Constable Chris Taylor's actions 'did not justify him being dragged before the courts'

Constable Taylor is in court alongside two parish procureurs, over allegations that their conduct fell short of their oaths of office. Credit: ITV Channel TV

St John Constable Chris Taylor's actions did not justify him being dragged before the courts, according to his advocate.

Constable of St John, Chris Taylor, and Procureurs du Bien Public Stephen Hewlett and Michel Larose, face the same allegation over the use of public funds to cover his legal expenses. 

Constable Taylor was found guilty of dangerous driving in August last year. More than £7,000 of public money was then spent to cover the legal fees.

The court heard three payments were made to BCR Law between March and July 2020 - totalling £7431.34 of parish funds.

This is not a criminal case, but rather a civil hearing in which the court is acting in a supervisory jurisdiction over the parish officials.

The court has been asked to consider whether the conduct of the three men fell short of their oaths of office on three occasions:

  • The actions that led to Constable Taylor’s dangerous driving convictions;

  • The decision to use public funds to cover his legal expenses despite a risk that it may not be recouped; and

  • An alleged attempt by Mr Hewlitt to mislead other parish officials that they had sought legal advice before making the decision.

Summing up today, Solictor General Matthew Jowitt put it to the court that Constable Taylor was the driving force behind the use of public money and the procurers had followed out of loyalty.

During his evidence yesterday, Mr Larose told the court that Constable Taylor visited him at home and asked him to sign a cheque to the first instalment of his legal fees for more than £2,000.

Mr Larose said he had refused as he was uneasy that it was the appropriate course of action. But, he changed his mind after assurances by the constable that he had done nothing wrong.

Mr Jowitt said: “It was [Constable Taylor] who persuaded them that he had done nothing wrong. It was him who brought the cheque to Mr Larose to sign not once but twice." Mr Jowitt put it to the court that the procurers had shown “total loyalty” to the constable.

Did that degree of loyalty lead them to accept uncritically that he was acting in his official capacity? It would seem it was on Constable Taylor’s say so that they came to that conclusion. Did that also lead them to them, when they perhaps should not have done, use public funds to pay his legal costs?

Solictor General Matthew Jowitt

Constable Taylor affirmed in court that he maintains he has been wrongfully convicted and believed he had done nothing wrong.

But Mr Jowitt said that Constable Taylor was bound to accept the role and having public respect for the institutions of jurisdiction was an important part of holding public office.

Advocate David Steenson, representing Constable Taylor, said his actions did not justify him being brought before the courts and that he was at risk of double jeopardy.

However, when questioned, Advocate Steenson agreed the judge should consider that Chris Taylor was found by a magistrate to have lied under oath when deciding if he is fit for office.

The hearing continues.