Freddie’s case is baseless

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Dear Editor,

In a previous letter I sought to clear the air on Former President Ramotar`s and Freddie Kissoon`s public misrepresentations in relation to the termination of Kissoon`s employment by the University of Guyana.

May I reiterate that Mr. Kissoon was a retiree of the University of Guyana, who was offered a teaching contract after his retirement. The University subsequently effectively terminated that contract under the provision of the said contract that provided for either party to terminate the contract on condition that due notice is given or that the employee is paid in lieu of notice.

Kissoon has since contended that he was wrongfully dismissed and relies on a report from the Ombudsman, to whose office he had complained of wrongful dismissal, as justification for his contention.

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In seeking to refute my explanation of what occurred, he firstly sought to discredit my explanation on the grounds that he had no knowledge that I was trained to be a lawyer. That position is not worthy of attention since the issue is not about my training. It is about the true representation of what actually occurred.

In purporting to rely on the Ombudsman`s report, Freddie does not reference the report. He simply engages in hearsay and baseless deductions. For example, he contends that the Ombudsman told him that the “Ombudsman does not investigate but sources out the investigation” (sic). In that regard, the Ombudsman Act unambiguously states: “All complaints to the Ombudsman and requests for investigation by him shall be made in writing”. (author`s emphasis) He further contended that the Ombudsman said that: he, the “Ombudsman never comes to conclusions on his own but seeks the paid consultancies of lawyers so that that Ombudsman would not be accused of personal bias”. While it might be true that the Ombudsman may either deploy his staff to do investigations or in the absence of staff may contract suitably qualified persons to assist him, there is no provision which forbids the Ombudsman from investigating. In fact “the Ombudsman`s function is to investigate” as Former Ombudsman, Clifford Baburam  stated in his presentation on the “Role of the Ombudsman in the Commonwealth Caribbean” on the occasion of a symposium hosted by the Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus at the Dover Convention Centre, November 26-29, 1989. The Ombudsman is ultimately responsible for the findings of the investigation.

Freddie is also clearly misguided on the question of bias in judicial or quasi-judicial processes. The presumption of bias is only occasioned by an interest in the matter or relational considerations or pre-dispositions. The Ombudsman can only be bias if he is found to be in one of those situations, there is no automaticity as Freddie`s contention of what the Ombudsman said infers.

What Freddie also clearly does not understand is the provision of the Constitution which states: “The Ombudsman shall not investigate … (a) any action in respect of which the complainant has or had – (1) a remedy by way of proceedings in a court”. Freddie himself contends that his matter was justiciable. By his own inference it was not within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman to investigate his case. It therefore stands to reason that the Ombudsman upon the findings of the erstwhile lawyers is reported by Freddie to have said: “The findings are out there – what more do you want from me?

In all of Freddie`s fumigations one is still not sure how his complaint was couched and therefore what the erstwhile lawyers were responding to when they purportedly reported their findings. For example, reports that they found Statute 25 of the University`s Act and Statutes, inter alia to have been breached, raises uncertainty about what Freddie actually related in his complaint. Statute 25 deals with Disciplinary Hearings. Freddie`s termination was not approached from a disciplinary perspective. It therefore begs the question as to why a breach of Statute 25 was one of the purported findings.

Freddie`s contention that he had no interest in taking the matter to the court is but a cop out. He was terminated. Benefitted from the terms of his termination. His termination may have been unfair but was certainly executed within the provisions of his contract, notwithstanding his contention that erstwhile lawyers declared it illegal. Those would have been but legal opinions and not a judicial ruling on his matter. Here again Freddie fails to acknowledge that the findings of the Ombudsman are advisory and not a judgment handed down.

Freddie`s has failed to argue his case from the knowledge base, factual and evidential perspectives. In fact his case is baseless.

Yours sincerely
Vincent Alexander

Former Secretary to the University`s Council



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