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Ministers conflict of interest


Banker
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30 minutes ago, Augustus said:

Some illuminating extracts from the report:

Minister Laurence Skelly (MS)

41.The meeting with MS had been fixed for his convenience and I was therefore surprised to find that he had not prepared for it, by refreshing his memory or looking at the Departmental papers.

42.MS said that he accepted that he had an actual (not merely perceived) conflict of interest when he took part in the CoMin discussion on the Meary Voar planning application on 3 September 2015. He had no recollection of the meeting and said that he relied on officials such as the Chief Secretary or HM Acting Attorney General to tell him of any conflict of interest. He understood that the conflict related to a hangar being built at Ronaldsway about which he knew nothing and which he thought should have been a matter for DoI.

43.I showed MS the letter in support of the Meary Voar Development, signed by him and dated 5 May 2015, which made express reference to the hangar and its link to the development of the property. MS had no recollection of it. I showed MS the report of Stephen Amos referring him to specific paragraphs dealing with the economic benefits which should have alerted him to his Department’s interest in the planning application. MS conceded that had he read them, it would have alerted him. He was happy to concede that he had been negligent but insisted he had not knowingly failed to declare a conflict of interest.

44.I asked MS about his knowledge of the HNWI. He was certain that he had not met him, but might have spoken to him on the telephone. He explained that, as the previous planning application had been approved, DED had seen the application as an extension of the first and had expected it to be passed without difficulty. At this point, MS explained that he had been Chairman of the Planning Committee and 16 subsequently Minister for Infrastructure for a short period. He had found the attitude of the Planning Directorate and their strict adherence to proper procedure and their narrow vision extremely frustrating. He said that the shortage of suitable properties and the problems over planning deterred HNWIs moving to the Isle of Man and this was hindering economic growth.

47.At the time I interviewed MS, I had been under the misapprehension that Stephen Amos’ Report had been discussed at the meeting on 3 September 2015. After I learned from HM Solicitor General that there had been an earlier meeting at which MS had recused himself and that the meeting of 3 September had considered the Report of Mike Ash, I wrote to MS, setting out the correct position and offering to see him again, or in the alternative, seeking his comments in writing. MS did not respond so I wrote again setting him a deadline and explaining that, in the absence of any response, I might have to draw adverse inferences. Copies of the correspondence are attached as Appendix 4. In his response dated 12 January 2016, MS again denied that he knew that he had a conflict of interest. He believed that he had only “skim-read” the papers and failed to notice it, but again stated that he relied on others to identify any conflict and had to assume that no one raised it

 

Augustus - do you have the download pdf's from the gov website? If so, are you able to download them into your attachments and then link them so that we can view them? 

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1 minute ago, Andy Onchan said:

Augustus - do you have the download pdf's from the gov website? If so, are you able to download them into your attachments and then link them so that we can view them? 

Andy, the links keep expiring. Just go to IOM Freedom of information home page and then search. Use Skelly as your search word

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3 hours ago, maynragh said:

Are these links still working?

It's a constant problem with FoI responses that they are linked via these 'servlets' which only work for a limited period or for a limited number of times they are used.  So permanent links aren't possible. 

As with so much that comes out of government it's difficult to know if this is deliberate obstruction or simply carelessness or incompetence.  They use  standard casework management software, but that is designed to work for those running the system rather than for the convenience of the public.  Which tells you about their priorities.

So John's new links will work now but fail later.  The only reliable method is to go to the FoI Requests Search Page and go from there.  You used to be able to search by Government Department (or equivalent) but that's no longer possible.  Unless you know the details you have to search back in time through all responses and to make things more difficult the date used is not when the response was made but when the original request went in.  Because response times differ, it means that the latest information won't necessarily be at the top of the list - or even on the first page.

In this case it's currently halfway down the second page with a date of 20/10/2020 (even though the outcome when it was released was 18/12/2020) and the title "Complete Copy of a Report by Angela-Main Thompson 18.02.17". Clicking on that gives you the main response, some correspondence and the report in two parts.  You're probably best saving them to your own computer to avoid going through all that every time. 

Edited by Roger Mexico
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41 minutes ago, piebaps said:

What I find most difficult here is that members of Comin are making decisions based on "skim reading" the papers.

Look who we've got in Comin. Are any of them capable of anything else other than "skim reading"? Do they ever have much in-depth understanding of anything that they're asked to consider and vote on?

On what's coming out here they appear to consider that they may rely on others to point things out and maintain the diligence and there's very little thinking for themselves.

As to any consequences.....we don't do consequences.

ETA. Then consider that for some, the next step is up to Legco for "Scrutinising Legislation".

Edited by Non-Believer
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2 minutes ago, Non-Believer said:

Look who we've got in Comin. Are any of them capable of anything else other than "skim reading"? Do they ever have much in-depth understanding of anything that they're asked to consider and vote on?

On what's coming out here they appear to consider that they may rely on others to point things out and maintain the diligence and there's very little thinking for themselves.

As to any consequences.....we don't do consequences.

Consequences? are you joking? any words with more than 2 syllables confuse the current bunch of muppets, skim reading oh yeah!

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4 minutes ago, Non-Believer said:

Look who we've got in Comin. Are any of them capable of anything else other than "skim reading"? Do they ever have much in-depth understanding of anything that they're asked to consider and vote on?

On what's coming out here they appear to consider that they may rely on others to point things out and maintain the diligence and there's very little thinking for themselves.

As to any consequences.....we don't do consequences.

There was actually even more revealing information about the (lack of ) understanding of the senior departmental civil service heads.

They were, by then, receiving the CoMin agenda packs, but apparently hadn’t twigged that they might be expected to read them, warn their minister of conflicts or even protect their minister.

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35 minutes ago, piebaps said:

What I find most difficult here is that members of Comin are making decisions based on "skim reading" the papers.

Indeed.  Most of us assumed they never looked at them at all.

For some reason the account of Skelly's interview with Main-Thompson reminds me of a sulky scally giving a 'no comment' interview when arrested by the police with 38 wraps of cocaine hidden about their person.

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16 minutes ago, Roger Mexico said:

It's a constant problem with FoI responses that they are linked via these 'servlets' which only work for a limited period or for a limited number of times they are used.  So permanent links aren't possible. 

As with so much that comes out of government it's difficult to know if this is deliberate obstruction or simply carelessness or incompetence.  They use  standard casework management software, but that is designed to work for those running the system rather than for the convenience of the public.  Which tells you about their priorities.

So John's new links will work now but fail later.  The only reliable method is to go to the FoI Requests Search Page and go from there.  You used to be able to search by Government Department (or equivalent) but that's no longer possible.  Unless you know the details you have to search back in time through all responses and to make things more difficult the date used is not when the response was made but when the original request went in.  Because response times differ, it means that the latest information won't necessarily be at the top of the list - or even on the first page.

In this case it's currently halfway down the second page with a date of 20/10/2020 (even though the outcome when it was released was 18/12/2020) and the title "Complete Copy of a Report by Angela-Main Thompson 18.02.17". Clicking on that gives you the main response, some correspondence and the report in two parts.  You're probably best saving them to your own computer to avoid going through all that every time. 

Just search one word. Skelly. That works. 

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4 minutes ago, John Wright said:

Just search one word. Skelly. That works. 

I was trying to give more general principles.  The problem is that you don't know what will work for a particular response until you find it - "Meary Voar" doesn't produce anything for example.

Though the downside of scrolling though is that you get distracted by all sorts of other revelations.

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33 minutes ago, Non-Believer said:

If he wasn't already stepping down at end of term...

Do we have confirmation of this? If so, his departure from Keys is a very positive step. (Subject to the risk of whichever low-intellect chancer replaces him of course).

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3 minutes ago, Banker said:

At the very least you would expect a statement from skelly in Tynwald next week giving an unreserved apology 

That doesn't look very likely. The report (2016) states: 

42.MS said that he accepted that he had an actual (not merely perceived) conflict of interest when he took part in the CoMin discussion on the Meary Voar planning application on 3 September 2015. He had no recollection of the meeting and said that he relied on officials such as the Chief Secretary or HM Acting Attorney General to tell him of any conflict of interest. He understood that the conflict related to a hangar being built at Ronaldsway about which he knew nothing and which he thought should have been a matter for DoI.

In this week's Manx Independent, Mr Skelly is quoted today (2021) as saying "In hindsight there could be a perceived conflict."

No mate, the report (and your own quoted words in it) make it very, very clear there was no perceived conflict, but an actual conflict of interests.

 

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