Frivolous? No, conduct is a serious matter

IF THE demise of the unfortunate Deputy Le Tissier, and this week’s debate which sent him packing – temporarily at least – from the States, has taught us anything, it’s actually taught us much more than one thing.

The focus on the States’ own Code of Conduct proceedings has shown that the proceedings appear somewhat hamfisted and inadequate, and deputies’ speeches have also amply demonstrated that it has become overused – when Deputy Inder says ‘weaponised’ it seems hard to disagree with him.

It also highlighted that maybe members might need to just calm down and think about their actions a little more if we all want to stay the right side of the Code.

States followers – dare we say some of them were on social media? – on Wednesday were shocked at a sometimes febrile and wide-reaching nature of the Le Tissier debate.

The kind of atmosphere, where someone is always out to get you, where your coalition might not be a party but his coalition might be, and we need to get one over on them to keep them in their place, breeds behaviours which are on an inevitable collision course with the Code.

The Code and the process was much criticised in debate. We can see deficiencies in its transparency, both in hearings and even in its historical record on the States website. Through being on the wrong end of complaints, Deputy Ferbrache was able to forensically pick apart some of its weaknesses.

The States Assembly and Constitution Committee recognised problems with the process as far back as 2018.

And even this political term the new Sacc president Deputy Carl Meerveld has spoken about sharing Jersey’s Commissioner for Standards.

But that may not prove to be all that helpful in the long run.

For as far back as 2018, Paul Kernaghan, a former Police Chief who is also the UK government’s Judicial Appointment and Conduct Ombudsman and was the first House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, told Jersey that he wasn’t interested in adjudicating on Twitter spats, and judging them to be frivolous or vexatious.

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