone who comes and challenges this like the current CM is resisted by all means fair snd foul and portrayed as a bully and obstacles placed by the civil servants who have vested interest in red tape and beaurocracy that justifies their existences. For a population that is so small the number of departmental silos and difficulty in getting anything done is shameful. Bills not paid since 2019. Tax returns outstanding from 2019. We should support the CM in getting rid of all the deadwood and making things more efficient and cheaper.
Posted by Tobias Philpott on
I take IanSmith 97s points and bow to his experience and agree there maybe some prima donna's amongst our elected officials.
However what's the evidence being provided for these accusations, other than anonymous hearsay?
If things are that bad, there would be written complaints and e-mail trails? Surely demesne would have put something in writing?
Posted by EdWilliams4 on
It is great to see readers comments allowed by BE again. The usual excuse for the bullies among senior executives and managers is that of performance issues. The stubborn, narrow-minded and lazy employees do not want to work harder and they interpret a constructive performance feedback as bullying'. Sadly, this is not what has been happening in Jersey. Hard-core bullying leading to damaged health and lives of the government employees has been a part of the Jersey Way. together with the omerta principles. What the recent two governments made, was institutionalisation of the practice, and ensuring impunity for the senior bullies through the HR air-cover. It is not just my opinion, but the organisation-wide bullying had been confirmed first by the HR Lounge Report, voiced out loud and clear in the last Be Heard survey and further recognised by the recent two reports concerning Health Department where the extent of bullying is highest across gov.je. The pressure on the CM from the scrutiny is a friendly one, asking her about the processes. Why should one trust the CM on anything given that she consciously lied about the reason for delaying the announcement of the 'resignation'? We will not understand what happened and why things turned so bad so quickly unless we know what happened to the two female executives asked to resign from Health. We need to learn who decided on their abrupt departure (won't accept the story of them getting closer to their families, suddenly falling for an early retirement and similar), releasing them from their contractual notice obligations, why it happened and how much they were paid. Were there any NDAs involved? Was the Chief Executive pushed out in a revenge for the two being sacked and to protect further 'resignations' in the Health Department following the recent reports on bullying and the initial investigation into the anonymous letter from October 2022? How will the CM ensure that the investigations into substantiated allegations of bullying there, get investigated by truly independent investigators in a timely and transparent manner, rather than being brushed under the carpet by friendly, tried and trusted Jersey 'independents'?
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