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Parks director job could be re-advertised after court ruling

No damages have been awarded to a civil servant who was rejected for the role of Director of Parks – but the Supreme Court ruled that the Public Service Commission’s decision was unfair.

The finding by Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams could result in the job being advertised again.

Mrs Justice Subair Williams gave the PSC three weeks to explain to Terry Lynn Thompson why an offer of acting parks director for six-months was withdrawn.

She said that the JSC had turned down Ms Thompson without “first informing her of the grounds on which it proposed to do so and without allowing her the opportunity to make representations on those grounds”.

She gave the JSC 21 days from the date of the judgment to explain itself and said Ms Thompson would have 14 days to respond.

The PSC will then have to draw up a recommendation for or against Ms Thompson, in consultation with the Premier.

Mrs Justice Subair Williams added: “For the avoidance of any doubt, it may be open for the PSC to recommend against the appointment of any and all of candidates for the post, so long as the final decision whether or not to make an appointment is vested solely in the Governor.

“Given the passage of time since the recruitment process was aborted in November 2018, the post of director should be promptly re-advertised if the Governor declines to appoint any candidate from the 2018 recruitment.”

The court heard in September that Ms Thompson, who applied for the post of director in 2018 after she had done the job in an acting capacity, had been “universally recommended” by an interview panel.

But the PSC decided to delay its decision until Ms Thompson had spent another six months in the position – and later withdrew the offer.

Counsel for the PSC told the court at a September 24 hearing that parks staff were against Ms Thompson’s appointment because of her management style.

The PSC deferred its decision on the appointment until it could meet Christopher Farrow, the Acting Permanent Secretary for Public Works at the time.

The court heard that Mr Farrow told the PSC that concerns about the candidate’s management style could be dealt with and the commission recommended that Ms Thompson spend an extra six months in the acting role.

Ms Thompson applied for a judicial review and her lawyer argued that the PSC acted outside its power and asked the court to order her appointment to the position.

But Mrs Subair Williams said the appointment was outside the court’s power and ruled that a claim for damages could not be made solely on an action for judicial review.

She ruled that damages, under law, would have to be combined with “a claim for another remedy such as one of the prerogative remedies or an injunction or declaration”.

But she ordered the PSC to explain “the reasons for the withdrawal of its offer” to Ms Thompson – who was also awarded 70 per cent of her costs for the case.

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