Guernsey's Chief Minister has warned that those who have "defamed" him in recent months over his handling of a bid to woo the British and Irish Lions for a training camp on the island can expect to receive a court summons very soon.
Deputy Peter Ferbrache made the comments during a debate on whether to boot Deputy Chris Le Tissier out of the island's parliament for 12 months over his trolling of an Occupation historian using an anonymous Twitter account.
Despite voting for Deputy Le Tissier’s year-long suspension “with a heavy heart”, Deputy Ferbrache took exception to the disgraced politician's treatment by others on social media.
Pictured: Deputy Ferbrache was speaking during a debate about whether to suspend political troll Deputy Chris Le Tissier.
“The fact that he had to listen to, read, and adhere to the attack on social media is awful,” said Deputy Ferbrache.
“Social media is more often than not an ill; it is written by cowards; it is written by people who don’t have the courage to stand up and come speak to your face.”
To hammer home the point, Deputy Ferbrache launched into an attack on those who have allegedly defamed him during his time as Guernsey's senior politician.
Deputy Ferbrache then referred to two others who submitted official complaints to the Code of Conduct Panel - the island's behaviour watchdog for its politicians - regarding his handling of ‘Gatland-gate’ - a controversy centring around the way in which rugby coach Warren Gatland's visit was communicated to the public.
The original press statement on the Easter weekend said that Mr Gatland had room service deliver meals to him in his hotel suite throughout his two-day stay.
Following further questions, this was shown to be false, as Mr Gatland ate with Chief Minister Peter Ferbrache, States CEO Paul Whitfield and Public Health Director Nicola Brink before being invited to a private dinner with "a small group of people" at the hotel he was staying at.
Deputy Peter Ferbrache - who was angered by suggestions that he had been "dishonest" - said he was "well aware how the visit has divided the community" in the context of covid-19 restrictions. Amid community uproar, the British and Irish Lions ended up selecting Jersey as their preferred destination for a training camp.
Pictured: Despite Guernsey's bid to woo him, Warren Gatland opted for Jersey for the British and Irish Lions training camp.
“Two complainants alleged I was dishonest in remarks I made concerning the Warren Gatland situation,” he said.
“They were openly and avowedly supporters of [former Chief Minister] Deputy Gavin St Pier, and they made these complaints on a politically motivated basis.
“They will in due course receive a summons from me in the Civil Courts for defamation,” he announced.
Deputy Ferbrache continued, slamming social media commentators.
“We have complainants who are allowed to say what they like in the absence of the person. That is contrary to any kind of precept of natural justice and should be changed forthwith,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Ferbrache called out two members of the original Code of Conduct Panel by name for agreeing to oversee the complaints made against Deputy Le Tissier, questioning their links to and support of his Chief Minister rival, Deputy St Pier. Neither of them had a right to reply during the States debate.
Pictured: Deputy Ferbrache suggested his critics had links to former Chief Minister Gavin St Pier.
Deputy St Pier took issue with the threat of legal action, suggesting it could put people off being politically engaged.
“[A code of conduct complaint] is the best and only process the public have – it’s the only process we can show to them that gives them some kind of confidence that they have some recourse against the behaviours we display," he said.
“We should endorse the right of the public to use that process and I think that threats of judicial review and civil action are not helpful in reinforcing to the public that they have rights to challenge us."
Another former Chief Minister, Deputy Lyndon Trott, also stepped up to denounce the threat of legal action.
Pictured: "My advice to him [Deputy Ferbrache] is that you need to grow up and leave that alone. There's a good chap," advised Deputy Trott.
"It would be ridiculous for a Chief Minister to risk potentially damaging Guernsey or the reputation of the States and the island by bringing a defamation case against someone who'd made a code of conduct complaint against him [Deputy Ferbrache]," he said.
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