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Politicians could be jailed for ‘leaking’ documents

Thursday 14 September 2017

Politicians could be jailed for ‘leaking’ documents

Politicians found guilty of ‘leaking’ documents could face up to six months’ imprisonment, if new suggestions are adopted.

The recommendation comes as part of a £24,000 review conducted by Sir Malcolm Jack, a former Clerk of the House of Commons and author of the 'definitive guide' to parliamentary procedure.

He was tasked with assessing ‘parliamentary privilege’, as well as the punishments that should be given to States Members for breaching such privilege.

Under Sir Malcolm’s proposals, the States Assembly would be given the power to suspend or expel Members entirely without pay. “Expulsion would be an extreme measure taken only after debate and vote by the States following unacceptable behaviour by a Member,” Sir Malcolm wrote.

Politicians found to have interfered with witnesses to committee panels or inquiries spend up to six months in jail for their wrongdoing.


Pictured: Sir Malcolm's report recommended imprisonment for politicians found guilty of some offences.

The same prison sentence could also be handed to those found guilty of disclosing documents or evidence without permission.

Those found to have falsified documents, meanwhile, could spend up to three years in a cell, as well as receiving a fine.

But the gravest prison sentence was reserved for those found to have obstructed the proceedings of the Assembly or a committee or panel. Actions such as refusing to appear when called to give evidence could cause them to be jailed for up to five years or fined.

Sir Malcolm’s recommendations come following numerous discussions in the States Chamber over the nature of parliamentary privilege after it was revealed following the Care Inquiry that politicians enjoyed the same criminal immunity when speaking before the Panel as they did whilst at a States sitting.

independent jersey care inquiry

Pictured: It was revealed in July that politicians giving evidence at the Care Inquiry were immune from prosecution.

The subject of parliamentary leaking also reared its head this week during a debate into whether Deputy Andrew Lewis should be officially reprimanded over comments he made during a States Assembly meeting that was held in private nearly a decade ago.

The transcript of that meeting was kept under lock and key by the States Greffe, with States Members the only people able to access them, but it somehow found its way into the public domain. 

Speaking on Tuesday, Constable Chris Taylor suggested that the politician responsible for the leak could be responsible themselves for breaching the States’ Code of Conduct.

The Privileges and Procedures Committee are now  asking for views on Sir Malcolm’s paper before deciding on how to progress his suggestions.



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Posted by Thomas Hunter on
It is hard enough getting any information from the States, the chance of a 6 month prison sentence would close down inside information completely
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