A number of members have commented on the recent decision by the States Members Code of Conduct Panel to dismiss our request for an investigation into alleged discriminatory comments made by three deputies regarding the non-election of Deputy Marc Leadbeater back to the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture. Those comments have varied from support to criticism and a lack of understanding on why we took this course of action.
We wanted to explain why we were involved. The Guernsey Disability Alliance mission is equality of opportunity for disabled islanders and carers in Guernsey. We want to remove disability discrimination. We want to change how Guernsey thinks about disability.
- We campaign for greater respect for the rights and dignity of disabled islanders and carers.
- We influence policy and practical change in a manner consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- We engage and empower our members so that their individual voices are heard.
We have campaigned for disability strategies and legislation which would enshrine the rights of disabled islanders and their carers to enjoy equality which other islanders take for granted, access to employment, transport and facilities of all kinds are among the issues we tackle. We work closely with Government who we are pleased to say have embraced the values we have been pursuing for the past 8 years or more.
The media reports circulating in early January throwing doubt on Marc Leadbeater’s abilities due to the fact that he has a disabled son caused us concern as it seemed that, if true, could shake the very principles we stand for and were even the more worrying, as they seemed to be emanating from elected representatives.
As a result on January 16th we wrote to Policy and Resources asking for an investigation to establish the facts. We did not name any Deputies.
On the 3rd February we received a letter from Policy and Resources wherein they informed us that their investigation had been unable to establish the facts as the Deputies implicated in a statement provided by Marc Leadbeater to Policy and Resources had not co-operated with the investigation. Marc’s statement was then provided by Marc to us and on the basis of the contents we felt that our grounds to call for an investigation remained valid if not strengthened. We did not attempt to contact the Deputies for two reasons, it may have compromised any further action we were contemplating and their refusal to co-operate with the investigation by P&R indicated to us that it would be fruitless in any event.
On the 14th February, we submitted our complaint to the Code of Conduct Panel wherein we enclosed a copy of the statement made by Marc Leadbeater who although not wanting to lead the complaint was entirely happy to support our and the Guernsey Community Foundations’ initiative. Again we did not name the deputies publically (they were released by the Bailiffs office as part of their process)
As has been reported on March 2nd the Code of Conduct Panel deemed there to be insufficient evidence to warrant a continuation of the process. Frustratingly from the detailed response released on Tuesday 7th March the Chair of the Code of Conduct Panel did not consider the supporting evidence, namely the willingness of another Deputy to provide a witness statement and minutes meeting, which we were led to believe would substantiate the allegations of discriminatory behaviour.
We believed then, as we do now, that there was sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation but with the P&R enquiry and the complaint to the Code of Conduct Panel we have been frustrated but the matter must rest there.
Robin Le Prevost, Chair GDA
M: 07781 109 809