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We will deal with it urgently, says minister

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Patricia Gordon-Pamplin (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The accusation of bias against Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister of Home Affairs, was “totally rejected” in the ruling by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley, on her decision not to renew a work permit for the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, the minister declared yesterday.

Speaking in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, Ms Gordon-Pamplin called herself “very, very pleased” with that aspect of Mr Justice Kawaley’s findings. With the activist pastor’s case to go back before her ministry and the Department of Immigration, Ms Gordon-Pamplin said she would now have to examine “shortcomings with respect to procedural matters” identified by the Chief Justice.

“When the judge suggests there were some things procedurally incorrect, what’s unclear — and what I have to take legal advice on — is the fact that my procedures require me to be seized of a file when an application is made within one month of the expiry of an existing permit.” The minister added that she would have to avoid falling afoul of Mr Justice Kawaley’s ruling in taking “a relook at the situation”.

“Obviously we will deal with it as a matter of urgency,” she told The Royal Gazette.

The minister said she would also seek legal advice on how the department should process “people who do not apply and do not conform with the policies, and how to deal with matters where people are basically untruthful in their applications”.

Responding in a statement this morning, shadow home affairs minister Walton Brown welcomed the move to block Ms Gordon-Pamplin’s “attempts to banish an OBA critic”.

Mr Brown said: “The judgment asserts that Minister Gordon-Pamplin did not consider the work permit application on its merits.

“Instead, she made her decision without allowing Reverend Tweed to make any representations whatsoever about his very real personal residential connections with Bermuda, which the courts deemed should have been allowed.

“The PLP maintains that after the minister publicly expressed personal disdain for Reverend Tweed in the House of Assembly, she was obliged to remove herself from the decision-making process and instead refer the matter to the Board.

“However, she did not and the inference of impropriety can justifiably be made.

“We are pleased to see that some justice has prevailed and that ministerial interference has been rightly struck down. However, with the courts redirecting the matter for reconsideration by the minister, we urge her to remove herself from the process and defer to the Board of Immigration to decide on this matter.”

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