Guernsey Press

‘Allegation should have been dismissed at first instance’

DEPUTY Gavin St Pier has criticised the year-long investigation which ultimately led to him being cleared of abusing parliamentary privilege.

Deputy Gavin St Pier. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 32532697)

He said the case against him should have been dismissed months ago and claimed the investigation panel failed to keep its proceedings confidential.

‘The whole process has been deeply frustrating. This allegation should have been dismissed at first instance,’ said Deputy St Pier.

‘There have been repeated leaks throughout the panel’s process and it has taken an inordinate amount of time, including three months before I was even notified of the complaint, and six months following the privileges panel making its decision in March.’

He believed that the speech at the centre of the case, in which he revealed weaknesses in safeguarding services and named local paediatrician Sandie Bohin, would also have failed to pass the high test required to prove abuse of privilege elsewhere.

‘I am both pleased and relieved to have been cleared by the privileges panel,’ he said.

‘I am not surprised, as in my view the naming of the individual would not be regarded as an abuse of privilege by any parliament in the Commonwealth.’

Deputy St Pier made his controversial speech in April 2022, when asking the States to debate an annual report about the regulation and revalidation of doctors from the island’s medical director, Dr Peter Rabey, in his statutory role of responsible officer.

He told the States briefly about his own family’s experiences with the health service. He said that raising concerns with the service had ‘triggered a bizarre and Kafkaesque safeguarding investigation, which our GP described at the time as the weaponisation of the safeguarding system against us’. He said that his family had later received an ‘unequivocal apology’ from the healthcare provider concerned.

Those experiences had led Deputy St Pier to work with three families with profoundly sick children with complex conditions and needs who had either sought second opinions or complained about local clinical care. He said those families had found themselves ‘in exactly the same Kafkaesque nightmare’.

An investigation raised no substantive concerns about the local doctor, but Deputy St Pier told the States that it also found potential bias towards families whose children had complex conditions and parents who were inclined to seek second opinions.

Deputy St Pier has again called on the Health & Social Care Committee to do more to deal with concerns about safeguarding and be more transparent about what it is doing.

He said that the 'learning report' which arose from the responsible officer’s investigation, had still not been published.

‘I sincerely urge them now to reconsider this decision, especially in light of the unanimous support from all the families involved for publishing the report.

‘It is encouraging that there is now in place a director of quality, safety, improvement and safeguarding for the States, but implementation of the learning report recommendations is progressing only slowly.'

Deputy St Pier said that delivering systemic and cultural changes in behaviour and practice would require 'determination, appetite for change and leadership’.