A former member of the T&T Regiment is to be compensated by the State for delays in determining a series of disciplinary charges against her.
High Court Judge Jacqueline Wilson has upheld former staff sergeant Ayiola Rudder-Warner’s lawsuit against the Office of the Attorney General, the T&T Regiment’s Commanding Officer, and the Defence Council.
Although Justice Wilson ruled that Rudder-Warner was entitled to damages as her constitutional right to protection of the law was breached by the delay, she did not quantify the compensation. She is scheduled to assess the compensation owed to Rudder-Warner on January 30.
In 2019, Rudder-Warner, who enlisted in 1996, proceeded on “privilege leave” into resettlement training in preparation for her mandatory discharge, last year.
Rudder-Warner, who spent a substantial part of her military career in the Paymaster’s Division of the T&T Defence Force, claimed that in April 2021 and March last year, an assistant chief staff officer recommended that she not be promoted. She claimed he was not permitted to make the “non-recommendations” as she never reported to him.
A promotion to the rank of warrant officer would have meant that she would be able to continue working past the age of 50.
Rudder-Warner also faced five minor disciplinary charges, three of which were related to alleged tardiness in rectifying salary deductions erroneously sent and absenteeism which were dismissed after further investigations.
Last September, four days before her compulsory retirement, she was found guilty of the two remaining charges for allegedly breaching the chain of command and for failing to pay compliments to the officer who previously blocked her promotion.
Rudder-Warner was admonished for the first charge and fined four days’ pay for the other.
She claimed that despite the outcome, her commanding officer recommended her for the promotion. However, the promotion did not take effect within that short period and she was discharged.
In her lawsuit, Rudder-Warner claimed she had a legitimate expectation that she would have been promoted. She said her promotion could have been ratified had the charges been determined sooner.
“The applicant has also been forced to suffer the ignominy of having those juniors in rank to her being promoted and continuing in service whilst she had to unceremoniously depart from the career that she has dedicated her quality years of life to,” her attorneys claimed.
In defence of the lawsuit, the State denied that the delay in the court-martial process was inordinate as it pointed out the Defence Force Act states that such charges should be determined within three years.
Rudder-Warner was represented by Arden Williams, Mariah Ramrattan and Shelly-Ann Daniel.
The State was represented by Avaria Niles and Maria Belmar.