Current minister denies misleading the court
Former Health and Social Care Minister Rob Callister has referred a statement made in May’s sitting of Tynwald by current Health Minister Lawrie Hooper to the Tynwald Standards and Members’ Interests Committee.
Mr Callister argues comments made discussing his involvement in government’s handling of the Dr Ranson tribunal were ‘misleading’.
He previously accused Mr Hooper of ‘throwing him under the bus’, and has requested a formal apology.
Onchan MHK Rob Callister issued the following statement this morning (19 June):
On Manx Radio’s “Perspective” programme on Sunday (18 June), the Health & Social Care Minister, Lawrie Hooper, MHK made various comments and accusations towards myself personally, and these are in addition to the unhelpful comments he made on social media last week.
Happy to clarify why I believe Mr. Hooper, MHK knowingly or unknowingly gave a statement to Tynwald which I believe to be factually incorrect.
On 16 May 2023, the Health and Social Minister read out a statement in Tynwald Court which I felt was on occasion misleading, especially for the media who would be reporting on the statement and the general public who were listening online, along with my Tynwald colleagues who were in the Chamber at the time.
That day Minister Hooper advised Tynwald Court that the decision to file the Skeleton Argument relating to the Dr. Ranson legal case was undertaken by the officers in the Department using powers properly delegated to officers from the Minister under the Government Departments Act 1987, due to the fact that I as the Minister was absent.
Under section 4 of the Delegation of Functions document, it states that “In the absence of the Minister, power to exercise any administrative functions which would otherwise fall to be exercised by the Minister but cannot await his return and which have not been delegated to any other member”.
However, after looking into the matter further, I confirm that the Delegation of Functions document, which would normally be signed by a new Minister upon their appointment, was only sent to me for signature on 7 November 2022.
Therefore I believe that neither the interim Chief Executive nor any other DHSC officer from within the Department actually had the prescribed powers on 28th September 2022 in accordance with the Government Departments Act 1987.
I would also argue that the decision to file the Skeleton Argument relating to Dr. Ranson legal case was not an “administrative function” as outlined under section 4 of the Delegation of Function document, but instead was a very complex and difficult political decision.
This argument is strengthened further by the fact that a Council paper was prepared and sent to the Council of Ministers for consideration on 28 or 29 September 2022, although the paper was subsequently withdrawn.
I also found the Minister’s comment in Tynwald Court that I was “absent” on 28 September 2022 to be very concerning, especially when I had various meetings in the office on that particular day, along with taking numerous calls from DHSC officers throughout the day.
I had a number of telephone conversations relating to the filing of the Skeleton Argument with both the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister in the afternoon of 28 September 2022 between 15.20 and 15.50, and therefore I feel the Minister’s statement in May’s sitting of Tynwald was not correct.
All of this information is already duly recorded in my evidence that I provided to the Tynwald Standards and Members’ Interests Committee back in November / December 2022.
I have also written to the Chairman of the Tynwald Standards and Members’ Interest Committee on 24 May, along with the President of Tynwald, in order to outline my concerns in respect of the Health and Social Care Minister’s statement in Tynwald on 16 May 2023, and I welcome their review of the evidence in due course.
Health and Social Care Minister Lawrie Hooper has denied misleading Tynwald.