Ex board chair says Rickfield was set up

| 16/02/2015 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The former chair of the Work Permit  Board told the court Monday that she couldn’t believe that a small “cartel” of immigration staff had succeeded in getting rid of Tichina Rickfield. When she appeared as a witness in the ongoing trial of the board secretary, Sharon Roulstone said there was considerable animosity between Rickfield and her boss at the time, the director of boards. Roulstone said that other immigration staff had told her they were under pressure to make false allegations against Rickfield.

She said she had seen how the small group was trying to set Rickfield up, and although she was not surprised when she heard Rickfield had been accused of wrongdoing because of what she has seen, she said, “I couldn’t believe that they had succeeded in setting her up” in the way they did and getting “rid of her as had been predicted”.

Roulstone was called as a witness by Rickfield, who is facing criminal charges for making false documents and misconduct in public office. The local attorney supported many of the claims made by Rickfield’s own lawyer during the course of the trial — that she was the victim of a bullying, back-stabbing, “toxic” workplace.

Having been appointed chair in 2007, Roulstone served on the board until the middle of 2009, when, with the change of government, the board was also changed. She painted a picture of her time at the helm of a pressurised and extremely difficult environment in which the boards were working. She recalled significant problems with the computer systems, multiple agendas to deal with, massive workloads and problems with some immigration staff.

She spoke about an email she had sent to both the chief immigration officer and the leader of government business at the time, in which she outlined a number of problems. In that email she had described the small cartel of staff in the department which she believed was undermining the work of the board through various means, including delays in the communication of decisions to employers and efforts to block decisions.

Roulstone described Rickfield as an efficient, hardworking and conscientious exemplary employee whom the immigration department should be proud of. She said she could find no fault in her work and, with the exception of this cartel, Rickfield got along with everyone

Pointing to Sherryll Miller, the director of boards,  and a couple of other staff members as the problem at the time, Roulstone said she was well aware of the animosity that existed between the women but felt the cause of the poor relationship was Miller and not Rickfield. Roulstone said Miller rarely attended the meetings and when she did she was usually there because of a particular interest in a permit and was often disruptive and did not fully understand the functions of the board.

Rousltone said she was aware that secretaries and clerks often made corrections after meetings and that they were probably sharing passwords to get through the workload. She spoke of many problems with minutes and agendas and the errors, as well as dummy or draft agendas that were being used by immigration staff.

The witness gave a description of a far from perfect system that most people were doing their best to work with to get through the massive backlog, but one that was open to error. She denied making things up to help Rickfield and confirmed that, as an attorney, she would not only be facing perjury charges but would be disbarred if she did.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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