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Judgment pending in police promotions lawsuit

A judgment is pending in the lawsuit brought against the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Commissioner of Police over a number of contentious promotions.

The hearing ended today more than three-and-a-half years after the controversial decision by the PSC in 2012 to remove 14 officers from a promotions list, with presiding judge Madam Justice Margaret Reifer advising the parties she would inform them when she was ready to deliver her judgment.

Lawyers for the aggrieved officers, the PSC, Commissioner Darwin Dottin – who is on leave – and the Attorney General, wrapped up their submissions this afternoon before Reifer in the Number 12 High Court after a one-and-a-half hour hearing.

Most of today’s hearing was taken up by the final oral submission from Ralph Thorne, QC, who is representing two of the officers, the now retired Jeddar Robinson and Richard Boyce.

Thorne said he was seeking full relief from the court for his clients.

He also asked for remedy for loss of income suffered between 2012 up to the end of last year, contending that had the officers been promoted they would have received higher salaries.

The attorney urged the court to award his clients special and exemplary damages. He argued that the men had legitimate expectations regarding their intended promotions and questioned the transparency of the actions of the PSC in accepting 74 per cent of the promotions and replacing the remainder with fresh names without first consulting with the Commissioner of Police as is required by Section 13 of the Police Promotions Regulations.

Thorne argued that when the PSC rejected some of the names and substituted others and sent them to the Governor General, that action “strikes at the heart of wrongdoing”. The senior lawyer submitted that he wanted the Court to allow his clients to get what was due to them – the promotions as recommended initially by the Commissioner.

He accused the PSC of breaching the doctrine of fairness and natural justice by not allowing the officers the right to be heard and defend themselves regarding the removal of their names. “The Police Service Commission acted arbitrarily, whimsically and in breach of Section 13 of the law,” he contended, adding that it also contravened the Public Service Act, which governs promotions in the public service.

Thorne urged the High Court to reprimand the PSC “for the damage done to these men and women”.

In her reply, Donna Brathwaite, QC, who represents Commissioner Dottin and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, told the court that Dottin could not be accused of any wrongdoing in this matter because he did everything he was supposed to do.

However, counsel for the PSC Tariq Khan rejected Thorne’s interpretation of the regulations that his client was required to first consult with the Commissioner if changes were made to his recommendations. As far as Khan was concerned, the Commissioner was only a repository for information and had the facility to deal with the information.

He also contended that much of the PSC’s functions were governed by convention and he submitted that there was transparency in the manner in which his client acted with respect to the promotions.

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