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Tensions At The Top Of Gov Revealed

The Chief Minister has released emails and meeting notes revealing the hostile relations with her Infrastructure Minister.

In them, Deputy Kristina Moore says Deputy Tom Binet acted in an aggressive manner in a recent exchange, whilst it has emerged he wrote to her last autumn saying her behaviour had left him feeling 'extremely stressed'.

The documents have been issued following a request from a Scrutiny panel and given to the media 'in the interest  of transparency'.

They reveal discord seven months ago, with Deputy Binet taking the Chief Minister to task over 'her approach'  to him and lack of courtesy to civil servants at a meeting in September about the hospital project.

"...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.

That said, of perhaps more importance than my own wellbeing is that of the extensive team who attend to our requirements and who rely on their jobs for their livelihoods. Whilst you may not always be content with their performance, I feel that they deserve to be treated with the same respect as we would hope to receive from them. Sadly, this courtesy was not apparent at the meeting of Wednesday 28th [September 2022]."  - Email from Deputy Tom Binet (Thursday 6 October 2022 at 8:04am).

Tensions between the pair were put in the public spotlight last month after Deputy Binet did media interviews criticising the government's handling of States CEO Suzanne Wylie's resignation and describing the atmosphere at the Broad Street offices as 'less than happy'.

Deputy Moore has published notes from a subsequent conversation with her Minister which she says 'left her feeling unsettled'.

Meeting note from Wednesday 29 March 2023 at around 5pm

The discussion began outside the Chief Minister’s office.

The Chief Minister said that she thought it would be helpful to have a discussion following the events of recent days, and the Council of Minister’s meeting on Tuesday 28th March in particular.

The Minister said that he didn’t have much to add to what he had already said, but would have a discussion if that was the Chief Minister’s wish and she thought it would be helpful.

There was a brief discussion as to whether it would be best to postpone the meeting and reconvene at a later date. The meeting continued. 

The Chief Minister said that she thought her and the Minister had had a positive discussion on Monday 27th March, and was therefore surprised with the Minister’s conduct in the Council of Minister’s meeting the following day. -

The Minister said that he came into the meeting on Tuesday in an anxious manner because the meeting hadn’t been in his diary, and he was therefore late (the Chief Minister later acknowledged that there had been issues with the diary invitation, but that a political discussion prior to formal CoM meetings had been a standard practice for some time). -

The Minister felt that he had given a positive interview to ITV on Tuesday 28th March, but that he had come into a hostile environment in the Council of Ministers room. The Minister said that he doesn’t want to work in this atmosphere and he doesn’t like it. -

The Minister criticised the Chief Minister’s leadership and said that he doesn’t have confidence in her leadership. He would be taking time to have one-to-one meetings with colleagues.

The Chief Minister said that she was surprised by the Minister’s demeanour at the Council of Ministers meeting and that she didn’t recognise the atmosphere that the Minister had described.

The Chief Minister said that she had been positive about her meeting with the Minister on the Monday and had relayed the positive outcome of the meeting to a number of colleagues. Nevertheless, Ministers had some questions regarding the Minister’s decision to speak to the media regarding the CEO’s departure.

The Chief Minister said it was important for the Ministers to work together as part of a team. The Minister said that he had many years of experience of working with teams and knew about the importance of teamwork.

The Minister asked the Chief Minister what groundwork she had done to develop support for him after their meeting on Monday and his ITV interview. He explained that he didn’t feel his concerns are listened to or acted upon (the Chief Minister had relayed that she had been positive about their discussion).

The Minister re-stated that he didn’t agree with the way in which the Chief Executive Officer’s departure had been handled and said that he couldn’t cope with the way in which the Chief Minister deals with things.

The Minister did not think the discussion was achieving anything further and left the meeting.

Comment: The Chief Minister noted that the meeting was tense throughout and that the Minister had acted in an aggressive manner, both in language and actions. The Chief Minister also noted that she remained calm throughout the meeting.

 

In her most recent letter to Deputy Binet, dated 13 April, Deputy Moore says she has 'no desire to see changes in the membership of the Council of Ministers' and expresses hope they can 'more forward positively together'.

"I trust you will understand that, as Chief Minister, I cannot allow a situation to continue where disagreements linger and distract us from the task of delivering on the plans that we have a democratic mandate to deliver. This ongoing situation risks that scenario arising. I am sorry that you previously expressed opinions about my leadership and, whilst you are free to hold those views, a working relationship and respect needs to be in place for the office and role of Chief Minister, and those of all fellow Ministers."

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