24th January 2020


Islanders have been left incensed and incredulous at Reginald Guille’s return to power. He once again controls Chief Pleas as Speaker of the House and will be the Returning Officer for every general election and by-election for the next four years. If ever a man was ill-suited to play any part in Sark’s transition from 450 years of feudalism to a 21st century fully representative democracy, it is Reginald Guille.

A little over a year ago Reginald Guille stormed out of Chief Pleas rather than face a code of conduct charge that, ultimately, in his absence, found him guilty of interfering with the electoral process. In the 2018 general election he bullied and harassed a candidate whom he did not want to stand, reducing the candidate to tears. When summoned to answer for his actions he famously told the Speaker of Chief Pleas Arthur Rolfe:

“Yesterday on my return home in the late afternoon after a morning preparing for a meeting at 5.30 yesterday evening, I opened a letter addressed to me. The letter informed me that I was to be subjected to an investigation under the Code of Conduct bought by Mr Michael Doyle, a convicted criminal. Let me put my side of the issue and use my freedom of speech because, I WILL NOT BE APPEARING BEFORE ANY CODE OF CONDUCT PANEL.”

This failed to intimidate Rolfe, who characteristically put the unelected Reginald Guille firmly in his place by reminding him that no one, least of all Guille, was unaccountable to the people of Sark:

“Can I just say that I had no concept from you Conseiller Reginald Guille that that was the subject of your statement and as the Returning Officer for the elections I took professional advice and accepted Michael Doyle as a fully eligible candidate. Regarding the Code of Conduct, when you say your Code of Conduct it happens to be Chief Pleas’ Code of Conduct; it was passed by Chief Pleas and I am sorry to hear that you feel that somehow or another you are not bound by it. Actually you are and so is everybody else in this chamber.”

On Wednesday morning Rolfe paid the price for standing up to Guille. By a majority of seven to six, Chief Pleas voted Reginald Guille in as the Speaker of the House for the next four years and, astonishingly, as the Returning Officer for the very elections he had demonstrated his contempt for in January of last year. Guille may be preening himself in the belief that he has seized back control of both Chief Pleas and the Island’s elections, but, like so many comebacks from elderly, ‘yesterday’ men who believe that they can pick up where they previously left off, his return to power is doomed to fail.

Sark today is a different place from the time when he reigned supreme. Many of his former followers have moved on and embraced Seigneur Christopher Beaumont’s call for inclusion and engagement and are looking to build a future for Sark and its people, not align themselves with Guille’s doctrine of division and entrenchment. Guille will be powerless to stop this continuing. If the people of Sark have one thing it is a keen eye, acute hearing and a good memory.

They have not forgotten that throughout the twilight years of the late Michael Beaumont’s life, they witnessed Guille bullying and cajoling the late Seigneur into supporting his and his supporters’ policies of division and entrenchment. They have not forgotten that Reginald Guille was the chief architect of a decade of economic ethnic cleansing in Sark, akin to that last seen in Western Europe in 1930’s Germany. As a result, the Island’s population, in particular the number of young working men, women and families, has been decimated. In December 2008 Sark had over 650 year-round residents. Today it has considerably less than 390. No autonomous jurisdiction that has to have sufficient economic activity to allow it to pay its own way in the world can endure a 40% collapse in the population, but this does not concern Guille and his dwindling band of supporters. They are interested in only what Sark can do for them, not what they can do for Sark.

It is telling that the Island’s biggest bully and number one ‘chief enforcer’ has returned to power, courtesy of a Chief Pleas dominated by members who have not faced the electorate, have not received a single vote and who have no mandate to govern on their behalf. Only 45% of Conseillers who voted in Wednesday’s election hold a mandate from the people of Sark to govern on their behalf. This exposes Guille’s latest power grab for the sham that it is. An affront to the basic democratic principles of openness, transparency and accountability. How does Guille stand up to the most basic of democratic tests?

The power to control the agenda for all Chief Pleas meetings. The power to bully members into using the power of the state to promote division and entrenchment. The power to build on a decade of economic ethnic cleansing. The power to control all general and by-elections.

A Chief Pleas dominated by unelected individuals, the majority of whom have not faced the electorate, have not received a single vote and who do not hold a mandate from the people to govern on their behalf.

Myself, my fellow unelected state officials and my supporters, no one else. Everything is to be within the state, nothing outside the state and nothing against the state.

Only to myself and my closest supporters.

You can’t, unless you, the people, find the courage to publicly speak out against my abuse of power and in doing so encourage others to use the power of the ballot box to rid Sark of me and my supporters once and for all.’