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Court rules in favour of Board of Bethlehem Moravian College

Published:Friday | July 17, 2015 | 12:00 AMBarbara Gayle and Jerome Reynolds

THE BOARD of the Bethlehem Moravian College has won its appeal against the dismissal of former principal Dr Paul Thompson despite strong criticism from the Court of Appeal.

On July 10, the Court of Appeal allowed the board's appeal by majority decision.

While Justice Dennis Morrison dissented, Justices Hilary Phillips and Carol Lawrence Beswick ruled that the Judicial Review Court order granted by Justice Courtney Daye in Thompson's favour should be set aside.

Daye had granted an order quashing the decision of the board to dismiss Thompson.

Although setting aside Daye's decision, the Court of Appeal said it would not have granted the appeal if a new principal had not been appointed.

The Court of Appeal granted a declaration that the disciplinary proceedings were unfair.

The court further said there was a real possibility or the danger of bias in the minds of the personnel committee members, who recommended Thompson's dismissal, because of the exclusion of an affidavit which sought to introduce evidence denying some of the allegations of sexual relationships involving Thompson.


danger of bias


The court also said Daye's decision would be an exercise in futility as the post has already been filled.

In opposing the board's appeal, Thompson had asked the court to reinstate him and pointed out certain breaches that took place.

The institution had gone ahead and appointed a new principal while Thompson's matter was before the review court.

The board had contended that when Thompson filed his application, no injunction was sought by him to prevent it from filling the vacancy.

In its ruling, the Court of Appeal noted that a procedural oversight made it possible for the appointment of the new principal before the conclusion of the proceedings.

But it chided the board's action, calling it blatant disrespect for the ongoing court proceeding.

The court said the action, though within the letter of the law, successfully prejudiced the possibility of Thompson obtaining the relief he sought to resume the post of principal.

No order was made by the court in relation to cost.

After a hearing by the personnel committee, Thompson was dismissed by the school's board in 2008.

Patrick Foster QC instructed by Georgia Gibson-Henlin represented the college while attorney-at-law Leroy Equiano represented Thompson.