A POLICE CONSTABLE who was accused of taking part in a kidnapping in 2005, and made to retire after he was exonerated, has won his lawsuit against the Police Service Commission (PSC) at the Privy Council.
Levelle Long was made to retire in the public interest in September 2007 under Regulation 50 of the PSC Regulations 1966.
He filed a judicial review claim of that decision, complaining the procedure was unfair since the Constitution provided that “no penalty may be imposed on any public officer except as a result of disciplinary proceedings.” He complained that before being made to retire, he had a right to be heard.
Long was charged with kidnapping in 2005 and suspended on half-pay. On November 1, 2006 the charge was dismissed because his co-accused had died, no witnesses were available and the police file could not be found.
In delivering its decision, Lord Sumption said the fact that he may have been involved in kidnapping was at least a material part of the reasons for his “dismissal,” and since the PSC did not suggest otherwise before he was made to retire, Long had a right to be heard by a disciplinary tribunal and given a chance to prove his innocence.
“In those circumstances, before he was required to retire Mr Long had a constitutional right to the opportunity which disciplinary proceedings would have afforded to require the allegation to be substantiated by evidence and to call for his exoneration.”
The Privy Council also held that dismissal, whether by way of compulsory retirement or otherwise, was clearly an adverse consequence that was capable of being a penalty.
“If it is imposed on account of the officer’s breach of a disciplinary code binding on him (as opposed, for example, to mere incompetence or incapacity to perform his or her duties), the board considers that it is a penalty and cannot be imposed except as a result of disciplinary proceedings.
“The procedure adopted denied him that right. The board will accordingly allow the appeal and set aside the decision of the commission to require Mr Long to retire in the public interest,” the Privy Council ruling said.
The decision was delivered yesterday. Also presiding over Long’s appeal were Lords Kerr, Hodge, Lloyd-Jones and Lady Arden. Long was represented by attorneys Peter Knox,QC, Anand Ramlogan, SC, Phillip Patterson and Alvin Pariagsingh. The PSC was represented by James Guthrie, QC, and Navjot Atwal.