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Appeal tribunal upholds decision of Hearing Officer

Appeal tribunal upholds decision of Hearing Officer


Rishatta Nicholls, the former personal secretary to the Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, says she is thankful that the appeals tribunal has upheld the decision of the hearing officer, in her dismissal case against Eustace.

Nicholls, who won the original hearing on September 2013 that was appealed by Eustace, said that she is ready to continue her life as normally as possible.

The hearing officer Cecil M. John had ruled that Nicholls should be compensated for her 12 years of service, a sum of $16,199.99. This was upheld on March 14 by a tribunal consisting of Benson Plaugh-Feddows, Oswald Robinson and Andrew Woodroffe.

“I really praise God that that session has come to an end,” Nicholls told SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday.

“It was long and frustrating at times, but for me it brought out my strengths. A lot of times we go through situations and even when we don’t make sense of it, it is always for our own good. It brings out areas about ourselves that help to define us and help us to deal with situations, particularly hard tough situations that for others topple them over.

“I am grateful too to the Department of Labour for the various steps they took in ensuring that it was fair, not just to please me, or just to have sympathy for me, but ensuring where wrong was you put wrong, and where right was you put right.

“I am grateful for all the officials who had to deal with the matter at one point or the other.

“I thank the public for their support. I thank them for having an interest and wanting to hear what the facts are….”

Though expressing gratitude, Nicholls said that she was disappointed in the way she was treated by the New Democratic Party, which is led by her former boss and which she had served for about one third of her life.

She said that she would always have respect for Eustace, but was let down by the way in which he and the party handled her issue.

“Now the NDP owes me… an apology because I have been a dedicated worker and supporter of the party, and I do not appreciate the way they dealt with the matter. I am totally, highly disappointed in the way the NDP went about this thing….

“This was the testing point for the NDP,” she stated.

The wife and mother said that her support for the party has waned and when asked whom she will be throwing her support behind (ULP, DRP or Green Party), Nicholls responded: “The one that works hard would get my respect; hard work brings results.”

When also asked if there were plans for the monies that she is expected to receive within one month, Nicholls indicated that she had some outstanding expenses to catch up on, as well as continuing her education.

She said that although she was successful in tackling Eustace and his lawyers (Bertram Commissiong QC, Mira Commissiong, and Maia Eustace) in what was considered a “David and Goliath” battle, she has no intentions of tackling law studies.

“It isn’t something that crossed my mind to venture into, but I am amazed that when you find yourself in a situation you don’t know your strengths until you are put to the test. Its like gold you take it out of the earth and you don’t know gold is gold until it is refined.

“I represented myself and I am grateful for that, and that’s an example for other people. You don’t have to have a title in order to represent yourself and to represent others.”

When contacted, Arnhim Eustace, Opposition Leader and Leader of the New Democratic Party told SEARCHLIGHT that he would be commenting on the appeals tribunal’s ruling at an opportune time.