Guernsey

Guernsey Home Affairs Committee president 'bullied staff', report says

Mary Lowe
Image caption Deputy Mary Lowe is president of the Home Affairs Committee

The president of Guernsey's Home Affairs Committee has been accused of "harassing or bullying" staff, a report says.

The independent review was conducted amid "serious concerns about [the committee's] governance".

Department staff told investigators president Mary Lowe had made "threats about the security of their employment" and "denigrated them".

Deputy Lowe said she would not resign, and there was no evidence.

The report, commissioned by the island's Policy and Resources Committee (PRC), concluded the committee's "governance falls below acceptable standards".

Author Catherine Staite said it was one of the worst reviews she had carried out.

"I don't think I have ever encountered this combination of very poor governance with a complete refusal to acknowledge the evidence," she said.

Home Affairs was the second of four government departments to be reviewed.

'Disclosure issues'

Investigators wrote: "It is never appropriate to harass or bully staff, to issue threats about the security of their employment or denigrate them to third parties, but a number of staff interviewees offered examples of being on the receiving end of, or observing, this type [of] behaviour by the president."

On Friday, two committee members - Deputies Richard Graham and Rob Prow - resigned ahead of the report's release.

Deputy Prow said his resignation was in response to the report being published without the committee having the chance to "meet and discuss the final draft for factual accuracies and disclosure issues".

He added "the committee has my fullest support and great respect" and his resignation should not imply any criticism of the "president of the committee or of any of its members".

The committee is responsible for managing the emergency services, justice policy and prison.

Image caption Deputies Mark Leadbeater, Victoria Oliver, Mary Lowe, Robert Prow and Richard Graham were on the Home Affairs Committee at the time of the review

Deputy Lyndon Trott, vice-president of the PRC, said the report was embarrassing but it was not his place to be "judgemental".

He added: "If I was in their position I would not still be a member of the Home Affairs Committee because the issues that have been identified are extensive."

The report found "there is a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the committee, of the respective roles and responsibilities of heads of services, civil servants and committee members".

It also criticised committee leaders for spending a "disproportionate amount of time on minor, marginal or operational issues".

Policing 'neglected'

Investigators also suggested there was a need to "build new relationships of mutual trust and respect" with staff.

The independent review is the latest report to criticise elements of the Home Affairs Committee's work.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary released a report in November that found deficiencies in the island's police force.

A scrutiny hearing in December was told the committee had "neglected" its strategic responsibilities in favour of focusing on the "minutiae of policing at the expense of the bigger picture".

The government's annual prison report released earlier this month also revealed violence had doubled in the past year.

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