ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Less than 24 hours after the controversial sacking of the IT manager at the Antigua & Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) – Samantha Leacock – the body has revoked the decision.
Leacock’s termination, which took place on Sunday afternoon, was executed by the commission’s secretary and chief administrative officer (CAO), Gary Peters, and the chief registration officer (CRO), Generis Robinson.
Deputy Commission Chairman Nathaniel “Paddy” James told OBSERVER media the commission met yesterday, when it was decided the dismissal would be lifted and Leacock would be suspended instead, pending an investigation into her alleged misconduct.
“It was a split commission, three for and three against,” James said. “We, those who are against, felt and still feel the status quo remains, that she is our employee and in fact no disciplinary action should be taken against her because we were not satisfied that what was complained of (warrants) dismissal.”
He said Juno Samuel, chairman of the Electoral Commission, decided to use his “casting vote” power to break the tie and approve the suspension and investigation.
James said he believes Samuel breached the law, as he had already voted as chairman when there was deadlock. Thereafter, James said, Samuel reportedly voted a second time.
Three members of the commission, James reported, are still against the suspension. It is yet to be determined whether Leacock would receive a salary while on suspension.
The IT manager’s termination letter indicates it was a necessary step because she refused to hand over keys to the IT office to the CAO, then locked herself in the IT safe room and refused to respond to directives and thirdly, she screamed at the CAO, embarrassing him in the presence of other employees.
Up to late yesterday, Leacock had not been officially informed of the decision to revoke her dismissal and place her on suspension.
When contacted, she declined to comment, while telling OBSERVER media the matter is now in the hands of her lawyers at Watt and Associates.
Sir Gerald Watt QC, a former electoral commission chairman, is said to be the legal advocate for the embattled IT manager.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)