Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Vote of Censure

The Bailiff: Minister, do not go down this road, please.

The vote on whether to censure Deputy Andrew Lewis has been passed. Members voted 29 in favour, 16 against the motion. The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry found Deputy Lewis had lied to the inquiry and to the States over comments regarding the suspension of a Police Chief in 2008.

The vote of censure amounts to an official reprimand for breaching the States Members’ Code of Conduct.

The PPC proposal is worth reading because it lays out grounds for the proposal:

(a) the findings of the I.J.C.I. (reproduced below) that he lied in 2008 in the States Assembly. That lie, in itself, constituted a breach of the Code.

“10.40 We find that Andrew Lewis lied to the States Assembly about the Metropolitan Police Service report, stating that he had had sight of it when he had not. We can readily see why these acts have given rise to public suspicion that all or some of those involved were acting improperly and that they were motivated by a wish to discredit or close down investigations into child abuse.”;

(b) that irrespective of the findings of the I.J.C.I., he misled the Assembly in 2008 and did not seek to rectify the situation at the earliest opportunity. Moreover, his subsequent robust defence of his position and failure to acknowledge and apologise for having misled the Assembly, even during the PPC hearing, constituted a breach of the Code.

Listening to the debate, it is clear that while some members did agree with (b), they could not assent to (a) and did not wish to do so by a vote for the whole proposition, even if their words would have made it plain which part of the proposition they ruled out.

In the case of part (b), the comments on the proposition are significant:

The Committee does not consider that Deputy Lewis was entirely candid during the hearing. He maintained that he had “no idea that this perceived error was of any significance” whilst he was out of the States, until “several years later … probably around the Napier review, which is 2 years later”. He affirmed that the first time he was publicly able to correct the information, was after the 2014 election when standing for a Ministerial position and his Public Accounts Committee Chairman’s role, during which time he “robustly defended his intention not to mislead”. 

However, he made a statement which was reported by bloggers on social media, as well as in the Jersey Evening Post on 12th February 2010, which suggests he was aware in 2010 of a growing public perception of a conflict surrounding the accounts of those involved in Mr. Power’s suspension. Furthermore, the exchanges recorded in Hansard on 6th November 2014 clearly indicate that Deputy Lewis had been aware of the allegations during the previous 6 years.

Deputy Lewis has had ample opportunity to correct this misunderstanding since 2008, and the Committee does not accept that because he was no longer an elected member he was unable to do this. Anyone can make a statement to the media

Instead of resolving the matter in 2008, or apologising for not doing so subsequently, Deputy Lewis has chosen to robustly defend and justify his actions; question why the Law Officers did not step in to correct his mistake; provide e-mail exchanges to intimate he was not party to the machinations of civil servants behind the scenes; blame pressure of work and his lack of familiarity or experience in his role; question the motives, political or otherwise, of those who have sought to raise this issue over the intervening years; and, most recently, to claim that the way in which he was treated by the I.J.C.I. was ‘unjust’.

Indeed Deputy Lewis, even during the hearing, did not appear to the Committee to accept that he had made a mistake and continued to robustly defend his actions: “What I have done is use the wrong language to describe a report and some Members have clearly been misled by that.”.

At no point, until the release of a media statement after the hearing, did Deputy Lewis say unequivocally that he was sorry. This statement was not circulated to States Members.

When, in the hearing, it was highlighted that, during the in-Committee debate on 7th July 2017, he had said: “the Assembly deserves an apology from me”, he admitted he had forgotten he had said that, and then stated: “… well there’s an apology. I had not realised I’d said that ... I think that is almost an apology … I think that’s the sort of similes one would use if they were making an apology.” This is not acceptable and it is not honourable.

The Voting was as follows:

Members voted 29 in favour, 16 against the motion.

The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry found Deputy Lewis had lied to the inquiry and to the States over comments regarding the suspension of a Police Chief in 2008.

*Senator Paul Francis Routier M.B.E. Pour
*Senator Ian Joseph Gorst Pour
Senator Sarah Craig Ferguson Pour

Connétable Alan Simon Crowcroft Pour
Connétable Leonard Norman Pour
Connétable Deidre Wendy Mezbourian Pour
Connétable Juliette Gallichan Pour
Connétable Michael John Paddock Pour
Connétable Stephen William Pallett Pour
Connétable Sadie Anthea Le Sueur-Rennard Pour
Connétable John Edward Le Maistre Pour

Deputy Judith Ann Martin Pour
Deputy Geoffrey Peter Southern Pour
Deputy Carolyn Fiona Labey Pour
Deputy Jacqueline Ann Hilton Pour
Deputy Kevin Charles Lewis Pour
Deputy Montfort Tadier Pour
Deputy Tracey Anne Vallois Pour
Deputy Michael Roderick Higgins Pour
Deputy Jeremy Martin Maçon Pour
*Deputy Stephen George Luce Pour
*Deputy Kristina Louise Moore Pour
Deputy Samuel Yves Mezec Pour
Deputy Louise Mary Catherine Doublet Pour
Deputy Russell Labey Pour
Deputy Scott Michael Wickenden Pour
Deputy Simon Muir Bree Pour
Deputy Murray Julian Norton Pour
Deputy Terence Alexander McDonald Pour

*Senator Alan John Henry Maclean Contre
*Senator Lyndon John Farnham Contre
Connétable John Martin Refault Contre
Connétable Michel Philip Sydney Le Troquer Contre
Connétable Christopher Hugh Taylor Contre
Connétable Philip Bond Le Sueur Contre

Deputy John Alexander Nicholas Le Fondré Contre
*Deputy Anne Enid Pryke Contre
*Deputy Edward James Noel Contre
*Deputy Susan Jane Pinel Contre
*Deputy Roderick Gordon Bryans Contre
Deputy Andrew David Lewis Contre
Deputy Richard John Renouf Contre
Deputy Robert David Johnson Contre
Deputy Graham John Truscott Contre
Deputy Peter Derek McLinton Contre
Deputy Richard John Rondel Not present for vote
Senator Philip Francis Cyril Ozouf Ill
Senator Sir Philip Martin Bailhache Ill
Senator Andrew Kenneth Francis Green M.B.E. Ill

Ian Gorst gave what I think was probably the best speech in the debate.

This debate highlighted a very divided Council of Ministers (marked *), where 4 voted pour and 6 voted against - it would have been 7 if Sir Philip Bailhache had been well.

On the other hand, most of the Constables who came in for criticism as a "block vote" voted "Pour".

In my Parish, I was pleased to see Steve Pallett, Montfort Tadier and Murray Norton vote "pour" but rather upset that Graham Truscott voted "contre".

On of the most distressing parts of Deputy Andrew Lewis defence, repeated on BBC Radio Jersey, and which he has made earlier, was that what he said made no material difference anyway. In other words, whether or not he lied was immaterial because there were no consequences to function of Operational Rectangle as a result. This is a comment which could have been culled from a utilitarian philosopher.

In classical utilitarianism, for example, adultery is not wrong if one's partner is not made to suffer by it. Deputy Lewis seems to be saying that because Operational Rectangle was not impeded by what he said, it didn't in fact matter whether he mislead the house, albeit unknowingly!

That is a very fast and loose attitude to truth, and that confirms to my mind, that the States were absolutely right to censure the Deputy.

Other background on the debate can be found here:


I notice that Bailiwick Express pointed out that Simon Bree had picked up on this utilitarian approach to truth:

Deputy Lewis also found himself under fire from more critical members of the PPC panel, including Deputy Simon Bree who refuted claims that the alleged lie was not material to any decision taken by the States: “Irrespective of whether you feel that the suspension of the Police Chief was good or not, I’m afraid that, in my book, the end never justifies the means. That excuse has been used by dictators, despots and tyrants throughout mankind’s history and, I’m afraid, I refuse to accept that as a legitimate political stance.”

1 comment:

James said...

One of the most distressing parts of Deputy Andrew Lewis defence, repeated on BBC Radio Jersey, and which he has made earlier, was that what he said made no material difference anyway.

Tell that to Graham Power!