Board's Constitution Committee refusing to meet after indemnity row

Dispute follows Sunday's stormy Board meeting at which deputies failed to vote through proposed new governing structure with necessary majority


The committee in charge of dealing with Board of Deputies complaints relating to its code of conduct is refusing to sit as a result of a row over the provision of protection from legal costs.

The Board confirmed on Tuesday that its Constitution Committee was “waiting until there are provisions in place before continuing to deal with existing complaints”.

A statement released to the JC claimed the Board’s new constitution, which has yet to be adopted by deputies, would contain the relevant “express indemnities as well as a governance and risk trustee.”

The refusal of the constitutional committee to sit means that a number of outstanding complaints against deputies remain unresolved – while new complaints, such as those lodged  this week against Yachad representative Amos Schofield, will not be considered at this stage.

The breakdown in relations with the committee follows what one deputy described as the “poisonous atmosphere” of last Sunday’s meeting at which President Marie van der Zyl failed to secure  approval for constitutional reforms that have been the subject of lengthy debate over recent months.  

Complaints committee members have raised concerns that they are not given indemnity against legal costs and any other liabilities that may flow from complaints lodged against deputies over alleged breaches of the code of conduct.

At Sunday’s meeting, deputies voted 61 per cent to 39 per cent in favour of a  proposed new governing structure. This fell narrowly short of gaining the necessary two-thirds majority – but the Board’s leaders have vowed to hold the vote again in a few weeks’ time.

The officers had tabled a revised constitution for Sunday, that incorporated most, but not all, of the amendments supported by a majority of deputies at a previous meeting. 

A series of digital consultations were carried out last week in an effort to persuade deputies to give their approval to the 72 pages of new rules. 

In a letter to deputies, the treasurer Stuart MacDonald said that the process of modernising the Board’s structure had “taken many years and a rejection of the proposed changes… will set us back and cost the Board more time and money, yet again”.  

Ben Crowne, the chair of the Board’s constitutional working group, said attempts to update the Board’s governance had begun back in 2012.  

The new constitution, he said, would “strengthen the credibility of the Board as a serious decision-making body. I worry that a continued failure to do so, after nine years of debate, could do the reverse.”  

Asked about the refusal of the constitution committee to sit, a Board of Deputies spokesperson said: “The constitution committee is waiting until there are provisions in place before continuing to deal with existing complaints relating to the code of conduct.

“The proposed new constitution, which is yet to be adopted by Deputies, contains express indemnities as well as a governance and risk trustee. These provisions are required, due to the nature and complexity of the complaints made.”


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