Crown argues Tweed decision was fair
No evidence shows that Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister of Home Affairs, was “in any way predetermined” in her decision over a work permit for the activist pastor Reverend Nicholas Tweed, according to the Crown.
The judicial review of the decision last year not to renew the African Methodist Episcopal Church pastor’s work permit concluded today with representation from Lauren Sadler-Best, representing the Bermuda Government.
The church’s legal team has argued that the minister’s decision was tainted by bias, with particular reference to her statements in Parliament on Mr Tweed’s sermons condemning the One Bermuda Alliance, which Ms Gordon-Pamplin has said prompted her to switch from St Paul AME Church.
Delroy Duncan, representing Mr Tweed and the church, laid out a case of bias before Chief Justice Ian Kawaley on Monday, but Ms Sadler-Best said the suggestions were “more than inferences — they are leaps”, requiring the court to assume “what was in the minister’s mind at the time”.
Counsel for the Crown noted there was “no policy that sets out step by step how the work is divided” between the immigration board and the minister. Ms Gordon-Pamplin’s ultimate decision to decline renewing the permit was based on the church’s failure to advertise the post, but the minister also found deficiencies in the details on Mr Tweed’s file.
The Crown also suggested that “people love conspiracy theories”, and that “in relation to this particular applicant, there is a bogeyman in every corner of this administration”.
“The reasonable conclusion and the evidence is that this application proceeded fairly,” Ms Sadler-Best said.
Mr Justice Kawaley noted the minister’s argument that the same rules should apply equally to all applicants, and that “the driving force was the church being treated the same as anybody else”.
“There were various churches who were given waivers,” the Chief Justice added. “The complaint is that in this case, a rigid approach was adopted.”
Requirements were waived during the same time period for five other pastors, he pointed out — while the Crown responded that “all other churches applied for a waiver”.
A judgment on the matter is pending.
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