The Attorney General has decided that as a result, there is nobody to prosecute.
The decision has led one politician to claim that States bodies are virtually immune from prosecution).The St John arsenic decision comes despite an extensive police investigation into the pollution of a well at Mont Mado from contaminated wood chippings made at the States-run Crabbé compost site.
The scare led to chippings from Crabbé being removed from a number of sites around the Island, including primary schools amid fears that children could be at riskA number of Agriculture and Fisheries staff were questioned by police in the presence of their lawyers, but Attorney General William Bailhache has decided not to bring charges against anyone.
He says that following the disbandment of the Agriculture and Fisheries Committee and the transfer of their responsibilities to the Economic Development Committee, there was no-one left with criminal responsibility for the incident, even if there was a case to answer.
He told the JEP: ‘The committee no longer exists and the Transfer of Functions Act adopted by the States was not capable in law of transferring any criminal responsibility, if any existed, to the Economic Development Committee.’Mr Bailhache has revealed that the form of act used to transfer responsibilities between committees was now under review.
The decision has been greeted with incredulity by Health president Senator Stuart Syvret, who says it could encourage public authorities to evade their responsibilities by simply ‘reorganising themselves’.And he says that there is a wider implication for the future of public prosecutions in the Island.
He also cites the decision not to prosecute Housing president Deputy Le Main for an alleged data protection infraction as evidence that public authorities in the Island are ‘all but immune’ from prosecution.Senator Syvret says that the Law Officers are not independent enough, because they act as legal advisers to the States and take decisions over whether committees should be prosecuted.’This is further evidence towards the view that what passes for a Crown prosecution service is not sufficiently independent from politics,’ he said.
‘I do not see how any reasonable view could support the Law Officers wearing both hats.
The two things just do not square.’It causes me great concern because these are not the first instances where a public authority should have been prosecuted but has not been.
The dumping of incinerator ash on the waterfront and the subsequent polluting of the marine environment breached the Sewerage Miscellaneous Provisions Law but no action was taken.’Senator Syvret believes that the Crown Officers should be separated from politics altogether.He said: ‘The question is, can the public rely upon the full protection of the law from the potentially criminal acts committed by public authorities through negligence? The ordinary person in the street could quite reasonably form the view that the involvement of Crown Officers in advising committees could in fact prejudice the appearance of objectivity.’Mr Bailhache declined to comment, other than to release the reasons for his decision not to prosecute over the Mont Mado incident.