– PS says move not unprecedented
Although an investigation continues into alleged infractions by Director of the Food and Drug Department, Mr. Marlan Cole, he was yesterday asked to resume duties.
This publication was privy to details of the resumption letter dated June 9, 2016, which states: “Please be advised that approval has been granted for you to resume duties as Director, Food and Drug Department; pending the outcome of investigation with regards to allegations made against you.” The letter was signed by Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Public Health, Mr. Trevor Thomas.
The resumption letter comes one day after this publication carried a report that Cole was sent on administration leave pending the ongoing investigation.
Thomas in an invited comment yesterday defended the move to have Cole resume duties pointing out that “it is not unprecedented to ask somebody to resume duties pending investigation into any matter. So I guess one can take into consideration a number of factors. You can take into consideration whether you want the person to be on leave pending the outcome of the investigation or allegation or have that person work.”
Thomas, however, made it clear that the investigation into the allegations levelled against Cole is still ongoing.
Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton had informed this publication that Cole’s matter was being dealt with by the Public Service Commission. When contacted yesterday, the Minister who is currently attending a United Nations High Level meeting in New York was oblivious to the fact that Cole was asked to resume his duties as Director.
The Public Health Minister had shared that since assuming his ministerial post, a number of complaints about the Food and Drug Director had been brought to his office. Among the concerns was an allegation of sexual assault, which the Minister said he had brought to the attention of the Social Protection Ministry.
But according to the Minister, Cole’s accuser had decided not to follow through with the matter.
The Minister however noted that “the records will show that he (Cole) was called upon many times to explain some of his actions, including by the past Permanent Secretary and the current Permanent Secretary…he has openly violated instructions he was given, and seems not to want to improve on what he was called up for.”
Minister Norton related that Cole had even left the jurisdiction without being granted permission. This occurred, the Minister said, even when a request was made for Cole to remain in-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 are: the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland and the University of the West Indies. He also reportedly wrote on his own behalf to Caricom which is headquartered at Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown.
“He wrote to these places without first letting us know about it and 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,” Minister Norton stressed.
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