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Jersey lifeboat crew move to split from RNLI

The St Helier lifeboat crew has asked to split from the RNLI.

It follows the sacking and subsequent reinstatement of the Jersey station’s coxswain Andy Hibbs earlier this year after all the crew walked out.

The crew have asked the charity if they can run an independent lifeboat service.

Leesa Harwood, the RNLI’s director of community lifesaving and fundraising, said: “We’re going to go away and think about that and look for a way forward.”

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She said: “Stations move in and out in time, but it is unusual [for them to go independent]. All we want to do is save lives.

“It’s been a really challenging time. We’ll think about the charity and come up with some proposals.”

‘Very difficult position’

In a statement the crew said the charity had made efforts to work with them to “rebuild a good working relationship” after the reinstatement of their coxswain.

But they added the reasons for the sacking, and details of the RNLI’s investigation, had not been released.

In addition, they said they had lodged an official complaint on another matter, which had not been upheld, they said.

“We feel that there has been no evidence of the proposed ‘working with the crew to rebuild the relationship’ and we are now simply being threatened with RNLI policies and procedures and told to in effect ‘do as you are told’.

“This has left us in a very difficult position.”

The crew say they would continue to operate with the RNLI under the charity’s policies and procedures until the independent station was in operation.

Timeline

6 April 2017: RNLI St Helier coxswain Andy Hibbs is sacked at a meeting with RNLI bosses – the rest of the 26-strong crew resign en masse.

7 April: The RNLI releases a statement saying it asked a volunteer to “stand down with immediate effect” due to “breaches of the RNLI’s volunteer code of conduct“, and declared the station off service. Mr Hibbs says he will officially appeal against the RNLI the decision.

9 April: Hundreds of people gather in protest at the St Helier lifeboat station over the sacking.

20 April: The RNLI acknowledges Andy Hibbs’ challenge against the charity’s decision says it will carry out an internal review.

28 April: A political pressure group urges people not to donate to the RNLI in support of the St Helier crew.

18 May: RNLI officials hear Andy Hibbs’ appeal.

28 July: RNLI formally apologises to Mr Hibbs and invites him to return as coxswain “on condition that he signs and adheres to the charity’s Volunteer Code of Conduct”.

3 October: David Howell resigns from the crew citing multiple issues including the “outrageous” way a complaint against lifeboat manager Glen Mallen was handled by the charity.

5 October: A joint statement is released after a meeting between the crew and RNLI bosses stating they had discussed options for “the way forward” for the station.

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