Six police officers visited the High Court Office Tuesday, escorted the acting Registrar to her car, and told the rest of the staff to leave by 4:15 p.m.
The police officers — constables in grey and black and grey and white uniforms — told the staff they were sent to secure the building.
The development came one day after eight staff members were abruptly transferred to other departments of the government.
A staff member at the High Court Office, who requested anonymity, told I-Witness News that this is a latest in a string of developments at the office since the abrupt resignation on May 21 of former registrar Tamara Gibson-Marks.
The government has said that it is investigating Gibson-Marks, who left St. Vincent for St. Lucia, where she was born, 90 minutes after her resignation.
Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan has applied to the court for Gibson-Marks to show cause why she should not be suspended or disbarred from practicing law in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Prime Minister and Minister of Legal Affairs, Ralph Gonsalves has said.
The staff members were notified of the transfers orally on Monday, and they will take effect today – Wednesday.
But the persons being reassigned have not been given any reasons for the transfer or any details about their new appointments.
The source told I-Witness News that contrary to information in the public, only one of the eight persons being transferred, Deputy Registrar Wayne Matthews, had made such request.
The source, however, noted that Matthews had requested a transfer long before the resignation of the registrar.
The other persons being transferred are Stacy Wickham-Caesar, who works at the court of appeal desk; court clerks Avalene Clarke and Rose-Marie Quamina; Nicole Hamilton, who works at the criminal desk; Joesel Pemberton, who works at the civil desk; and Itesha Alexander and Esau Comas, who work in the accounts department.
Mysia Stapleton, secretary to the former registrar who also types judgements, was also notified of a transfer, but that decision has been revoked, the source told I-Witness News.
The source said the persons being transferred have worked at the High Court Office for an average of 10 years.
They told I-Witness News that around 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday, a uniformed police officer went to the office of acting Registrar Lekeicha Caesar-Toney and accompanied her to her car.
The source said this has never happened during their stint at the office.
The police officer returned to the High Court Office, looked around Caesar-Toney’s office, locked it then stood up in the general office area.
Shortly after, the police officer was joined by five other constables, who also stood up in the general office area, I-Witness News was told.
“They were looking around, said nothing to the staff, and no senior member of the staff said anything,” the source said.
The source said a staff member asked the police officer why they were there and was told that they were there to secure the building and all employees were to leave by 4:15 p.m.
A staff member inquired about the cleaner, who comes in after 4:15 p.m., and the police officer told them that the building would not be clean that day.
“I am asking the question, and so are others. Are we being investigated? Are we criminals? Are we a threat to the department?” the source said.
The source was concerned that the developments at the office and the visit of the police would cause negative perceptions of staff members’ characters as they are being transferred to other ministries.
The source said they could understand that the state might want to heighten its security at the High Court Office after the developments surrounding the former registrar.
“If you want the heightened security, why do it then,” they however said, adding that if staff members wanted to do anything untoward, they wouldn’t have had to wait until the day before persons were being transferred.
The source said the only information they have about Gibson-Marks’ resignation and the subsequent investigation is what was published in the media.
“Literally, we knew nothing about what was going on apart from what was reported in the media.”
The source said there was an incident where it was alleged that the office of the acting Registrar was broken into when she was away for about half an hour and it was claimed that a sealed file was missing.
The source said that while the acting Registrar’s office was locked during her absence, “miraculously”, one of the drawers was reportedly found half open.
The source said that the acting Registrar summoned the staff to her office and told them that the police would be called in.
This, however, was not done, and the staff heard nothing more of the alleged break-in, the source said.
But, later that day, the staff found that the access code to the general staff areas was changed.
When they inquired, they were told that the code would be given to two members of staff only, the source said.