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Thursday 21 November 2019
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Submissions next week from suspended State Lands commissioner

Next week Friday, Justice James Aboud will hear submissions from suspended Commissioner of State Lands Paula Drakes and the Public Service Commission on whether the injunction he has granted, which prevents a disciplinary tribunal from prosecuting charges against her, should remain.

Aboud granted the injunction when Drakes filed an application for judicial review. It seeks to have the court review the decision of the PSC to institute charges against her in relation to the allocation of state land to family and friends. She is claiming the process so far has been unfair.

Aboud will also hear submissions on whether Drakes should be granted leave to take her case forward.

Drakes, who was appointed on October 10, 2016, has been suspended twice since assuming the job, first in May 2018 and again in June that same year.

After her first suspension, on May 28, 2018, Drakes received correspondence saying the commission had decided to “take no further action” on an allegation of misconduct against her, that her suspension was being lifted and she could report to duty with immediate effect.

She did so, but on July 9, 2018, she received a second suspension notice in which she was also told of new allegations of misconduct against her.

On December 28, 2018, Drakes was told charges would be laid against her and the commission was proposing to “interdict her from duty” with half-pay. She remains on suspension.

Drakes is being represented by attorneys Keith Scotland, Jacqueline Chang and Sara Ramsingh in this latest round of her battle with the DPA.

A tribunal has already been appointed but will not be able to move forward because of the injunction.

Drakes says she was never given any warning of an adverse report against her, in keeping with Public Service Commission regulations.

Her attorneys have contended that the PSC’s failure to provide Drakes with a reason for the withdrawal of the initial charges and for the new charges was irrational, unfair, unreasonable, unjustified, unconscionable and a breach of natural justice.

Her lawyers say there has been an inordinate delay in treating with the allegations against her.

As part of her application for judicial review, Drakes intends to ask for several administrative orders, including one to quash the decision of the PSC to prosecute or try the disciplinary charges against her.

She also intends to ask fo rher suspension to be lifted and to be reinstated in her substantive post as Commissioner of State Lands, as well as for monetary compensation.

The commission is represented by attorney Justin Junkere, who appeared in the matter yesterday, but said the PSC had not been served with Drakes’ application.

Aboud allowed him to be served with a copy of the application and gave directions for the filing of written submissions on the injunction and the granting of leave.

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