Independent review of ESC appointment to be set up
AN INDEPENDENT review will be commissioned into the appointment controversy at Education – with Scrutiny putting everyone on notice that it will slam it shut if there is not full co-operation.
The Scrutiny Management Committee met yesterday and decided it would not be appropriate to ‘let this matter simply go’ and it was agreed unanimously to appoint an independent reviewer to examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the appointment of the head of curriculum and standards.
Scrutiny president Deputy Chris Green said: ‘We should make it very clear that we are undertaking this review in good faith and expecting full co-operation from all of the parties.
‘However, if this is not forthcoming, then the review will cease immediately and the committee will then consider its other options.’
The row over the appointment centres on whether there was undue political interference and whether civil servants were asked to lie on an official employment permit document.
The matter was only exposed following the publication in the Guernsey Press of an leaked email sent by Education, Sport & Culture president Deputy Matt Fallaize to his then chief secretary and subsequent witness accounts from two of those on the interview panel.
The local candidate selected by the panel in a four-to-one vote, with only Deputy Fallaize against, withdrew from the role having initially accepted it and set in place their transition plans, something that shocked those involved.
ESC has consistently said there were no transgressions of protocol and it is happy to co-operate fully with any type of inquiry.
Deputy Green argued in the States last week in favour of a tribunal of inquiry, which can compel witnesses to attend and be cross-examined, and can force the release of unredacted documents to be examined.
He felt that any other type of review would lack teeth and it was important to ‘lance the boil of the issue’ and restore public confidence.
This form of inquiry could have cost up to £250,000, and many States members felt this approach was too costly, protracted, and unnecessary.
In two very close votes with a high number of abstentions, they agreed to water down the tribunal of inquiry plan, but when the watered down version came to the final vote, the whole thing was thrown out.
Despite this setback, Scrutiny wants to shine a light on the incident with an independent review and practical arrangements are under way to set up this process.
Deputy Fallaize has said he is not surprised by the decision and fully understands it.
‘I am sure they will want to set up something which has independence and credibility and we will await further announcements about the form and timing of the review,’ he said.
‘As I have said throughout, my committee has nothing to hide and has acted with integrity and good intent.
‘Committee members will happily co-operate fully with whatever the Scrutiny Management Committee sets up.’
- Deputy Lyndon Trott has asked us to make clear that his comments in the States last week praising Deputy Fallaize were solely related to how the Education president had conducted himself around the publication and subsequent questioning of the new schools model report – Deputy Trott has not commented about the appointment process.