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Concept Groups Berry refutes chief minister Trott allegations

Concept Group’s Roger Berry says he is consulting lawyers over reports about his non-exec director.

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“I’m taking legal advice,” Berry told International Adviser this morning.

“One of the claims is that I introduced Lyndon [Trott] as chief minister. But I didn’t, I never have, and I never will. It’s also being promulgated that his [Concept Group] business card says that he’s chief minister, which it doesn’t; it says he’s non-exec director; as does our website.”

The reports appeared in the Guernsey Press & Star some days ago, and yesterday evening on the Daily Telegraph’s website. They were based on leaked copies of an email that Guernsey resident Gary Blanchford sent to all of Guernsey’s parliamentarians, alerting them to what he said were “facts as they were reported to me” that he believed indicated a possible conflict of interest situation.

For his part, chief minister Trott said in a statement that he was unable to respond to specific points while the matter was subject to due process, "nor can I speculate on reasons why this complaint has been made at this time".

In general, though, he said it was his view "that there is no case to answer", and added: "I abide by both the rules and the spirit of the Code of Conduct for Members of the States of Deliberation at all times — as chief minister, I am never ‘off duty’, because I am always carrying with me the responsibilities of the office.

"I am confident that I have acted in a proper and transparent manner, compatible with the highest levels of probity, at all times." 

Trip to Chile

In an email, Blanchford, told International Adviser that he is keeping his comments on the matter to a minimum, giving the potential legal situation, but reiterated that his email to the Guernsey representatives was based on his understanding of how Trott was presented during a recent trip to Chile with Concept Group executives.

He also noted that the Concept Group’s website does refer to Trott’s title of chief minister, in addition to his role as non-executive director, "in two places".

Blanchford said he understands that a report he is forwarding to the States Members’ Conduct Panel in Guernsey would probably be submitted to the chairman of the panel tomorrow. If he “feels there is a case to answer”, it would then go to the full panel.

The fact that he is a member of an outspoken group of depositors who lost money in the 2008 collapse of the Guernsey subsidiary of Iceland’s Landsbanki, which has been critical was of the way their plight has been handled by Guernsey officials, is "totally coincidental", Blanchford added.

"Landsbanki has absolutely no bearing on the facts being presented to the Conduct Panel".

40-year friendship

Berry said that he and Trott have known each other “for about 40 years,” having both grown up on Guernsey and attended school there together.

In fact, Lyndon is getting married later this year, and I’m his best man,” he added. 

“So any sort of suggestion that this is some sort of marriage of convenience between Lyndon and myself, [whereby] we promote him as a chief minister for our commercial gain or hijack his office to promote [Concept Group] is rubbish.”

He said Concept Group had "no choice but to" mention Trott’s ministerial role on its website because, under anti-money laundering rules, "all politicians are [considered] politically exposed persons" and thus are obliged to be identified.  

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