THE Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the operations of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has been deemed unlawful and void by Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall at the Demerara High Court.
Former Town Clerk, Royston King, had challenged the Local Government Commission (LGC) on his ‘wrongful dismissal’.
In January 2019, King was served with a dismissal letter by the LGC after “he did not respond verbally, or in writing, to the charges laid against him”, having appeared before the body on Wednesday, January 23, 2019.
He was dismissed by the LGC following recommendations by the CoI.
Based on the inquiry’s recommendations, King was charged with gross misconduct, abuse of office, recklessness, dishonesty, conspiracy, and misappropriation of funds at the municipality.
However, in February 2019, King moved to the High Court to challenge his dismissal.
On Friday, Justice Morris-Ramlall, during her ruling, said the LGC unlawfully delegated its investigatory powers to the CoI, which was not part of the LGC or attached to it.
Additionally, the LGC disinvested itself from the CoI when it transferred the investigation and unlawful delegated its powers.
By doing this, the LCG committed an error of law and the decisions made by the CoI must be squashed. Thus, the setting up of the CoI, the investigation, finding and recommendation is void and unlawful.
“The respondent acted blindly upon the recommendation of the CoI,” the judge said since the LGC did not do any further investigation into the findings of the CoI.
In concluding, the decision made by the LGC cannot stand, especially sending King on administrative leave in September 2018 and then his dismissal in January 2019.
King was represented by Attorneys Maxwell Edwards and Patrice Henry while the State was represented by Solicitor General, Nigel Hawke, and Deputy Solicitor General, Deborah Diane Kumar.
According to King’s attorney, Patrice Henry, his client is not reinstated, but will remain on administrative leave and has to be paid his money.
The judge awarded King $200,000, which is to be paid by the State.
Speaking to reporters outside of court, King explained that he is pleased with the court’s decision. “I have been vindicated, I give thanks to God and my lawyer,” King said.
In his application, King has asked for the LGC to reinstate him to his previous post immediately and/or to pay him all his superannuation benefits, inclusive of pension, gratuity, payment in lieu of annual leave, up until he attains the age of retirement, on January 29, 2020. This was granted to him.
He was also claiming for cost and aggregative damages for his benefits while on administrative leave and compensation for public embarrassment and humiliation.
The former Town Clerk had called for interest calculated at four per cent per annum from the date of filing of the application, until the judgment and at six per cent per annum from the date of judgment up until full payment, excluding court cost, is made.
The grounds of the application state that the ‘indecent’ haste by the LGC in summarily dismissing King without a hearing and on the recommendations of the CoI whose terms of reference did not relate to the recommendations, and the inadmissible hearsay evidence being accepted and admitted, render the dismissal irrelevant.
“I have never acted unlawfully, illegally or criminally during my tenure as a serving member of the municipality of Georgetown, irrespective of my appointments to attract the attention of the police or any disciplinary authority,” King said in his court document.
During his employment as Town Clerk, King was paid $408,560 monthly, inclusive of house and entertainment allowances