I’M RAISING A “MATTER OF PRIVILEGE”
AGAINST THE BAILIFF
AND THE CHAIR OF PPC.
Jersey Parliament’s ‘Speaker’ and the Chair
of its Privileges and Procedures Committee
Mislead the Assembly.
Right – pay attention.
This is so ontologically taxing, and straining of the bounds of semiotics, as to require very close attention.
Readers will recollect that I described in my last posting the Kafkaesque occurrence of the Chair of the Privileges and Procedures Committee – phoning me at around 5.00pm Monday – in order to inform me that some kind of disciplinary process was to be mounted against me as a “Matter of Privilege” in the States assembly on the Tuesday morning.
This was – apparently – to inflict a suitable punishment upon me for telling the public the truth as to how the Chief Executive of the States – Bill Ogley – had destroyed the contemporaneous notes taken during the illegal suspension action against the Chief of Jersey’s Police Force, Graham Power.
This evidence was destroyed by Ogley before Graham Power had had the chance to view and sign-off the typed minutes as a correct and accurate record.
These facts emerged during a secret debate – but, as they were a matter of profound public importance, I revealed what had been said during the debate on this blog.
So – out of the blue – this telephone call happens – giving me all of 17 hours notice – that for informing the public of this disgraceful scandal, I was to be sanctioned in some way – almost certainly with some kind of suspension.
However – as was as obvious as a fake election pledge – it would have also suited the oligarchy immensely to have me excluded from the chamber during the questioning of Jimmy Perchard.
And, as I correctly surmised – the oligarchy has been mulling this over for a couple of weeks – before giving me the shortest period of notice they thought they could get away with.
And what will be astonishing to the average reader – but, to me, merely old experience – was the genesis of the action against me.
And – so you can see clearly just – “How Jersey Politics Works” – I’ve included the full transcript of the Tuesday morning discussion below this post. It isn’t long.
But it is very revealing.
Let me explain events.
On the Monday evening, the Chair of PPC, Connétable Juliette Gallichan of St. Mary, told me that “she” was going to raise a “Matter of Privilege” against me – and that “she” had informed the Bailiff of “her” wish to do so – as is required by standing orders.
I asked her what this was in connection with, and – eventually – got her to state it was concerning the information from the secret debate I revealed on my blog. So I thanked her for at least having the courtesy to inform me of “her” intentions.
I wrote the subsequent blog post – which, word has it, placed a somewhat different complexion on the notion of proceeding with the suspension vote against me that very Tuesday morning.
So, when the relevant point was reached on the order paper – the Bailiff informed the assembly that “he” had received notice “from” the Chair of PPC that “she” wished to raise this issue against me – so he invited her to speak.
She then spoke – saying that:
“Sir, I wrote to you last week to give notice as required under Standing Order 8 that I wished to raise a matter that my Committee considers affects the privileges of the States.”
A minor and a major observation:
This was the first I knew of it being a matter that the PPC had discussed – as opposed to it being merely her autonomous wish.
But of far greater significance – she said “she” had written to the Bailiff “last week” – in order to give “him” notice of this matter.
So there we have a key confession – namely that she had been thinking of this issue “last week” – by way of contrast to the mere 17 hours notice I was given.
So – then Connétable Gallichan delivered the predictable pompous and sanctimonious guff in support of her request that the matter be officially referred to her Committee. This instead of taking it there and then, as originally intended.
I responded – to say what a ridiculous and absurd waste of time the whole exercise was.
Not least because whatever intimidatory, anti-democratic oppressions they sought to inflict on me – I would remain unapologetic for what I did – and would do exactly the same again if I considered it to be in the public interest.
There then occurred an interesting intervention from Deputy Le Claire – in which he correctly pointed out the pointlessness of the absurd grandstanding of the Chair of PPC – when they had it within their power to go ahead and consider the matter in any event – without seeking the authority of the House.
The Bailiff then made one of his customarily politically biased interventions by asserting to Deputy Le Claire that:
“Standing Orders requires the Committee or any member who thinks that a matter of privilege is in question to refer the matter to the Bailiff and the Chairman has done that and then to raise it on the floor of the Assembly. The Chairman has done that and the Chairman could proceed this morning…”
But then – one of the funniest interventions I’ve ever seen in the assembly occurred.
Recently elected Deputy Mike Higgins – a member of PPC – stood and said:
“Just as a point of information for the States, this matter was actually referred to PPC at its previous meeting – by the Bailiff himself – who brought up the question of privilege, so in the interests of transparency that should actually be revealed.”
Oligarchy cover blown – in one devastating sentence.
Contrary to the assertions of both the Chair of PPC – and of the Bailiff – the putative action against me had been raised by him – not her.
The Bailiff had referred the matter to PPC!
Essentially – yet another biased, political attack against me by the leader of the oligarchy – but one he was attempting to mount covertly – whilst hiding behind the Privileges and Procedures Committee.
The expression on the Bailiff’s face – the barely controlled puce rage and quivering lips were a wonder to behold – indeed – I nearly laughed out loud during the 10 seconds of deafening silence which followed Deputy Higgins’ intervention as the Bailiff struggled for a means of escape.
He eventually spouted some diversionary cobblers about the Greffier having invited him to attend PPC to discuss the matter.
But – fundamentally – the point remains – the Chair of PPC told me – told the States assembly – and told the public – that the matter was raised by her and her Committee.
That “she” had written to the Bailiff.
And the Bailiff agreed with this spurious and misleading assertion – by also stating that the Chair “had written to him” – to give the impression it was an initiative of hers – not his.
And – whilst this was unfolding – completely failing to reveal that it was he who had raised the matter.
And also failing to reveal that he is personally conflicted in any matter concerning me, the child protection controversy and the suspension of the Police Chief – as I attempted to point out – not least because of his infamous Liberation Day speech – only to get a load of sophistry in response in which he attempted to blame the Greffier for his involvement.
Like I said – oh dear.
The foul plot revealed.
The cover blown by that pesky Deputy Higgins.
Plainly – the oligarchy are undergoing some kind of massive culture shock at the experience of having greater numbers of honest members in the assembly.
So – now what do I do?
Here we have the Chair of PPC – the Committee responsible for States procedures and order – brazenly misleading the States assembly in an anti-democratic plot to intimidate and silence an irritating back-bencher.
And the Speaker of the Assembly – the Bailiff – likewise being a component in the exact same machinations – and again misleading the assembly by omission.
In the normal run of things – these are the two people one would raise complaints with.
But as both of them have behaved in an utterly reprehensible manner – who does one complain to concerning their actions?
Jack Straw, perhaps?
A pointless exercise – so I guess we’ll just have to add the episode – for evidential purposes – to our legal action against Jack Straw in the London courts.
The Speaker – and the Chair of Privileges – conspiring to oppress an irritating back-bencher – and, in the doing, misleading the assembly and the public.
You couldn’t make it up. Hell, you don’t need to – transcript below.
It may be very funny – in a pathetic kind of way – but I’m just not paid anything like enough for doing this job.
The “Matter of Privilege” Raised Against Senator Stuart Syvret;
Transcript of 3rd February, 2009.
I have no matters under E or F but I have been notified that the Chairman of the Privileges and Procedures Committee wishes to raise a matter of privilege, Madam Chairman?
Connétable Juliette Gallichan, Chairman PPC
Sir, I wrote to you last week to give notice as required under Standing Order 8 that I wished to raise a matter that my Committee considers affects the privileges of the States. Following the in camera debate during the last Sitting on the proposition of the Connétable of St Helier, Senator Syvret published information about the content of the in camera debate on his internet blog site. It would clearly be inappropriate for me to refer to what he wrote except to say that he made it very clear that he was aware that he was knowingly publishing this material even though the debate had been held in camera (as required by the Police Force (Jersey) Law 1974) and that he might be sanctioned for that action.
If you agree that this matter affects the privileges of the States, Standing Order 60 allows me to propose any matter relating to it without notice. I do not believe that it would be appropriate to hold any substantive debate on this matter today but I would like to propose that the issue is formally referred to PPC to allow my Committee to investigate it, to allow Senator Syvret to address us if he wishes to do so and to consider what action, if any, is appropriate.
I appreciate that the information in question has also been published in the Jersey Evening Post and it is therefore possible that one or more other anonymous Members may have revealed this information to a journalist. If that Member or those Members were to reveal who they are, I would also propose that that issue be referred formally to the PPC.
I invite him to speak, Senator Syvret?
Thank you Sir. I have really no idea why this matter should be referred formally to PPC. They plainly have the power required to autonomously investigate any matter they consider to fall within this kind of remit. So this exercise is largely symbolic. It will also be a waste of the Committee’s time and the staff’s resources because I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever about publishing the information I did. It was a profoundly important piece of public disclosure information and the public required that it be known. I am not going to withdraw anything I said; I am not going to apologise for anything I have done; so, really, the Committee or the Assembly may as well just decide what they want to do because that is the position.
Deputy Le Claire?
Deputy Le Claire
Sir, just to say that I do find it bizarre that in a grandstanding way this is being requested to be referred to PPC when it is completely within their power to investigate which matters they choose to. And if they need to seek clarification on whether the matters of privileges affected the States Sir, they could write to you they could meet with you as I have done in the past to discuss those issues and there is no need to prejudice any outcome by grandstanding this issue or other issues in the future by requesting formal referrals.
Well Deputy, if I may say so, I think that the PPC is proceeding entirely in accordance with Standing Orders. Standing Orders requires the Committee or any member who thinks that a matter of privilege is in question to refer the matter to the Bailiff and the Chairman has done that and then to raise it on the floor of the Assembly. The Chairman has done that and the Chairman could proceed this morning to raise a substantive proposition but she has told members she wishes to give Senator Syvret the opportunity to say anything to the Committee which he might, on reflection, wish to do and that seems to be an entirely proper way to proceed.
Thank you Sir. Just as a point of information for the States, this matter was actually referred to PPC at its previous meeting – by the Bailiff himself – who brought up the question of privilege so in the interests of transparency that should actually be revealed.
Sir could I raise the Default on Deputy Tadier please?
Yes, it is proposed that the Default on Deputy Tadier be raised. Those in favour, those against? Any other member wish to speak?
Sir, if I may make a further point in relation to what Deputy Higgins has just said, I mean I was going to say this at some point at any event that it is clear you have played a role in this action, you are personally conflicted in this. You have made your views abundantly clear, for example at the Liberation Day speech, exactly what you thought of the Child Abuse Investigation. All of which has a bearing, of course, on the suspension of the Chief Constable of the States of Jersey Police Force. So you personally have a clearly biased position in this and you are conflicted. So it seems to me wholly inappropriate you can Chair any such matter.
Well I don’t wish to enter into the debate Senator, I am sitting in the Chair but I will say in response to Deputy Higgin’s intervention that I was invited by the Greffier in the light of the matter which had been raised to give advice to the PPC and I attended on the PPC for that purpose. Now madam Chairman do you wish to respond to any of the points made? I am sorry I saw the – the Deputy of St John?
[Irrelevant intervention by Deputy of St. John excised.]
Can we come to that in just a moment, we are in the middle of a debate, Deputy.
Deputy of St John
Anything you wish to say in response Madam Chairman?
Chairman of PPC
Thank you Sir, merely Sir the concept of parliamentary privilege is an extremely important one. I fundamentally believe that the privileges of the States must be defended Sir just as I believe that all members of the Assembly are equally bound by the Standing Orders and should be treated without partiality. Sir, I attended the traditional welcome for new members which was given earlier this year as part of the induction programme and it was given this year by the Deputy Bailiff. He was at great pains to inform the new members that they would be entering a parliament not a debating club, not a county council. I seem to recall Sir that you yourself have given that advice before. There is a great difference Sir and I believe that we must strive to uphold our standards and to defend the privileges of the States and I would remind members that this proposition is merely calling for the matter to be investigated formally. I make the proposition Sir and I ask for the appel.
Very well I invite any member within the precinct who wishes to vote to return to his or her seat and I ask the Greffier to open the voting which is for or against the proposition of the Chairman of the PPC.
Members who wish to vote have done so, and I will ask the Greffier to close the voting and I can announce that the proposition has been carried 38 were cast in favour, 5 votes against and there was one abstention.
Can we have the five against and the one abstention?
Those members voting against, Senator Syvret, Deputies Le Herissier, Le Claire, Tadier and Macon and Deputy de Sousa abstained.
Might I ask through the chair if the PPC when they consider this matter will do so in open session?
Sir, the PPC will pursue this matter strictly in accordance with the guidelines and Standing Orders Sir.
Could the Chairman answer the question – will it be dealt with in open session or not?
The Chairman has said that the Committee will follow the appropriate procedure, perhaps she wants to think about it Senator!
The appropriate procedure is either to have it in secret, as is usually the case, or it can be the Chairman’s decision …..
No, I am sorry Senator, the PPC is entirely entitled to proceed in accordance with Standing Orders as it thinks fit and the Chairman has said that is what she is going to do. Now we come to question time.