THE PHILIP OZOUF EFFECT
THE YEARS OF SCANDAL AND THE FINANCIAL COSTS
Senator Philip Ozouf has had an interesting record of public service in the States since 1999. His early encounters with Terry Le Main were not good as Terry fired him off the then Housing Committee in 2000. These were early days. In 2002, Ozouf was locked in battle with both Rob Duhamel and Ted Vibert resulting in the collapse of the Public Services Committee. This was the same year as the Trinity Infill planning disaster. Ozouf was President.
The following are well documented resignations reported in the local media over the past 10 years. All of these people named had direct connections to Philip Ozouf.
Consider the careers of John Scally and David Margason, both previous chief executives of the former Waterfront Enterprise Board. Both had excellent careers before and afterwards but hit the Ozouf factor or confluence while here. Consider the well-respected Gerald Voisin, who resigned as chairman of the said development company over other issues. Margason now works for an international property development company, heading up its European operations. His experience in Jersey must have been so bad that he does not mention Jersey on his executive summary.
Consider the termination of the Jersey career of the eminent Chris Swinson, FCA, and a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and a former President of that Institute. He is presently governor of a UK University among other positions. He was Comptroller and Auditor General here in Jersey and wrote many excellent reports including two very critical reports about the Waterfront and the Limegrove saga. He was critical of Senator Ozouf while he was Treasury Minister. He referred to political interference in the process to find a location for a new Police HQ. States Members and the public then and now never really knew what happened. He departed in a well-documented series of stories in the local media and he has been discreet in staying out of the media and making any further comment.
Consider the careers of previous States Treasurers, Ian Black and Laura Rowley and the interim Treasurer Hugh McGarel Groves. Ian Black resigned in 2010 when Senator Ozouf was Treasury Minister. During Mr Black's 11 years in the post he led the development and implementation of a number of initiatives, including the centralisation of all financial processing, modernised the Public Finances Law and the incorporation of Jersey Telecom and Jersey Post. Laura Rowley was appointed as States Treasurer at the very end of 2010 amid a fanfare of media pronouncements. She was part of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2011-2014 when States spending was slashed for three years. She suddenly resigned in the early summer of 2014, when Senator Ozouf announced the first details of the looming States deficit.
Consider the career of Bill Ogley, the former chief executive to the Council of Ministers. He came to Jersey in 2003 to oversee many changes including the switch to Ministerial Government. He worked for Frank Walker and Terry le Sueur. In 2012, the JEP reported that: “A serious breakdown in the relationship between Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf and former chief executive Bill Ogley led to the civil servant leaving his job with a £546,337 pay-off. ‘Over the last two years a sustained period of interference and harassment by the Deputy Chief Minister and Treasury Minister has made it impossible to do my job to the best of my ability.’ One wonders what else happened there. This termination also involves the same Senator Ozouf or his office. Less than a year later, two highly qualified women, both in senior positions in States Treasury, both left their positions.
Then there are the resignations of David Flowers at Jersey Property Holdings and Stephen Izatt at the States of Jersey Development Company. Resignations came happening quick and fast and little or no information. Both resigned more or less at the same time in 2011. Both were dealing with States property. Both were giving evidence to Sarah Ferguson’s investigation into the Limegrove fiasco at the same time.
It is interesting that Izatt gave evidence to Sarah Ferguson’s investigation into the Limegrove fiasco in September 2011, turned all his files over to that investigation and then abruptly leaves with a big settlement six weeks later. David Flowers also gave evidence in September 2011 and then resigned his position.
There was the resignation of Paul Nichols at Jersey Planning in 2008. He was in Jersey less than two years. He oversaw the commencement of the Waterfront Masterplan and the EDAW regeneration for St. Helier. Unfortunately, he was a casualty of the “Inner Sanctum” that still runs Jersey and was summarily dispatched. He went on to run enormous schemes in the Greater London area, working with Boris Johnson.
Then there was the marginalization of Deputy John Le Fondre of St Lawrence. Le Fondre is a chartered accountant who had many years or experience in private practice before standing for the States in 2005. He disagreed with Philip Ozouf on a number of issues and was an Assistant Minister at Treasury when Ozouf and Gorst got rid of him. He had disagreed with the location of the New Police Station and had carried out a major piece of work to locate the new Police HQ on the Sacre Coeur site at Rouge Bouillon.
The point of all this review is to point out these casualties that fell afoul of Philip Ozouf and his stewardship. The word casualty may be wrong. Some of these men and women will have been glad to be free of the bullying and interference in Jersey that is self-evident in the media reports of the time that are easy to find on the internet. Most of these people named went on to good and even better careers than the ones they had in Jersey.
Most of the problem seems to have been centered directly round Treasury between 2008 and 2014. Treasury in particular has had many problems. Two very senior staff members, D. le G. and W.M. both left abruptly in 2013. The rest is centered on Jersey Property Holdings and the States of Jersey Development company. To some extent, the Director of Planning and Harcourt were part of the fall-out.
Harcourt Developments may well feel that a situation was engineered against them to remove them from the JIFC development in Jersey in 2008-2011 at a time when British and Irish banks were collapsing, Northern Rock, Lehman Brothers and Anglo-Irish bank all disappeared into the hands of winding up orders. On reflection It could be argued in any court but in Jersey that the States of Jersey Development Company was convinced or persuaded by parties in senior political positions that commercial property development is easy and the removal of Harcourt by legal means was endorsed by States Members who may have been used as pawns in this drama.
Harcourt completed the new bus station, the apartment hotel above, a business centre, the restoration of the old abattoir and completed the office developments to the west of the abbatoir.It is ironic that Harcourt seemed to have gone on to develop the hugely successful Titanic Quarter in Belfast and now the Titanic Centre in Liverpool in the middle of one of the worst recessions known in almost a century and indeed Dandara developed Castle Quay and other many other well-documented developments in Jersey in the teeth of the same recession.
Most paths lead to Philip Ozouf. The question is why is he still in office? Why does he get the protection of his master Ian Gorst. For whatever reasons, we will never know.
Lastly remember it was Philip Ozouf who told the Assembly in 2014 that work would not commence on the Jersey International Finance Centre until 200,000 sq ft of space had been pre-let. Here we are in 2017 with building 4 just 60% prelet and building 5 with 50%. Both buildings let to tenants who are already here in Jersey and all 3 companies having direct links with the SoJDC board for instance Nicolas Palios the Chairman of SoJDC is a non-executive of Sanne who are signing the prelet to building 5.
If you care about your island, make your voice and your presence felt on Tuesday next the 17th January and be in the Royal Square at 12.30 for an hour or so to tell this Government that Ozouf must GO!