Deputy Leader of the St. Kitts-Labour Party and Attorney-at-Law, Hon. Marcella Liburd believes that the timing of government’s decision to place Larry Vaughan on ‘Administrative Leave’ may be connected to the fact that his legal action against the Public Service Commission and the Attorney General, Hon. Vincent Byron, in his capacity as representative of the Governor General, was likely to be successful and cause the government great embarrassment.
Vaughan, a Senior Customs Officer, vigorously and legally resisted an attempt by the government to have him transferred from the Customs and Excise Department to the Ministry of Education to take up a position as a teacher.
Yesterday (Thursday 16th August, 2018), Judge Perletta Lanns issued a judgement for costs in Vaughan’s favour after the Public Service Commission withdrew the transfer request which was approved by the Governor General.
Vaughan, who was represented by Sylvester Anthony and Angelina Sookoo-Bobb, had filed an injunction initially preventing his transfer and later petitioned the court for judicial review of the matter. A day before the judgement however, a letter was issued by the Chief Personnel Officer advising Vaughan that he was being placed on ‘Administrative Leave’.
On Tuesday, the Comptroller of Customs called the police around midday, claiming that Vaughan refused to leave the Customs and Excise Department’s Bird Rock premises. The resulting events were documented in a now infamous video that captured the exchange between the police and Vaughan in which a female officer, Desarene Wilson, snatched Vaughan’s phone from his hands as he attempted to document the incident.
He has since been slapped with four charges including battery on a police officer. The video footage at no time showed Vaughan coming into physical contact with the officer.
Deputy SKNLP Leader, Marcella Liburd says in her view, Tuesday’s action against Vaughan was a clear act of retaliation against him for standing his ground which will ultimately end in failure, as did their attempt to force now reinstated permanent secretary, Sharon Rattan, into a job well beneath her qualifications and status as a senior civil servant.
“They knew they were wrong. They knew they couldn’t win the case and so the day before the matter was to be heard, they sent a letter saying they will no longer transfer him. They did the same thing with Sharron Rattan. They had her going around and around for more than a year with respect to a court matter she was bringing because they wanted to demote her from a Permanent Secretary and she said no….And then days before the matter was to be heard, they offered her a position as a PS. You can see the pattern again is just a question of victimization and spite.”
She continued, “I want public servants to stand up for their right. Know what your rights are and stand up for them because in every case, Public Servants won their cases against the government.”
She also commented on the role the police had to play in the incident as the three officers who turned up to remove Vaughan, led by Officer Wilson, have been widely condemned for the unnecessary aggression and force they employed in handling the matter.
Hon. Liburd suggested that as crime continues to escalate unabated, the integrity of the police is being compromised as they are used by the government to carry out a spiteful agenda against civil servants.
“The police have been involved by Timothy Harris in a naked abuse of trying to intimidate persons. This is not the job of police! While this is being done, we still cannot hear any resolution to all these murders and criminal activities in which the police is supposed to be involved. Instead, they are being used to intimidate and suppress people and to carry out spite and victimization on behalf of Timothy Harris and his government.”