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Home Affairs president: some people want blood

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A ROW at Home Affairs was laid bare in the States yesterday with allegations of intimidation, lying and vitriolic verbal attacks between deputies.

Deputy Victoria Oliver, left, will continue on Home Affairs for the rest of this term but only after a States debate on a policy letter signed by committee president Deputy Mary Lowe, inset, which was seeking her removal. (28432777)

In a very public airing of dirty linen, the Assembly voted by 28 votes to 3 that Victoria Oliver should be allowed to continue on the committee despite an attempt, later withdrawn, by its members to have her removed because of a Facebook post about cannabis prosecutions.

Home Affairs said it had already resolved the matter because Deputy Oliver had made an apology, but the States voted 17-16 that the issue should still be discussed publicly and it turned into an open blood-letting.

The central issue was a social media post made by Deputy Oliver, who commented on an active criminal investigation regarding the possession of cannabis.

An individual who had been detained by the police had gone on Facebook to complain that officers had acted unreasonably.

Deputy Oliver had sympathised, and written ‘it stinks no matter which way you look’ because the vice-president of Home Affairs, Marc Leadbeater, was involved as a director in a legal commercial cannabis growing operation.

Attempts to persuade Deputy Oliver to retract her views publicly were unsuccessful initially and it escalated into yesterday’s debate.

The president of Home Affairs, Mary Lowe, said politicians should not meddle in the live operations of the police and the law on cannabis was very clear.

Deputy Lowe said that the trust and mutual respect of police officers had been at risk.

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‘Deputy Oliver crossed the boundary, she breached the signed protocol of law enforcement and interfered in a live criminal investigation, directly drawing into question a specific operation of the police and Border Agency staff in carrying out their mandated role.

‘That, members, oversteps the mark of good governance.

‘This debate is totally unnecessary, it’s a waste of time, and yet some people want blood.’

In response, Deputy Oliver said she thought the reaction was over-the-top and she strongly refuted the claim that she had undermined police officers.

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She apologised for the distress caused, but also said there was a tension between the island’s mixed messages on cannabis.

‘I have my faults, but we all do, and I don’t feel that challenging my fellow committee members makes me a trouble-maker.

‘I have no idea how I could have unduly hindered the committee to fulfil its mandate, in fact, I firmly believe that our employers, the public, demand that we should constructively challenge the status quo.’

Deputy Peter Roffey thought the matter was highly unedifying and showed States members acting like children.

He noted one part of the report detailed that while the members of the committee accepted that Deputy Oliver regretted her post on Facebook, she had not shown ‘true contrition’: ‘Where are we? Guernsey or Salem?’

There was a rumour that if the move failed, the other committee members would see it as a vote of no confidence: ‘That is just as disproportionate as what’s in here,’ he said. ‘Just grow up.’

The States voted by 28 votes to 3 that Deputy Oliver should remain in her post.

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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