I won’t resign, David Ashford says

By Siobhan Fletcher   |   Reporter   |
Thursday 19th May 2022 5:27 pm
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Isle of Man Government coronavirus daily briefing for Thursday, April 16 2020, with Health and Social Care Minister David Ashford (Isle of Man Newspapers )

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The former Health Minister has rebuffed calls for his resignation.

Calls for Treasury Minister David Ashford to resign had intensified in the wake of an employment tribunal which ruled in favour of former medical director Dr Rosalind Ranson.

In a statement to this week’s Isle of Man Examiner, Mr Ashford said: ‘I recognise the decision of the recent tribunal and fully acknowledge that it makes difficult reading for Isle of Man Government as an organisation.

‘Across government we need to ensure we develop a culture where people feel free to challenge and speak up without fear.’

He added: ‘I remain absolutely adamant that all times in the role of Minister for Health and Social Care I acted appropriately and in compliance with the government code and the limits that quite rightly are placed on ministers around involving themselves in employment matters.

‘The tribunal stated clearly it was not their role to pass judgement on any aspect of the government’s handling of the Covid pandemic.

‘That will be a matter for the Covid inquiry and I look forward to engaging fully and in detail with [the] inquiry in relation to the decision making process, how decisions were reached and the wider context of the pandemic period in due course.

‘In the meantime, my focus remains firmly on address the impacts of the cost of living crisis being seen in our community and working to ensure that those most vulnerable are shielded from the worst effects of the crisis and alongside that continuing to work with colleagues to tackle the financial pressures government itself is facing.’

Leading the charge calling for Mr Ashford’s resignation is Douglas Central MHK Chris Thomas.

Mr Thomas has described Mr Ashford as having ‘Walter Mitty tendencies’, saying ‘he actually believes in himself far too much’.

Walter Mitty was a fictional character with a vivid fantasy life who appeared in American author James Thurber’s first short story ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’, which was first published in 1939.

Mr Thomas said: ‘Before I came into politics, John Shimmin resigned because it had been suggested that he’d acted unlawfully.

‘I went on Manx Radio at the time and said that made him a good candidate to be the next Chief Minister.

‘I do hope that Minister Ashford respects himself and does offer his resignation to the Chief Minister because it can only do him good, and can only do Manx politics good. The alternative is far worse.’

In the tribunal report, Mr Ashford was described as ‘not always consistent’ in his evidence, and as overly reliant on former DHSC chief executive officer Kathryn Magson.

It states: In general the approach of the tribunal was to consider the evidence of the Minister as reflecting his best recollections, albeit not always consistent or easy to support.

‘Because of Miss Magson’s determination to apply the rigid command structure, the tribunal considered him to have been over-reliant on Miss Magson for his information. In consequence, he may have been misinformed.’