Witness: Bain's axing put everyone on tenterhooks

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

Monday, January 19, 2015

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A medical doctor testified yesterday that Professor Brendan Bain's sacking by the University of the West Indies (UWI) left the academic staff worried that others among them might also be fired if their expert evidence wasn't in keeping with the ideology espoused by the university or its donors.


Dr William Aiken, who is based at UWI, made the statement while being redirected by Bain's attorney Georgia Gibson-Henlin after his cross-examination by Queen's Counsel Hugh Small.


"What happened to Professor Bain put everyone on tenterhooks that if your expert report is not the ideological position of the university or others that it will create an anxious environment in which one works," Williams said.


Asked by Justice Lennox Campbell who are the "others" to which he referred, Aiken said the donors of the university.


Aiken was among three witnesses -- including consultant Mavis Fuller, the former co-ordinator of the Ministry of Health's HIV programme, and honorary consul for Uruguay Dwight Williamson -- to take the stand yesterday on behalf of the embattled professor. All testified that Bain was terminated because of his evidence in a case in Belize in which a homosexual man was challenging the buggery law of that country.


But under cross-examination from Small and his junior, Christopher Kelman, they conceded a number of points.


Bain is suing the UWI for breach of contract, breach of constitutional rights, and defamation over the university's decision to terminate his contract as director of Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training Network.


The UWI fired the noted health professional last May after alleging that his constituents had lost confidence in him following his participation in the Belizean matter.


Last week Friday, Professor Robert Landis of the UWI (Cave Hill Campus) testified that the statement posted by the university on its website concerning Bain's termination belittled him. Landis noted also that he had never, in his 11 years at the UWI, seen the university post a statement about the termination of anyone's service.


At another point, Landis, who was being examined by Kelman, said the "person conveyed in this message comes across as a retired technocrat who is out of step with progressive thought".


Landis said that the university's action made it seem as if Bain wanted countries in the Caribbean that have buggery laws to retain them because of his expert evidence.


He said that from Bain's evidence, he doesn't believe Bain was arguing for the retention of the buggery law in Belize.


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