Confidence in the Code is now at risk

IT APPEARS that the States’ Code of Conduct process is almost certain to be replaced, and this week’s debate over Chris Le Tissier has inevitably accelerated that move.

It was informative of the chief minister to advise us that after 12 years of an unblemished record of behaviour in government (although some of it did go back to the 1990s, when members routinely behaved themselves) he had faced three Code of Conduct complaints in the past eight months.

Useful to hear from the victim directly, as you would never know by looking at the States website, which on the most recent check, publicises two complaints, both from last year, against former deputy Richard Graham and Deputy John Gollop.

The panel, which ended up in a mess over how it released the report of the findings of its initial investigation on Deputy Le Tissier, has now decided to stop routinely publishing the complaints it receives and what it does with them. Hardly confidence-boosting or particularly transparent.

If you go as far as a hearing, Deputy Ferbrache warns, then there is plenty to get annoyed about.

He told colleagues he was ‘uneasy in the extreme with the process followed’.

‘The situation needs changing and Sacc should get on and change it.’

It was not clear from Sacc president Deputy Carl Meerveld whether upgrading the Code of Conduct and its process is a priority or not, with the committee in an apparently resource-free state, but it’s clear we can expect pressure to be brought to bear.

Former chief minister Deputy Gavin St Pier was also keen to express concerns about the way the Code works, but felt he had to support it at present.

‘It is the best process we have, the only process we have, and the best and only process the public have, so they have some kind of confidence they have some recourse against behaviours we display.

‘It is immensely frustrating for those had cases lodged against us – but we should endorse the right of the public to use that process.’

More questions on the use of the Code of Conduct are inevitable, but it will now be fascinating to see if confidence in it, and use of it, starts to decline.

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