‘St Pier should go over government in secret email’

A CALL has been made for Policy & Resources president Gavin St Pier to consider his position after an email revealed a favoured bloc has emerged in the States.

(Picture by Peter Frankland, 21911808)
(Picture by Peter Frankland, 21911808)

In it, Deputy St Pier invited just 20 of the 40 members to meet to discuss this month’s agenda and ‘perhaps plan a little ahead’.

‘The next States’ meeting has much on the agenda and plenty of opportunities for mischief to be made!’ wrote Deputy St Pier.

The message came to light after Peter Ferbrache, who was not included, then received it in error.

Deputy St Pier invited recipients to meet ‘to compare notes and perhaps plan a little ahead’ on Friday at Jimmy’s Cafe at St James.

It was not long before other States members found out about the message.

Among them was Carl Meerveld, one of the founders of the Islanders Association.

‘I personally think Deputy St Pier should consider his position,’ he said.

‘I expect a chief minister to be a person who is bringing people together and trying to break down walls and barriers between members and encourage more cohesive working.’

Groups such as the Charter 2018 and Islanders Association had been accused of being divisive.

‘But at least we have been doing things in the open, inviting the full participation of the electorate, whereas it’s apparent that Deputy St Pier is doing this secretly behind closed doors,’ said Deputy Meerveld.

After learning of the email, Neil Inder posted a long message on his personal Facebook page in which he quoted Deputy St Pier’s own words at a Chamber lunch where he spoke of the need for a ‘new form of government’.

‘I think it was in the same speech that he mentioned the “febrile and toxic” nature of Guernsey politics,’ wrote Deputy Inder.

‘I ask you members of the public: is this the kind of leadership that the island deserves; a back door executive government lead by a deputy who by covert actions invites 21 deputies to a private meeting for the sole intention of identifying “opportunities for mischief”?

‘It is time we had a different kind of leadership, either now or in 2020. This structure of government is not working; it is populated by some of the most Machiavellian characters I have ever come across.’

Deputy Ferbrache said the email was intended for 20 deputies and excluded 17 others plus the two Alderney representatives.

‘The clear inference is that “we”, the missing 19, cannot be trusted and may act mischievously,’ said Deputy Ferbrache.

This, he added, seems to be ‘government in secret’.

‘I do not understand that approach as I only can act in a direct manner.

‘On the face of it that is not Deputy St Pier’s approach.’

He said this made him wonder if there had been other examples of this conduct.

‘I invite an open and unequivocal response from him on this.

‘On the face of it and without a clear explanation, Deputy St Pier’s position as our senior politician has been seriously undermined.’

A copy of the email chain that was begun by Deputy St Pier’s message was seen later by the Guernsey Press, and it appeared that at least one of the recipients invited to Friday’s meeting thought it would be helpful for all members to attend ‘not a selected few who may or may not have the opportunity to meet on Friday’.

This comment came from Deputy Jennifer Merrett in response to a suggestion from Deputy Emilie Yerby that it would be helpful to have a briefing/workshop for members of the air transport licensing policy letter ahead of that debate.

Environment & Infrastructure president Barry Brehaut said that if Deputy Ferbrache had any issues with Deputy St Pier’s message the place to raise it would have been in the States members’ email chain.

There had been voting patterns noted in recent months among members who identify as members of either Charter 2018 or the Islanders Association, he said.

‘For Deputy St Pier to get a barometer from a different group of States members is not such a bad thing,’ said Deputy Brehaut.

The email chain was sent to the media and all members by Deputy Meerveld, saying that Deputy Ferbrache would have done so but had experienced ‘technical difficulties’.

That led to a further message from Deputy Lyndon Trott.

‘Are you able to advise for how long Peter has been experiencing these technical difficulties? And indeed how often he requires your assistance in ensuring all members are kept properly informed?’ he wrote.

‘I ask, because I do not recall receiving an invitation to attend any of the association’s coffee mornings and wandered [sic] whether it was his oversight, or yours.

‘I do hope, that you do not consider that I am making mischief, because in some quarters such bewildering hypocrisy is viewed accordingly.’

This prompted a response from Deputy Meerveld, who said this was the first time he had helped Deputy Ferbrache, who had had issues with his States iPad.

‘Regarding Islanders Association meetings; every meeting we have held has been publicly advertised and open to all-comers, and I explicitly invited you to attend on more than one occasion,’ he said.

‘As the association is such a significant development in local politics, I am disappointed that you have never bothered to attend.’

He added that the breakfast meetings were Charter 2018 gatherings, but neither he nor Deputy Ferbrache was involved in organising those and so he did not know if Deputy Trott had been invited.

‘I hope that in light of the explanation you will withdraw the implied accusation of Peter and I being hypocritical,’ concluded Deputy Meerveld’s email.

BLOB Efforts to contact Deputy St Pier were unsuccessful ahead of the newspaper going to print.

The 20 deputies who received the invitation from Deputy St Pier to Friday’s meeting were Charles Parkinson, Michelle Le Clerc, Lyndon Trott, Jonathan Le Tocq, Jane Stephens, Barry Brehaut, Richard Graham, Matt Fallaize, Mark Dorey, Shane Langlois, Jennifer Merrett, Lindsay De Sausmarez, Chris Green, Peter Roffey, Rihian Tooley, Dawn Tindall, Sarah Hansmann Rouxel, Heidi Soulsby, Victoria Oliver and Al Brouard.

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