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Orrette Fisher calls ECJ "disingenuous" over dismissal of claims about political influence

Published:Monday | May 14, 2018 | 2:04 PMJerome Reynolds
Former Director of Elections, Orrette Fisher - File photo

Former Director of Elections Orrette Fisher is maintaining that political influence continues to be an ongoing problem at the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ).

In a letter to the editor, Fisher said he raised the matter during his time at the agency and most recently around the time of his departure from the electoral body in March.

READ: Why Orrette Fisher Has Resigned As Director Of Elections

Fisher resigned from the agency amid a court battle over his job.

READ: Court reserves ruling in Orrette Fisher termination case

He says a meeting was scheduled with the independent commissioners of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) to discuss his resignation but the meeting was cancelled and never rescheduled.

The former elections boss was responding to an advisement in the Sunday Gleaner on May 13, 2018 by the ECJ which stated that it is not aware of any incidents of political interference into the operations of the Commission or the EOJ.

It further states that on March 26, 2018 select members of the ECJ met with the team of senior staff members at the EOJ and according to the agency, all of whom confirmed that they were not aware any political interference affecting the functions of the EOJ nor the execution into the operations of the EOJ.

But, Fisher is claiming that he did make EOJ staff, by way of a letter, as well as independent members of the commission aware of his concerns about growing political influence at the EOJ.

He has labelled the ECJ as being disingenuous.

Here's Orrette Fisher's Full Response to the ECJ  

Dear Editor,

I write in response to an advertisement entitled ‘Statement by The Electoral Commission of Jamaica’ which appeared in your Sunday publication.

The public is aware of the court proceedings which I had filed, seeking judicial review of the legality of a one-year appointment to the post of Director Elections, contrary to the statute which mandates a seven-year appointment.

After further consideration, I chose to resign from the post before judgement was handed down.

In addition to the fact that I did not wish to be in the post based on a court order (if the court ruled in my favour), I outlined the reasons for my decision in my resignation letter sent to the chairman on March 12, 2018.

The court proceedings were subsequently withdrawn and that, to my mind had ended the matter.

The ECJ, in its statement, is alleging that I made unsubstantiated statements in relation to political interference at the EOJ.

This I find disingenuous as after the court proceedings were withdrawn, I spoke to three independent members of the commission during which I pointed out that my email to staff on March 14 2018 (see copy attached) spoke of growing POLITICAL INFLUENCE and NOT political interference.

This is attributable to the media which misquoted the email.

Attempts at growing political influence are something which I continuously brought to the attention of the commission. A meeting was scheduled with the independent commissioners to discuss my resignation but the meeting was cancelled and never rescheduled.

Based on the contents of the advertisement, I am authorising and requesting that the contents of my letter of resignation which outlined my concerns, be made public by the ECJ so the media and the general public can be made aware of the basis for my resignation. The ECJ is being very selective in what it releases but I am of the view that the time has come to state all and to clear the air.

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