The Chair of a panel responsible for scrutinising the work of the island's top civil servant has said it’s important that politicians have a “constructive” relationship with the new Government Chief Executive.
Public Accounts Committee Chair Deputy Inna Gardiner’s comments followed a row over outgoing CEO Charlie Parker's refusal to be grilled publicly one last time on "outstanding matters" before he leaves, revealed by Express last week.
She asked Charlie Parker to appear before her panel to answer questions on the Government’s spend on consultants and IT projects, among other items, before his departure date of 31 March.
When he refused, she asked that he reconsider in a letter sent last Monday. In it, Deputy Gardiner noted that a press release about the hearing would reference his lack of attendance if he did not change his mind within the next 24 hours.
Responding a day later to tell her that he had existing commitments and annual leave booked, Mr Parker accused Deputy Gardiner of threatening him and warned that he was minded to make an official complaint against her.
He also questioned whether Deputy Gardiner was suggesting civil servants shouldn’t take holidays and asked which of his appointments, which included a meeting with Guernsey politicians, she deemed “not important."
A “shocked and disturbed” Deputy Gardiner then wrote to the Chief Minister – who is Chair of the States Employment Board, Mr Parker’s official employer – to remind him that the top civil servant must answer to her committee under the Public Finances Law.
Pictured: Deputy Gardiner told the Chief Minister - as Mr Parker's employer - that it was important a Chief Executive "recognised and understood" their responsibilities.
Senator John Le Fondré’s reply is yet to be made public, and he is also yet to reply to a request for comment from Express.
Deputy Gardiner has since explained that her panel is keen to draw a line under what happened.
“I am disappointed with the tone of the Chief Executive's letter but I have left it in the hands of the Chief Minister because as Chair of the PAC my primary responsibility is to the islanders of Jersey and it is important that we set the tone for a constructive 'critical friend' relationship with his successor,” she said.
“To this end I have already had an informal and very constructive meeting with Paul Martin.”
Pictured: The PAC Chair said she had already had a "constructive" meeting with the incoming Interim CEO, Paul Martin.
Mr Parker, who was originally due to remain in Jersey for at least five years, agreed to step down early in November in the wake of a row over his second job. Express understands that Mr Parker’s final day in the office was Wednesday 17 March, with the final weeks of the month being taken as annual leave.
Mr Martin, who was previously Chief Executive of the London Boroughs of Wandsworth and Richmond, will officially take over as Interim CEO on 1 April.
In the absence of Mr Parker, a public hearing on consultant and digital spend will still be going ahead on 29 March with the Government's Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer, and the public are being invited to submit questions.
Parker threatens politician with conduct complaint over meeting invite - Read the story to see the full set of email correspondence
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