The Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra has taken a new twist.
Principal Jeff Broomes’ testimony has been temporarily suspended and two witnesses who previously appeared, Deputy Principal Beverley Neblett-Lashley and one of his former secretaries, Merlene Sealy, have been called back to the tribunal to give evidence.
It surrounds the contentious issue of an alleged transcript preparation for a former senior student of the St. Peter school, which emerged during Neblett-Lashley’s evidence, prompting a subsequent appearance by Sealy.
In addition to these two, the student’s father, and her aunt will likely also appear at the enquiry today, following requests from Broomes’ counsel Vernon Smith, QC, and Cecil McCarthy, QC.
Smith told the enquiry that given the serious natures of the allegations against Brooomes it was necessary to re examine and cross examine witnesses to ensure the principal had a fair hearing.
Word of the new development came this morning when the enquiry resumed its hearing at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.
The commission’s senior counsel Milton Pierce said: “After consultation with the counsel for Mr. Broomes we are asking, Sir, that the evidence of Mr. Broomes be suspended, adjourned at this stage.
“You would recall, Sir, that a notice was served on Mr. Broomes and in order to pursue that counsel for Mr. Broomes has requested that we take the evidence of the deputy principal and his secretary at that time, and he is advancing this to say that Mr. Broomes will have an adequate opportunity to answer all the allegations which may be involved against him.
“We would need to get Mrs. Sealy and I understand, Sir, that he also wants…the father of the child involved….and my understanding from the investigator and from other counsel is that he does not want to give evidence. But counsel is insisting that he wants to have him and, Sir, as counsel for the commission if Mr. Broomes’ counsel feels that it is advantageous to his case well then I have no difficulty in calling him, except the logistics of doing it,” Pierce added.
Broomes’ lawyers said moments later that the father had agreed to appear.
Smith told the hearing that since Monday this week he had indicated to the commission that he wanted both the deputy principal and former secretary to reappear as witnesses “to be cross examined in respect of the allegations which were made, the allegations of misconduct,those of which concern my client’s reputation”.
“And of course I wrote your lordship and in accordance with Section 23 of the act where he has the right to call witnesses to re examine or cross examine them in respect of the allegations and he has done that,” Smith said.
“The other thing is that as a result of the allegations and the notice that has been sent by the commission to my client it is only right that he is entitled to call such persons as can rebuff the allegation made.
“…I think that it is necessary that all the particulars of the allegation be before the commission and be made for the benefit of my client in his hearing so that we will be in a position to rebuff them if they are rebuttable.”(SC)