States were threatened by lawyers of civil aviation boss

LAWYERS for the former director of civil aviation threatened the States with legal proceedings on the night before deputies voted to sack Dominic Lazarus for gross incompetence.

Dominic Lazarus. (28963521)
Dominic Lazarus. (28963521)

In an email to all deputies, which was marked ‘strictly private and confidential’, lawyers from Ogier and the civil servants union Prospect set out that if Mr Lazarus was removed from his post their client would be left with no choice but to issue proceedings ‘in both the Employment Tribunal and the Royal Court, against the States as his employer’.

The action was described as a ‘bid to protect the personal and professional reputation that could be irreparably damaged by the outcome of this matter’.

Mr Lazarus was strongly criticised in an investigation, and was facing a very public sacking from the States Assembly.

The email sets out six key points to demonstrate the view that Mr Lazarus was treated in an unfair, unreasonable and wrong way.

Firstly it states that Mr Lazarus should have been allowed a disciplinary hearing before the final decision was reached, but that all requests for such a hearing were denied.

Mr Lazarus also said that he was denied the opportunity to call approximately 25 witnesses with evidence to support his position, and he was not allowed to question the witnesses upon which the States was relying on.

After a long meeting with the investigating officer, Mr Lazarus was apparently given only 24 hours to provide written comments, and an ‘equally unreasonable length of time’ to provide a submission to the 143-page critical report.

On the opening page the States document declares that Mr Lazarus was ‘unavailable’ to attend a second meeting, but that has been disputed and the email counters that ‘Mr Lazarus was not invited to attend a second meeting, despite numerous requests by him to state his case in person / call witnesses etc’.

One of the recommendations of the report is that a further investigation should be held into serious allegations relating to the use of the DCA’s signature on documents without his consent.

Mr Lazarus had asked for that investigation to be carried out before any decision on his position was made, but that did not happen, and there was concern at the risk that posed to the public.

‘Mr Lazarus believes that this apparent misuse significantly jeopardises aviation safety in Guernsey.’

The final point in the email is that the States report was a very ‘one-sided’ version of events.

‘It is 12 pages in length and yet contains only four short sentences covering Mr Lazarus’ defence submissions.’

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The email concludes that as makers of the island’s laws, it was vital that the States should exercise great care and attention.

‘Mr Lazarus, who contends that he has only ever acted in the interests of public safety, therefore asks you to consider the above in full and whether he should be permitted to have a disciplinary hearing (as is usual employment law practice), prior to the States considering any recommendation as to his removal from office.’

The day after receiving the email States members voted with 27 in favour of sacking Mr Lazarus, one against, and there were nine abstentions.

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