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Chief Scrutineer calls for release of more pandemic meeting minutes

Chief Scrutineer calls for release of more pandemic meeting minutes

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Chief Scrutineer calls for release of more pandemic meeting minutes


The island’s Chief Scrutineer is urging the Chief Minister to release the minutes of more meetings in which the Government decided on its pandemic response, including reports of Council of Ministers and Emergencies Council meetings.

Senator Kristina Moore’s letter is the latest in the war of words with Senator John Le Fondré which broke out on 22 December with the publication of a deeply critical letter alleging “mismanagement of the pandemic."

The Chief Scrutineer had written to the Chief Minister on behalf of the Scrutiny Liaison Committee – which brings together the chairs of all five Scrutiny Panels - urging him to act “immediately, decisively and unambiguously”. 

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Pictured: Senator Kristina Moore first wrote to the Chief Minister in December.

The Chief Minister publicly rubbished the letter as a purely politically motivated attack during a press conference, with the Health Minister describing it as an abuse of the Scrutiny process, and a "risk to the island." 

Senator Le Fondré then wrote to Senator Moore on 7 January, rejecting the view the pandemic had been mismanaged, instead saying that “the Government, the public service, the Assembly, and of course the community, has responded admirably to this crisis."

His letter then goes on to address a number of the points raised in Senator Moore’s letter - including delays in making face masks mandatory, ‘rapid’ escalation of measures and the Government’s Covid-19 Winter Strategy.

“As we have publicly said, the role of scrutiny is strengthened when it engages constructively, forensically, and based on the available facts rather than opinion. We hope the below helps in that regard,” Senator Le Fondré wrote, prompting Senator Moore to request the publication of more minutes.

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Pictured: Senator Moore has asked the Chief Minister to explain why the minutes of several important meetings have not been released. 

“A fundamental challenge that Scrutiny Panels and the wider community have faced throughout the pandemic response is appropriate and timely access to Government held information, and more specifically the communication of that information, as we have expressed to you on number of occasions,” she wrote. 

As an example of the challenge, Senator Moore cited the “high-profile example of a backlog of unpublished STAC minutes”, which she said remains “unsatisfactorily resolved."

Politicians voted in favour of making the scientific advice underpinning key decisions – like the move between levels of lockdown – more transparent back in July last year following a proposal by Deputy Kevin Pamplin.

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Pictured: The publication of the STAC minutes was delayed by four months.

While the Government was due to publish the details of the STAC meetings by 2 August, it wasn’t until mid-December that meeting minutes up to September 2020 were released

Senator Moore asked the Chief Minister to explain why no minutes for the Council of Ministers, Emergencies Council and Competent Authorities meetings had been published on the Government website. 

She added that even Scrutiny Panels were only given access to agendas and papers from the Emergencies Council and Competent Authorities but not minutes.

She also called for the Chief Minister to “remedy these matters with immediate effect."

Minutes of Council of Ministers meetings now appear on the Government website, but many of the documents contain little more than details of attendees, with most items not on the publicly viewable agenda.

Since Senator Moore's letter was sent yesterday, minutes of more than a dozen STAC meetings have since been made public. Express has analysed them to bring you the headlines today.

READ MORE about the STAC minutes...

Government didn’t seek scientific advice on initial Christmas guidance 

Scientific advisers raised concerns weeks ahead of care home covid spike

STAC: More tests does not mean more people being tested” 

Revealed: Ministers' bid to reopen hospitality in December

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