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NNP was targeting Jonathan La Crette and David Andrew

Senator Jonathan La Crette (l) – now holds the position of Minister of Health; Sen. David Andrew (r) – given the job of Minister of Education

The defeated Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government had approached the Public Service Commission (PSC) to investigate two public officers who contested seats as candidates of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the June 23 general election.

This was told to THE NEW TODAY by a Permanent Secretary who is familiar with the case involving former Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, David Andrew (St. Andrew South-east and former School principal, Jonathan LaCrette (St. George North-west).

The senior civil servant said that the ousted regime had raised concerns with the commission over the intention of La Crette to challenge the sitting Prime Minister Keith Mitchell for his constituency which he has represented in Parliament since 1984 and that of Andrew to try and unseat his former boss, the then Education Minister, Emmalin Pierre.

According to the Permanent Secretary, the NNP government had also sent photographs to the commission, headed by former Cabinet Secretary, Beryl Isaac to take a look at the prospective NDC candidates at public meetings of the party.

LaCrette, the current Minister of Health, was seen on the NDC political platform and was even endorsed as its candidate for St. George North-west when still employed as a public servant on contract with the PSC.

“He (La Crette) was in his yellow NDC jersey and they endorsed him as the candidate for North-west,” said the senior civil servant.

In the case of Andrew who now holds the position of Minister of Education, the then Keith Mitchell-led government reportedly did not have any hard evidence to lay a strong case against him with the commission.

The Permanent Secretary stated that the PSC did discuss the issue and concluded that no action could be taken against Andrew who was seen wearing a blue shirt and sitting behind the Political Leader of Congress, current Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell.

“I don’t see anything that we could hold him accountable for,” said the PS who also reviewed the photograph.

“…The man (David Andrew) is just a citizen and he’s free to associate – he is free to speak, to go wherever he wants to go,” she added.

According to the source, the David Andrew issue was sent to the then Attorney General Dia Forrester for clarification and advice and it came back giving teeth to the PSC conclusion that “we can’t stop them from aspiring to be a Politician.”

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The senior public officer disclosed that the Commission members took the decision to give both La Crette and Andrew earlier dates than they had requested for their retirement as public officers to come into effect.

La Crette’s retirement was due to take effect from April 1 but the PSC is said to have brought forward the date to coincide with the day that he was endorsed as the NDC candidate to contest the seat against former Prime Minister Keith Mitchell.

David Andrew’s retirement was due to take effect in July but it was brought forward to one month earlier by the PSC.

According to the PS, this was apparently done in order to free them up to go and take part in their politics” because “it was clear that they were going to be candidates.”

The Permanent Secretary told THE NEW TODAY that based on information coming out from inside the PSC it appears that former School Principal, Prescott Swan, the longest serving member on the commission is considered to be the most “liberal thinker” among the five members.

She said that Swan often argued in meetings that he did not have an issue with public officers who wanted to pursue a career in politics.

“He took the position that if the people want to be politicians he doesn’t see anybody who could stop them.”

The senior officer is also quoted as saying that Swan is known to hold the view that “if a government comes into office and they are not happy with somebody in a certain position they have the right to move them.”

“He (Swan) has been saying so with the last government and when this one (NDC) comes, he’s saying the same thing – he says they have a right to move who they want to move.”

“I keep wondering – there are certain things that he keeps saying and I’m wondering if he’s a true NNP or if he’s just neutral or if he’s sympathetic to the present people – I don’t know.”

Swan contested the St Patrick East seat in 1990 for the NNP but was unsuccessful.

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