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Did Gov CEO have correct permission for second job?

Did Gov CEO have correct permission for second job?

Friday 30 October 2020

Did Gov CEO have correct permission for second job?


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.

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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.

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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.”

It confirmed:

  • The position will see Mr Parker attend four half-day board meetings and a strategy day (a total of three days), which will be taken as annual leave, and be involved in half-year and full-year results meetings, which he will prepare for in his “own time at evenings and on weekends.”
  • New River has “no operational business interests in Jersey” and, if that were to change, Mr Parker has agreed to discuss a resolution to any potential conflict of interest with the Chief Minister. “The Chief Executive made clear to New River that he could not take up the post if any operational interests in Jersey existed,” a statement added.
  • Mr Parker “had already agreed with New River that he does not wish to receive a salary” and will instead take part in the “salary sacrifice scheme” and donate his fee to a range of charities instead, including “some in Jersey.” 

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.

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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. 

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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:

  • who was involved in the decision and whether the States Employment Board was consulted;
  • what legal advice was sought;
  • what consideration has been given to future liabilities if a conflict of interest is realised or if a perception of one impacts on the Government’s commercial decisions;
  • and whether any other senior members of the executive leadership of the Government hold comparable additional business roles.

“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.

Follow Express for updates...

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Comments

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Posted by Paul Troalic on
As far as I am aware, persons in high profile positions normally take directorships AFTER they have ceased employment. Not whilst they are employed.
The reference in Mr Parker's contract is the same condition that every civil servant signs. I did. It was to prevent employees doing anything in their private life that could reflect badly of bring their job into disrepute.
When psy was less than it is today certain civil servants needed to have second jobs eg barman, doorman, accounts preoarer fir sports clubs are just examples that spring to mind.
All these jobs needed the permission of their employer.
I'm not sure why it should be any different fir this individual.
Clearly there could be a conflict of interest and the possibility that something urgent may require his immediate attention whilst he is employed by the States.
My opinion is that he must make the choice which job he wants and forget other outside influences. I would sooner he goes.
As far as the CM is concerned if no one brings a vote of no confidence then he should have the courtesy to resign immediately.
This whole saga is unacceptable.
Posted by David Kingham on
In the Commercial world Mr Parker would need to decide what role he wishes to stay in or indeed respectively resign his from one of these posts. It is without question a Conflict of Interest to the States roles and how can I it be proved that he carries out his new position as non exec director in his Own Time, would have thought the CEO Position is a 24/7, obviously not being pad enough at £250k to justify this commitment
Posted by George Baird on
As a former Treasurer of the States of Jersey , I find it absolutely incredulous that Mr Parker even contemplated taking on this non executive appointment at a time when the island of Jersey is going through what may be its biggest economic challenge in its history. Under no circumstances should he have been given permission to take up this post when he should be dedicating 100% of his time to what should be one of the highest profile jobs in Jersey. In my humble opinion he should resign from the non executive appointment immediately and that is the view of many senior ministers of the Government of Jersey.
Posted by Austin Marsh on
I don’t see the problem he works two jobs that are well paid I say fair play to Charlie Parker he’s not done nothing wrong
Posted by nigel pearce on
Those I have spoken to are of the opinion that he should resign from one of these jobs. Unanimously, they all think it should be the civil service job he should resign from.
Posted by Anna W on
So we’re supposed to believe that Charlie Parker is taking on this unpaid directorship out the goodness of his heart?!
Posted by Peter Huntingdon Bewers on
With regard to the Charlie Parker saga, I am a little unclear as I am sure others were as to the consent that was given to our Chief Civil Servant by possibly The Chief Minister and Asssistant Chief Minister Lydon Farnham and then as an after thought when it became public knowledge withdrawn , this is something that is unclear , and it looks if we ' The Public ' will never know , I do believe that the Appointment that Charlie Parker held was well paid and Full Time , no other appointments paid or otherwise should have been taken , Civil Servants should be 100 % to their special employment. I do however feel that he has done a good job that sadly remains only partly completed and that constant changes in our top Civil Servant Appointments are not good for the Island.
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