Questions have erupted through Government over whether the CEO had the correct permission to take on his second role at a UK real estate firm – which it’s now confirmed he won’t be paid for, with the proceeds going to charity instead.
The Government said in a statement earlier this week that Charlie Parker’s Non-Executive Director role at New River was approved by Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondré and his Deputy, Senator Lyndon Farnham.
But Mr Parker’s contract – which was finally released into the public domain following a months-long campaign by Express - states that only the ‘Employer’ can provide written permission.
Express has asked for a copy of this written permission and is yet to receive a response.
Pictured: The relevant section of Mr Parker's contract.
Under the law, the States Employment Board – a panel of three members of the Council of Ministers and two backbench politicians – is officially the employer of all public sector workers in Jersey and is responsible for setting their terms and conditions.
While the Chief Minister is the Chair of the SEB, Senator Farnham is not a member.
But Express understands that, contrary to a Government statement, Senator Farnham may not have even been involved.
When Express approached him at a public meeting on Wednesday, he declined to comment on his involvement but said a statement was due to be issued clarifying his position that evening or the following morning.
Pictured: The Chief Minister (right) and Deputy Chief Minister (left) were said to have sanctioned the role - but doubt has been cast on whether the Deputy was involved at all.
However, the next statement – this time from the Chief Minister - didn’t arrive until nearly 15:30 yesterday afternoon.
It did not make reference to Senator Farnham’s involvement, but instead provided “key details of the steps the Chief Executive has taken to ensure that this position does not conflict with his role as the head of Jersey’s public sector.”
Amid concerns about the level of scrutiny the Chief Minister had put the top civil servant’s role under, the statement also included words of reassurance from the Chief Minister, who emphasised: “…I hold senior civil servants to account and expect the highest standards of integrity and commitment to Jersey throughout the public sector.”
It concluded by announcing: “A further statement will be released later.”
When Express asked for confirmation of the content of the second statement yesterday, a spokesperson said they were unable to confirm anything other than the fact it would be released "tomorrow" (today, 30 October). Express understands that it was held back pending the outcome of a crunch States Employment Board meeting held last night to decide how to handle the controversy.
Pictured: The Government said it would be releasing a further statement today - but could not confirm the content.
The latest statement has done little to stifle growing fury among politicians, Scrutineers and even members of the Council of Ministers, who were not consulted about the decision. For some, it has only added fuel to the fire, with many asking why that detail couldn't have been released at the time of the appointment in September.
Deputy of the Scrutiny Liaison Committee Deputy Kirsten Morel yesterday led calls for Mr Parker to resign from New River on the grounds that there was potential for future conflicts of interest, and that the role was a “distraction” that was already weakening confidence in Government – something the Chief Executive’s contract specifically warns public servants against.
Public Accounts Committee Chair Deputy Inna Gardiner withheld judgment on whether the New River appointment was appropriate, but said she was “surprised” by it, as she pledged to probe the “many questions raised” by it.
“For example, we are told he can undertake the non-executive directorship in his own time, and that it will inform Jersey’s economic recovery from covid-19 through access to a wide range of research into international developments in the retail sector, but I will be keen to learn how that works in practice,” she said.
Pictured: Scrutineers Deputy Kirsten Morel and Inna Gardiner said there are lots of questions to be answered.
“I was also surprised to see reference to Mr Parker’s ‘development of a major infrastructure vehicle for funding the Island’s infrastructure and regeneration plans’, because the Chief Minister stated earlier this year that although the Chief Executive has developed proposals for the future funding of our Island’s infrastructure, details about these proposals have been delayed as a result of the Pandemic. The Chief Executive also told the PAC that this work is not finalised and of course the States Assembly has not seen any such proposals.
"It will be interesting to hear from the Chief Executive.”
And in an extraordinary intervention last night, Children and Housing Minister and Reform Jersey leader Senator Sam Mézec made a public call to the Chief Minister to answer four questions relating to:
“I feel I have a duty to ensure that absolutely everything possible has been done to mitigate (and eliminate) conflicts of interest, and to ensure that the government does not face litigation which could present huge liabilities for the public to pay through their taxes,” he said.
I feel I have a duty to ensure that absolutely everything possible has been done to mitigate (and eliminate) conflicts of interest, and to ensure that the government does not face litigation which could present huge liabilities for the public to pay through their taxes. /2 pic.twitter.com/CgzgEJDD9W— Senator Sam Mézec (@SamMezecJsy) October 29, 2020
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