Assistant ministers did not breach code

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Commissioner Paul Kernaghan considered the conduct of Deputy Rowland Huelin and Constable Richard Buchanan after both politicians referred themselves to his office.

Mr Kernaghan’s report has now been considered and published by the Privileges and Procedures Committee, which has stated that no further action is necessary.

Deputy Huelin, who was appointed as an Assistant Chief Minister in September, and Mr Buchanan, an Assistant Chief Minister and Assistant External Relations Minister, both admitted last month that they had imposed additional electricity costs on tenants in their lodging houses, after the matter had been highlighted in a freedom of information request.

Both cases were picked up by inspections by officers from Environmental Health in 2019, and Mr Kernaghan said there was no dispute over the facts in either case.

Deputy Rowland Huelin (30553852)

‘Deputy Huelin accepts that his tenants were inappropriately levied for costs related to a service charge and communal areas’ electricity,’ the commissioner’s report stated. ‘When the environmental health inspector brought the matter to his attention, he immediately took remedial action.’

With regard to Mr Buchanan, the commissioner stated: ‘Mr Buchanan accepts that during the period September 2017 to April 2019, his tenants were inappropriately levied for costs related to the provision of electricity meters and cards.

‘This inappropriate charge amounted to £42 per residential unit and was refunded when the environmental health inspector brought the matter to his attention.’

Mr Kernaghan said that he considered the self-referrals by both politicians had been appropriate and demonstrated their ‘accountability to the citizens of Jersey’.

Mr Buchanan said that he accepted that politicians were accountable, but was surprised by the ‘substantial volume of publicity’ that had been devoted to the issue.

Both politicians had previously opposed plans to regulate the rental dwellings sector.

Mr Buchanan said he felt the previous plans had not been appropriate, but he considered that renewed proposals due to be debated by the States Assembly later this year would have a ‘good chance’ of being adopted.

He also pointed out that the lodging-house sector was regulated, as had been evidenced by the inspections of his property, and Deputy Huelin’s, in 2019.

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