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Otto Sam was dismissed from the public service in 2013 and is seeking judicial review. (Internet photo)
Otto Sam was dismissed from the public service in 2013 and is seeking judicial review. (Internet photo)
Jomo Thomas (File photo).
Jomo Thomas (File photo).

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, May 29, IWN – A lawyer representing dismissed public servant, Otto Sam, is “delighted” that a member of the tribunal that found Sam guilty of breaking Public Service rules has distanced herself from the verdict.

“I was delighted when Ms [Cecily] Saunders made the comments that she made because that is precisely our position,” Jomo Thomas told I-Witness News on Wednesday.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) fired Sam, a career educator who was a public servant for 33 years after the tribunal, in a two to one verdict, found him guilty of breaking Public Service rules when he wrote a letter in two local newspapers last year.

The letter spoke about the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), to which Sam was transferred in 2010 from the South Rivers Methodist School, where he was head teacher.

The tribunal was chaired by Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Colin John, and comprised Saunders, a retired public servant and Aldric Williams, a retired superintendent of police.

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But Saunders later told a newspaper that she did not find Sam guilty of the charges brought against him.

Thomas noted that his client was accused of violating Public Service laws.

Otto Sam. (Internet photo)
Otto Sam. (Internet photo)

“I was there with Mr. Sam, we cross-examined the three witnesses from the Government. … We asked them a simple question, ‘Which law did Mr. Sam violate?’ None of them was able to say which law Mr. Sam violated. None. So the basis upon which the tribunal found him guilty is just mind-boggling to say the least …” Thomas told I-Witness News.

The witnesses were Godfred Pompey, permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security; Howie Prince, director of the NEMO; and Michelle Forbes, deputy-director of NEMO.

Thomas noted that the role of the tribunal is to hear the case.

“The tribunal is not there to impose its position. It is there to hear the case and none of them spoke to the law that Mr. Sam violated.

“Both of the persons that Mr. Sam worked with (Prince and Forbes) said that Mr. Sam was a good worker. Both of them said that Mr. Sam did raise many of the questions he raised in his letter with [them]. Both of them said, in many respects, he followed the channels,” Thomas said.

He further described his client as “an astute man”.

“I am really impressed with how meticulous he is and the records that he kept and he showed. And I think he was unjustly dismissed and we intend to prove it in court,” Thomas said.

Read also: PM distances himself from firing of Otto Sam

2 replies on “Otto Sam’s lawyer ‘delighted’ by tribunal member’s comment”

  1. I always thought the comment by Saunders was a bit suspect…But I am still curious as to how Ms Saunders voted on the panel, did she held firm to her conviction in that there were no grounds to find Otto guilty? Or did she wavered behind closed doors and succumb to the pressures of her peers? Was this an unanimous decision? Or was this a majority rule decision, where Ms Saunders was the lone dissenting voice? A strange decision by all accounts, given the numerous cases of improper conduct by other Civil Servants and are still employed…We had a lady thievin’ stuff; we had a man selling Government properties; we had a man, misappropriating Government funds;we have millions of dollars unaccounted for and no one was fired… the firing of Otto Sam for writing an article appears to be wholly unfair. And given the seniority of Otto, a simple suspension or transfer(again) should have suffice.

    In the Protection of Employment Act, 2003, under Sub-section 18; Test of unfair dismissal: In deciding a question as to whether or not the termination of the services of an employee is unfair, the employer shall prove the reason for the dismissal and the Commissioner, the Hearing Officer or the Tribunal shall consider whether an employer acted reasonably or unreasonably and where the employer has acted on a mistaken belief as to the factual basis for the termination, the question may be decided on the basis as to whether the actual circumstances which existed, if known to the employer, would have reasonably led him to terminate the services of the employee.

    I think Otto Sam has a strong case to make for unfair dismissal…and even if he is not reinstated, I think the Government will have to fork over some dollars for their hasty action.

  2. They will get nothing until this regime is gone, not even justice. Remember Gonsalves said go to what court you like, at the end of the day you will have to come back to PAPA.

    Which in my mind means he is the final court of appeal.

    What does that say for our Judiciary, what does that say for our constitutional rights.

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