Was Ausbert Regis promotion court ordered?

With particular reference to my article in last Saturday’s STAR, entitled Has Political BS Replaced our National Dish?, an obviously well-positioned reader wrote: “It was going well until you took a swipe at the law firm that represented former police commissioner Ausbert Regis in his suit against the Stephenson King government. I think whatever decisions Kenny Anthony took regarding the consultants would have been necessary to get us out of the hole the UWP put us in.”
Whatever decisions?
Moreover: “I also think you omitted to provide a possible solution to the issue’s related problems. We know what the opposition should’ve addressed at their recent press conference but what does the writer think the new prime minister, faced with a burdened and troubled economy, should’ve done in the circumstances?”
We’ll return to that in due course.
Then there was this: “Further, the settlement in the Regis matter was necessary, in view of the fact that it would have been detrimental to the police force to put him back there after a year’s absence. The prime minister, the
PSC and the Cabinet had
to weigh the benefits to
Saint Lucia to settle this matter. It had nothing to do with the lawyers that represented Mr. Regis.”
What settlement? Is my correspondent referring to the court order at the end of the matter or to something else? As I say, the quoted writer of the above seems to have inside knowledge of the Regis issue not available to regular citizens. Still he seems to have missed the point of my article, that for too long and at great cost to the nation politicians on both sides of the House have misled trusting citizens with half truths, self-serving declarations and blatant prevarication.
The references to Regis were in response to what the prime minister said about him in his televised February 27 address, centered on his government’s professed inability to pay public servants more than a 4 percent wage increase for the period April 2010 to March 2013 (a total of $22.3 million!), when they were demanding almost four times the stated amount.
My reference to Regis, taken from the prime minister’s address: “In the time since our government has been in office the numbers in Grades 19 to 21 in the Civil Service have increased by four—the Special Advisor on External Affairs, the Permanent Secretary in the office of the prime minister, the Permanent Secretary of the Parastatal Monitoring Department, and the Director of Public Sector Modernization.
“The position of Special Advisor on National Security was created by absorbing the position of Director of Special Initiatives, which the Stephenson Government had created for Ausbert Regis, and which we had to upgrade from Grade 20 to 21 because of the ruling of the courts that King’s government had acted unlawfully, in contravention of the Constitution, when it transferred Ausbert Regis. The net effect was an increase of $36,000 a year.”
By all I have been told by individuals in a position to know, the King government did not create the department of Special Project Initiatives, Grade 19. It was already in existence when the UWP took office in 2006. When Regis was transferred and made its director with responsibility for security, the position was upgraded to 20.
Let me also repeat: contrary to what the prime minister told the nation via his televised 27 February 2013 address, the courts never directed the transfer or promotion of Police Commissioner Regis to Grade 21. Indeed, the opposite is true: the court ordered that Regis continue operating as police commissioner, at the regular Grade 20.
While Regis had sued on the basis that the King government did not have the constitutional authority to transfer him, the court held a contrary view: the government was well within its rights to move him to another department, provided the transfer was not in effect a demotion. There was the other question: In the process of transferring him did the government deny Regis his constitutional rights? The judge decided the government had indeed denied the commissioner his right to “natural justice.” The government was
also ordered to pay compensation amounting to some $40,000.
To underscore: the decision to ignore the court’s directive was totally the prime minister’s. So was Regis’ promotion and related pay increase. The costly decisions had nothing to do with any court order. Indeed, how ironic that Regis had sued on the basis that the previous prime minister Stephenson King had transferred him from the office of police commissioner, yet Regis had readily accepted a second transfer, this time negotiated by his legal representatives—at the Grade 21 pay rate, higher than he had earlier received as commissioner.
Contrary, to the prime minister’s 27 February statement on TV, the current government—and for reasons never officially explained—had decided all by itself to give Regis a new job at higher pay. That decision had nothing to do with the court or the former prime minister Stephenson King. But my correspondent, who obviously knows more than the majority of us, in his letter reveals “the settlement was necessary in view of the fact that it would’ve been detrimental to the police force to put him [Regis] back there after a year.”
What settlement? What exactly does the writer mean by “it would’ve been detrimental” to return Regis to the force? If so, then should King have been congratulated, not castigated, on his attempt (albeit procedurally flawed) to reposition Regis? We are free to speculate.
Certainly it would not have been the first time a cop had returned to work after a year’s absence: officers undertake overseas courses all the time and on completion return to work without any problems whatsoever; hundreds of public servants over the years, including police officers return after a year or more on sick leave; others at the end of investigations that had required their absence from work. So, why would the return of Regis after a year off the job have proved “detrimental to the police?”
In any event, why would his return have been detrimental? What did the Kenny Anthony government know about Regis’ tenure that the rest of Saint Lucia didn’t know?
It is also worth asking: What would the government have done, had the court upheld Regis’s contention that he was entitled to the same privileges associated with the office of the Director of Public Prosecution, in particular, that the government did not have the constitutional authority to transfer him? Would Regis have resigned as police commissioner? Or would he have returned to his post to deal with whatever attendant consequences?
Would it be going overboard to suggest the government, concerned about Regis’ possible impact on the force, was ready to entice him away by any means—including an offer only a fool would refuse?  Is that what my correspondent meant by a “settlement” involving the prime minister, his cabinet and the PSC? A settlement that had “nothing to do with the lawyers that represented Mr. Regis?”
Finally, I am required to suggest what the new prime minister should’ve done upon taking office in 2011, “faced with a burdened and troubled economy.” I don’t want to seem omniscient and presumptuous, but delivering on his campaign promise of “jobs, jobs, jobs” might’ve been a great way to start.
It certainly wouldn’t have hurt, had he kept his repeated pledge “immediately upon taking office to invest $100 million into the economy for the purposes of job creation!”
Then again, what do I know?

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