Posted: Saturday, May 15, 2021. 12:26 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Commissioner of Police Chester Williams’ long-running feud with former chairman of the Police Association, Eldon Arzu, looks like far from being resolved even after a decisive judgment in the Supreme Court.
Justice Westmin James ruled that Arzu, head of a slate that won four seats to three for now-Inspector Jane Usher, was denied the legitimate expectation to continue as Police Association chairman in 2019 by a statutory instrument amending the Association’s constitution which limits chairpersons to two terms. Arzu had begun his term in 2013 and the amendment was made retroactive.
Arzu won on the point of assignment to the Association while retaining his salary and allowances from his substantive post, which Justice James said he was wrongfully prevented from assuming by the Commissioner’s actions. He ruled that that the reposting was null and void and of no effect.
Next, Justice James found that the Commissioner “let his ill feelings towards the Applicant cloud some of his judgment in this matter.” This included his “telling the Association who not to appoint, writing to the banks of the Association to stop their finances, and allowing members of the Association to make disparaging remarks with implications of financial impropriety in a press conference. [The Commissioner] went as far as to issue a memo to indicate that nothing done by [Arzu] would be honoured by the Department. [The Commissioner] did not stop there; he reassigned [Arzu] with immediate effect not even properly consulting with [Arzu] …”
Attorney for Arzu, Nazira Myles said they got what they wanted: the quashing of the Commissioner’s decisions as to Arzu’s chairmanship and transfer. He is to be immediately reinstated to where he was originally posted, which is the Anti-Narcotics Unit. Likewise, there was a previous decision in this same claim of the preliminary issue that the SI did not have retrospective effect. So, he should have been able to as the chairman of the association in 2019, when he was elected, she explained.
The court rejected Williams’ defense that he acted at all times in compliance with the career management and transfer policy, which is the basis upon which he indicated that he had reposted Arzu, and that at all times, he acted in the best interest of the Police Department, and that there was no bias or prejudice against Arzu. But Arzu was also denied salary and allowances due to the post while in conflict with Williams and these are also to be reinstated with his return to his original post at the Anti-Narcotics Unit, said Myles.
The Commissioner in response said he would avail himself of the route of appeal to the Court of Appeal: “I have informed the Attorney General that I wish the matter to be appealed, because I do not agree with the decision of the learned judge and I am sure that if we are to go to the appeals court [we are] going to have a different outcome.”
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