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Bain takes UWI to court over his dismissal

BY PAUL HENRY Crime/Court Desk co-ordinator henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 15, 2014    

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PROFESSOR Brendan Bain on Friday won round one in his fight against the decision of the University of the West Indies (UWI) to remove him as director of the Regional Co-ordinating Unit of the Caribbean HIV/Training Network (CHART).

Bain obtained an injunction in the Supreme Court barring his termination, which was due to take effect on June 15.

The injunction will remain in place pending the outcome of his lawsuit claiming breach of his constitutional rights. The suit, filed by the firm Henlin Gibson Henlin, is also seeking damages from the university over the issue. A hearing date is yet to be set.

Bain, who is a medical doctor, was issued with a termination letter, dated May 20, by the vice-chancellor of the UWI after gay and human rights groups pressured the institution on the heels of his expert evidence in a case in Belize where a gay man had challenged the constitutionality of the law that makes it a criminal act for men to have sex with men.

The doctor, who is a pioneer in clinical infectious disease practice in the Caribbean and a leading medical authority on the HIV epidemic in the region, had testified that there is a higher degree of HIV and cancer among men who have sex with men.

The UWI, in dismissing Bain, said he had lost the confidence of the community CHART serves.

The university issued the May 20 letter claiming it was satisfied that the controversy had compromised [Bain's] ability to lead the programme. On that same date, a statement entitled 'Statement regarding Termination of Contractual Arrangement with Professor Brendan Bain as Director of CHART' was posted on the UWI website http://myspot.mona.uwi.edu/marcom/newsroom/entry/5708.

Bain is contending that the letter of termination is a breach of his rights, under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, in that it has impacted his fundamental rights to freedom of expression, thought and due process, and caused injury to his reputation, loss and damage .

Bain is seeking several declarations from the court, including that the "letter of termination dated the 20th May 2014 is a breach of section 16(2) of the Constitution in so far as it contains a decision adverse to his interest and which decision was made without reference to a hearing by or before a fair or impartial trial tribunal or any hearing at all as contemplated by the charter" .

Another declaration sought is that the UWI's "action as evidenced by the statement of the 20th May 2014 posted on its website http://myspot.mona.uwi.edu/marcom/newsroom/entry/5708 on the 20th May 2014 and continuing is in breach of the claimant's right to freedom of thought as guaranteed by section 13(3)(b) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (Constitutional Amendment) Act, 2011 (the Charter)" .

The professor is seeking an order that the letter of May 20 "is null, void and of no effect and is to be quashed and/or is not otherwise enforceable or to be treated as effective against

[Bain]" . He is also seeking an order that he's entitled to continue as director of CHART.

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