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“Shambles” - U-turn over finance portfolio amid Petty Debts concerns

“Shambles” - U-turn over finance portfolio amid Petty Debts concerns

Monday 06 February 2023

“Shambles” - U-turn over finance portfolio amid Petty Debts concerns

Monday 06 February 2023

The Chief Minister has announced she will be taking over responsibility for Financial Services - just days after defending Deputy Philip Ozouf in the role following his third Petty Debts summons in as many months.

External Relations and now former Financial Services Minister Deputy Ozouf was called before the Petty Debts Court last Wednesday (1 February).

The summons came just days after the Chief Minister confirmed in a letter that Deputy Ozouf would be retaining the Financial Services portfolio, despite previous plans to hand this to its former holder, Treasury Minister Deputy Ian Gorst.

Amid calls for Deputy Ozouf to renounce the portfolio over reputational concerns, particularly as the key Moneyval assessment approaches, the Chief Minister backed the Minister, saying that politicians should be “judged on how they perform their official role” rather than their private lives.

However, less than a week later, Deputy Kristina Moore has now said that “Ministers must uphold and be seen to uphold the highest standards in all aspects of their lives”.


Pictured: Deputy Ozouf's listing on this week's Petty Debts hearing schedule.

She wrote to States Members last night, telling them that she had “agreed” to a written request from Deputy Ozouf to give up Financial Services.

Instead, she will be taking the reins along with three other Ministers. 

In a statement sent to States Members late last night, she explained: “[Social Security Minister] Deputy Elaine Millar and [Treasury Minister] Deputy Ian Gorst will be appointed as Assistant Chief Minister’s [sic] with delegated responsibility for Financial Services will join a ministerial group with the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister [Kirsten Morel].” 

She said the move will allow Deputy Ozouf “more time to focus on the important work of External Relations, where he has made a positive impact and has identified a busy agenda of work, which he will continue as the Minister.” 

Deputy Moore continued: “One of the key objectives for my time as Chief Minister is to restore trust and confidence in Government. As part of this, Ministers must uphold and be seen to uphold the highest standards in all aspects of their lives.

“An important part of my role is to always act in Jersey’s best interests. Importantly, this change ensures that we have strong leadership and focused Ministerial teams for both external relations and financial services in this important year for the island.”

Former Deputy Chief Minister and current scrutineer Deputy Lyndon Farnham described the statement on Twitter as “reactive”, adding: “What a shambles.”

One Twitter user replied that it was a “pity” that Deputy Gorst wasn’t given Financial Services from the outset, going on to say: “…Perhaps it's time now to make the change that was promised.”

Another added: “[Deputy Ozouf] should not have been have been handed the Financial Services brief in the first place. A big error by [Deputy Moore] who has misjudged this matter and has shown weakness.”

Deputy Sam Mézec echoed Deputy Farnham's sentiment, describing the situation as an "omnishambles" on Twitter.

On behalf of Reform Jersey, Deputy Mézec later said in a statement: "Our financial services industry is vitally important to Jersey's economic wellbeing and the employment of many thousands of Islanders. This year the industry will be subject to an extremely important assessment from MONEYVAL, and it is essential that we have strong political leadership in place so that every effort is constantly being made to ensure that Jersey complies with all the required international standards on governance and transparency in this industry."

"By U-turning twice in just a few weeks, the Chief Minister has created political instability. Whilst last week she defended Deputy Ozouf after being summonsed to the Petty Debts Court three times in three months, saying that it had no bearing on his political position, she has changed her tune and said that standards in the private lives of ministers now matter. The statement she published this morning does not adequately address these matters and does not address whether there were concerns for Jersey's international reputation arising from this publicity."

"This episode is already likely to have undermined public trust in the government. The Chief Minister must account for these events in an open and transparent manner, to prevent developing further disillusionment."

Deputy Ozouf was summoned to the Petty Debts Court last week after St. Helier-based GP surgery Health Plus Ltd claimed that he had not paid a bill. The case was adjourned for four weeks. 

The Minister had also been summoned in December over an unpaid St. Saviour Parish Rates Bill, and another of £2,500 relating to properties in Trinity - but paid both shortly before the cases reached court.

Follow Express for updates…


CM defends Financial Services Minister after Petty Debts summons

READER LETTER: "Standards and morals have simply disappeared"

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Posted by Dave Mathews on
The CM seems to be treating the Public like Mushrooms.
It was a no-brainer that the Minister of Financial Services could not be seen as unable to pay his bills on time. So why did he not go months ago?
Posted by IanSmith97 on
Are there any grown ups in the so called government? Shambles.
Posted by John Henwood on
There's a salutary lesson here for all politicians, never let personal relationships interfere with political decisions.
Posted by Martin on
I worked for a States Department & under the disciplinary code it WAS a breach to incur an un-payable debt!
Posted by Paul Sanderson on
The Chief Ministers handling of the Ozoouf sitaution has been very poor to say the least. She sho;d have relieved hm of all is Ministerial posts and pushed him to the back benches.
A UK PM would have been hung out to dry, as was almost the case when Sunak did not do the same when confronted withe the Kwarting issue. He rightly argued thathe had to await the decision of the investigation before making he move to sack him.
Our CM didn't have to have an investigation since Ozouf through himself under the bus by appearing no less than 3 times of the Petty Debts list
Posted by Frustrated Islander on
I always have a chuckle when Deputies Mezec and Farnham take the moral high ground.

Nobody wants a return of the previous government and I was very optimistic things would change with Deputy Moore but this is the start of a very slippery slope. Deputy Ozouf has a pretty poor record handling his own finances and should never have been given the job in the first place. I seem to remember that there is a conflict of interest here and may be the decision was made without considering that?
Posted by Mike Pitman on
This will teach her not to appoint her friends to top jobs. It has taught me that I am right to avoid the aptly named Twitter where the likes of Farnham and Mezec go to score points.
Posted by on
I find it amazing that people have got the daggers so quickly for Deputy Ozouf when no one has had anything to say about the previous incarnation of government and the money they have squandered over the past 20 years.

Deputy Ozouf was not in government when the hospital debate was in full swing, Deputy Gorst and Farnham were. Both voted consistently supported the build at Overdale and both supported the spending of taxpayer's money on the compulsory purchase of property before the hospital was even approved. Least we also forget the giving of Cyril Le Marquand house to Dandara to knock down a perfectly good building then rent it back from them when we owned it in the first place!

This was John Le Fondre and the council of ministers at the time which included Kevin Lewis who bypassed an election in St Saviour by standing for constable.

People have short memories of who has destroyed our standard of living over the past 20 years, and it wasn't just deputy Ozouf who was in government at the time. What about Frank Walker, John Le Fondre, Terry Le Sueur, Eddie Noel, the list is endless.

The architects of Jersey's current problems were started in 2005 when our government cherry-picked the Clothier report and implemented a cut down version of ministerial government, Deputy Ozouf was only a small part of a wider cohort of influencers that are still pulling the government strings behind the scenes. Terry Le Sueur told the public of Jersey to "Tighten our belts" as we were about to be hit by GST and massive increases in tax. History has proven that it was in fact the government who needed to tighten its spending, not the public.

Tonight's media has Mr Gorst spewing more nonsense by stating that they're not going to curb the public sector and expect more taxes to pay for it.

So please have a good think about whether the £127 pounds Deputy Ozouf didn't pay for his doctors bill, is relevant to the millions these politicians have cots the taxpaying public over the past 20 years.
Posted by John Henwood on
Sorry 'Private Individual', but if you aren't prepared to stand up and be counted (by identifying yourself) then your views don't carry any weight. Same goes for all anonymous contributors. Wisely, the JEP did away with the pernicious anon correspondents many years ago and they were right to do so.
Posted by Jean Lelliott on
Talking about what people seem to have forgotten, it was Deputy Ozouf who was responsible for bringing in zero ten - still the most damaging piece of legislation ever passed by our Government. It has cost us over £1 billion pounds so far.

We also are not legally required to have a Moneyval assessment. The6 have no legal standing. We are however employing even more civil servants to deal with it.

We have more civil servants per head of capita than just about anywhere in the world and the biggest mess in public services.
Posted by Philip Hudson on
How about if some of these politicians of today, brought some brains to the table.

And how on earth did this fellow ozouf get re-elected to office after the last debacle.
Maybe the electorate need to take a close look at themselves.
Posted by Brendan Flaxman on
Pathetic and inadequate leadership. We had hoped for real change but just got more of the same. I can only suggest that those who bother to vote next time round remember these issues.
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