CHIEF Minister Kristina Moore described Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet’s actions as ‘aggressive’ during a ‘tense’ government meeting, according to newly released documents.
Letters, emails and notes published on Thursday – following a request from a Scrutiny panel – show that tensions between the pair had been brewing for at least six months before former chief executive Suzanne Wylie’s resignation.
Deputy Binet meanwhile wrote to Deputy Moore in October to say he felt ‘extremely stressed’ by her approach during a meeting.
In a letter to Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel chair Deputy Sam Mézec, Deputy Moore wrote that she deemed it appropriate to publish her correspondences with Deputy Binet following references to the exchanges in this week’s States sitting.
The Chief Minister and the Infrastructure Minister have clashed publicly recently – after Deputy Binet issued a sharp critique of Deputy Moore’s handling of the Mrs Wylie’s departure, describing the atmosphere at Broad Street as ‘tense and less than happy’ and the chief executive’s exit as an ‘own goal’ for the government.
Deputy Moore published her notes from a ‘difficult meeting’ with Deputy Binet that took place on 29 March – which she says left her ‘feeling very unsettled’.
She describes the meeting as ‘tense throughout’, claiming that Deputy Binet ‘acted in an aggressive manner, both in language and actions’.
Meanwhile in his October letter, Deputy Binet also criticised what he said was a lack of courtesy towards other members of the team.
He wrote: ‘On each occasion I left feeling extremely stressed, to the extent that, as a consequence of your approach to me at the last of these, I had to leave before the meeting commenced and cancel all other meetings for the remainder of the day.
‘I should add, that instead of catching up on my work over the weekend, my state of mind was such that I felt unable to function constructively as I wrestled with the dilemma of how best I should deal with the situation.’
Deputy Binet also said staff deserved ‘to be treated with the same respect as we would hope to receive from them’, but added: ‘Sadly, this courtesy was not apparent at the meeting…’
Last week, the Chief Minister said that there had been ‘no formal grievances raised, or investigations undertaken, relating to unacceptable behaviour by Ministers or senior civil servants’ since the current government came into office – but admitted that ‘from time to time relationships can get strained’.
The letter published on Thursday was responding to Deputy Mézec’s call for an ‘overview of all concerns’.