Email to deputies is condemned as ‘bile’
AN EMAIL in which the author hoped several named deputies would have short lives and threatened them and their families with being spied on, has been condemned by politicians and islanders.
Policy & Resources president Gavin St Pier said the message was ‘bile’. It was referred to the police, but no further action has been taken.
The newsletter was sent to a mailing list by political observer Matt Waterman on New Year’s Eve and in it he named the 23 deputies who had voted in favour of assumed consent organ donation.
His message wished them ‘the worst and unhappiest year they have ever had’ and he hoped ‘that any subsequent years they may have on this planet are 1) not very numerous and 2) get progressively worse for them’.
He said that while this might sound ‘bitter and twisted then I’d say it’s not as bitter and twisted as declaring someone dead and taking their organs without given them any opportunity to do anything other than agree or register with a corrupted entity in a foreign country’.
Mr Waterman, who works as a milk retailer, said the decision ‘was the removal of a fundamental human right’. ‘Some of us will be meeting to discuss the idea of funding private detectives to put the members of the 23 – and members of their families – under surveillance from time to time with the intent to use any evidence of inappropriate behaviour in public as and when we see fit.’
The message was made public in a tweet by Deputy St Pier, responding to ITN journalist Alastair Stewart who had tweeted following the abuse hurled at Conservative MP Anna Soubry during a TV interview on Monday.
Deputy St Pier said local politicians also received abuse: ‘Sadly, even in beautiful Guernsey, some members of our community think calling for the early deaths of elected representatives is legitimate comment,’ he wrote.
‘This bile is unacceptable; it mustn’t be tolerated; it cannot be ignored; it must be called out by democrats.’
The vast majority of subsequent comments also condemned the email.
One person asked if the message had been passed on to police: ‘Yes,’ replied Deputy St Pier. 'But (of course) it is not acceptable to most just because it does not (yet) cross a threshold for criminal liability.’
Other deputies echoed Deputy St Pier’s response: ‘Once somebody starts bringing my family into their anger as this clearly does, that sort of behaviour is not acceptable under any circumstance,’ wrote Home Affairs president Mary Lowe.
Environment and Infrastructure president Barry Brehaut said that members of the past Environment Department were ‘inundated with vile online abusive comments and threats ‘during the last term and E&I members have been too recently.
‘It’s appalling, it’s not new, it’s wrong, and it has to stop,’ he wrote.
States Assembly and Constitution Committee president Neil Inder posted the longest response on his Facebook page.
He said he had been harangued by people before: ‘But none of them wished my early death nor in a rather sinister way suggested that a group were going to get some private dicks to trail me.’
While not taking the threat seriously he said it needed to be called out for what it was: ‘A nasty and unnecessary act of intimidation by an individual or individuals and as a member of the Assembly the President of the States Assembly and Constitution Committee we all have a duty to push back against this kind of behaviour.’
A spokesman for Guernsey Police said the letter was shared with them before it was made public: ‘We have reviewed its content and in this instance it did not require further police action.
‘We would remind people that freedom of speech is not a mechanism for allowing threatening or abusive language to be directed at others – and if a line is crossed, Law Enforcement will take action against those behind the communications.’
Following the reaction to his email, Mr Waterman issued an 870-word statement: ‘Given the old adage “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”, I ask who is throwing the sticks and stones and who is simply throwing the words around, exactly?’ it said.
He said that people had the absolute right to communicate with deputies in any lawful manner they chose: ‘Whether we are right to exercise that right at any given moment is a slightly different matter, and a matter of opinion, but it is sad to see Gavin St Pier indicating that he would support the criminalisation of the sort of email he refers to, and in the name of democracy too.
As for the issue of assumed consent on organ donation: ‘My silence is not theirs to take as consent, and my organs are not theirs to take.
‘Their decision to write these acts into legislation were gross infringements of personal and human rights and as a result of these decisions, combined with the fact that we have no constitution, the “rules of engagement” with them, so to speak, have changed. Hence the nature of my recent email.
Below is Mr Waterman’s full statement:
Matt Waterman's response in full.
'I seem to have touched a nerve or two here.
I’m not as convinced as the deputies are that they were legitimately elected. After all, some members of the community were offered (and some received) state assistance when it came to learning how to run for election whilst others were not. But if they were democratically elected then why is it apparently necessary to remind some of them once again that it is the public who employee the deputies, not the other way around. If an employee of a company posted the sort of tweet about his employer which Gavin St Pier has posted about my email of 31st January he may have been fired for insubordination. https://twitter.com/gavinstpier/status/1082722012915793930
We, the public have the absolute right to communicate with deputies in any lawful manner which we choose. Whether we are right to exercise that right at any given moment is a slightly different matter, and a matter of opinion, but it is sad to see Gavin St Pier indicating that he would support the criminalisation of the sort of email he refers to, and in the name of democracy too! It’s also disappointing that Gavin’s postings do not, from what I have seen, include any reference to a subsequent email which I sent to the deputies expanding upon what was written in the email which he has posted on twitter.
Politics is all about timing and the timing and nature of Gavin’s reaction is interesting, (I suggest that the Anna Soubry case could be related). Deputies have received, as have I and many others who are “politically active” more aggressive communications than this one, usually anonymously, in the past.
I expect Gavin and others in the UK to make political capital out of this sort of thing for wider purposes –ie reducing the power of people to object to the state view. I would rather we stuck to the point about the organ donation decision. I am in the process of drafting a letter to the Guernsey Press on the matter (which is at the heart of this), but before I can do that I need to have a look at what is in my inbox, and I have been without my computer for 3 days. I only picked it up at lunchtime today and it doesn’t appear to have been fixed either, so the letter is not imminent, unfortunately.
As a quick and instinctive aside, if Gavin St Pier thinks that shortening people’s natural lives (and I enlarge on this particular comment in the subsequent email which Gavin has chosen not to refer to) is so bad, then why did he propose to introduce euthanasia?
As far as I am concerned if West Bromwich Albion score with a handball against Leeds United then Leeds United should have no qualms about equalising in the same manner. If some States members think that my email was in whole or part too personal, aggressive, offensive etc and “over the line” then they should consider the fact that they set that particular ball rolling. My silence is not theirs to take as consent, and my organs are not theirs to take. Their decision to write these acts into legislation were gross infringements of personal and human rights and as a result of these decisions, combined with the fact that we have no constitution, the “rules of engagement” with them, so to speak, have changed. Hence the nature of my recent email.
Given the old adage “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”, I ask who is throwing the sticks and stones and who is simply throwing the words around, exactly?
As I have previously explained, the States could have achieved their objective of making organs more easily available without an opt out scheme or writing “deemed consent” into the lawbook. They have apparently compounded this awful behaviour by not adequately considering how anyone wanting to opt out of organ donation can do so. After the organ donation debate, when I raised the matter of how to opt out with the deputies, I was receiving emails from them like “how to opt out is indeed the next question”. Incredible! It transpires that the only way to do this is to register a wish with the NHS which is an organisation which is totally unaccountable to the people of Guernsey. Furthermore, I believe, for reasons which are mostly included here https://www.ukcolumn.org/article/nhs-common-purpose-towards-million-change-agents that the NHS has been sabotaged, corrupted, is unreliable and is doomed to fail.
Locate Guernsey, which claims to be a point of contact within local Government states that “The healthcare system in Guernsey is different to [sic] that of the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK.” So why have the 23 deputies decided to force me to either give up my organs to complete strangers at their discretion, or alternatively register my contrary intent with the NHS which is an organisation which is not accountable to me and which I have every right not to trust?
Neither of those will happen. So as I matter of public record I state again that the destiny of my organs will be written into my will and if anyone acts contrary to that, I will leave very clear instructions with my estate to sue those responsible.
Thanks you for your time.'