Tuesday, 1 June 2010

A Disgrace to the House

Channel Television has just reported that "Housing Minister Terry Le Main has resigned." It noted:

Senator Terry Le Main was facing a vote of no confidence, after he was alleged to have interfered with court proceedings involving a friend. The motion was being brought by Deputy Geoff Southern. Channel Television learnt that businessman Frank Venton, has been the housing Minister's political sponsor for more than 30 years, despite the Senator denying a long term friendship. Mr Venton, the Creative Director of Vision Advertising has been printing the Senator's election campaign material since 1978. Mr Venton was fined last week for breaching the island's housing laws. At the weekend Senator Le Main agreed to temporarily step down as Housing Minister whilst the allegations were being investigated. Senator Le Main is understood to have sent a letter to all his fellow Ministers and Assistant Ministers announcing his resignation. Chief Minister Terry Le Sueur says he's received a draft resignation letter and is awaiting an official signed copy.(1)

Now this is the same Terry Le Main who CTV noted had denied any connection with Mr Venton - "The Housing Minister denies the allegations and says he's written to the Crown Advocate asking for evidence of a friendship."

And these are Terry Le Main's words, quoted by Channel Television on their site:

"I am denying completely that I have or had a long term friendship with Mr Venton....like many thousands of Jersey people whom I know by face or name, I know Mr Venton as he used to work in the States Greffe and with the CI Lottery when I was President of Gambling Control....I have written to the Crown Advocate asking him to give me the evidence of his claims...of course media reporting is not always correct...so I await his response."

Now it turns out that this denial was of the Peter denying Christ by the fire kind of denial, in other words, not to be taken as true.
How can Mr Venton be a casual acquaintance when he has been his political sponsor? It is right and proper that he should resign from his position as Housing Minister, and if he had a shred of integrity, he might seriously consider resigning from the States. David Laws, a man of far greater integrity, said today he would spend the next few weeks assessing whether he has the confidence of his constituents after he resigned from the UK cabinet. It would be good for Senator Le Main to follow suit, especially if there are any other skeletons lurking in his garage. Are there any other matters we don't know about? How can we trust him to be open with the public?

I heard a rumour that it was one of the perks of being Housing Minister to have free parking and garage space on Housing property - that's in addition to the States members free parking. Now jobs do have perks, civil servants also have free parking, and that's not something I would say was in any way a misdemeanor, any more than at least one retired Jurats still has his free parking (from when they were a Jurat) - and I know that's true. But it would be interesting to know if the Housing Ministerial perk was true.


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