By Clive Bacchus
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- A police inspector reportedly served high court registrar Janine Harris-Lake with a letter demanding that she hand over the keys to her department on Monday, according to deputy leader of the opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM) Eugene Hamilton
PAM Deputy Leader Eugene Hamilton
“I also learnt now today… that a further letter was sent to her changing the date for her to go. I heard about a meeting that she may have had with the permanent secretary but I also understand that she herself had written back seeking clarification on issues and that another letter… was issued today taken by a police officer,” Hamilton told WINN FM.
WINN understands that the registrar reported to work on Monday after meeting with a top government official on Friday, the day she was asked to proceed on more than 64 days accrued vacation leave.
Controversy erupted last week after news surfaced that the Attorney General’s Chambers on Tuesday September 17 asked the registrar to put in place arrangements for the next day, Wednesday September 18, to bring all outstanding legal matters, under her purview, to the attention of Minister of Justice Patrice Nisbett.
Harris-Lake was also instructed to bring all administrative matters to the attention of the permanent secretary in the AG’s Chambers and to hand over her department keys.
Thursday was a national holiday, Independence Day, and Harris-Lake was asked to proceed on 64 days leave effective Friday September 20 until December 17, 2013
Opposition politicians protested the government’s action, calling it an attempt to interfere with the judiciary.
They charged that government was taking unwarranted punitive action against a top court official without following due process.
WINN understands that Harris-Lake challenged the basis for the government’s move to dispatch her on leave. She reportedly demanded an explanation from the government about her duties as they apply to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the chief registrar, and if in fact the request was sanctioned by any other authority than the Attorney General’s Chambers.
The registrar, while paid by government, has duties that also come under the direct control of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and disciplinary action against a registrar requires an established basis and sanction by the Judicial Services Commission, WINN was informed.
Labour Party Spokesman Austin Edinborough on WINN’s Inside the News programme denied that government was taking disciplinary action against Harris-Lake. He said it was a mere “administrative” procedure.
WINN was unable to get a comment from the AG’s Chambers or any member of the judiciary on Monday afternoon. Harris-Lake has not granted an interview to the media and the government has not issued an official statement on the matter.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network