A former UK Police constable who was responsible for investigating expenses and conduct breaches in the House of Lords has been appointed to independently review complaints about Jersey politicians in a bid to rid the current system of bias.
Paul Kernaghan CBE (pictured) was unanimously recommended by a recruitment Panel to become the States’ first Commissioner for Standards.
Complaints regarding States members’ conduct were previously investigated by the Privileges and Procedures Committee (PPC), but Mr Kernaghan’s appointment will mean that States members are no longer forced to scrutinise the behaviour of their colleagues.
“The States debated this last year and agreed that it was an appropriate way forward to give absolute impartiality, lack of bias and provide an absolute professional service. It’s never satisfactory for States members to pass judgement on their peers so to have someone unbiased and independent will be the right way forward,” Constable Len Norman, Chairman of PPC, told Express.
Pictured: The current PPC will no longer have to investigate the conduct of fellow States members - the new Commissioner will do so, before reporting to PPC with his findings.
Most recently, the PPC were called to investigate Deputy Andrew Lewis. They ruled that he had broken the Code of Conduct for States members, but were not unanimous on how. The appointment of an independent Commissioner for Standards would avoid such a situation arising.
PPC Vice Chairman Constable Deirdre Mezbourian commented: “I am very pleased with the appointment of Mr Kernaghan as Commissioner for Standards. He will in future deal with matters such as that considered recently by PPC about Deputy Andrew Lewis. Having conducted an independent investigation, he would report to PPC with findings and recommendations for their consideration.”
Mr Kernaghan was selected from a total of 25 applicants and five interviewees, and brings with him a wealth of multi-jurisdictional experience. He served in the Ulster Defence regiment for three years before joining the Constabulary in 1978. His Police service culminated in a nine-year stint as Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary. That service earned him a CBE in 2005.
Pictured: Mr Kernaghan previously held the same role within the House of Lords.
His career later took him to the West Bank, Palestine, where he served as Head of Mission for the UE Coordinating Office for Police Support throughout 2009.
A year later, Mr Kernaghan was appointed as the first ever House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, a post he held for six years and during which time he led a high-profile probe into Baroness Warsi. He now serves as the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman for the English and Welsh judiciary.
“It’s excellent that we’ve been able to attract someone of the calibre and experience of Mr Kernaghan, particularly as he was the Commissioner for Standards in the House of Lords so he’s got knowledge which will be very difficult to replicate,” Constable Norman added.
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