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Do you trust politicians to behave appropriately?

Do you trust politicians to behave appropriately?

Thursday 28 September 2023

Do you trust politicians to behave appropriately?

Thursday 28 September 2023

A backbencher who recently came under scrutiny for her conduct is pushing for a revamp of the standards which outline how politicians should behave – "to rebuild the trust" that islanders have lost in the States Assembly.

Deputy Moz Scott particularly hopes that updating the Code of Conduct would “address behaviour that might reasonably be regarded as harassment, bullying or intimidation by any States Member”.

Her proposition, which is due to face a vote next month, has been published just weeks after Commissioner for Standards Dr Melissa McCullough found that Deputy Scott breached the Code of Conduct for elected officials.

The complaint against Deputy Scott alleged that she used "inappropriate language" toward Deputy Max Andrews – where she told him to "f*** off" – in November 2022 over the telephone and over Microsoft Teams in February 2023. She was later asked to apologise to Deputy Andrews.

Deputy Andrews – who used to sit on the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel with Deputy Scott before he resigned in March – was also referred to the Commissioner for what were described as "discourteous communications to her and about her; and violation of her personal boundaries", which involved compliments that she looked "stunning", and occasions in which he gave her expensive gifts, in addition to a heated exchange on Liberation Day when he was reported to have called her a "silly cow".

He was eventually censured after a debate in the States, after the Commissioner also found him to have breached three articles of the Code of Conduct. Deputy Andrews spoke to Express about the toll on his mental health.

Now, Deputy Scott is seeking to change how States Members' behaviour is regulated. In her report, she referred to the 2022 Lifestyle and Opinions Survey, where the States Assembly was "the least trusted of all public bodies".

There are five parts to her proposition, lodged this week and due to be debated on 17 October.

Moz Scott 850x500.jpg

Pictured: The St Brelade politician was first elected in June 2022.

However, the "main thrust" of it asks that "professional standards detailed within the Code of Conduct for elected Members should be revised to better align with best ethical standards and practice in professional organisations outside the States Assembly and civil service."

She said: "The Assembly need to be held to account to the highest ethical standards of conduct and that this should be reflected in the Standing Orders of the Assembly."

"This specifically refers to the best standards of practise in professional organisations, seeking to improve the existing provision by reviewing those standards applied in organisations outside of parliament or the civil service."

Deputy Scott is also looking to establish an "independent third party" to "offer informal rulings and advice on conduct issues before matters are formally referred to the Commissioner for Standards".

Listen: Express spoke to Deputy Max Andrews for the Bailiwick Podcast after he was officially reprimanded for his behaviour.

She explained: "But not every disagreement needs such assessment – which comes with its burdens of cost and time, along with negative publicity and negative impact on mental health. Where Members may need advice, or opinion, there should be someone independent to whom they can turn."

Remaining sections of the proposition request that the Privileges and Procedures Committee "produce a body of guidelines and training materials for States Members regarding interpretation of the Code of Conduct and guidelines on how to support and respond to formal claims regarding conduct with objective evidence".

She has also requested that this training is mandatory.

Deputy Scott hopes the changes will be brought to the States for debate by June 2025.


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