PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Less than 24 hours after he was appointed minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Darryl Smith has been fired.
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday said that Smith’s dismissal followed a meeting with prime minister Dr Keith Rowley and Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis “during which new information came to the attention of the prime minister”.
On Monday, Rowley had removed Smith from the portfolio of Sports and Youth Minister, after the Sunday Express newspaper, in an exclusive story, exposed his alleged unwanted sexual advances to his personal secretary Carrie-Ann Moreau, which she detailed in a witness statement in support of her wrongful dismissal claim at the Industrial Court.
It’s alleged that Smith made unwanted advances to the former staffer resulting in a TT$150,000 (one TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) settlement by the ministry using taxpayers’ money.
The decision by Rowley to move Smith from the ministry of Sports and Youth to the ministry of Housing and Urban Development had been criticized by the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) as well as political commentators who regarded it as a promotion instead of a demotion.
“The prime minister not only needs to fire Smith, but demand his resignation from Diego Martin Central. Smith no longer has the moral authority to represent the mothers, sisters and daughters of Diego Martin Central. He should resign his seat,” opposition leader Kamla Persad Bissessar had said, while accusing the prime minister of ignoring the call of all right-minded citizens . . . [and] newspaper reports [which] have shown that ministry funds were used to settle a case in which the allegations of sexual harassment were made against Smith”.
However, in a statement on Tuesday the Office of the Prime Minister said a committee had been appointed “to thoroughly review the circumstances surrounding the dismissal and payment of compensation to Ms Carrie-Ann Moreau at the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs”.
That committee is to be chaired by former senior public servant and human resource expert Jackie Wilson and will include attorney Elaine Greene. The committee is to present a report in two weeks time.
“It is anticipated that all parties involved in any non-disclosure arrangement in this matter will lift such impediment so as to allow the fullest examination of the facts for the benefit of the public,” the statement added.