Government Chief Executive Charlie Parker was the mystery civil servant who approved an erroneous media statement explaining that the Deputy Chief Minister had given permission for his controversial second job - when in fact he hadn't actually done so - it has now emerged.
After news broke of Mr Parker’s Non-executive Directorship at UK real estate firm New River, the Government released an incorrect official statement saying that the role was “cleared by the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister.”
But it later emerged that the Deputy Chief Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham (pictured top, centre), was not in favour of the second job and had instead expressed "reservations and concerns as to how the appointment might be received among some quarters in Jersey."
After the announcement that Mr Parker had "agreed" to step down over the saga and himself having survived a vote of no confidence, Chief Minister Senator Le Fondré confirmed that neither himself or Senator Farnham had approved the press release and launched an investigation to "find out exactly, blow-by-blow, what happened and when" within the Communications team.
Despite repeated requests from Express, he refused to release the report into the public domain or reveal who was responsible for the blunder, with officials rigidly sticking to the line that the Government would not "comment on matters relating to individual members of staff.”
Pictured: The Government previously repeatedly refused to confirm who issued the erroneous statement.
But a response to a request for the report under the Freedom of Information Law has now shown that the individual who approved the statement providing official justification for his own job at New River, was actually Mr Parker himself.
It read: “The Press Office protocol requires appropriate approval from senior officials and ministers. As there was no ministerial quote in this response to media queries, approval was considered as obtained through the Chief Executive.
“The Chief Executive did call and speak with the Chief Minister, and he spoke to Assistant Chief Minister Buchanan about the NED role. He also called the Deputy Chief Minister but did not get an answer. He spoke to the Deputy Chief Minister on Wednesday morning, though the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister had already spoken about the matter on Tuesday evening.”
It added that Mr Parker “has subsequently acknowledged, in the circumstances, it would have been appropriate to have spoken to Ministers before the statement was shared widely to ensure they were in agreement.”
But the claim that Senator Farnham had approved the New River role when he had not appears not to be the only erroneous statement issued about Mr Parker’s second job.
A response to a Freedom of Information request by Express uncovered a huge log of emails appearing to conflict with a claim from Government that the second job was to be done “in Mr Parker’s own time, at evenings and on weekends” and that it would have “no impact on [his] work as the head of Jersey’s Public Sector.”
The email chains, which are primarily from the months of June and September, show Mr Parker – and a number of staff from the Government’s ‘Office of the Chief Executive’ – working on several matters related to his New River appointment.
Pictured: Emails uncovered by Express showed how Mr Parker's Government email address was used for New River-related matters.
Among the NewRiver-related matters Mr Parker and other Government officials respond to are approvals to a statement announcing his appointment, installing specific software for him, and scheduling a number of meetings.
One message sent by a civil servant from Mr Parker’s account on 9 September suggests mid-week meeting times of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in response to a request for several 30-minute meetings to “give Charlie some background to NewRiver.”
“I am holding all the above in the diary for you with the suggested order if their availability suits… I look forward to hearing from you soon and apologise for not being able to provide a few alternative options but unfortunately due to current commitments his diary doesn’t allow,” the Government employee says.
The correspondence also shows how at least one other Government employee was involved in processing paperwork related to Mr Parker’s NewRiver appointment.
The cache of messages from Mr Parker’s inbox secured by Express also appears to show how Group Director of People and Corporate Services Mark Grimley was called on for communications advice by the Chief Executive.
On Wednesday 28 October, Mr Grimley suggests “tonal changes” to a document Mr Parker appears to be preparing. The attachment is redacted, so the exact statement it relates to remains unclear.
“As a public document – I’d suggest it needs to orientate more to those who get it than those who will never be on side. Its [sic] about being confident of doing the right thing and explaining. You’ve a lot to be proud of,” Mr Grimley wrote.
Pictured: Meetings relating to New River were scheduled mid-week.
No longer appearing to be acting in an advisory capacity, Mr Grimley wrote to Mr Parker the following Thursday to invite him to a meeting with the States Employment Board at Broad Street to “discuss your continued appointment as a Non-Executive Director for New River. Following this meeting, the Board will consider whether to maintain or withdraw their continued consent for this appointment. It is their wish that they hear from you directly before considering this matter.”
Express has contacted the Government for comment on the emails and is still awaiting a reply.
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