Do we really need a costly Solicitor General post?

Angela Moffatt

Angela Moffatt

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A union leader is querying plans to create a post of Solicitor General - saying the new role is ill-defined, costly and the case for it unclear.

The post of Solicitor General was one of the recommendations of a review into the management of the Attorney General’s chambers which was conducted by Stephen Wooler CB, formerly Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Wooler’s report, which was never made public in full, concluded there should be a second Crown officer in the island capable of supporting the whole range of the duties of the Attorney General.

Legislation to create the role, the Law Officer’s Bill, has been through LegCo but has yet to complete its passage through the House of Keys.

But Angela Moffatt, negotiations officer for the Prospect union, said she was concerned there is proper public scrutiny and justification for the creation of top ranking posts, particularly in the current financial times.

‘If public faith in government is to be maintained then we need to ensure a public debate and full transparency on the process leading up to the decision.

‘It’s also important to understand why parts of the Wooler review, which was completed over two years ago have not been implemented while other parts have been varied. The highly paid post of Director of Civil Law was not recommended by Wooler but nonetheless has been created and filled without any discussion as to whether it could encompass the Solicitor General function.

‘It appears there is an unexplained drive to create the Solicitor General post now when the idea has lain dormant for some time, and other top level posts have been created in addition to it.

‘The public have a right to understand why their money is being spent in this way. Were the Wooler recommendations as to the need for a second Crown appointee made with any consideration of other options, and most importantly with regard to cost?

‘Given the government’s financial situation at the time was very different, has the government reviewed the recommendations accordingly, and with cost in mind?’

Ms Moffatt said it is unclear what the precise role of Solicitor General was supposed to be. She added: ‘Has the creation of an extremely expensive new role been independently scrutinised as to value for money/business need, given the deviations from the original recommendations in the Wooler report and the changed financial position the island now finds itself in?’

The union leader also echoed the concerns of backbencher Alfred Cannan MHK over the proposed appointment of an executive director of policy in the new Cabinet Office which has been advertised in the Guardian newspaper with an annual salary of £77,977 to £97,370.

Mrs Moffatt said: ‘We were never consulted and do not agree with the creation of an executive director of policy.’

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