Jersey’s assistant chief minister, Philip Ozouf, has been “dismissed”, the States of Jersey has announced.
In a statement, the States of Jersey said chief minister Ian Gorst had “decided that Senator Philip Ozouf should not continue to hold the position of assistant chief minister”.
In what is apparently a still-fast-moving story, the Jersey Evening Post changed the headline of the story on its website on Monday afternoon from “Ozouf dismissed as Assistant Chief Minister” to “Ozouf offered to resign in hours before he was dismissed”.
The publication cited a letter it had received from Ozouf, in which he explained that he had offered to resign so that the States of Jersey, rather than the chief minister, would be able appoint someone to the role, in an apparent effort to take some of the political heat off Gorst.
According to the paper, Gorst faced a vote of no confidence on Tuesday, “which was in part brought in response to his decision to reappoint Senator Ozouf” last month.
Ozouf’s dismissal was the latest development in an ongoing series of events that began last year, after problems involving a government-funded fund set up to encourage start-up businesses on Jersey emerged. As assistant chief minister, Ozouf was responsible for overseeing the financial services and digital industries and competition matters, and thus was responsible for the so-called “Innovation Fund”.
He subsequently resigned from his post as assistant chief minister on 17 January, but was reinstated in May by Gorst.
In a statement on the States of Jersey’s website today, explaining the decision to dismiss Ozouf, Gorst said: “It is disappointing that Senator Ozouf’s reappointment has become an unfortunate cause of diversion from the task of undertaking the important government work that lies ahead.
“Senator Ozouf was reappointed to drive forward progress in the financial services and digital sectors for which, as I said at the time, he is well equipped to undertake.
“It has, however, become clear over the last few weeks that his re-appointment has unfortunately developed into a serious distraction from the ongoing work of the Council of Ministers.
“I am sure that as a Member of the States Assembly, Senator Ozouf will continue to focus on serving islanders and on making a positive contribution to the future of Jersey.”
Gorst has also detailed his thoughts on the matter on an internet blog, in which he says he is doing so because “I have no option but to speak out as it’s clear the CM [chief minister] – who I support – is being pressurised by an unnamed group of people who are demanding my head…
“I will always put Jersey first. But what has been going on in recent days is beyond the pale.”