Tension on Sark monitored by UK government

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Tension on the Channel Island of Sark is being monitored by the UK government, a report has said.

The UK's Ministry of Justice (MoJ) singled out issues between Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay and Sark's elected parliament, the Chief Pleas.

It said the problems have made a "difficult atmosphere in which to work towards a sustainable economic future."

The Barclays, who have a significant investment on Sark, believe local legislation discriminates against them.

"The dependencies are governed well, with the exception of Sark," Justice Minister Lord McNally said.

'Considerable improvements'

The MoJ has been working with Sark since 2010 and said that those living on the island were "intolerant of the other point of view."

Sark adopted a new constitution in 2008, ending feudal practices and introducing democracy, but the Barclay twins have argued that further change is necessary.

The MPs said conseillers - the island's MPs - complained that they are "subjected to threats of legal action against them as individuals and to abusive and intimidating attacks in the Sark Newsletter", edited by the Barclay brothers' manager on the island.

The Barclay brothers, owners of the Telegraph Media Group, complain of "legislation which they say discriminates against them and pursue legal actions against island legislation as a consequence of their belief that further constitutional change is necessary".

Referring to the conflict between the two points of view on the island Lord McNally said: "I understand that it is is going to be a slow process, but I think it would be better if we could take some of the poison on both sides".

"In such a small community these things hurt, they cause resentment and they make progress more difficult."

In its report the Justice Select Committee said: "We deeply regret the apparently intractable discord on Sark."

Despite differences within the factions, it said nothing should get in the way of a democratic process and the UK would support the island to achieve this.

The initial report into the Crown Dependencies, in 2009-2010, examined the expenditure, administration and policy of Crown Dependencies and made some recommendations on how the relationship with the UK could be improved.

A further inquiry was launched in 2013 to follow-up the extent to which those recommendations had been implemented.

The 2013 report was generally positive - stating that the relationship between the UK and Crown Dependencies had improved considerably and the UK government was now consulting the dependencies more consistently on issues which affect them.

A good marriage

However, the report said since 2010 there had been a number of occasions when the islands felt they had been poorly treated by the UK.

This included the example of the scrapping of Low Value Consignment Relief, which had been a huge blow to the Channel Islands.

Furthermore, the report said the Dependencies want the UK to start representing the island's interests when they differ from its own.

Lord McNally commented that he has informed the government of its obligation to the islands, which included doing more to raise awareness.

He described the relationship as "like a good marriage - it has to be worked at."

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