Jun 09, 2016 News
Several infractions which warranted disciplinary action were listed among the reasons that Director of
the Food and Drug Department, Marlan Cole, was sent on administrative leave. This is according to Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, under whose purview the Department falls.
Minister Norton divulged that since assuming his Ministerial post, a number of complaints about the Food and Drug Department had been brought to his office. “I held a meeting with the Department (with Cole in attendance) and asked if there were any problems. At the meeting only one person spoke of any problem in the Department,” Minister Norton related.
He, however, noted that after the meeting several persons wanted to share their concerns about the Department. Among the concerns shared, the Minister recounted was that of an alleged sexual assault by Cole.
“A young lady came to my office to lodge a complaint of a sexual nature (allegedly perpetrated by Cole) and I took it up with the Ministry of Social Protection. One of our officers invited him to a meeting but he refused to go in no uncertain terms,” disclosed Minister Norton.
In fact, the Minister recalled that the accuser eventually decided that she was not willing to carry through with the matter.
But according to the Minister, “The records will show that he (Cole) was called upon many times to explain some of his actions. He was invited by the past Permanent Secretary and the current Permanent Secretary…He openly violated instructions he was given, and seem not to want to improve on what he was called up for.”
Minister Norton related, too, that Cole had even left the jurisdiction without permission. This occurred, the Minister said, even when a request was made for Cole to remain in the country.
Cole’s indiscretions, the Minister added, included him writing to a number of agencies outside of Guyana, on his own behalf.
While the Minister did not specify the reason why Cole wrote to the various agencies, he did name a few of the agencies that the Food and Drug Director contacted. Among the agencies revealed by the Minister were the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland and the University of the West Indies.
He also reportedly wrote on his own behalf to the Caricom Secretariat which is headquartered at Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown. “He wrote to these places without first letting us know about it. He even went so far as to write the President (David Granger) claiming that he was not given a hearing (when his indiscretions were found out),” said Minister Norton.
According to the Minister, a meeting was organised for Cole to be given the hearing he requested but he (Cole) failed to turn up. “We gave him an opportunity to defend himself and he refused to come.
He texted in to say that he had a prior travel arrangement and he wouldn’t come to the meeting…he was claiming he wasn’t given a hearing and we gave him an opportunity to do so and he refused to come,” stressed Minister Norton.
“Several complaints were made against him. He seems unrepentant and seems to feel that he is above the law,” said the Minister who revealed that the matter is being dealt at the level of the Public Service Commission.
“I am following public service rules as it relates to this matter, as advised,” said Minister Norton who noted that Cole was sent on leave in order to facilitate a thorough investigation.
According to Minister Norton, Cole was first asked to take his annual leave which came to an end last month. Then “We sent him off on administration leave.”
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