Gary Burgess: Charlie Parker, the £50,000 side hustle, and Buckingham Palace

Jersey's most senior civil servant has a second £50,000 a year job working for a real estate company, it can be revealed. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Who cares if Charlie Parker’s got a second job?

He’s promising to do it in his own time, and besides, it’s only another £50,000 in his back pocket, so it’s small change compared to his £250,000 salary as chief executive of the Government of Jersey.

Of course I’m being rather flippant. A lot of people care.

Jersey is careering through the choppiest waters in living memory.

Every financial forecast is suddenly a best guess thanks to the shifting sands of coronavirus and the pure uncertainty of Brexit, so to have the island’s most senior civil servant taking on a rather cushy side hustle has and should raise eyebrows.

He’s pocketing the extra cash as the non-executive director of a company in the UK which has a portfolio of leisure and retail properties.

Interesting, in its own blurb, NewRiver REIT plc bigs up Charlie Parker for his “ambitious programme to transform and modernise Jersey’s public services”, but it also puts on a pedestal the “major infrastructure vehicle for funding” which, curiously, the island’s politicians haven’t even yet approved.

Also curious is the official statement from the government which not only says both the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister approved his second gig which it claims he’ll be doing in his own time, but also that it “will inform Jersey’s economic recovery from Covid-19.”

Surely it can’t be both.

In one breath they’re saying it’s nothing to do with them. In the next they’re saying his £50,000 a year extra earnings will specifically influence how he runs the island.

And so, the civil servant who is a magnet for controversy, from concerns over his ‘my way or the highway’ approach to running the show to the revelation his contract came with ready-made permanent residency rights, the likes of which most mere mortals can only dream of, continues to be that magnet.

Oh, and if that’s not enough, the government statement reveals he’s also helping oversee the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace. No. Really!

For the politicians and civil servants who regularly tell me of their frustration at getting access to the man at the top, learning he’s got time to pocket tens of thousands of pounds in his own time while using that experience to drive through his modernisation plans may go down like a bucket of sick.

But for the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and Charlie Parker, there’s no problem.