Deputy Bryans stepped aside as Education Minister while the investigation was being carried out and was replaced by Deputy Anne Pryke on an interim basis. He has now been invited to return to the role.
The complaint, which a new report lodged with the States shows was made by Health Minister Andrew Green, centred on three main points:
*That an anonymous letter sent to Education director Justin Donovan’s house in 2017 alleged that Deputy Bryans was ‘overly familiar’ with female members of staff.
*A specific incident in which Deputy Bryans was alleged to have unzipped Social Security Minister Susie Pinel’s dress to bra level and commented on its colour.
*‘General disquiet’ about his attitude and interactions with female members of staff.
The Commissioner for Standards, Paul Kernaghan, found in his report that ‘not a single witness expressed concern about Deputy Bryans’ behaviour’ and that he was ‘universally commended for his commitment to and, indeed, passion for his ministerial portfolio’.
The ‘zip incident’ was brought to light following a discussion between Senator Green and Deputies Pryke and Kristina Moore. However, the report states that Deputy Pinel – who initially declined to assist the inquiry – was surprised that the complaint had been made as the only other two people in the room at the time were Senators Paul Routier and Alan Maclean.
She said: ‘That is why I find things so extraordinary, because the only two people other than myself in the room were, as I mentioned, Alan Maclean and Paul Routier. Nobody else in the room.
‘Yes, I felt him do my zip but other than that, as I say, I just did not really take much notice of it.’
She added that she could not remember what was said in detail – nor could Senators Maclean or Routier – and thought that Deputy Bryans was simply ‘doing my zip up’.
Clearing Deputy Bryans of a breach of the States Members’ Code of Conduct, Mr Kernaghan said he could not say why there was a disparity between accounts of the zip incident. However he added: ‘I will avoid the term “overly tactile” but there was an acknowledgement that Deputy Bryans can touch staff and colleagues where someone else might not.
‘Everyone was very clear that they impute no pejorative motivation to his behaviour.’
Chief Minister Ian Gorst said that he was ‘pleased to invite’ Deputy Bryans to resume his role as Education Minister following the conclusion of the investigation.
He said: ‘I would like to thank the Deputy for stepping aside while the complaint was properly investigated. The commissioner considered that it was right to refer this matter for his consideration, as it is vital to public confidence that elected Members are held to account and operate to the highest professional standards.’
Deputy Bryans – who has not yet revealed if he will be seeking re-election – was unavailable for comment.
Meanwhile, Senator Green and Infrastructure Minister Eddie Noel were both cleared of unrelated allegations made by members of the public that they had misled the States when presenting the design for the new hospital.
Mr Kernaghan found that the ministers ‘made their presentation based on the information known to them at that time, recognising that detailed design work had still to be carried out’. He found that neither of them had breached the States Members’ Code of Conduct.