Members of the Department of Health and Social Care have challenged claims made by the former health minister that ‘bullying’ has been happening in the department.
Their statement read: ‘We wrote to the chief minister with our concerns on November 3 following a series of events within the DHSC.
‘We had endeavoured to deal with matters within the political meetings within the department, but when our approach proved impossible we felt we had no alternative but to inform the chief minister of our concerns. We acted out of the wish to uphold standards and integrity.
‘A culture of owning, and learning from, mistakes must start with us and be modelled by us or it means nothing.
‘We started our tenure under the new minister being supportive and challenging, and remained so throughout. We are grateful to the chief minister for seeking further information from those involved, and for taking decisive action.
‘We’re sorry that Mr Callister feels that we have acted in any way unprofessionally throughout this episode.
‘We have kept our counsel until now in order to allow all parties to maintain their dignity, but the outburst in Tynwald Court today levelled a number of charges at us which are unfounded and we wish to utterly refute.
‘We understand that this matter is now likely to be referred to the Tynwald Members Standards Committee.’
It came after Mr Callister told Mr Cannan he felt he had to ‘defend’ himself following the chief minister’s comments towards other former health minister David Ashford, who opted to resign from the department earlier this year.
Mr Cannan commended Mr Ashford’s integrity, which Mr Callister questioned.
He said: ‘I have to ask the chief minister where he felt my integrity was wrong not to accept a scripted resignation letter from him and the deputy chief minister, when at the time I had been honest?
‘And where was the chief minister’s integrity when I brought to his attention allegations of bullying? Where was the chief minister’s integrity when I brought behavioural problems with my department members?
‘I am absolutely appalled by the chief minister’s comments this morning.’
In response, the chief minister said: ‘The member is raising a number of significant and serious matters that do now need to be investigated and, as the member has made those formal allegations, then they will need to be properly looked at.’
The original question came from MHK Tim Glover, who asked about the stability of government following a number of ‘shuffles’.
Mr Cannan gave a list of achievements by government, to which Mr Glover argued he wasn’t being ‘transparent’.
The chief minister hit out at him, accusing him of ‘sitting moaning on the back benches’ while the government is ‘getting on delivering with the purposes of government’.
He added: ‘There have been some movements, some of them unexpected, one or two expected. If you want to create an omelette some eggs do get cracked.’
Since then, Mr Glover has asked for an apology from Mr Cannan.
MHK Jason Moorhouse described the dismissal of Mr Callister ‘repulsive’.
Mr Cannan said: ‘Heavy lies the head that wears the crown.
‘I have to consider where positions need change and felt there needed to be a change.
‘These are difficult decisions but unfortunately one doesn’t always have the ability to make decisions in the public environment that can be managed without public comment.’