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Mar 11 - GSD Criticises “Lack Of Transparency” In Hernandez Bullying Investigation

The GSD says it is astonished by the comments made by the Chief Minister on GBC on Thursday 6 March in relation to the allegations of bullying made against Joanna Hernandez by 35 FJS trainees. The GSD says that the Chief Minister’s assertion that the claim by these trainees is not comparable to the allegations of abuse made by Ms Hernandez in relation to the Dr Giraldi Home, is “incomprehensible.”

The Opposition’s statement continues:

The allegations being made are of very serious abusive behaviour against young trainees in respect of whom the Government owes a duty of care. They have also allegedly been perpetrated by someone whom the GSLP-Liberals themselves made a cause célèbre when they were in Opposition and which they appointed as a Civil Servant when they were elected into Government.  To suggest that the allegations are somehow not deserving of the same serious treatment or that this matter is not sufficiently in the public interest to justify an independent investigation is simply not sustainable. 

To boot, the Chief Minister suggested that the investigation would be kept confidential and that no report would be laid before Parliament.  This lack of transparency on a matter of such public importance is simply not acceptable but echoes the stance of the Government in many other areas. 

The reality is that there are serious concerns in many quarters at the manner in which this matter is being handled.  At first, the Chief Minister personally intervened to move Ms Hernandez sideways within the same department.  That was a political decision taken by him and not a managerial decision.  It was only after the Opposition called for an independent investigation that the Government announced an investigation led by the Chief Secretary. 

It is also a matter of concern that Ms Hernandez herself has said in a statement posted on Facebook that the allegations have not been put to her, that she doesn’t know what she is being accused of, and that she has been constantly trying to contact the Chief Secretary and other Senior Civil Servants to no avail.  The Opposition itself has been bombarded by communications from the public as to why, given the gravity and scale of the allegations, Ms Hernandez has not been suspended pending the investigation.  The question being asked is whether it is in the best interests of other employees and Ms Hernandez herself, for the Chief Minister to have personally made the decision to have her simply moved sideways while the investigation is pending. 

The way the Chief Minister is dealing with this matter is in stark contrast with the way the GSLP-Liberals made Ms Hernandez a cause célèbre when they were in Opposition.  The allegations made by Ms Hernandez were milked mercilessly by the GSLP party machinery, with Mr. Bossano appearing in the Spanish TV programme “Espejo Publico” as a result of which, the Dr Giraldi Home was labelled on Spanish national TV as “the House of Horrors”.

Ms Hernandez, in turn, has made no secret of her support for the GSLP.  It will be recalled that she was represented by Mr Picardo and Mr Bossano in her Industrial Tribunal claim against the Social Services Agency -something which, in itself begs the question whether there is a conflict of interest in any of them having any dealings with this matter whatsoever. The GSLP-Liberals then committed themselves to holding a public enquiry at great public expense, and despite the fact that the result of the Inquiry is not yet known, both Mr Bossano and Ms Hernandez have made it clear that they are not happy at the way the Inquiry has been handled, with Ms Hernandez publicly expressing her discontent with the Judge in the social media.

Justice has to be done and seen to be done.  The attempt by the Government to keep this investigation confidential is just another example of how their New Dawn maxim at the last election is proving an immense disappointment.