Frank Walker (Jersey politician)
|Frank Harrison Walker|
|1st Chief Minister of Jersey|
December 2005 – December 2008
|Preceded by||Office created|
|Succeeded by||Terry Le Sueur|
|Senator in the States of Jersey|
December 1996 – December 2008
|Deputy in the States of Jersey|
December 1990 – December 1996
|Spouse(s)||Fiona Walker (formerly Spurr)|
|Residence||St Brelade, Jersey|
- 1 Career outside politics
- 2 Electoral history
- 3 Domestic affairs
- 4 International relations
- 5 Other pledges
- 6 Criticism
- 7 References
Career outside politics
In 1973 Walker became managing director and a major shareholder in the Jersey Evening Post, the Island's only newspaper. He later took over chairmanship of the Guiton Group, a company listed on the Alternative Investment Market and owners of the Jersey Evening Post, Guernsey Evening Press and ITEX. He stepped down from that position and severed all connections with the company, in February 2005, 10 months before standing for election as Chief Minister.
Walker was first elected to the States of Jersey on 13 December 1990 as Deputy of St Helier No 3 and was re-elected in 1993; he was then elected as Senator in 1996 and re-elected on 12 December 2002, coming 6th, thereby winning the last seat out of a field of 19. After his 2002 election win Walker promised that would be his final term of office in the States and he did not stand for re-election in 2008.
Election as Chief Minister
Walker was elected Chief Minister in 2005 by a secret ballot of States members. He achieved 38 votes, Senator Stuart Syvret received 14 and there was one spoilt paper. His first responsibility was to propose the nine members who would form his Council of Ministers: these were all elected unopposed except Senator Len Norman who was defeated by Deputy Guy de Faye.
As part of his election promises held for the position of Chief Minister, at the public hustings both candidates gave a clear and unequivocal undertaking to work together for the first three years. Syvret had significant support amongst the population and the issue of whom should be Chief Minister was one of the most divisive of the 2005 election.
In August 2007 however, a private discussion between Syvret and the Council of Ministers was made public by former St Lawrence Constable Iris Le Feuvre in her position as chair of the Child Protection committee. This led to a perceived lowering of confidence in the quality of child protection services; something which Walker and other Ministers subsequently attributed to Syvret. Walker called for a vote of no confidence in Syvret. The vote was carried by a large majority.
Tax Justice Network
A major opponent for Walker, in recent times, has been the Tax Justice Network. On BBC Radio Jersey talkback, he initially offered to take part in an open debate on the future of Jersey's finance industry; however the debate never took place. Having submitted a detailed analysis of why Jersey was not a tax haven to the US Senate hearing in May 2007, the Tax Justice Network responded with a submission of their own in June 2007 which re-ignited the confrontation. More recently, on 27 April, Walker, alleging that the TJN consistently failed to put forward a balanced view of Jersey, refused to appear on the Talkback programme with John Christensen of the TJN. He ended up appearing on his own, but Mr Christensen was given a chance to answer the following week. Iindependent reports from HM Treasury, the OECD, and most recently, the IMF, have confirmed that Jersey is a well regulated and open finance centre.
Despite a negative public reaction to a previewed version, Frank Walker introduced a new Jersey 'brand', costing £250,000, which in turn also drew widespread criticism. Some people suggested the brand logo looked more like a 'flying banana'.
One of the major complaints of this rebranding was that local design companies were deliberately ignored. When a number of these companies banded together to put on a display of designs they had created free of charge, Walker declined to reconsider his decision to use the disliked UK design.
Five years later, the logo is still in use and is considered a success.
Volume of legislation
Following a written question in the UK House of Commons by Conservative MP for Romford Andrew Rosindell, it emerged that Jersey had enacted more legislation than either Guernsey or the Isle of Man. Walker denied that this was evidence of over-regulation, arguing that "the number of laws reflects the fundamental changes that have taken place in Jersey’s government".
Constitutional position of Jersey
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
Walker successfully developed a framework for future relations with the United Kingdom.
Netherlands tax treaty
Jersey committed to cooperation and information exchange on tax matters with the Netherlands. They also reached agreement on access to mutual agreement procedures relating to transfer pricing and the application of the Dutch participation exemption. The Dutch Finance Minister indicated this may lead to a double tax treaty.
This was followed by the signing of Tax Information Exchange Agreements with most EU countries and members of the OECD.
U.S. Senate submission
Walker submitted a 4,000-word statement to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, which is reviewing offshore tax evasion, following the introduction of a bill, entitled "Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act", which named Jersey a "secrecy jurisdiction". In his statement, Walker stated that Jersey had received a "generally compliant" verdict from the International Monetary Fund in 2003.
Control of government expenditure
As leader of the Council of Ministers at the 2005 elections he extolled the principal platforms of limiting government expenditure growth to 2.5% per annum. However he failed to achieve these targets with expenditure growing in 2006 by 3.4% and budgeted growth for 2008 now being set at 7.1%. Spending in 2007 was also reported as £50 million ahead of budget.
When Walker left office in 2008 Jersey had a balanced budget, no debt and substantial cash reserves.
In 2006, as part of evidence to the corporate services scrutiny panel he indicated that it would be "absurd to bring the human rights law into effect knowing that there were extant breaches"; however in December 2006 the law was brought into effect and the first case against the government of Jersey was lodged with the Royal Court a month later.
Child abuse scandal
In February 2008, Walker attracted considerable criticism due to his response to the ongoing investigation of child abuse centred on the former Haut de la Garenne care home. Walker's official position on the matter was that his Council of Ministers would ensure that there was no cover-up and anyone who had been guilty of child abuse in that investigation would be brought to justice. Despite continued allegations of a cover up by Syvret and others, no evidence to support the claim has been put forward.
Following an interview on BBC Radio Jersey, where Stuart Syvret had put forward the view that there had been a systemic failure within Jersey's child protection systems over decades, Walker was filmed retorting that Syvret was out to "shaft Jersey internationally". He was confronted with this heavily edited footage by Jeremy Paxman on the BBC's Newsnight on 25 February 2008. However, on 26 February 2009, the BBC Trust, the BBC's own Editorial Watchdog, upheld a complaint from a member of the public and released a report criticising the Newsnight programme for significant failings in the conduct of this interview, stating that the interview had not upheld the BBC's guidelines on fairness and impartiality, that Senator Walker had been misquoted, that the reported exchange between Senator Walker and Syvret had been edited in a way as to misrepresent what Senator Walker had said and so as to mislead the audience and that the correction had not gone far enough in remedying the unfair implications that the quotes had suggested. Frank Walker stated that he was very happy with the outcome, and that he felt vindicated for what he felt was the low-point of his political career.
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 2010.
- "World | Europe | Jersey | Walker is Jersey chief minister". BBC News. 2005-12-05. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- "World | Europe | Jersey | Walker names his nine ministers". BBC News. 2005-12-06. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- Jersey Evening Post, 21 August 2007
- "Tax Research UK / Murphy v Walker - coming to a venue in Jersey". Taxresearch.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- Posted by Richard Murphy at 9:29 am (2007-06-27). "Tax Research UK / Senator Walker responds". Taxresearch.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- australia bangkok barcelona canada dubai at progressjersey.com
- This is Guernsey - Archive[dead link]
- Welcome to Jersey Finance Online - Jersey and UK agree framework for developing Jersey’s international identity[dead link]
- "Ministry of Finance - The Netherlands and Jersey sign agreement on the exchange of tax information". Minfin.nl. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- "Jersey news archives". Jersey.wantedineurope.com. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- Welcome to the British-Irish Council website[dead link]
- International Relations - British-Irish Council[dead link]
- Welcome to the British-Irish Council website
- Jersey Evening Post, 20 July 2007
- Scrutiny Report on Age of Consent Debate[dead link]
- Nick Mathiason. "A journey from haven to hell | Business | The Observer". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- "BBC admit: We got it wrong « This Is Jersey". Thisisjersey.com. Retrieved 2012-10-04.