Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl has claimed an anonymous letter published by the JC in support of Conservative MP Robert Halfon’s criticism of the communal organisation’s "left of centre political agenda" represented a ‘’clear breach’’ of the organisation’s code of conduct.
Mrs van der Zyl used Sunday’s Board Plenary to launch an attack on the 21 Deputies who signed a letter, whose names have been provided to the JC on condition of anonymity, on the grounds that its wording represented ‘’a serious attack’’ on the organisation’s staff.
Last week’s letter stated that Mr Halfon, "one of the most senior Jewish figures in Parliament, articulated sentiments that many of us and our constituents have felt for a long time."
It added: “While nobody would question the dedication of the Board's staff, the effect of their imbalanced partisan leanings – the Board is led by a former Labour minister and its political work by a recent Labour councillor – is obvious and has long been cause for concern.”
Mrs van der Zyl, who reached for a copy of the Board’s constitution as she spoke, told the meeting: “It is certainly a matter that would be in breach of the code, I can confirm.”
She then asked Richard Del Monte, co-chair of the Board’s Constitutional Committee, to offer his opinion on the letter writers.
Mr Del Monte said: “It is not really for the chair of the committee say if any action is permitted by the Code of Conduct, that would depend on the case brought. I can’t give a ruling on it but I think clearly where it appears that members of staff are attacked in a situation where they are not in a position to respond that is the kind of the situation which gives rise to the question whether that treats them with respect in that situation.
‘’Whenever you write to the press do bear in mind whether you are treating others with respect.’’
Mrs van der Zyl then added: “I want to say in relation to the seriousness in which I view the attack on the staff that it was worth discussing the particular generic sections of the code of conduct – so all Deputies are aware the code of conduct doesn’t just apply to Deputies amongst themselves, but also to how they treat staff.”