News

Women's bureau head challenges interdiction

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

Monday, March 24, 2014    

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FAITH Webster, the interdicted head of the Bureau of Women's Affairs, is now challenging the decision to remove her from office pending an expected hearing before the Public Service Commission (PSC) regarding the finding of an internal audit of the Government-run agency.

Webster, who had been appointed executive director of the agency in 2008, has filed action in the Supreme Court seeking judicial review of the decision to place her on interdiction. She is claiming that the process of her interdiction was in breach of natural justice as she did not get an opportunity to respond to claims made against her.

Webster has named Okina Miller, the permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, and the Public Service Commission as defendants.

Webster was expected Thursday to serve her application, along with a supporting affidavit, on the attorney general in keeping with an order from Justice Raymond King on Tuesday. The parties will next appear in chambers before King on April 25.

The embattled Webster was interdicted by way of letter from Miller on February 7. The letter followed two meetings on February 4 to discuss the audit report.

There was also a meeting on February 10, but Webster is claiming this to be a "sham" as it was clear from the February 7 letter that the permanent secretary had made her decision that Webster should be interdicted. Webster has also claimed that no reasons were given for the interdiction and the cutting of her salary by a half.

She is contending in court documents that she was denied a request to have other members of the bureau's senior management to be present at the meetings on February 4. At the meetings, Webster said she was unable to answer certain questions. The questions she said could have been addressed by the senior managers she wanted present at the meetings because the concerns had to do with areas over which they had direct responsibility.

Webster is also claiming that the internal audit report was "unfair, unbalanced and biased as it did not take into account the comments by the senior management of the bureau".

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