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Committee no longer wants Deputy behaviour debate to be held in secret

Committee no longer wants Deputy behaviour debate to be held in secret

Thursday 07 September 2023

Committee no longer wants Deputy behaviour debate to be held in secret

Thursday 07 September 2023


The Committee proposing that a politician who called a colleague a "silly cow" should face an official slap on the wrist are no longer suggesting that the debate be held in secret – after the Deputy at the heart of the drama said he'd rather his behaviour be discussed publicly.

Deputy Max Andrews is the subject of a ‘vote of censure’ debate due to take place in the first meeting of the States Assembly following the summer break next Tuesday.

It came after two reports published by the parliamentary behaviour watchdog shed light on a toxic spat between the St. Helier North representative and St. Brelade Deputy Moz Scott. 

Deputy Andrews' behaviour included "discourteous communications" and "violation" of Deputy Scott's "personal boundaries", which involved compliments that she looked "stunning", occasions in which he gifted her an "inordinately expensive" box of chocolates, Chanel perfume and bath oil, in addition to a heated exchange on Liberation Day when he was reported to have called her a "silly cow".

It also emerged that he had compiled a document about his colleague called 'Notes on Moz'.

The Privileges and Procedures Committee (PPC) - the panel of politicians behind the proposed vote of censure - had originally planned to ask for the debate to be held 'in camera', which means that it would not be open to the public or reportable.

But that move was met with backlash from both the public and some States Members – including Deputy Andrews, who apologised publicly last week and tweeted yesterday that he did not agree with the approach.

"I sent a statement of apology to States members on Friday evening. I will also be making a statement of apology in the States Assembly on the 12th of September too. The vote of censure needs to be in the public domain & not behind closed doors," he said, adding the hashtags "#transparency" and "#accountability".

In an email shared with the media, Deputy Montfort Tadier also wrote to Constable Shenton-Stone to "strongly object" to the debate being held in private, adding that he "may consider a vote of no confidence in PPC" if the motion to hold the debate 'in camera' was moved. 

He explained: "Whilst there are no doubt considerations in favour of your proposal, these should be heavily outweighed by the fact that justice needs to be done and seen to be done.

"A censure motion is relatively serious, and the public deserves to hear the rationale for those wishing to censure another member, or not."

Following "urgent discussions noting concerns raised by Members", PPC Chair Shenton-Stone confirmed to Express this morning that her Committee would no longer be asking the Assembly to hold the debate in private.

Karen-Shenton-Stone2.jpg

Pictured: PPC Chair Karen Shenton-Stone intially wrote to States members asking for the debate to be held 'in camera', but changed her mind following "urgent discussions noting concerns raised by members".

"The sensitivities around the case still remain, but it is up to another member to prose an 'in camera' debate if they wish," she said.

Constable Shenton-Stone explained that the PPC had initially proposed holding the debate in private due to the committee being privy to "a plethora of sensitive, confidential and wholly unverified information" related to the case which was not in the public domain.

"We want to be as transparent as possible," she added.

However, it is still possible that another States Member could request that the debate be held in private, and that request be approved by the States Assembly.

While the Commissioner for Standards also found that Deputy Scott had breached the States Members' code of conduct by using "inappropriate language" and telling Deputy Andrews to "f*** off", PPC felt that a written apology would suffice in her case. Deputy Scott is not facing a vote of censure.

READ MORE...

Under-fire politician says behaviour debate shouldn't be "behind closed doors"

INSIGHT: Swearing, name-calling, and "inappropriate" Chanel gifting... reports shed light on toxic political spat

Debate over official reprimand for Deputy could be held behind closed doors

OPINION: "I hope the warring deputies end their spat and return more committed"

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