Sacked cop seeks court help to get his job back

| 17/04/2013

(CNS): A former member of the RCIPS who served for 26 years as a police officer has filed a legal action in the Grand Court seeking a judicial review of a decision by the police commissioner to sack him just four years ahead of his retirement, without any explanation or giving the officer a chance to defend his job. Senior Constable Osbert Smith claims he was an exceptional officer who was commended by his superiors and had an unblemished record. Yet without any discussion or notice, the top cop booted the veteran officer off the force under a section of the police law that refers to the removal of officers in the “public interest” and “to improve the efficiency of the service”.

As a result, the former officer is asking the courts to intervene and examine the case as he claims, in the legal document filed last week, that “the rules of natural justice required” Police Commissioner David Baines, the defendant in the action, to give Smith notice that he was considering retiring him early. In addition, Baines should have given the reasons why he felt retiring Smith early was in the public interest and why doingso would improve the efficiency of the service, and given him a proper opportunity to respond to the reasons and consider his response in a fair and unbiased manner.

According to the action filed by local attorney Charles Clifford, who is a former police officer, on behalf of Smith, it is a settled common law principle that a failure of procedural fairness is considered unlawful. The commissioner’s decision to retire Smith four years prior to when he would have otherwise been subjected to mandatory retirement, the suit claims, falls below the standard by which the lawfulness of the decisions of public authorities are judged.

“The Defendant's decision to retire the Applicant without providing reasons as to why he felt it was in the public interest" to do so and why he felt doing so would "improve the efficiency of the organization" was a decision that "no reasonable authority could ever have come to,” the legal document states.

The lawyer argued that if Smith had been a mediocre officer it would be difficult to challenge the decision, but the commissioner would still have had to provide the reasons why mediocrity led to the decision. However, in this case the officer was far from mediocre.

“The service the applicant tirelessly provided to the RCIPS for twenty-six years could not in any way be described as mediocre,” the document states. “Exceptional would seem to be a suitable description. The Applicant received various commendations over the years for the exceptional contribution he provided to the service, in one such commendation written to the Applicant, the Deputy Commissioner opines ‘You are a fine example of what RCIP represents and expects of its members.’  In another commendation letter a former Commissioner of Police expresses his gratitude to the Applicant for providing service over and beyond his assigned duties.”

Clifford lists more examples of the applicant's achievements during more than a quarter of a century of service with the police, including Smith being the first ever police constable selected to be the Driving Examiner, commendations from Chief Superintendent David Gooding for what he described as his sterling service to the district of North Side, successful convictions while serving in CID for murder and attempted murder, being the first PC to be assigned to the Internal Complaints Unit, as well as a commendation from former Magistrate Peter Jackson for his investigative skills in in relation to a fatal accident on the Airport Road.

Clifford also points to the fact that Smith’s employment contract was renewed biennially thirteen times since his employment commenced in September 1983, which, he writes, is an objective acknowledgment of the satisfaction of the standard of service he gave during his tenure.

“It is on this basis that it is respectfully submitted that no reasonable authority could have reached the conclusion that it would be in the public interest and would improve the efficiency of the organization to retire such a Police Officer early, particularly when there is no evidence whatsoever which suggests that the Applicant in any way lowered the high professional standard which he has held himself to since he commenced his tenure of service with the RCIPS,” Clifford argues on behalf of his client.

Smith claims the decision is unreasonable and should be quashed. He believes that he had a legitimate expectation that his contract would be renewed in September 2011 and there are no apparent rational grounds for retiring him early, so he should be immediately reinstated

While Smith does now have another job, he “remains ready, willing and indeed desires to return to the job which he clearly loves doing and has done exceptionally well for over a quarter of a century,” Clifford states in the application.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Local News

About the Author ()

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. XRumerTest says:

    Hello. And Bye.