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E-mails reveal heated exchange on court drivers

By \\\\\ Sheila Rampersad

An exchange of heated e-mails at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) contradicts Justice Jacob Wit’s account of events surrounding an attempt to sell Carnival tickets in 2013.

Following a story in Monday’s Express, Wit, in a letter to CCJ president Sir Dennis Byron, has admitted his driver was asked to sell tickets to a Carnival show, but they were tickets that had been bought and not complimentary ones.

Correspondence held by the Express shows Garth Jerry, the driver assigned to Wit by the CCJ, complained he was asked to sell the complimentary tickets on February 8, 2013 (Carnival Friday).

It also shows Wit requested a change of driver ten days later.

This contradicts Wit’s statement to Byron that the release of Jerry occurred in 2013, at least one to two years after the incide­nt with the tickets.

E-mails dated February 22 and April 25, 2013, from then facilities and assets manager Vaughn Halliday to Wit referenced a conversation on February 18 in which “you (Wit) requested a change in your assigned driver (Garth Jerry)”. Halliday stated that “...in our last discussion on the matter on April 23, 2013 you reiterated that you would prefer not to use any of the court’s current drivers”.

Halliday went on to explain to Wit that “...the court has a full complement of dri­vers... all of which (sic) are permanent and pensionable employees with excellent employment records... there is currently no provision for the hiring of an additional driver”.

In his e-mail response to Halliday on April 26, Wit described Halliday as “a fairly ineffective manager”.

Wit goes on to describe the CCJ as a dysfunctional organisation:

“...Be assured that I have drawn my own conclusion as to continuing to be a member of this organisation.”

The e-mail exchange was forwarded to Byron on May 21, 2013. One year later, the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission varied the terms and conditions of Judges approved by Caricom heads of government to grant Wit a monthly driver’s allowance of US$1,226.33 retroactive to October 2013.

Halliday, a Barbados national, resigned on April 13 this year. 

Following the Express report on Monday, CCJ Justice Jacob Wit wrote a note to CCJ president Sir Dennis Byron stating that as far as he could remember, his wife had purchased tickets for a Carnival show, and when he (Wit) subsequently received complimentary tickets for the show, his wife first asked an official at the show if the tickets that she had bought could be sold. 

“The judge says his wife subsequently asked their driver, an employee of the CCJ, if he could sell the tickets. The judge says the driver came to him and told him of the request of his wife to sell the tickets. The judge, in his note to Sir Dennis, stated the driver told him he felt embarrassed to be selling the tickets,” stated a CCJ release. “I told him I understood, and that was the end of it. Or so it seemed,” the release quoted Wit as saying.

The CCJ stated further that Wit also recalled to the CCJ president the release of driver Garth Jerry from his duties had nothing to do with his refusal to sell the tickets.

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