The 3 Written Questions all lodged by Deputy Higgins are below along with the answers. The first about the Crown Officer’s accountability is one which has been raised in many of my Blogs. Whilst the AG has stated that the question was unclear as to what is meant by “complaint” I believe he has given a clear answer.
WRITTEN QUESTION TO H.M. ATTORNEY GENERAL
BY DEPUTY M.R. HIGGINS OF ST. HELIER
(a) Will H.M. Attorney General set out clearly each of the steps that need to be taken by anyone wishing to make a complaint (including misconduct) against the actions of any of the following office holders, explaining in detail each step and each level, until the matter reaches the persons or bodies ultimately responsible for determining such matters:
(i) Legally qualified members of the Law Officers Department;
(ii) Solicitor General;
(iii) Attorney General;
(iv) Deputy Bailiff;
(b) To whom are the office holders (i) to (vii) listed above accountable for appraisal purposes?
a) The question is not clear as to what is meant by “complaint”, particularly in respect of the officer holders who are listed at (iv) to (vii) whose functions require them to act as judges in the Jersey courts. It is important to distinguish between two types of complaint in relation to a judge.
In so far as the complaint relates to matters occurring in the course of legal proceedings (for example, a complaint that the judge’s decision is wrong or that he or she has behaved unfairly or should not have sat because he or she had a conflict of interest) then the appropriate remedy is for the aggrieved party to use the judicial process and appeal or apply for doléance (an alternative method of review) where available.
Where the complaint alleges misconduct other than in the course of legal proceedings, then the appropriate course in respect of a complaint made against a Jurat or a Magistrate is to lodge that complaint with the Bailiff. The Bailiff can then decide if the complaint requires investigation. If it does, he will seek to replicate the procedures applied in England and Wales as far as possible and, where appropriate, will appoint an independent person to investigate the matter.
The process thereafter in respect of a Jurat is set out in the Royal Court (Jersey) Law 1948.
The Bailiff can convene the Superior Number at the conclusion of any investigation so that the Royal Court can consider whether or not to petition the Privy Council seeking the removal of the Jurat (if no resignation is forthcoming) by Order in Council.
A Magistrate may only dismissed by Order in Council. Should the independent investigation merit such a course of action, the Bailiff would make a recommendation accordingly.
The Bailiff and Deputy Bailiff are appointed by Her Majesty and may only be dismissed by Her Majesty.
If a complaint of misconduct outside court proceedings concerns the Bailiff or the Deputy Bailiff then the complaint should be lodged with the Lieutenant Governor as Her Majesty’s personal representative. If he decides that the complaint requires investigation, he may appoint an independent person to investigate in the same manner as described above. Should the result of the investigation merit such a course of action, a recommendation can then be made to Her Majesty.
The Attorney General and the Solicitor General are appointed by Her Majesty and may only be dismissed be Her Majesty. The procedure for a complaint against either of them would be analogous to that in respect of the Bailiff and Deputy Bailiff.
The Law Officers’ Department has its own internal disciplinary procedures and any complaint about a legally qualified member of staff should be made to the Attorney General in the first instance.
The procedures described above are designed to provide for effective investigation when merited but at the same time preserve the independence of the office holders as the independence of the judiciary and the prosecuting authorities is vital to the maintenance of the rule of law.
b) The management at the Law Officers Department conducts appraisals of legally qualified members of staff. The Law Officers and members of the Judiciary are not the subject of appraisals. The members of the Judiciary receive training on a regular basis. The Court’s judgements are subject to public scrutiny and litigants are able to exercise any rights of appeal.
I only heard a few of the Oral Questions this morning but I heard Senator Le Marquand the Home Affairs Minister complaining that the questions about the Discipline Hearing were “outrageous.” In his answer below he says he “strongly deplores the decision of the disciplinary tribunal being used in this way.” The Minister is entitled to that view but there are members of the public who are outraged and strongly deplore the spending of hundreds and thousands of pounds and thousands of police hours on pointless investigations and discipline hearings. Someone must be accountable, if it is not the Chief Police Officer or the Home Affair’s Minister, who is?
The criticism of the unsigned statements came from Chief Constable Barton; responsibility for the evidence being used by the prosecution was not that of Hants Police but the Jersey Police. The unsigned statements were not the only things that troubled the Chief Constable and clearly he chose to express his displeasure.
WRITTEN QUESTION TO THE MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
BY DEPUTY M.R. HIGGINS OF ST. HELIER
Following the unauthorised publication of the judgement of the disciplinary hearing against 3 police officers will the Minister -
a) explain why the signed statements of the three police officers who faced a disciplinary hearing over the bugging of the hire car of one of the defendants in the Curtis Warren case were not made available at the disciplinary hearing which resulted in unsigned statements transposed onto Hampshire Police paper being introduced instead;
b) state whether or not the evidence in the unsigned statements was disputed by any of parties to the hearing and, if so, the nature of the disputed evidence?
I strongly deplore the decision of the disciplinary tribunal being used in this way. Not only was the hearing by law held in private, but also, the presiding Chief Officer expressly stated in his verbal decision that he did not expect to see his comments in the media and that he did not authorise the use of his comments other than for this hearing; and, in his written decision that he did not authorise the publication of his written judgement other than for the purposes of this hearing.
Although I was initially minded to continue to decline to answer questions on the written decision, the outrageous nature of some of the questions posed to me which imply serious misconduct on the part of senior police officers has forced me into clarifying the position by answering a number of procedural questions.
(a) The Hampshire Police loaded the relevant statements into the HOLMES computer system as part of the investigation. Unfortunately, it was the printout of the statements which were presented as part of the agreed and disclosed bundles to the presiding Chief Officer and not the original statements. I am informed that the original signed statements were available at the hearing but the presiding Chief Officer did not refer to them.
(b) It would appear that one officer raised a question as to whether the HOLMES version of his statement was accurate.
With reference to the question below, I agree with Senator Le Marquand that police officers must expect to be the subject of complaints, indeed to could be considered an occupational hazard particularly for those exposed to the sharp end of policing. However where this complaint differs from about 99% of all complaints is that it was instigated by the Chief Police Officer and supported by the Minister.
It has been reported that the 3 officers feel betrayed and one can understand their reaction when one reads the Discipline Judgement and sees that Hants Police were obstructed from completing their investigations by both the Police and Law Officers. We now hear that it was Hants Police who recommended disciplinary action how can that be if it did not have all the facts?
The decision to proceed with the disciplinary action rests squarely on the shoulders of the Deputy Police Chief who like the former Deputy Police Chief; Lenny Harper is responsible for discipline. It is evident that he got it wrong and it must have and I am told has left a bad taste and sadly a loss of respect for the senior management.
WRITTEN QUESTION TO THE MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIR'S By DEPUTY M.R. HIGGINS OF ST. HELIER
(a) the police officers will be able to work closely and harmoniously with the senior officers who brought the disciplinary charges against them;
Will the Minister explain how, following the recent disciplinary hearing which led to the exoneration of the three police officers involved in the Curtis Warren car bugging case -
(b) how a trusting relationship between the police and the Law Officers’ Department will be restored; and,
(c) what the effects were of the illegal bugging in France, Belgium and Holland on the relations between those countries and Jersey and what steps have been taken to restore the trust and confidence of those authorities in the Jersey police and Law Officers’ Department?
(a) Disciplinary charges were brought following the recommendation of the investigating police force. Police officers are well aware that they will be subject from time to time to complaints and may be subject to a disciplinary hearing. The position in relation to disciplinary hearings is similar to that for a civil servant or other public employee. There should be no reason why a police officer who has been exonerated or made subject to a disciplinary sanction short of dismissal, and who remains able and fit for work, should not be able to return to normal duties.
(b) A strong professional relationship exists between the States of Jersey Police and the Law Officers’ Department and has not been harmed in any way by this action.
(c) There has been no detrimental effect to continued international relations with enforcement agencies. Requests for international assistance are undertaken in accordance with the law through appropriate letters of request and close scrutiny by the police and legal authorities.