The Registrar of the Supreme Court of Judicature has struck out an application filed by the Local Government Commission (LGC) which sought to overturn a judgment by High Court Judge Simone Morris-Ramlall. Justice Morris-Ramlall ruled the commission acted unlawfully when it sacked Royston King as Town Clerk of the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown (M&CC).
It was on September 13, 2019, that Justice Morris-Ramlall handed down the ruling at the High Court in Demerara. Shortly after, the LGC filed a Notice of Appeal in which it proffered several grounds as to why the Judge’s decision should be quashed. However, the filings were not filed within the time stipulated under the New Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) of 2016.
As a result, it was struck out for non-compliance.
King, through his lawyers Maxwell Edwards and Patrice Henry, had sought several orders from the High Court; one being for him to be reinstated to the post of Town Clerk. The, judge, however, refused to grant such an order. The Judge’s ruling remains in force and King is still Town Clerk with the status quo being of September 21, 2018 when he was ordered to proceed on administrative leave.
King, who attains the statutory age of retirement this month, is still entitled to all the benefits that come with the post. The LGC also has to pay him $200,000 in court costs.
Apart from ruling that the LGC acted unlawfully in firing King, the Judge ruled that it had no legal authority to delegate its investigator powers to a Commission of Inquiry (CoI), as the Commission of Inquiry is not part of the LGC or the local government body.
In the circumstances, the judge found that the setting up, investigations, findings and recommendations of the CoI are null, void and of no legal effect. Among other things, Justice Morris-Ramlall, in her judgment, noted that the LGC acted blindly upon the recommendations of the CoI when it instituted disciplinary charges against King and later terminated his services.
The Judge said that there was no evidence to show that the LGC conducted any independent investigations.
The CoI was conducted from September 24, to November 30, 2018, and headed by retired Judge Cecil Kennard. The CoI in its report cited King for gross misconduct, abuse of office, recklessness, dishonesty, conspiracy, and misappropriation of funds.
Among the recommendations made by the CoI was for King to be dismissed. King was sent on administrative leave on September 21, 2018, and subsequently had his services terminated.
In his Fixed Date Application (FDA) filed at the High Court, King, among other things, said that he protested the setting up and findings of the CoI.
In court documents seen by this publication, King said, “I attended the aforesaid Commission of Inquiry, under protest, since it was unlawfully appointed and in breach of the Local Government Commission Act (supra) Laws of Guyana.”
He argued that inadmissible hearsay evidence was accepted and admitted in the CoI, which rendered his dismissal nugatory.
Among other things, King said that he was fired without being given a hearing by the LGC. He contended that the allegations leveled against him were criminal in nature, but unlike the universally unaccepted principle of equality, transparency and equity, the LGC acted as judge, jury and executioner in its own cause, as opposed to calling in the police and obtaining advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions, since state assets and monies were allegedly involved.
In an affidavit, King said that he began working at age 24 with the M&CC permanently and continuously from 1989, as an Environmental Health Assistant, up until he became Press Officer, then later Public Relations Officer, and finally Town Clerk at the time of his summary dismissal.
He added, “My last appointment in the municipality was on July 14, 2015 in the capacity of Town Clerk for the city of Georgetown. While working in this capacity, many challenges would have confronted the Council and those which are relevant to my appointment.”
“I would devise all legal and lawful methods to discharge my functions earnestly, conscientiously and sincerely in the best interest of the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown.”
King, among other things, stated that since his unlawful dismissal, he was embarrassed, unemployed and deprived of his pension rights. Further to this, he says that he is not a contracted employee and as such has a legitimate expectation to be treated fairly, equally and in conformity with Article 149A of the Constitution, otherwise his right to work will be violated.
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