Ferbrache slams St Pier for ‘prejudice, personal grudge’
Policy & Resources president Peter Ferbrache yesterday condemned the behaviour of his predecessor, Gavin St Pier, accusing him of using States time to pursue a personal grudge against a local doctor and damaging health services in the island.
The States sat late into the evening to debate a report from a panel of long-serving politicians which, by a majority of three to two, had recently cleared Deputy St Pier of abusing parliamentary privilege when he criticised safeguarding services and named Dr Sandie Bohin in a speech in the Assembly last year.
Deputy Ferbrache sat on the privileges panel and was one of the two members to find against Deputy St Pier.
‘The truth doesn’t matter when you’ve got prejudice and bias and a personal grudge, which is now the view I take unfortunately,’ said Deputy Ferbrache about Deputy St Pier’s controversial speech.
Deputy Ferbrache said the medical profession had identified a long list of serious problems caused by Deputy St Pier’s speech. They included damaging public confidence in the safeguarding system, discouraging other local doctors from leading safeguarding services, leaving doctors fearing criticism in the States and the media if they raised safeguarding concerns, and endangering vulnerable children.
Deputy Ferbrache told the States that he had met Dr Bohin last weekend, along with Deputies Carl Meerveld and Liam McKenna, and that they had learned new information which appalled him. He said Dr Bohin told him that Deputy St Pier had demanded that health bosses should sack her and ‘wanted her head on a stick’, adding that he believed Dr Bohin ‘absolutely, unequivocally and unreservedly’.
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He said the privileges panel was unaware of this information and that knowledge of it may have affected judgements about whether Deputy St Pier’s speech in the States was malicious.
‘Dr Bohin is in the [States] chamber. As a human being, I’d like to apologise to her. As a States member, I’d like to apologise to her. All of us in this chamber should apologise to her. Every single man and woman should apologise to her. Deputy St Pier should apologise to her,’ said Deputy Ferbrache.
‘She’s had a terrible time. Her reputation has been besmirched. People have cast aspersions on her character. She gave evidence for the prosecution at what is probably the most famous criminal trial in English criminal history for years in relation to a lady who ended up being convicted of the murder of seven babies. She is respected elsewhere, even if not by Deputy St Pier.
‘[Doctors] want to get on with doing good for the community. They don’t need this abuse. They don’t need this abuse of privilege. They need to be protected by us.’
Earlier this week, Deputy St Pier claimed that he had heard rumours that some States members wanted to use the privilege case to get him out of the States. Deputy Ferbrache said that was a disgraceful allegation.
Deputy St Pier has also been defending himself against complaints to the States members code of conduct panel. That panel is understood to have found that Deputy St Pier’s speech last year breached the code of conduct, but its ruling remains subject to an appeal. Some deputies claimed that they had received a report from the code of conduct panel yesterday which recommended that Deputy St Pier should be reprimanded by the States.
Ahead of the debate, Bailiff Sir Richard McMahon reminded deputies of the need to focus on the report of the privileges panel.
‘In relation to complaints made to what was the States members conduct panel, that is not relevant to the debate on the findings of the privileges panel,’ he said.
‘There is no call for any member to refer to the complaints being made under the code of conduct because that is a process that is still running.’
Debate on the privileges panel report resumes today.