Activist wants ministry probe

| 18/08/2014

(CNS): A local woman currently facing charges of “uttering a false document” regarding allegations made against her by the education ministry has filed a complaint with the RCIPS against that ministry for the same offence in connection with the controversy over a doctored report. Sandra Catron has asked police to investigate the circumstances around changes made to a report on government schools, which hit the headlines recently, as she states that it is evident somebody has altered the original report and is guilty of an offence. The RCIPS have confirmed receipt of her complaint but have not yet revealed publicly if they are investigating staff at the ministry.

Following her email to Police Commissioner David Baines lodging the complaint, Catron received an emailed response from a detective chief inspector in the Financial Crime and Joint Intelligence Unit, Claudia Brady, who said the complaint was being followed up.

“This email serves as notice that the FCU is in receipt of your email sent to Commissioner Baines regarding the issue at the Ministry of Education. We will be conducting enquiries and will update you accordingly,” the officer wrote.

Catron is currently facing charges of “uttering a false document” as a result of a complaint against her filed by the education ministry regarding the controversial Nation Building Fund.

The prosecution claims that Catron issued certificates for students on NBF scholarships for a course she managed before they had completed those courses. However, Catron has denied the allegations and states that copies of certificates were given to the administrators of the fund in the premier’s office at the time at their request not to the students.

However, she said that the circumstances surrounding the recent controversy over this report are serious and believes the law must apply equally and everyone should be held to the same standard when it comes to the law.

“All evidence points to the fact that someone had purposely changed the consultant’s report so that it would mislead members of the Legislative Assembly and public. Whoever instructed or permitted this act to happen has clearly doctored a government document and attempted to pass it off as an original which is the very definition of “uttering a false document”. When it comes to enforcing the law the RCIPS and DPP appear extremely motivated to convict some persons but not others. I am a firm believer in equality under the law and wish for justice to be applied equally to all,” she said.

The issue comes out of the revelations in the Legislative Assembly during the recent Finance Committee meetings following the budget debate that a report into the state of government schools and the behaviour of both children and teachers had been sanitised. In 2012 consultant Dr David Moore was hired by the ministry to do the study but his report was heavily redacted by someone, which resulted in a doctored version being published the following year. The damning report raised numerous concerns and a comprehensive list of recommendations but this was slashed to a few points.

Various statements from those involved, including the chief officer, have still not made it clear who doctored the report, under whose instructions and why. Catron states that at the moment the situation fits the definition of the offence of uttering a false document and that government workers, like everyone else, should be treated equally.

“All civil servants should understand the term 'maladministration' and comprehend that their actionscan and will lead to legal action being taken against them. Sadly, we have allowed the wastage of government funds, poor customer service and illegal decisions to go unchallenged to for far too long,” Catron told CNS this week following her complaint to the police.

“It’s amazing that a civil servant would actually consider changing such an important document without any consideration for the illegality of it. I believe once the RCIPS carries out a proper investigation they will find out this is not the first time this has occurred. It certainly makes one wonder why we, the people, are even bothering to hire consultants and pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars when we have civil servants willing to manipulate the reports,” she added.

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