THE Prime Minister sought to clear the air over the dismissal of former Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Darryl Smith, saying he was fired over his interference in the public service.
Speaking at the PNM’s virtual campaign meeting on Tuesday night, Dr Rowley said that contrary to speculation, Smith was not fired over alleged sexual misconduct and added that while he is not obligated to make public why he hired or fired ministers, he felt it necessary to speak out on the circumstances surrounding Smith’s dismissal.
He said the decision came about when information was made available that Smith instructed the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Sport to remove the cause for the termination of a female member of staff.
“I fired Darryl Smith for interfering improperly in the public service.
“He did not want to continue hiring the woman for reasons given to the permanent secretary. She was unsatisfactory in her job.
“When he did that – and the permanent secretary put the letter of dismissal and the complaints as put by the minister – a letter now exists: he then went to the permanent secretary and said, 'You can’t do that, and take out the cause, because if she went to another job that would affect her chances of getting the job.'
“The permanent secretary did that and removed the cause of dismissal, violating the industrial relations understanding, you cannot fire someone and not say what the cause is.
“The person went to the union and went to the Industrial Court, which ruled against the government. The ministry paid for the improper dismissal.”
Rowley said despite acting appropriately with the dismissal, he too was drawn into the controversy and accused the Opposition of attempting to stir dissent against the government by exaggerating the circumstances surrounding the issue.