Mon | Dec 17, 2018

Vindicated - Supreme Court orders reinstatement of career civil servant who was 'retired'

Published:Friday | April 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Gleaner Writer

The Supreme Court has ordered the reinstatement of a career public servant who was "retired" as head of the state-run Court Management Services (CMS) by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen after she was given permission to pursue further studies.

The Full Court, in a unanimous decision handed down yesterday, declared that Deborah Patrick-Gardner had been unlawfully "retired" as principal executive officer of the CMS.

"This court has found that the manner in which the claimant was purportedly retired was unlawful in that it was contrary to Section 125 (3) of the Constitution, Regulation 26 of the Public Service

Regulations, and contrary to the rules of natural justice," the panel of three judges ruled yesterday.

The Public Service Commission (PSC), in a letter dated March 19, 2016, informed the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice that Patrick-Gardner - who was 42 years old at the time - was to be "retired on the grounds of reorganisation" after the move was approved by Sir Patrick.

Patrick-Gardener, a civil servant for more than two decades, was granted three years' leave, starting in September 2013, to pursue a law degree "to better carry out her functions". Having completed her studies in two years, she was attempting to resume her duties as head of CMS when she was informed of the decision.

But the judges stated in their ruling that "the purported reasons given in the letter were irrational. Accordingly, the court grants the order of certiorari to quash the decision purporting to retire the claimant [Patrick-Gardener]".

As a result, the court ordered that Patrick-Gardener remain as a public servant, and according to her attorney, Hugh Wildman, this should be at the level and salary scale she was at before she was "retired."

Wildman also had some harsh words for the PSC. "The Public Service Commission was misguided in the management of the affairs of the commission, and in the process, they misled the governor general," the attorney asserted.

Patrick-Gardner told The Gleaner yesterday that she was thankful that what she described as a "difficult journey" was finally over. "I look forward to going back to serve my country," she said.