Julian Willock, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Works who was sent on paid leave in July 2010 amidst allegations that some employees of his news website worked without labour permits, has been “dismissed” from the public service, an official said.
Maria Mays, a policy officer with the Governor’s Office, said Tuesday that she could confirm Mr. Willock’s dismissal, but she declined to say when the dismissal occurred or give further details, citing ongoing legal action.
Former Governor David Pearey, acting on the advice of the Public Service Commission, placed Mr. Willock on compulsory leave on July 28, 2010 to enable an investigation into “as of yet unsubstantiated but serious allegations in the print media,” according to Government Information Services.
That announcement came six days after The BVI Beacon published an article about Mr. Willock’s involvement with the news website Virgin Islands News Online.
The article reported expatriate journalists’ claims to have worked for VINO without work permits, and to have received pay from Advance Marketing & Professional Services, the VINO parent company that at the time was co-owned by Mr. Willock and Angela Burns, a former marketing executive for Digicel-BVI whose name no longer appears on the AMPS trade licence.
Mr. Willock, who did not immediately respond to requests to comment for this article, sued the PSC in December 2010, seeking judicial review of government’s decision to appoint a three-member committee to investigate the allegations.
The committee, which included two members from outside the public service, produced a report with its findings. But after reviewing the law, High Court Justice Rita Joseph-Olivetti ruled in May 2011 that the committee had been illegally appointed and declared its findings invalid.
Though the judge left the door open for a new investigation to start from scratch, the Attorney General’s Office appealed her ruling. The appeal was scheduled to be heard before the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal this week, but it was postponed until a future sitting “per Mr. Willock’s request,” Ms. Mays said. She added that the Crown is ready to proceed with the case.
See the Oct. 4, 2012 edition for full coverage.