Former Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace, left, and his former secretary, Rishatha Nicholls. (IWN file photos)

Rishatha Nicholls, former secretary to Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace, is optimistic that she will again triumph when a tribunal hears on Tuesday an appeal by Eustace regarding an order for him to pay her EC$16,199.99 in severance.

Eustace fired Nicholls last March, and she has won a case before the labour board, which last May ordered Eustace to pay her severance, a ruling that he has appealed.

“It is the same matter. It has not been added to or taken away from,” Nicholls told I-Witness News on Sunday.

But Eustace, in a separate interview on Sunday, suggested that he is prepared to take further action if the tribunal again rules in Nicholls’ favour.

“There are other avenues. It can also go to the court,” he told I-Witness News.

Asked if he is prepared to take the matter to court, Eustace, a former prime minister and minister of finance, told I-Witness News, “I am not going into all of that, quite frankly.

“I know all the comments that are being made, I have avoided [commenting] because I don’t see this as a matter that requires that. So I am not making any comment about it.”

In calls to several radio stations, Nicholls has been discussing her dismissal and her attempts to get severance pay, which Eustace has said she is not entitled to because she was dismissed with cause.

She has portrayed her relationship with her former boss as tumultuous since she was hired in 2001, to her dismissal last year.

Asked why she continued in the position for so long in those circumstances, Nicholls told I-Witness News that she was looking at the larger picture, which she said, was helping the New Democratic Party, which Eustace heads, to get into office.

“From 2001 when I started to 2013, the only thing I got from Mr. Eustace was headache. There was never any appreciation of value,” she told I-Witness News on Sunday.

Nicholls’ statement is in stark contrast to her comments in an interview with I-Witness News soon after her dismissal last March, when she said she will seek “clarity” regarding the reasons for her dismissal.

“… I do not wish to be ungrateful or to create the impression that it was never an enjoyable experience. I will not create that kind of thing. It is just an unfortunate stuff and I will in fact try to have as much clarification done to that situation,” Nicholls told I-Witness News in March 2013.

“It is not that I was shocked. But I was disappointed with the reasons,” she said last year in response to a question about how she felt on learning of her dismissal.

On Sunday, she said that through her comments on radio, she is hoping “to bring clarity in the public; clearing my name, because it is not easy when you’re walking the street and you meet people with deceptive statements, statements which they believe to be true, for which they do not know me and they have no access to the facts.

“So all of this underlining thing that was going on underneath in secret and feeding the public wrong information, now that the public is hearing from me,” Nicholls said, adding that her comments are coming 10 months after she was fired.

Nicholls has said that statements that are being made about her dismissal have had a negative impact on her job prospects.

Asked what impact, if any, she thinks her comments on radio will have on her job prospects, Nicholls told I-Witness News:

“I don’t think it would have any negative impact, because the mere fact that the information was already out there in a negative sense.

“The only how is that things would get better when people have something for which they value clarity,” Nicholls told I-Witness News.

A well-placed source told I-Witness News several weeks ago that the ruling Unity Labour Party has been courting Nicholls to make statements about Eustace that might affect his chances in the next general elections.

Nicholls said this was not the case.

“As you rightly said, the same way in which I find myself in the predicament where I have to go clear my name from malicious and ridiculous statements, exactly what you have heard have been exactly that.

“Nobody in the ULP has ever asked me at all to join the party or even come to something or anything or anything at all that people would do politically. … What you are hearing it is mischief.”

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is political head of the ULP, has said in the past that he has someone at the table of the NDP.

Asked if she was ever that person, Nicholls said: “The Prime Minister has the authority. He can call the name of the person he has at the table of the NDP.

“The Prime Minister never had employed me. The Prime Minister knows nothing about me, so the Prime Minister can’t go and put me and I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me.

“So the prime minister has the right to call the name of the person who he had at the table of the NDP.”

Nicholls said that she never leaked confidential information about the NDP to the Prime Minister, the ULP, or anyone else.

“I never had any confidential information. I never even had Mr. Eustace’s cellphone number,” she told I-Witness News.

In a call on Friday to Star FM, the radio station owned by the ULP, Nicholls noted that Eustace is aspiring to hold one of the highest offices in the land.

“So he cannot function like the man in the shop. He is supposed to have an understanding as to how to deal with people specifically,” she said.

“Yo’ could balance a book and rub out a figure or erase it and put the correct figure, but if you make the wrong policy, a person’s complete life can be destroyed,” she further said.

“Nobody is going to play games with my life. Nobody is going to think that for the interest of political office they are going to play any games with my life.

“Rishatha Nicholls will fight you, win, lose or draw,” she further said, adding that is why when her case was heard by the Department of Labour, she went without a lawyer.

Nicholls, a mother of two school-aged children, said that since her dismissal she has been having problem meeting her financial obligation, but that her creditors have been understanding.

“I want to get outta people way. … give me my money,” she said in reference to her severance pay.

6 replies on “Former secretary confident tribunal will rule against Opposition Leader, again”

  1. That’s the problem with Political parties in SVG. I hope she sues him and win for one simple reason, the fact that in a public office the facts are suppose to be the light. I support Mr Eustace on a lot of things, but the way he is handling this situation is just crazy.

    The lady worked in the official office of the opposition, and up to this day we haven’t heard a peep about what this lady did to get fired. News flash Mr Eustace, the people have a right to know what went down, this is not your personal office, this is the official office of the opposition and this lady has been going around like she was done the world of evil.

    It’s time to clear the air, the NDP is taking a public perception beating from this mess and will continue to do so until the air is cleared. Let us know the circumstances for her dismissal, you are a paid public figure and that’s the least that can be done, this wouldn’t be tolerated in any respecting country in the world and it shouldn’t be tolerated here. The time for keeping secrets from the public must come to an end.

    There are rumors going around about this situation, but we need an official statement to put this thing to bed once and for all, so she can finally know why she was fired. Because she is acting like she doesn’t know why she was fired, so let us and her know why she was fired, so she wouldn’t be confused anymore.

  2. Where are the women support groups of SVG to up the cause of this poor woman? I’ve said this before, the poorer class of women in SVG are unable to speak up for their rights. Mr. Eustace should do the right thing and settle with this woman instead of dragging it out ( Sam way he is dragging out the leadership of a never ending losing party). He could afford the big time Lawyers to drag this case into the next century. Under the NDP women and especially the poorer class of SVG had no chance for justice, education or wealth.

  3. This New Year has not started off so well for the NDP and in particular Mr Eustace. Allow me to give a brief glimpse of what I consider a very bad omen for the start of a crucial year in the political life of the NDP.

    First, dealing with the monumental task of disaster relieve for many Vincentians affected by the disastrous Christmas eve floods. It is a given in the moment of National crisis, that everyone look in the direction of the Government for a response and help. And with most Government, they will “show their arse’ in commandeering the situation; its just the way the political world works.The last thing the NDP needed was some natural disaster affecting the country in such a devastating manner; not that anyone would wish for such disaster but the political effects would certainly be more beneficial to the Government in this case, than the Opposition. After all, Gonsalves is no Geroge Bush. Katrina anyone? Gonsalves? Hell no!

    Secondly, if dealing with the scant disregard from Gonsalves in handling the disaster relieve, is not galling enough for Mr Eustace-[“What useful role would he have played?” the Prime Minister questioned. “What useful purpose would he have served? Absolutely none.”]-well damn
    ; here comes the Hater-in-Chieff Frank E da Silva, with his collection of “love” letters-entitled: Diary of an Ingrate. Its people like Frank that has the NDP in political purgatory. At some point Mr Eustace will have to put a bulwood on Frank, just like he did with Mitchell and put him out of his political misery.

    Thirdly, the circus in Parliament with the budget debate was stunningly farcical and you wonder if the wheels are falling off the NDP election bandwagon. Ah must say, that the Opposition missed an opportunity to show their colors and to show Vincentians that they are truly ready to take the reigns of power. I have heard Mr Eustace and others trying to defend their position on the debate issue; not convincing at all.

    And finally, you have this upcoming ruling with Ms Nicholls and if it goes against Mr Eustace, it would be another body blow to the NDP and another mark to Mr Eustace image. You know you have a weak case when your opponent turns up to a tribunal without a lawyer and duly kick your arse. I may be totally wrong on this, but I believe the firing of Ms Baptiste and Ms Nicholls were done in the heat of the moment and had Mr Eustace given himself some time to weigh these cases, the end result may have been the same but the process may have been much more amicable and less litigious.

    Lets hope for the NDP sake. that things turn around quickly for the NDP and particularly for Mr Eustace, he is looking like a man besieged from all sides.

  4. The woman deserves some sort of compensation. I sense a great measure of comtempt against her coming from that Party Leader, mixed with paranoia and deliberate arrogance.
    Why would one want to fight an individual for a few pennies who had devoted 12 years of service to your party and office? A secretary – and did not have a cell-number to reach you? Lack of trust is blatantly evident. The Opposition Leader should stop giving himself blood pressure and pay the woman and let her at least see you as a just man, not a bandit brandishing the cutlass of spitefulness.

  5. Urlan Alexander says:

    I agree that mr. Eustace needs to come clear and tell the public what really went on and why Mrs Nicholls was fired. I know that Arnhim Eustace is a decent man and maybe he feels that informing the public as to the reason will be very damning on the part of his former secretary. be that as it may I have heard her on radio and it is evident that she is naturally irate. However we are a nation of laws and until the process is complete she just has to wait until then for her severance. I really thought that there was no appeal and Eustace just holding up her severance. I am also appalled at the sudden change in her demeanor from the first interview that Kenton Alluded to the very aggressive one that we now hear on radio. Anyway iregardless of what is being said something else is at play. Did I read that Mrs Nicholls say that ralph doesn’t know her? Come on now, if that is the case who did she go to get your salary when it was held up a few years ago by the house of assembly? ow did Arnhim felt when u did so?

  6. As stated here, Mr. Eustace will take the matter to court if he does not win at the tribunal tomorrow.
    What kind of legal advise is he getting? Would he take it to the PC in England if he loses at the court also?
    My questions is; why take a stone crusher to kill an ant? The party has more to lose going this route. This is sending a clear message that I do not mind paying thousands out to legal professional as I was instructed to instead of paying you, just to fight you down.
    This is a kind of ghetto style behavior and my friends it smells really bad.
    I am baffled how this issue which should not have even gotten a village attention is getting the national attention.

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