In 1998, the Court ruled that Government breached Richard Duncan’s Constitutional right and constructively dismissed him when he was asked to take indefinite leave from his post of Accountant General. Keith Mitchell decided to victimise Duncan because he was “too fresh”. Duncan was a young man, with more than 20 years still to serve in the public service. Although far from retirement age, because of Mitchell’s vindictiveness, Mr. Duncan has been receiving our tax dollars as a pensioner for over 20 years. Today, he is still a man of working age.
Fast forward to September 2017; same vindictive Prime Minister, different public servant and same cost to us the taxpayers. Through sheer reckless disregard for the financial cost of his actions, Mitchell again decided to dish out the Duncan treatment on Cabinet Secretary, Gemma Bain-Thomas. Like Duncan, Mrs. Bain-Thomas is a fairly young woman with many years still to serve.
On 22nd September 2017, the Court of Appeal found that the spiteful decision to transfer Mrs. Bain-Thomas from the post of Cabinet Secretary, a post protected by the Constitution, to the non-established post created just for her, was a breach of section 85(2) of the Constitution and therefore null and void. Mrs. Bain-Thomas was consequently awarded damages in excess of $650,000.00 plus interest and costs for breach of her constitutional rights.
In addition, on March 12th 2019, the Court awarded Mrs. Bain Thomas a further $75,000.00 plus interest and costs as vindicatory damages. The Court said that as the right violated by Government was a Constitutional one, it: “adds an extra dimension to the wrong”. The vindicatory damages were awarded to Mrs. Bain-Thomas: “…to reflect the sense of public outrage, emphasise the importance of the constitutional right and the gravity of the breach, and [to] deter further breaches.”
Just as criminals are jailed as a means of deterring them from committing further crimes, so too, the court has awarded vindicatory damages against our Government to deter Keith Mitchell from further malicious and vindictive acts against his own people.
Mrs. Bain-Thomas will now receive in the region of $1 million when interest and costs are factored in plus, she will qualify for her full pension when she reaches 60 years. Grenadians, how long will you keep paying for Keith Mitchell’s wickedness?
Just as we’re preparing to go to press with this article, news reached us that former Commissioner of Police Willan Thompson, won his case against Government for the same spiteful and vindictive acts by Mitchell. We predict that he will be awarded even more damages than Mrs. Bain-Thomas and none of that will come from Keith Mitchell’s $19 million. We, the people will keep paying for Mitchell’s wickedness as long as we keep electing him.
It is interesting to note that the NDC in its two terms in office, have not recorded a single case of worker victimisation or Constitutional violation against it. On the other hand, the costly cases mentioned here are just three in a long list under Mitchell’s belt.
The people of St. Mark are certainly also having their own case of déjà vu at this time.
In 2003, a poultry farm initiative of a group of locals was hijacked by Mitchell, Boatswain and their henchmen. In the end, we the taxpayers had to pay US$6.9 million because of their wicked, reckless acts. Now in 2019, the people of St. Mark are shafted again with the ill-fated shrimp farm. More details on these will be given in another issue.
With Mitchell and his lawless bunch, it is always déjà vu nightmares; and so it shall be until we get rid of them for good.
(The above reflects the views of the main opposition National Democratic Congress)