GFSC director seeks judicial review over police complaint
THE director of the financial regulator’s enforcement division is seeking a judicial review of decisions made by the Guernsey Police Complaint’s Commission and the Committee for Home Affairs.
Simon Gaudion wants to know the circumstances that led to a police investigation being conducted against him and his employer, the Guernsey Financial Services Commission, and the reasons why complaints he made against two senior police officers, including a former chief officer, were dismissed without explanation.
In August 2015, the GFSC imposed sanctions on a regulated company, Confiance, after significant failings were found in its anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing systems. Confiance former executive director and controller Leslie Hilton was fined £50,000. Directors at Confiance, including Mr Hilton, launched a failed bid to challenge the GFSC’s decision to release a public statement on the sanctions. This led to them making allegations of fraud against Mr Gaudion and the GFSC to Guernsey Police.
On or around January 2016 Guernsey Police initiated the criminal investigation against both parties and Jersey Police, as an independent authority, was asked to do it. In August 2017, Jersey Police notified the GFSC that they wished to speak to Mr Gaudion. The GFSC told Mr Gaudion of the investigation in October 2017 – some 22 months after it had commenced.
In March 2018, Mr Gaudion filed a written complaint to the GPCC in relation to the criminal investigation. He alleged that it had been commenced and pursued in bad faith; was not concluded in a reasonable time, and that confidential information relating to it had been leaked into the public domain by Guernsey Police.
The complaint was directed against two senior officers – then head of law enforcement Patrick Rice and the then acting detective superintendent Philip Breban, who was promoted to superintendent in 2018.
A complaint was also made against Guernsey Border Agency official Paul Ferbrache, though it does not form part of Mr Gaudion’s claim for judicial review.
As Mr Rice and Mr Breban each held the rank of superintendent or above, it fell to the Committee for Home Affairs to deal with the complaint in its capacity as the ‘appropriate authority’ under the law. In August 2018, Home Affairs sought the assistance of Sussex Police to do it and Sussex deputy head of professional standards, Detective Chief Inspector Jon Hull, notified Mr Gaudion of his appointment to investigate the matter.
In November last year, Mr Gaudion contacted DCI Hull and asked for an update on the investigation and a copy of his report. DCI Hull said it was not normal to send such a report until the appropriate authority’s decision was known. It could only be done when it was known and with the appropriate authority’s consent.
On 7 February this year Home Affairs president Deputy Mary Lowe wrote to Mr Gaudion saying that DCI Hull had concluded that there was no evidence to support a case to answer against either Messrs Rice or Breban. The committee therefore proposed to take no action against either. It noted in the committee decision that seven items of organisational learning had been identified and passed on to the new head of law enforcement [Ruari Hardy].
Mr Gaudion contends that the systems identified were already in place but had been ignored. Those aside, no adequate rationale, reasons, information or findings were provided in order to enable him to establish with any type of certainty the basis upon which the decision was made or whether the decision maker had erred in fact or law.
In March Mr Gaudion’s advocates filed an appeal against Home Affairs’ decision with the GPCC.
Prior to taking up his current post in July 2013, Mr Gaudion was employed in law enforcement for 30 years, primarily with the Guernsey Border Agency and as a senior investigation officer with what was formerly the Financial Intelligence Unit.
Counsel for Mr Gaudion contend therefore that it is objectively reasonable for him to consider that the foregoing investigation as seemingly conducted, may have been motivated by historical professional animosities – in circumstances where the investigation as seemingly conducted was clearly not warranted on the facts. This is further exacerbated by the fact that their client came to hear of the potential investigation from friends or acquaintances which suggested details were leaked to non-parties.
Mr Gaudion argues that he has sufficient standing to ask for judicial review as he was the subject of the investigation and maker of the relevant complaint; the GPCC decisions affect and directly relate to him; he has, on any analysis a legitimate interest in the relief sought, and that the GPCC decisions impacted on him both personally and professionally in terms of integrity and independence as a senior employee with the GFSC.
He also says that the complaint made against him was contrived. As well as seeking judicial review, he wants the decision of the GPCC quashed on grounds that it acted beyond its beyond its powers and was unreasonable. He is also seeking costs.
- The case has been adjourned until after 30 August when a date for a directions hearing in front of the Bailiff Sir Richard Collas will be set.