Health boss lodges complaint against ministers despite public assurances of 'no grievances'

ITV News has learned a formal complaint made by a senior civil servant against three ministers was not passed on by the government HR department.

ITV News can reveal a formal complaint made against three ministers in Jersey's government was not passed on by the government's HR department.

It follows repeated assurances from the island's Chief Minister that "no formal grievances had been raised" by civil servants against elected officials, as she was not informed of the complaint against her.

Deputies Kristina Moore, Ian Gorst, and Karen Wilson - the Chief, Treasury and Health Ministers - are the subject of the formal complaint raised by a senior health official in early February.

Deputy Moore has made repeated assurances that "she was not aware" of any formal complaints being made, including in the States Assembly on Tuesday 2 May.

She said: "No formal grievances have been raised. Should there be any formal complaint, we will ensure that policy and procedures are adhered to."

  • Deputy Kristina Moore has repeatedly told the States Assembly and Scrutiny that "no formal complaints" had been made against ministers

In letters released to the media last month, the Chief Minister wrote to Scrutiny offering reassurances that there have not been any formal grievances or investigations into unacceptable behaviour from ministers or senior civil servants.

She told the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel while "relationships can be strained" occasionally, "these are often resolved informally, often with the support of the Chief Executive or other senior officers."

But ITV News has learned that Jersey's Group Medical Director, Patrick Armstrong, lodged a formal HR complaint against the ministers on Thursday 9 February - claiming he was being "pushed out" of the organisation.

It's understood Mr Armstrong complained after allegedly being put under pressure to resign from his position, with sources claiming he felt "bullied and intimidated" during interactions with ministers.

It comes as the government is working to reform the Health Department after it was slammed in an independent review which exposed a series of failings in the way Jersey's health service is run - including allegations of bullying, a lack of accountability, and managers being unclear of their roles.

ITV News has now learned that nearly three months on, the ministers had not been made aware of the complaint.

A government spokesperson said that as the complaint was about elected officials, rather than government employees, it should have been directed to the Commissioner for Standards rather than reported through the internal HR process.

The States Employment Board's Vice Chairman, Constable Andy Jehan, told ITV News he was not aware of the complaint being made.

Mr Jehan said: "I'm surprised - I'm not sure what if any, interaction the Chief Minister has with the Medical Director."

  • Andy Jehan spoke of his "surprise" about the complaint to ITV News outside the States Chamber

Mark Grimley, the government's Chief People and Transformation Officer, said States Members are not briefed on internal complaints, adding: "We cannot comment on an individual complaint, but everyone working in the public service has a responsibility to make sure they treat others with dignity and respect.

"Ministers and States Members are not and should not be involved in employment matters. Therefore, Ministers are not given sight of internal complaints. Complaints involving States Members, including Ministers, are the sole remit of the Commissioner for Standards."

Mr Grimley went on to explain the complaints process, saying: "In line with our established policies when a concern is raised by an employee it is the line manager who has the responsibility to begin action within 14 days.

"Concerns are initially addressed with an informal approach, to see if they can be resolved without progressing to a formal approach. If it is not possible to resolve the concern informally it progresses to a formal process. In exceptionally serious cases it may be necessary to proceed immediately to a formal approach.

"It is important to understand that employees who make complaints should not be subject to external speculation as they have a duty of confidentiality and, equally, we as the employer have a duty of care to protect them from speculation.

"That is why we do not comment on individual cases. This process is explained to employees on receipt of a complaint or concern."

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