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Civil servant rejected for top job launches appeal

A civil servant rejected for the role of Director of Parks has launched an appeal against a court decision ordering that her application should return to the Public Service Commission for consideration.

The Supreme Court ruled last year that the PSC had treated Terry-Lynn Thompson unfairly and she should be given an opportunity to respond to any reasons the body had to withdraw an offer for the post.

At an in-chambers hearing on Friday, the court heard that Ms Thompson had launched an appeal the decision to have the courts order her appointment and receive consequential relief.

However, in the meantime, Ms Thompson called on the Supreme Court to require the PSC to provide further details about its decision and move forward with reconsidering the decision.

Mark Diel, counsel for Ms Thompson, told the hearing on Friday that the PSC had only said that it felt it had no choice after the Permanent Secretary pulled his recommendation.

However, he said the reasoning was “demonstrably wrong” and that if the decision was based on any of the alleged complaints Ms Thompson must be given particulars so she could address them.

Mr Diel said: “What we have been left with is the PSC accepting that they acted unfairly and then continuing to act unfairly.”

Richard Horseman, counsel for the PSC, said that the reason provided for the withdrawal of the appointment offer was accurate, and that the PSC should not “rewrite” what had happened.

He said: “The PSC heard the Permanent Secretary. That was the basis on which they made their decision. It was because the PS said the staff were up in arms.”

Mr Horseman said that while there was evidence of a letter sent by the Bermuda Public Service Union against the appointment, the PSC had not seen it themselves.

Mr Horseman also sought to have the court stay its previous judgment until after the appeal filed by Ms Thompson is dealt with.

He argued that a ruling by the Court of Appeal in her favour could make any decision by the PSC moot.

However Mrs Justice Subair Williams upheld her previous orders and called on the PSC to provide any further reasoning for the withdrawal.

The court heard last year 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 hearing last September 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.

However after that decision was made Randy Rochester, who had been recently appointed Permanent Secretary, withdrew his recommendation after he was warned staff could walk out.

The PSC subsequently withdrew its recommendation.

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.

Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams found in November that the decision of the PSC was unfair, but declined to order her appointment.

Mrs Justice Subair instead gave the PSC three weeks to explain why the offer was withdrawn, with Ms Thompson to have 14 days to respond.

After that period, the PSC would have to draw up a recommendation for or against her appointment.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.