Barbados: Police promotions lawsuit dismissed

Barbados Today:-The High Court has dismissed the lawsuit filed by 14 police officers against the Police Service Commission (PSC) for excluding them from a list for promotion four years ago.

High Court Judge Margaret Reifer this morning threw out the case which started early last year.

An upset attorney Ralph Thorne, QC, who represented the disgruntled officers, strongly disagreed with the ruling, promising to file an appeal soon after Christmas, asking the Court of Appeal for an urgent hearing.

In fact, he told reporters that even before arriving at court this morning, he had already formulated the grounds of appeal, bearing in mind that lawyers should always be prepared for any outcome.

In summarizing the reasons for the judge’s decision, Thorne said Reifer contended that there was no evidence that the PSC violated the promotions rules and regulations.

However, the senior lawyer reiterated an earlier position that the Commission had no authority to reject the recommendations of then Police Commissioner Darwin Dottin and recommend other officers instead.

“We disagree entirely with the decision, with the legal findings; we disagree entirely with the findings of fact . . . here it is you have a case of promotion, contested promotions, in which the chairman of the Police Service Commission came to the court and admitted that . . . they rejected the recommendations made by the Commissioner and exercised their own initiative and substituted names of their own,” Thorne said.

“Indeed the law further says, that if the Police Service Commission has a query in relation to any names submitted that they must refer the matter back to the Commissioner of Police. It is clear on the evidence, the admitted evidence under oath by chairman of the Police Service Commission that this did not happen.”

Thorne stressed that the process of appointment by promotion involves recommendations by the Commissioner of Police to the Police Service Commission which confirms the recommendations and passes them on to the Governor General for appointment.

He insisted that this process was violated by the PSC when it created its own list without going back to Dottin, and left out the 14 officers.

The senior attorney also took umbrage at the delay in bringing the case to conclusion, charging it affected the aggrieved officers’ careers.

“We did written submissions last November in anticipation of the court deliberating on our written submissions . . . .We have been called back here two days before Christmas to hear a decision in relation to written submissions that we submitted a year ago.

“This is a matter dealing with people’s careers, this is a matter involving urgency, this is a matter involving people’s right to be promoted and the subsequent violation of those rights by a Police Service Commission acting, we contend and insist, acting unlawfully.”

Thorne was also annoyed that having filed this case in July 2012, the judge who handed down today’s ruling was the fifth to handle this matter.

“There must be something very special about this case that the system has assigned this case to five judges. So we have run the course of litigation in relation to one case that was sent to five judges . . . . That to me has been a little curious,” he said.

He complained that while the officers had been waiting for their case to the heard, they had been denied eligibility for awards and had seen their subordinates promoted.

“That is the injustice they have endured,” he said.

Fifteen officers had sued the PSC over their non-promotion, however, one subsequently dropped his suit and was later promoted, while two of those involved have since retired after about 40 years of service.

Thorne said the next few days would determine if the remaining would be promoted for their years of service.

However, he would not say if he would drop the lawsuit if his clients were promoted.

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