‘People want me to get the sack’
HAVING been on the receiving end of six anonymous formal complaints in the space of two years, an engineering lecturer is fighting back over what he sees as a ‘threat to democracy and free speech’.
St Sampson’s parishioner John Semenowicz, who works for the College of Further Education’s engineering department, has had the complaints made against him in relation to his social media and email activity.
The latest one was made to his employer following an email he sent to all deputies about the Guernsey Whig Party – a ‘party in waiting’ for which he has set up a Facebook page.
‘The Guernsey Whig Party is an alternative to some of the political views held by deputies Inder, Smithies, Queripel (both), Le Pelley, Meerveld, Leadbeater, Mooney, Kuttelwascher, Ferbrache, Paint, Prow and De Lisle,’ he wrote, highlighting in particular the way some of those deputies had voted on proposals to legalise same-sex marriage.
‘This is not the first time that I’ve been targeted by people who appear to want me sacked,’ he said following the complaint.
‘There have been several attempts to make anonymous complaints against me. This has resulted in some very thorough investigations, all of which have been dismissed with no further actions necessary.’
‘The first one took a long time, it took nearly six months and it did affect how I felt and my behaviour.
‘Once that had gone and the second one came along I wasn’t too concerned. By the third time I was getting used to it and it was dismissed quite quickly. The complaints have all been a lot of tosh, but they have become irritating now.’
‘There’s enough evidence that I am being picked on because I have been outspoken on issues in the past. I am being stepped on by those who think I should not have a voice.’
Mr Semenowicz acknowledged that he had been ‘very vocal’ on several local issues including the end of 11-plus, the 2/3 school model, LGBT rights and same sex marriage.
‘Why should any of these political viewpoints give some people such cause for concern?’
‘Let’s take the same sex marriage decision. I am openly proud of the fact that I supported same sex marriage and would expect any States deputies that were opposed to it to be equally open and proud of their views.’
‘So what are these people frightened of? Am I rattling too many cages? This is not Putin’s Russia or Trump’s America, so why are some people trying to silence me?’
He said he saw no reason to curb his social media activity because of his position at the college.
‘None whatsoever, my work is my work and my interest in local, national and international politics is of my own concern,’ he said.
He is hoping to be a catalyst for debate and free speech through the Guernsey Whig Party, a free membership group which he says stands up ‘for the local Guernseyman and his views’.
‘We have gone through the conception stage where we have created a set of values and no more than a group Facebook page where people can join in the debate,’ he said.
‘It will be up to the Facebook group members to decide if it needs to go further. A lot will depend on how the other parties perform. It may be that the Islander’s Association runs out of steam and comes to nothing, in which case there would be less of a need for the Whigs.
‘We are also waiting to see what materialises from Gavin St Pier’s plans. If a sensible alternative to the Islanders Association, which holds the Whigs values, is formed then this could influence our decisions.
‘In the meantime we will keep banging the drum loudly for the Whig party values and claim the title of being the leaders in mischievous politics.’
In a statement, the College of FE said: ‘Any complaint the college might receive is investigated and dealt with following our complaints procedure. We are unable to comment on any specific individual case.’