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Witness gets cold feet

Commissioner Frederick Waterman

The Alexandra School teacher next in line to give evidence at the Commission of Enquiry into the school has had a change of heart.

And the tribunal’s senior counsel Milton Pierce says the “cold feet” resulted from the examination of teacher Vernell Woods by Barbados Secondary Teachers Union counsel Hal Gollop.

Woods, who said she was a friend of Principal Jeff Broomes and that the two had been colleagues at St. Lucy Secondary prior to her being appointed as an English teacher at Alexandra in 2006, faced intense questioning from Gollop for a portion of yesterday’s sitting.

The teacher, who refuted many of the statements made by previous witnesses, including current and former teachers, and members of the school’s board of management, returned to the witness chair at 9:30 this morning and was examined again by the lawyer from then until about four this afternoon.

Near the end of today’s sitting, Pierce said Dereck Alleyne, another teacher who had been scheduled to give evidence after Woods would no longer be doing so.

“It was the intention, Sir, to call Mr. Dereck Alleyne. I have been informed, Sir, that he has had cold feet and that after hearing Mr. Gollop and Miss Woods he no longer wishes to appear in person before the commission,” Pierce told Commissioner Frederick Waterman.

“So I would ask, Sir, that the statement which he submitted to the commission be accepted in evidence.”

Gollop told the commission as far as he was aware Alleyne was not present for his examination of Woods and therefore would have made his decision on what had been reported to him.

Pierce also said another teacher who had submitted a witness statement, much of which sought to contradict the evidence of teacher Amaida Greaves would be available for examination.

“The other witness, Sir, is Mr. Dwayne Bryan. The statement of Mr. Dwayne Bryan has been examined extensively, it has been put to Mrs. Greaves, my friend (the principal’s counsel) Mr. (Vernon) Smith has gone through it and therefore I do not propose to go through the statement but just to tender Mr Bryan for any examination which counsel would wish to carry out,” he said.

“And then, Sir, it is the intention to call Mrs. Abena Williams. I believe, Sir, that counsel will wish to examine her so I will then put in her statement. These are all witnesses, Sir, whom Mr. Broomes has indicated he wishes to call,” Pierce added. (SC)

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