Gawne withdraws bullying claim - but MLC demands a full apology

Phil Gawne MHK

Phil Gawne MHK

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Environment Minister Phil Gawne has withdrawn his allegations of bullying by a member of the Legislative Council.

But MLC Alex Downie said he believed Mr Gawne should apologise to LegCo for his comments.

Rushen MHK Mr Gawne claimed he had been threatened by an MLC who he alleged may have been behind a dirty tricks campaign which included sending anonymous letters to his department and was apparently linked to his recent, unsuccessful, call to abolish the upper house.

He refused to named the politician involved and admitted he had no proof there was any orchestrated smear campaign.

But having read his comments, Speaker Steve Rodan invited Mr Gawne to refer this ‘most serious matter’ to Tynwald’s standards and members interests committee.

Mr Gawne wrote back, saying he would like to withdraw his comments and there was no basis to refer a complaint for investigation.

He wrote: ‘I have been reviewing my comments on various media and I now think I would like to withdraw my remarks about the actions of a member of the Legislative Council and, in particular, about any connection between a conversation that I had recently with Mr Downie or members of the Legislative Council and the circulation of anonymous correspondence which was critical of me and my department.

‘I do not think that I have any basis to refer a complaint from me to the Standards Committee.

‘I would be happy to meet you or the President and Mr Downie privately and sort out any remaining differences with Mr Downie, if any of you thought that would be helpful.’

The Speaker circulated the letters to all Tynwald members with a note saying that he hoped this would ‘finally deal with this matter’.

However, it has emerged that the matter has been referred to the standards committee by another member.

And Mr Downie is demanding an apology on behalf of his fellow MLCs. He said: ‘Having spoken to colleagues in LegCo, who were maligned unnecessarily, the general consensus is that we will be asking Mr Gawne for a full apology on MTTV, Facebook, Manx Radio and the newspapers.’

Mr Downie had previously confirmed he had sent to Mr Gawne’s department a copy of a letter from an anonymous farmer which criticised aspects of the Countryside Care Scheme. He said he had included a covering letter with his name and told the Examiner that Mr Gawne ‘should name and shame - put up or shut up’.

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