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Hands off!

by Donna Sealy

darwindottinonparadePrime Minister Freundel Stuart should stay far away from the Darwin Dottin issue.

A leading trade union official told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that in spite of calls from the Opposition Barbados Labour Party and others for the leader to speak he really should not because it is not within his remit under the law.

Additionally, said the source, the Commissioner of Police was not the first person to suffer and this fate and his best option was to seek recourse in the court.

“When people are talking about the Prime Minister should get involved that in itself would be a bad stroke. How can the Prime Minister involved? How can he? He is responsible for the civil service, but appointments and promotion comes under the Governor General. That is the foolishness that happened in the Jeff Broomes case, that nobody seemed to want to explore or deal with.

“The decision of that Commission of Enquiry cannot affect Jeff Broomes because it was unconstitutional, so the Prime Minister cannot get involved in that. He may make a statement or he may try to influence, but he can’t reverse a decision of the (Police) Service Commission because that is why you have Chapter 8 of the Constitution to isolate public officers from the political directorate.

“When you come to the appointment of public officers at the level of permanent secretary and deputy permanent secretary or head of department or deputy head of department the role of the Prime Minister is a consultative one.

“This thing is much deeper than John Public and people saying the Prime Minister should get involved I pray to God he don’t touch it, don’t make himself seem as though he isn’t a lawyer and doesn’t understand the law and the Constitution,” the source said.

That person stated that the law simply has to take its course and noted that the Commissioner of Police being removed in the public interest or in the interest of the service was written in the Pensions Act.

“That is how I can remove a senior officer, or even a fairly junior or middle management officer and it has been done in the past. This isn’t anything new, but it never made the headlines, where in the public interest or the interest of the service you remove the individual.

“Now sometimes this is done where you don’t want the individual to lose their pension or gratuity. They might have done something wrong, (but) instead of dismissing them then you can compulsorily retire them where they will get their pension and gratuity.

“You might not be physically ill to that point that you can’t work, but still you can’t be medically boarded so therefore you are there to produce how we would want you to produce. There is also another way in which someone can be sent from the public service and given a pension and gratuity and that is due to inefficiency. So there are mechanisms there,” the source explained.

Additionally, the trade unionist said that it was left up to the commissioner to invoke procedures under the Administrative Justice Act Cap. 109 B to seek a judicial review.

“By seeking a judicial review what he is doing is trying to find out what reason that the (Police) Service Commission would have invoked to retire him. Now depending on how they react, depending on what comes out in court, then he would be in a position to bring action against the Attorney General and whoever else, but it is generally the Attorney General and the Police Service Commission that he would be in a position then to bring action against. So once he looks behind the decision he then would be in a position to know whether or not he has got a case to sue the Attorney General,” he said.

The trade unionist added: “He is not the first public officer that would have suffered this fate and you would have had the Opposition jumping up and carrying on, but they must look back at how they dealt with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital four. They might want to say they didn’t invoke anything in that, it was the Public Service Commission that do it, but I can remember the Social Partners were summoned, to Bay Street by the Prime Minister Owen Arthur and we sat there waiting for a decision from the Public Service Commission that didn’t come that evening.

“So they should be reminded that they know very well about the hospital four,” the source said.

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