Scrutineers call for daily press conferences and emergency meeting transcripts

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Regular updates about the Island’s response to the coronavirus have been given, but the Government of Jersey has yet to go to the lengths of the UK and Isle of Man and hold daily conferences.

Senator Kristina Moore, who leads the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, questioned Chief Minister John Le Fondré on the issue and sent him a letter as well.

The message called for regular times for updates, consistent messaging, for the language used to be accessible to all Islanders, and it also stated that information should only be withheld in exceptional circumstances or for legal reasons.

She said: ‘It is happening in the UK and it is now happening in the Isle of Man too. People there expect it to happen at a set time every day, and it provides updates to the public and reassures them.

‘It is the time they find out information. Everyone knows it is happening and it also aids the media as well. I’ve seen some people saying at certain press conferences that they didn’t realise it was happening at all.

‘People would really look to it for leadership and to be assured. I’ve asked the Chief Minister about this twice now, and he told me that he has so many meetings that sometimes things overrun.

‘The government has messages to give people for reassurance and this would really help.’

The Chief Minister faced scrutineers last week and has agreed for minutes of the Emergencies Council meetings, where top Covid-19 decisions are made, to be made available to Scrutiny committees.

However, Deputy Kirsten Morel, the chairman of the Economic Affairs Scrutiny Panel, said he believed the government should go further and record the emergency meetings and publish transcripts. He said this was important because plans were being made about the public’s liberty and they had a right to know how those decisions were made.

He added: ‘We are pleased that we are going to have the minutes for Scrutiny, but minutes can be basic and not explain why decisions are made or how they are made.

‘I have asked the Chief Minister if they [Emergencies Council meetings] can be recorded and he told me it would be difficult to do. We have just had a States sitting online, so I don’t understand how that is the case.

‘Then we could have transcripts. They would have to be redacted in some form I’m sure, but it would show how these decisions are made.’

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