High Court judge upholds her judgement in former Police Commissioner case

Current Commissioner of Police, Atlee Rodney (file photos)
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By Elesha George

[email protected]

High Court Judge Justice Ann-Marie Smith has denied the Police Service Commission (PSC) a stay of judgement in the Wendel Robinson matter.

Robinson’s lawyer Dane Hamilton QC said, “the application of stay was refused by the court”.

It means that Justice Smith’s ruling which declared the termination of former Commissioner of Police Wendel Robinson to be unlawful – and a later decision to appoint Atlee Rodney as Commissioner of Police to also be unlawful – is upheld.

After citing arguments brought forward by Hamilton on Tuesday, the judge ruled that the PSC was not entitled to a stay in the matter and therefore chose not to suspend the ruling.

Hamilton argued that there was no precedent for a stay of declaratory orders in such matters and highlighted several cases which showed why the stay being sought by the PSC should not be granted.

The declaratory judgement clarifies the rights and, by extension, the entitlements of Robinson that were previously ambiguous, after he was terminated as police commissioner in November 2019.

According to the judgement, Robinson is entitled to all salaries, remuneration and allowances that go with the office.

It also means that he is entitled to gratuity, pension and salaries, accumulative vacation, as well as to aggravated and exemplary damages. Assessment of damages is scheduled for April 30.

The court’s decision is final. However, the PSC has already filed an appeal.

The organisation’s lawyer, Dr David Dorsette, told Observer that the appeal was filed on Wednesday afternoon.

“We will also be seeking from the court of appeal a stay of proceedings and a stay of the judgement by the learned judge,” he said.

Dr Dorsette also said that he thinks the judge’s decision is wrong, disturbing and “as some lawyers would say, it is per incuriam”, referring to a legal term that means ‘through lack of care’.

“We’re disappointed by the decision. Quite frankly we think it was wrong,” he added.

Robinson has said in the past that he is willing to go all the way to the Privy Council to defend his case.

What did the judge rule?

In her March 24 judgement, Justice Ann-Marie Smith claimed that the Police Service Commission “behaved badly”.

“A litany of procedural errors coupled with apparent bias has brought us to this position today,” she noted.

While Justice Smith did not grant Robinson’s request for constitutional redress, she ruled on his administrative case, declaring the decision made by the PSC to terminate him as Commissioner of Police to be unlawful, null and void.

She also said that the PSC’s decision was “motivated by bad faith and bias”, and that removing him as Commissioner of Police was in breach of the rules of natural justice, irrational and unreasonable.

Furthermore, the judge noted that terminating Robinson without his pension rights and gratuity was unlawful and unreasonable and that depriving him of his right to have the appeal heard was unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void.

“A declaration that the appointment and or confirmation of Mr Atlee Rodney as Commissioner of Police was unlawful, ultra vires, null and void, as the situation with Mr Wendel Robinson was still pending and unresolved as per Godfrey Smith J’s ruling of October 2018,” the judgement read.

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