I’m sorry Dr Ranson. I feel it would be remiss of me to start an opinion piece on what has surfaced without saying those words.

While politicians need to take a long hard look at themselves, I feel that I too have to recognise that we in the media, with the probable exception of Paul Moulton, largely failed to adequately question what was going on at the right time. 

Turning to the Chief Minister’s statement tomorrow morning, it is an interesting moment for Alf Cannan and his administration. So far he has been seen to want to shake off the baggage of previous governments’ mistakes, including the one he was deeply involved in. But this is something else. 

There is a chance to show that this government is different and that it won’t stand for what the tribunal uncovered, unfortunately for some (and they know who they are), that means they need to go. 

The DHSC

We are now living in a time where our government has been publicly, and indeed thanks to the BMA, internationally, seen to have pushed our most senior doctor from office for raising perfectly valid concerns about the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Instead of listening to Dr Ranson and her colleagues, the government stuck to a command structure that was not working and they were instead taking the word of a non-medically trained CEO who the tribunal found to be an untrustworthy witness. 

We also have a minister, Dr Allinson, telling the tribunal that the then DHSC Minister refused to speak directly to Dr Ranson, the island’s most senior doctor, directly, during a pandemic.

Of course Mr Ashford isn’t the only person who doesn’t come out of the tribunal looking brilliant. However, two people who have hardly been mentioned are current DHSC Minister Lawrie Hooper and CEO Karren Malone. 

The Texts

Mrs Malone was appointed as the new CEO back on February 18 of this year, having previously served under Miss Magson during her time as interim CEO. Her appointment came just weeks after one of the most bizarre points of the tribunal, when it emerged that Mrs Malone had, in effect, kept tabs on Dr Ranson and reported back to Miss Magson who was based off-island. 

During the tribunal it was heard that Mrs Malone had been involved in sending what the panel called ‘catty’ texts with Miss Magson about Dr Ranson. 

For anyone who hasn’t seen them or missed the tribunal, this is the section from the tribunal report: 

‘These texts were between Mrs Malone and Miss Magson on or about Friday 23rd October 2020. The first entry from Mrs Malone timed at 12:11 pm (page 3639) deals with the forthcoming CoMin Workshop on Wednesday. Much more of the Workshop issue is dealt with when the Tribunal is considering detriments. Mrs Malone commented that she was:

“… getting noises that Rosalind has cancelled her leave and wants to know when the CoMin Workshop is…. I know it is Wednesday. But I assume you will be attending only and HE will be there too.”

Miss Magson then replied:
Dr Ranson “invited herself … God knows why she cancelled her leave.” 

Mrs Malone then replied (page 3640):
“RR also invited herself to the breast cancer charity governors reception on Friday last week too. Chief Minister was there. But I didn’t see her bend his ear. If you need anything from me… Just ask. K.x take care xx”

Inter-alia, Miss Magson then commented:
How did she do that?… going to work on the presentation this weekend for
Will.”

Mrs Malone replied:
“There was a presentation at Noble’s in the afternoon with dignitaries … charity people so guess she managed to get in. I think she wasn’t invited … FYI… It was Minister Allinson that RR spent time with on Friday night at Governors House….”

Before the tribunal, Dr Ranson wasn’t aware of these exchanges, but the panel considered them to be ‘significant’. It added: ‘They demonstrated that Mrs Malone was aware that Miss Magson would want alerting about to whom Dr Ranson was speaking at Government House.’ They further added that Mrs Malone had no sound basis for speculating Dr Ranson had not been invited to Government House and, brilliantly, it later emerged she had been invited by the then Governor Sir Richard Gozney personally. 

Concocted?

The most serious allegation in the tribunal’s report is over producing documents and in some cases, creating them. This was first alleged by Dr Ranson’s legal team back in January. Having signed an affidavit that it had released all relevant evidence, the DHSC then came back with more, to the clear anger of chairman Douglas Stewart. 

During his closing arguments to the tribunal, Oliver Segal, who was representing Dr Ranson, referred to concerns over the authenticity of several documents.

The report says: ‘Z471 was a note of a meeting of the Senior Medical Leadership Team (SMLT). That committee had not existed at the date of the note. The committee had been created only some days later than the date on the note. Additionally, the template for that note had never been used until towards the end of March 2020. The metadata produced as Z474 showed that this document had only been created on 20th January 2022 – just four days before this Hearing.

Z475 purported to be minutes of a meeting taken by Ms Nicola Grose, Executive Assistant to Miss Magson. It purported to be a record of a Microsoft Teams Meeting held on 16th March 2020. Firstly, at the date of that meeting, Teams was not even being used by the DHSC and secondly Ms Grose had not taken the minutes as recorded. Thirdly, there were material differences between the apparent minutes at Z475 compared to draft minutes of the meeting appearing at page 1465.’

These allegations are incredibly serious. There are no two ways about it. The tribunal panel is going to hold a special disclosure hearing to investigate a number of what it called the ‘troubling issues’, including the ‘alleged “concoction” of material documents’. Unfortunately, there are legal matters that need to be carried out here so all we can really do is wait to see where that goes. 

What Will Happen in Tynwald?

If the Chief Minister was to stand up and announce a clear out, which I find highly unlikely, it would signal that this administration wants to move on forward and improve the culture that has for too long blighted the Manx government. A quick search of the words ‘DHSC’ and ‘tribunal’ will suffice to prove this point.

To do this would also likely require the backbenches to rise up, but I think we’ve already seen enough from those who have spoken to know this won’t happen, at least not in big enough numbers. 

Maybe the Chief could stand up and say, given what he’s heard, there should be a full inquiry into Covid afterall. Again, I just can’t see it.

We know what Chris Thomas thinks should happen, he wants Mr Ashford to offer to resign. But do we really expect other members to stand up and publicly chastise their departmental Ministers, let alone call for them to resign? No, of course we don’t. 

So tomorrow myself, along with the Twitter classes who equally have nothing better to do with their time, am going to buckle up, hold on tight and prepare to be disappointed. 

Go on Chief Minister, prove me wrong.

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