Note - Since the time of writing, States Members have been offered a group meeting with the Justice Minister. Such a meeting falls well short of what is desirable and is essentially just a token gesture. It is formatted in such a way so no concerns can be brought up in a constructive way in confidence.
Press Release – For Immediate Release
Deputy Criticises Exclusion of States Members from UK Justice Minister Visit
Deputy Sam Mézec has raised concerns about the accessibility of UK government ministers to ordinary States Members when they visit the Island on official business.
On 4th August, the United Kingdom Minister for Justice, Lord Faulks, will be visiting Jersey to discuss, amongst other things, the progress made following a UK Justice Select Committee report into the relationship between the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Dependencies.
Deputy Mézec said “there are 51 States Members, not all of whom are members of the Council of Ministers, who have a variety of views on issues of good governance in Jersey and we are side-lined from meeting UK government representatives when they visit Jersey.”
States Members were only informed of Lord Faulks visit to Jersey a matter of days before it is due to take place and Deputy Mézec said that they were not offered the opportunity to discuss matters that might concern them to do with the issues the Minister is here to investigate.
“It is standard practice in most jurisdictions that when a foreign government representative makes an official visit, he or she will also make an effort to meet representatives of opposition parties, so as to not just hear a one-sided story. The Lieutenant-Governor, Bailiff and Chief Minister all have a self-interest in leaving the Justice Minister with the impression that they are doing a fantastic job, despite that not being the view of many Jersey residents and politicians.”
“One issue that some States Members have concerns with is the dual role of the Bailiff, which some members believe is not compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights. Lord Faulks will be meeting with the Bailiff when he visits, who has a self-interest in arguing that his role is human rights compliant, but the Minister will not be offered a chance to meet elected members of the States who will offer an alternative view on something that the UK government is legally obliged to consider.”
Deputy Mike Higgins, who is not a member of the Council of Ministers, made an important written submission to the Justice Select Committee which made a number of criticisms of the Jersey government, but has not been invited to meet the Justice Minister when he visits.
“This is just another occasion of the government of Jersey subverting democratic good practice to side-line those who have alternative points of view to them. It is not good for democracy and it is not good for Jersey” said Deputy Mézec.
This will be Lord Faulks first visit to Jersey since becoming Justice Minister. It follows a visit last year by the Justice Select Committee, who were met with an expensive reception at the Atlantic Hotel by the Bailiff and senior ministers which caused a minor controversy at the time.
Deputy Mézec has written and asked that some members (including Reform Jersey member Deputy Montfort Tadier and Deputy Mike Higgins who is not a member of Reform Jersey) are invited to meet the Minister, to offer their concerns. No meeting has yet been offered at the time of writing.
For further comment or to arrange an interview, please contact Deputy Mézec on 07797 811130 or firstname.lastname@example.org