(CNS): Government officials have refused to comment on the legal outcome of a court challenge by a prison deputy director, Aduke Natalie Joseph-Caesar, who was sacked by the chief officer in the home affairs ministry, Eric Bush, over an internal staff scandal at HMP Northward last year. Last month, a court found in Caesar’s favour that she was not lawfully dismissed because government officials had not followed due process. While Caesar is understood to be planning to return to her job, the new home affairs CO, Wesley Howell, and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who is head of the civil service, have remained silent on the matter.
The court found that Caesar is still a prison employee and as well as being put back on the pay roll, must be paid her missing salary since she was terminated last November. Nevertheless, Howell and Manderson told CNS Tuesday that the case was not finalised and neither were able to comment on the issue.
Caesar was dismissed after an internal enquiry lead by Bush, who departed at the weekend for the UK to start his new job heading up the London office.
The probe was triggered after covert video and recording equipment were found in an air-conditioning duct in the office of another staff member.
Three people were suspended over the issue: a prison officer who reportedly installed the equipment, Caesar for ordering its installation and Nina White, a female manager and custody officer who was the target of the secret video as a result of allegations that she was behaving inappropriately with inmates behind locked doors in the office.
White was reportedly cleared of any wrongdoing with inmates but was later fired and is now employed by a large local security firm. The prison officer was reinstated. However, government officials have remained tight-lipped throughout the investigation and have been reluctant to reveal the chain of events and outcomes.
Caesar, a long-standing employee with the prison who was well-known for her efforts to develop rehabilitation programmes, especially the importance of literacy, was dismissed.
However, she then filed for a judicial review on the basis that the enquiry conducted by the home affairs ministry and her subsequent sacking were not lawful because, according to the law, Prison Director Neil Lavis should have been the one to conduct the enquiry, not the home affairs ministry.
While the full facts remain under wraps, the court ruling means that the government must now allow Caesar to come back to work.