The Department of Health and Social Care will not be issuing a point by point rebuttal of the evidence of Dr Rachel Glover to the Public Accounts Committee, with Minister David Ashford saying he has ‘said all he wants to say’ on the matter.
Mr Ashford was asked by Onchan MHK Julie Edge when he would be publishing the point by point rebuttal that he stated that he would produce in today’s Keys sitting.
In response the Minister said that since he had been invited to give evidence to the Public Accounts Committee, he felt there was ‘no longer a need to do so’.
Ms Edge asked if Mr Ashford was certain that all the relevant information was public and if he hadn’t been invited to the PAC hearing, would he have made the point by point rebuttal that was promised and said it seemed to be ‘a bit of an excuse’.
He replied: ‘The honourable needs to actually read the full text of what I actually said, which what I actually said in that interview was we will be issuing a public statement, obviously I hope as well and I’m sure they will, that the PAC will invite the department to give evidence, Dr Glover has given evidence to the parliamentary committee under parliamentary privilege and I’m certain PAC will allow the department the same ability to do so to put the record from the department’s point of view. I also ended that same interview by saying I look forward to the PAC inviting the department to come and give their own evidence in relation to those allegations.’
Mr Ashford said he spent 30 minutes with PAC discussing the evidence of Dr Glover, a press release was later issued and that ‘as far as I’m concerned Mr Speaker, I have given the evidence that I wish to give’.
Liberal Vannin leader Lawrie Hooper asked the Minister to confirm that he has provided all the information he wishes to and that any statements made by Dr Glover that neither he nor his department have raised issues with are correct.
However Mr Ashord said: ‘I am not saying that at all, I am saying I have provided all the evidence that I wish to provide and I have done so to PAC, which is the appropriate place.’
Ms Edge further pushed the point that Mr Ashford had said the DHSC would be providing a rebuttal. She added: ‘Minister, please provide to the Isle of Man public what you said you would provide and put it in the public domain.’
He responded by saying again that now he has given evidence to PAC, the DHSC does not intend to publish a rebuttal as between the PAC hearing, press interviews and a further press release.
Mr Ashford added: ‘While I always welcome the advice of the honourable member for Onchan, ultimately I will decide what I say in public.’
Ms Edge replied by sarcastically praising ‘the government that is going to be open and transparent’ and called on Mr Ashford to apologise to Dr Glover and advise when he last had any communication on the matter.
Mr Ashford said he was unsure what Ms Edge meant by ‘communication’ but again repeated that during interviews he said he wanted to appear in front of PAC as Dr Glover had done.
He added: ‘For some reason, there seems to be people who want to continuously create some sort of public spat or facilitate some public spat between the department and Dr Glover, I will leave others to judge why that is.’