Andrew Lewis has now replied to the problems with chronology on BBC Radio Jersey
"My knowledge of this matter stems from my role as Home Affairs Minister. As such I am bound by the confidentiality requirements in the Chief Police Officers disciplinary code. Once again I must re-iterate that we were at all times advised by the Law Officers and followed that advice to the letter. To the best of my knowledge the actual decisions were taken on the date recorded in the correspondence. The earlier dates of creation simply reflect the preliminary work by the legal and HR advisors which was contingency preparation in the event that the full disclosure of information by the Deputy Police Officer might result in a decision to invoke the disciplinary code. This was sensible contingency planning."
This still raises the questions:
Who asked the legal and HR advisors to start this "contingency preparation"? Someone must have been responsible, or do they just do this kind of thing unprompted (with no directives), which seems unusual?
Why was it deemed "sensible"? What grounds were there for believing that a suspension was likely, and who held that opinion at this stage?
Has any "contingency preparation" been made in any other cases where suspensions were made? If not, why was this done in this case?
If so, what criteria are given for deeming this "sensible" when it could, of course, turn out to be a waste of legal resources, time and costly?
How much preliminary work was done?
Once more, there is no transparency in the chain of events, and responsibility seems to be shifted to vague generalities. Looking at this from a historical perspective, there is a good deal missing from the sources, part of which is probably covered by the "Chief Police Officers disciplinary code" which certainly does not help the situation.
Guernsey has no legal requirement for the States to discuss these matters "in camera" if the same eventuality as the suspension of a Chief Police Officer ever occurred there, and I do wonder why Jersey needs this when Guernsey can manage quite adequately without it. As David J. Robilliard, the Principal Officer of the Guernsey States Assembly and Constitution Committee told me:
1. There is no provision in the Rules of Procedure of the States of Deliberation for the holding of in camera meetings.
2. I cannot recall such a meeting ever having been held.
3. It would be within the power of the States to change the Rules to permit an in camera meeting should they deem it necessary.
Also in the news here is the email from Bob Hill which has appeared on the Voice for Children blog, which is worth repeating as Deputy Hill strongly argues against the notion that suspension can be reasonable considered a "neutral act" in this case.
Below are two Voice for Children websites which contain a letter from Mr Power to PPC dated 30th October and the reply from the Chairman dated 13th November 2009. I would add that the letters have been subject to attention from the other media.
I write to express my deep concern not just at the contents of Mr Power's letter but also by the dismissive action taken by PPC's Chairman who appears not to have discussed the letter with her Committee.
As you will see Mr Power has made allegations regarding the untoward actions surrounding the events leading to his suspension which he is able to substantiate. I think it is important to remind you that in a statement read by the former Home Affairs Minister at the States Sitting on 2nd December 2008 in relation to Mr Power's suspension, the Minister said, and I quote " In addition, of course, the Chief Officer cannot comment and has not yet had the full opportunity that the process allows to answer to these matters and to defend himself. Any debate would thus be unfair to him as the full facts are not yet known. I am sure, however, that Members will readily understand that a suspension in these circumstances is a neutral act and implies no finding one way or the other, but is rather an entirely prudent course to preserve the integrity of the investigation,"
A neutral act should by definition be neutral with neither side impeding the integrity of the investigation which should be conducted in an even handed and transparent manner. Also before any suspension is implemented those responsible for the implementation should be above reproach. Clearly from the contents of Mr Power's letter the integrity and motives of those involved with the suspension are highly questionable. It would appear that there is substance to Mr Power's observation that the actions of a number of people raises the possibility of a " Government within a Government" in which unidentified and unaccountable individuals exercise power outside the parameters of the law.
You are aware that the Chief Executive has admitted to destroying the original notes of the suspension meeting on 12th November 2008. Also although the Royal Court, when considering Mr Power's application for Judicial Review was unable to formally pass judgement on the initial suspension, it did say "we feel constrained to voice our serious concern as to the fairness of the procedure apparently adopted by the previous Minister." In page 4 of his letter Mr Power makes reference to significant differences between two media scripts which have come to light by the Wiltshire Constabulary. There appears to have been an alteration to a script drafted on 5th November 2008 and the one actually used at the briefings a week later. It may be pure co-incidence but the person involved with both scripts had much to gain from Mr Power's removal from Office.
I believe you should already be in receipt of the exchange of letters between Mr Power and PPC and considering the action to be taken.. However to give you the benefit of the doubt I ask that you read the letters below and ask yourself if you can allow for such damning evidence to be put aside. I remind you that the suspension has been claimed to be a neutral act. For many months Mr Power was denied details of the dates of documents which he eventually obtained via a successful application to the Complaints Board. It should be recalled that you personally defended the request for the details at the Hearing. Where was the neutrality? Mr Power had not been charged with any offence.
Home Affairs engaged the services of the Solicitor General to oppose Mr Power's application for a Judicial Review of his suspension. Where is the neutrality? Mr Power had not been charged with any offence.
You and the Council of Ministers successfully opposed the Connétable of St Helier's proposition (P182/2008) to request the Minister for Home Affairs to commission a compliance check on the procedures followed by his predecessor in suspending Mr Power, Where was the neutrality? Had you supported the proposition, not only might an honourable and decorated man and his family have been spared the stress and uncertainty, but also the States might have saved in excess of a million pounds on Royal Court and Complaints Board Hearings, costs to cover Mr Power's suspension and the ever rising cost of the Wiltshire Constabulary investigation. Also at stake is the Island and Government's integrity and reputation.
Mr Power's suspension issue has been running since 2008 against a background of extensive publicity little of which has reflected well on the island or its government. If one of the original aims was to protect the reputation of the island then this has clearly not been achieved. It is now a matter of public knowledge that Mr Power is to retire sometime this year, if the object of the exercise was to remove him from office then this exercise now appears to be pointless. He is to leave the service this year anyway and against that background, any disciplinary action, which has not yet been decided upon let alone started, would appear to be pointless. This whole matter has now been "drifting along" since 2008. It appears that Ministers are oblivious to the human cost to Mr Power and his family and the financial cost to the taxpayer.
The issues raised by Mr Power are too important to ignore and it would appear that they are pointing towards a conspiracy at the highest levels of Government, therefore immediate action needs to be taken to find a way forward. I must urge that you to show leadership and to "get a grip" before the matter runs further out of control and further damage is done and needless public expense is incurred. I would be grateful if you would inform me of your proposed actions by 5pm next Friday.
First blog contains Mr Power's letter to PPC.
Second blog contains PPC's Chairman's reply
Deputy Bob Hill, BEM.,
Deputy of St Martin.
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